Learning to Pause

1 Peter 5:8 NIV84

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

The past three weeks have been filled with pauses.  Pausing to think.  Pausing to pray.  The past three weeks have been fraught with emotion and filled with a multitude of opportunities for me to become unglued.  Really unglued.  Like, a big ol’ sloppy mess of confusion, worry, stress and tears.  I have been plopped in the middle of a really ugly, complicated, emotional situation that I didn’t ask to be a part of.  At the beginning of it all, I would have actually paid money not to have been a part of it.  Seriously.  Because the situation involves so many parts of my life, I can’t get away from it.  I can’t sleep, I can’t work like I need to work, I can’t parent like I need to parent.  It has been all-consuming to the point that if not for the promise of God’s strength, grace and faithfulness, I would have literally fallen to pieces.  Throughout the last three weeks, I have heard Him tell me to stop, to pause, to wait and be still.  To trust that this situation will improve and that it will not be harder than I can handle.  To believe that I am in this place for a good reason and that it will not last forever.  To have faith that in His time He will make everything clear and right.  I only have to pray.  And pause, when I really just want to scream at someone to tell the truth.  Over and over again.  Because that one truth can put all of the pieces together.  And so I pray, for patience, for self-control, for guidance, for clarity.  And for God’s will to be done.  Amen.

An “Unglued” Mama

When I am feeling unglued, my husband and kids can sense it from a mile away.  Commence the walking on eggshells.

So when I recently heard about a new book being released entitled, “Unglued,” I thought, “Hey, that sounds like me more times than I’d like to admit!”  But, I didn’t just hear about the book.  I think if God could have hit me upside the head with the book, He would have.  I have felt like an unglued mama for a looonnnggggg time now.  With all the demands of motherhood, a full-time job and a household to manage, I am just one spill of milk away from becoming unglued on a daily basis.

So, when Lysa TurKeurst’s book was being released recently, it seemed as though I could not get it out of my head.  I kept hearing about it and reading about it and listening to Lysa talk about it on the radio.  How could I not read it?  I downloaded it to my iPad and read the first two chapters.  It was right on point!  And then life got in the way and I didn’t read anymore of the book.

And then God thumped me again.  He showed me through Facebook an online Bible study led by Melissa Taylor of Proverbs 31 Ministries that started on September 23.  And I accepted the challenge!  Work, laundry, homework, grocery shopping, gym, potty training, stomach flu and all!  I have committed to completing my first online Bible Study along with 15,000 other women who know what it feels like to become unglued.  And I can’t wait!!

Toddler Lesson # 342

“The only way to cultivate freedom is through experiencing and learning how to handle an increasing number of options.” ~ Danny Lee Silk

What my toddler taught me last night: it doesn’t always have to be a fight – it can be a choice.

William will be three on September 25.  As it usually happens about this time, I have been trying to figure out how to get rid of his beloved paci, or “Ba,” as he has come to call it.  He has been napping without it at school for a while, but it is permattached to his mouth at home.  He actually slept his first night without it a few nights ago.  We lost it and couldn’t find it.  I was shocked when he actually went to bed without it.  But as sure as he woke up in the morning, he commenced to freaking out about not having it.  I am a sucker, and I gave it back.  Yeah, I know.

Yesterday, William seemed emotionally strong enough to try again (not overly tired, whiny, crabby, etc).  So I told him that he was a big boy (afterall, he had just pooped on the potty), and that he did not need his Ba to go to sleep.  He was reluctant, but didn’t cry or whine like I thought he would.  He went to bed with his other safeguard, his monkey blankie, and all seemed OK at first.

Several minutes later, he came out of his room and firmly told me that he needed his Ba.  I replied with the same schpiel about him not using it at school, he’s a big boy, yadda, yadda yadda.  He hesitated, obviously knowing that I was right about him not using it at school.  But, he is a persistent little thing.  He said, “But I need my Baaaaa….”  This back and forth went on for a couple of minutes as he slowly creeped down the steps toward the kitchen where he knows his beloved Ba’s have been kept.  I sat on the steps letting him go by me, having that internal debate with myself: “This has been such a long weekend already, do I really want to do this right now, I mean, he’s not 3 yet…”

As I’m mulling this over, William stops at the bottom of the steps and says, “I need a toy…” with a voice of hope like I will allow a toy in bed in lieu of his Ba, you know, as a compromise.  Wait, a compromise?  Really?  I thought, why not?  At least he won’t suck on a race car and ruin his teeth.  So I tentatively said OK, as he walked to the toy box and pulled out not a car but a piece of one of Zachary’s Nerf guns.  Hmm, I thought, I guess that would be just sufficient to ward of the boogey monster as any old rubber Ba would be.

