Friday, August 28, 2015

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Letting Go

And then there were three.

In the course of about two weeks we're going from a family six living in our house to a little group of three. Poor Dylan. Outnumbered by his parents for the next three years until he, too, goes off to college.

Two weeks ago we dropped Erin off at the airport for her semester in Germany. She's working at a military base doing daycare, working with infants. Last weekend we took Blake to Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa for his freshman year of college. He's going to be studying computer science. On Sunday we will take Allison to Chicago for her semester internship with Easter Seals. She'll be working in the Willis Tower.

I've had lots of emotions bouncing around in me over the last month or so. I'm excited for all three of my college age children. I'm praying for them and I can't wait to see what God does in their lives as they finish/begin college and get out into the working world. I'm also nervous for them. I know what a scary world this can be at times. I know what a cruel place it can sometimes be. I know that things don't always go the way you plan and I know that many times they will be disappointed by their own failings and the failings of others.

I wish I could clear a path for them, hold their hands and walk with them, reassure them that everything is going to be fine when the bad times come. But I can't do that. Even if I could, it wouldn't be healthy for me or for them. Parents raise their children so that they eventually move out and live on their own. Parents are supportive but they can't handicap their children by hovering and helping too much. We've done the best we can and there comes a time when our children need to leave the nest and learn to do things on their own.

Hopefully we have been diligent about showing our children what it means to have a relationship with God. Even if they stray for a time, we pray that they will come back and grow in their own relationship with God and we know that that is what will really help our children thrive in life. God is the only One who can be there constantly for our children. He will guide them, comfort them, challenge them, and protect them.

It's time for me to practice letting go. It's time for me to trust that God has each of my children and He'll never let them go. It's time for me to focus on supporting my children, but not stress out so much about whether I've done everything right (or wrong) and prepared them well for what life will bring. Anything I forgot to tell them, they can get from Google, anyway.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go [and wherever your children go]." (Joshua 1:9 ESV - brackets mine)

Are you letting go of a college age child this fall? How can focusing on God help you to make that transition well and move forward trusting that God will be there for your child when you can't be?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sorry Saturday: Let's Focus on Unworthiness

I don't have it in me to write a long post tonight. We took Erin to the airport last Sunday and she is now working at a daycare on a military base in Germany until Dec. 19.

On Friday we took Blake to Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa and got him settled in his dorm. We enjoyed meeting his roommate, Blake Miller, and his parents. They are going to have a great year!

Next Sunday we'll take Allison to Chicago and move her into her apartment so she can do an internship with Easter Seals in the Willis Tower for a semester.

Three of our four children will be pretty far away from us for the next four months...and I'm fighting feelings of unworthiness. I feel like I haven't prepared them well enough as they get out on their own. I'm not a complete mess, but I need to keep reminding myself that I have done my best and they'll be fine. There are others who can answer any questions they have and help them through any challenges they face.

God loves them and He loves me completely, even when I feel unworthy. I want to share an article by Tricia Goyer with you this week. I found it in my inbox after we got home from dropping off Blake. It sums up what I'm feeling and how I can take steps to change my "stinking thinking."

Her article is called "Am I Enough? Overcoming Feelings of Unworthiness as a Mom." It was originally published at You can get to it on my Facebook page, I hope. The link I tried in his blog post sent you to my blogger site and would have let anyone wreak havoc with my blog, so I took it out. I hope you can find the article. It's pretty great.

I pray that all of you realize how worthy you are in whatever situation you may find yourselves in.

" may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6b-7 NIV)

Have you been dealing with feelings of unworthiness in your parenting, marriage, job, or some other area? How can focusing on God help you do your best and not get upset about your inevitable shortcomings?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sorry Saturday: Let's Focus on Deleting

It's another "Sorry Saturday" (and almost a "Sorry Sunday") but this time it's not entirely my fault. We were camping this week and the campground did not have their internet working on Friday evening. I know, I know, I could have scheduled a post on Thursday when it was working or maybe even could have had one ready to go before we went camping, but this is the best I can do for right now. Today we had a group of kids and sponsors from our youth group come to the campground and we had fun boating, swimming, and cooking at the campfire. What a great group!