William walked back up the stairs with the gun piece as his new armor against all things that go bump in the night.  Now, since his mouth was free to talk, he chatted away after I closed the door to their bedroom, much to Zachary’s dismay, I’m sure, but at least he wasn’t talking with a blue rubber Ba hanging out of his mouth.

Now, ask me if he went to bed tonight with or without his Ba.  And, I’m not going to tell you.  Because a Mama has to get some rest some time.  And he’s not even 3 yet.  So there’s still time to make that final leap, right?!  Right.

Tug of War

A wise friend of mine recently told me to write about what God has put on my heart, so I’m taking her advice.  I haven’t blogged in a couple of months for various reasons, only one of which has been writer’s block.  And then life, kids, travel, work, etc. got in the way.  But, I am still here, and I continue to chug along with daily life, kids, work, etc…

And my separation from my husband.  Since Easter Sunday.  So, technically speaking, we have approximately three months of non-living-together under our belts.  Which means we only need 9 more months before the state of South Carolina will allow us to get divorced.  If we so choose.

Problem is… neither one of us is choosing anything.  To stay together. To divorce.  To stay together. To divorce.  It has become a tug of war of emotions.  Just when I think we are moving toward a reconciliation, we step backwards.  It feels like the flower thing, where you pick one petal off at a time.  He loves me, he loves me not.  He loves me… You know how it goes.

So where does the petal-picking end?  Together or apart?  For today, at least, I still have no idea.  I guess I have at least 9 more months to decide…

What’s In a Name?

Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

William David Griffin.  That is what I chose to call my second-born son.  God spoke to me while I was carrying him and told me to name him William after my late grandfather, Martin William Bates.  He also told me to name him after my husband’s father, David Morris Griffin.  Hence his name… William David Griffin.

This past Sunday, on Mother’s Day, we dedicated William to God at Mosaic Church Charlotte.  Before the dedication, Pastor Mike researched our baby’s name and learned that it meant Beloved Protector.  Yes, Beloved (David) Protector (William).  I realized as Mike spoke that, after suffering a heartbreaking miscarriage on Christmas Eve of 2008, God had chosen to bless me with a beloved protector, William David Griffin.  And for that, I am so very thankful.

Every night before bed I read a Bible story to my boys from a “My First Message Bible,” and tonight we read the story of David and Goliath.  Zachary, my 8-year-old, is very familiar with the story because we read it over and over when he was little, at his request.  But tonight the story was new for William, who is 2 1/2.  As we settled in to read, thunder rolled outside as a gentle rain began.  William creeped behind his bed and hid from the thunder, unsure of what he was hearing.  I told him everything was fine and he sprinted into my lap and gripped me in a hug, telling me he was scared of the thunder.  I reassured him again and began to read.

Well, you know how the story goes.  David steps up to fight Goliath with his sling and stones, and he slays the giant with a single pebble with God’s strength behind him.  William, who has a tendency to run circles around the bedroom instead of sitting quietly through my story, sat very still tonight and seemed to hear every word.  After the story we prayed as we always do, based on suggestions from the book.  The suggestion was to tell God about some of the things of which we are afraid.  Of course, William said, “Thunder.”  I suggested that William pray to God to stop the thunder so that he could go to bed in peace, and, of course, He came through.  There were no more rolls of thunder after we prayed our prayer.  God is Good!

Is love enough?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

New International Version (NIV)

4 Love is patient,   love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,   it is not easily angered,   it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil   but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

My husband and I separated on Easter weekend.  We remain separated today.  As Mother’s Day approaches this weekend, I find myself reflecting on my marriage, my children, and my family as a whole.  Or as its separate pieces, really.  My marriage to my husband is one piece of the puzzle.  My role as the mother of my two biological children is another piece of the puzzle.  And my role as the step-mother of my husband’s son is another piece of the puzzle.  I have spent the last few months trying to determine if, in fact, the pieces of the puzzle actually fit together.

I know I love my husband, my children, and my step-son, but do we all fit together?  It’s hard to say at this point.  As my husband and I continue to talk through our marriage, our separation, and our hopeful reunion, we wonder… what is the glue?  Is it love?  Is it patience?  Is it hope?  Or is it some complicated concoction of all of these things?

I have made a new friend recently who is going through a very difficult separation from her husband.  Her separation actually makes my separation feel like a piece of cake.  But yet, I still can’t seem to find the magic formula to fix my marriage.  The positive thing that I have learned from getting to know her and her situation is that I DO love my husband and want to fix our marriage, whatever it takes.  The negative thing that I have learned from her situation is that sometimes, love just may not be enough.

There has to be more than love.  There has to be a desire to cultivate and grow that love.  To nurture that love.  A belief in that love.  The need to do whatever it takes to keep that love from dying.

I hope with all of my heart that my husband and I will find a way to fit the pieces of our lives back together.  One at a time.  For the love of each other and of our children.

Jesus, take the wheel…

Saturday, March 24, 2012, is the day that changed my life forever.

I had taken Zachary and William shopping to pick out new beds.  It was time for William to transition to a toddler bed, and I was moving him and Zachary into the same room.  While checking out at Babies “R” Us that afternoon, I noticed a storm brewing out the front windows of the store.  The sky darkened suddenly and began to look ominous as rain began to fall.

As I loaded the kids into the car, William began shouting, “Save me!  Save me!”  I laughed and joked with Zachary about William having watched too many episodes of the Wonder Pets on TV.  I even stopped to post the joke on Facebook.  I headed across the parking lot to Target and we rushed in to shop for Zachary’s summer wardrobe.  When it was time to check out, I noticed that the lines were really long (as they usually are at Target), and I began to get very thirsty.  I searched out a bottle of water, which was odd for me since I’m not a water drinker, and began to feel a bit disoriented.  I thought, I must be getting really dehydrated or something.

We checked out eventually and made it to the car as the storm continued.  I hopped onto I-485, and, as I rounded the curved bridge to merge onto I-77, I noticed that the sun was shining very brightly on one side of the car, but on the other side of the car it looked as though the bottom was going to drop out.  I began thinking about my poor vision in the rain due to a bad run-in with Lasik surgery in the past (we won’t go there), and I began to worry that it was going to storm like it had a year ago when my brand new car was severely damaged in a hail storm.  I stopped and prayed: “Lord, please just get us home safely.  My babies are in the car and are depending on me.”

All of a sudden, I gradually started to feel as though I was being lifted from my seat.  Then I felt as though the car was lifting.  I didn’t seem to be driving the car anymore at all, in fact, and I didn’t feel as though I was in control any longer.  I thought, “Is someone else driving the car?  Am I delusional?  I don’t seem to be in my body anymore.  Wait, am I dead and I’m watching it all somehow?  Was I in an accident and don’t remember it or is one about to happen??”  I started vibrating a little and felt lifted even further.  I tried to pull myself back down but couldn’t.  At that very moment, Zachary and I both noticed the most VIBRANT double rainbow out of the driver’s side windows, on the sunny side of the car.  I fumbled with my cell phone trying to get a picture of the rainbow because I was sure that I was witnessing something miraculous, but I worried about crashing the car, too!  Zachary told me to give him the phone so that he could take the picture.  And he did.  And it was beautiful.

After a few seconds, I finally seemed to rest back in my seat and “come to.”  Things began to feel normal again.  Zachary and I discussed the awesomeness of the double rainbow.  It was absolutely stunning!  I finally got to our exit and we made our way home.  As we neared the house, William spoke out from the back seat for the first time and said, “I tired, Mama.”  In my stupor, I repeated what he said like I always do, saying “You’re tired?”  “Yes, I tired,” he said.  I asked if he was ready to go to sleep, and he said “Yes.”  He told me that he was tired several more times down that stretch of road.  The significance of what he said didn’t hit me until later.

We arrived safely at home and neither Zach nor I seemed to be able to get out of the car.  I felt so HEAVY and TIRED.  I turned around and looked at Zachary, and he appeared to be in a stupor.  And then it hit me – he had felt it, too!  I asked Zachary if he had just felt what I did, and he said, “Yes!” with a huge goofy grin on his face.  He told me that he felt really heavy.  He told me that he couldn’t feel his legs, and I realized that I couldn’t really, either.  But, we also felt very light somehow.  And every part about it felt so GOOD.  I realized in that moment that I had just experienced God and the Holy Spirit in a way that I have never known.  Zachary and I felt as though we were buzzing, electrified somehow.  Almost drunk with delight.

Awesome.  Incredible.  Amazing.  Wonderful.  These were the words that we spoke, sometimes in unison.  I started crying.  We grinned at each other when we said the same words, as though we were in each other’s heads.  Zachary appeared to be in a daze and his nystagmus (back and forth movement of his eyes caused by albinism) seemed to have stopped.