So, it's a "Sorry Saturday" night and I need to post this before I go to bed. We have to get up at about 2:30 a.m. so we can get our daughter Erin to the airport by 5:00 for a 7:20 flight. She's going to be doing daycare on a military base in Germany this semester. I'm sure I'll tell you more about that in a future "Focus Friday" sometime.

I had lots of themes swimming around in my head this week for Focus Friday, but I finally settled on one at about 10:00 p.m. Deleting.

You see, at about 9:30 I sat down to play one game of Mahjong tiles on my iPad. "I'll just play one game before I update my blog," I thought. I didn't complete the level in 5 minutes so I had to try again. Missed it. I have to get those three stars for finishing in less than 5 minutes. Tried again. Missed. Realized I just might have a problem with self control. Tried one more time. At 10:00 I looked up and decided that was enough. I held my finger on the app and hit the X to delete it.

This has been a long time coming. I had been spending more and more time on that game throughout the day, even as I thought about other things I could be/should be doing. It was time to get rid of it once and for all. My kids were starting to tease me about that being my new "Candy Crush." I noticed that too often someone in my family would be talking to me and I would keep my eyes down, frantically trying to find matches to click on and get rid of those dumb tiles.

Now, Mahjong Tiles is not a bad game. If I could just play it once in a while for a few minutes that would be fine. But when it starts to get out of control it's time to delete. 

As I look at my life, I realize there have been times where I've had to delete something in order to follow God more closely. Sometimes it has been a hobby that got too time consuming, sometimes it has been a television program that was feeding my mind too much garbage. As I think about it, there are some thoughts and attitudes that I need to keep deleting whenever they show up. 

Negative thoughts about myself, judgmental thoughts about others, pride, shame, insecurity, fear, anxiety...all of those things need to be deleted. I have a great big God who loves me completely and that love frees me up to feel good about myself, show compassion to everyone I meet, stay humble, have good self-esteem, have confidence, be courageous, and have trust that God is in control.

He really is in control. That's why most things in our lives that get out of control need to be deleted.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off [Delete?] everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," (Hebrews 12: 1 NIV - my question in brackets)

Is there anything in your life that is a bit out of control? What do you need to delete in order to focus more completely on God? 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on How We're Known

We had a visitor at our morning workout group this morning. Kristen introduced me to her niece, Liberty, and we smiled at each other. Then Abbie, sprawled out comfortably on the floor, pointed back over her shoulder at me and started to say, "She's the one - " and my mind jumped in that split second to all sorts of things she could say to finish that phrase...

"She's the one I was telling you about. She's our pastor's wife and she's a beautiful singer."
"She's the one who is such a great, godly example for me."
"She's the one who does such awesome children's messages."
"She's the one who leads such fascinating Bible studies."
"She's the one who writes that great blog I was telling you about."

Do you think she said any of those things? No. No, she didn't.

Instead, in that split second, she finished it this way: "She's the one with the circus peanuts."

I laughed, but I also cringed. You see, yesterday I had shown up at workout with an empty circus peanuts bag and had admitted that I had bought it the day before and eaten most of it all by myself. Kristen was excited because she didn't think that anyone else even liked circus peanuts. She loved them because they reminded her of playing checkers with her grandpa. He would give them to her while they played.

So now here we were a day later and Kristen had eaten circus peanuts the night before! They had stopped at a convenience store and she had picked some up and let her kids try them (and she ate the rest, I'm sure.) Of course, she blamed it on me. And that's the first impression Liberty had of me. "The one with the circus peanuts."

It made me stop and think. How do I want to be known? I need to be acting in ways that show that to people. "She's the one that's nice." "She's the one that loves everybody." "She's the one that tries to follow God every single day." "She's the one that is patient when things get chaotic."

I don't want to be known as "the one who can't control herself when she gets a bag of candy corn, a box of marshmallow peeps, or a bag of circus peanuts." I'd better start working on it if I'm going to turn that reputation around.

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."(Proverbs 22:1 NIV)

How are you known? How can focusing on God help you to be known for important things like your character and personality instead of just what you like?