After a time of reflection, we both came to the same awesome realization: we had just experienced God’s Almighty power.  We agreed that there was no other explanation.  We both realized that we needed to get out of the car and go in the house and tell Seth and Keaton about our experience, but we worried that they would think that we had completely lost our minds.  But, we had just experienced the same things independently, so we weren’t crazy, right?!  The feelings that we had felt were real and the proof was in the double rainbow!!

We eventually got out of the car and walked unsteadily to the house, noting that our bodies, especially our legs, felt very heavy.  Like weights.  But it still felt good somehow.  We went in the house and gathered up Seth and Keaton to tell our story.  Zachary and I tried desperately to put into words the miracle that we had just experienced, but our words didn’t seem adequate.  For the next few minutes, Zachary and I discussed the events further, slowly gathering up all the details.  Zachary had also thought at one point that he was dead, somehow watching himself from the outside.  Then he realized, like me, that wasn’t the case.  It WAS real.  And it was amazing!

While we are recounting our story, William began to speak out.  He mentioned having seen the rainbow with purple, pink and yellow colors.  And then I began to wonder if William had experienced any of the feelings that Zachary and I had, when it hit me:  He most definitely did!  That’s why he told me he was so tired in the car!  William had felt it, too, and that was the only way his 2-year-old brain knew how to explain it!

As we delved deeper into our feelings, Zachary dropped a bombshell.  He told us that he had seen angels in his room.  Not just any angels, but Nana (Daddy’s wife, Jeanne) and Granddaddy Bill.  He told us that an angel had come toward him recently and told him not to be afraid.  The angel told Zachary that he was in fact him, only older.  The angel was wearing a robe and had wings.  Zachary said that he felt a windy draft and was cold at the time the angel had appeared.  And then, Zachary went on to tell us that he had seen angels multiple times in the form of those who have died before us.  Wait, what?  Yes, Zachary said he had seen angels that had identified themselves as our ancestors.  Whoa, I thought… this is getting out of control!

After eating supper that night, I gave William a bath and he didn’t want to get out of the bathtub when we were finished.  Now, he had done that before, but that night I was exhausted and just let him stay in the tub, even after the water was gone.  In fact, I had tried taking him out of the tub and he just climbed back in by himself.  Rather than force him out like I normally would to get everyone ready for bed, I let him stay in the tub to see where all of this would lead.  I sat in the floor of the bathroom and decided that the day had already been strange enough, so maybe something else was supposed to happen, and I definitely didn’t want to miss it or stop it from happening!

William played with his cars for a few more minutes and eventually climbed out of the tub of his own free will.  He walked downstairs behind me and climbed on my bed for me to diaper him and put his pajamas on, as is our normal routine.  William became agitated while on the bed, however, and I didn’t really know what to make of it.  He gave a little shiver, and told me that he was cold.  “I cold, Mama,” he said.  I hovered over him and wrapped him in my arms to warm him up.  Then William said, “Shower man.”  I replied, “Shower man?,”  and William confirmed, “Yes, shower man.”  I said, “Who was in the shower, William?”  and William said, “William was in the shower.”  I glanced at Seth and thought, “Wait, is he talking about himself or had Granddaddy Bill come to visit him too?!”

William became still then and let me put his diaper on.  But, when I tried to put his pajamas on, he became very playful.  I asked him, “What are you doing, William?” to which he replied, “I dancing.” as he walked and hopped about the bed.  Taking a chance, I asked, “Are you dancing with an angel?” to which he responded with an emphatic “YES.”  “Holy cow. Are you serious?” I thought.  Was he really seeing Granddaddy Bill, too??

March 24th, 2012, was not the only time that William has behaved that way.  William had another episode of “playing with angels” just this past Saturday night, April 21, 2012.  William refused to put his pajamas on again and began dancing and jumping around the living room in a frenzy.  I took the chance and asked, “William, are the angels here again?” and he said “YES!”  So, I let him dance, hop, jump, bounce and sing around the living room for about thirty minutes.  While doing this, William said, “Bible told me to.”  Not once, but twice.  He then took all of the pillows from the couch and built a fort around the couch, closing himself in.  Now, I have no explanation for what he was doing and will not even begin to try to come up with one here, but suffice it to say that I BELIEVE in angels and the power of the Holy Spirit

Yes, after experiencing the amazing events of March 24, 2012, April 21, 2012, and hearing and seeing all of the incredible recent revelations from my children about angels on Earth, I can say without a single doubt that, YES, I most definitely believe in angels!