Saturday, July 18, 2015

Magical Childhoods, Mommy Moms, and Miracles

I was asked to share some of my story with teenagers this past Wednesday night during their youth group meeting. I was asked to share my perspective of what part Christianity plays in an adult's life.  After praying and asking God what I should talk about, and how deep I should go into my story, I was led to share the following. If you have read other stories in my blog, you know that this is just a glossing over and certainly neither complete nor the end, but I wanted to give them something to relate to, as well as impart the hope the Bible promises. Therefore, I felt led to end on a positive note even though as an adult Christian, I'm not always in a positive place. But maybe, if I assume God impressed upon someone to ask me to do this, the whole point of this exercise was God reminding me of the hope I've experienced and known in the past, and that he has always brought me out of my place of perceived disappointment and despair. I can attest that I am in a positive place right now.

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{Questions for discussion}
Do you ever make plans for next week or next month? Or what about next year? How do you feel when your plans work out? How do you feel when your plans don't work out? Do ever you imagine or dream about what you will be doing as an adult? What life will be like?

{Question to think about}
Have you experienced anything really “hard” where you asked God why? Or got mad at God for allowing it? Or blamed Him for not making it right, or for not fixing things the way you want it?

{Story #1}
Once upon a time there was a little girl with long dark hair and hazel eyes. She had a shy, introverted personality and spent a lot of time in her room alone as a child, reading books and day dreaming.

She lived in a nice house in a quite neighborhood in Texas. She obeyed her parents and got good grades. At six years old, she asked Jesus into her heart and became a Christian. She grew up in the church going to Sunday school, Sunday morning and Sunday night church services, Wednesday night missions groups and later youth group. She understood God loved her as best she could.

This little girl had a best friend. Her friend was friendly and bubbly and pretty. And through the years they talked about everything – especially about BOYS! She can't remember when they didn't talk about boys - boys at church, boys at school, boys in the neighborhood, boys at the mall. They discussed who they wanted to have as a boyfriend, who was cute, who was funny, who may or may not have looked their way that day.

Then one day in 8th grade her best friend got asked out. However, SHE did not. Her best friend began dating, but SHE did not. This made her very sad and she cried a lot. She began to wonder what was wrong with her. Why did God made her this way? Why was she so quiet and shy? Why was she so ugly? Why didn't the boys want to ask her out?


{Questions for discussion}
Where should she have looked to find her worth? Have you ever experienced a desire so strong that it seemed like the end of the world if it didn't happen? What do you guys do when you experience disappointment? If you were her friend, can you think of any Bible verses or stories that might have encouraged her?

{Story #2}
One day in high school a boy asked her out and she finally started dating. This made her happy because she had a plan. She planned that one day she would get married, have two kids, be a stay-at-home mom, and spend all her time being one of those mom's that creates magical experiences all the time for her kids, and they would live happily ever after (this is the kind of mom that she now calls a “mommy” mom or a “gifted” mom).

When she was twenty years old, she married a boy that she was “best friends” with in high school. They lived in Arkansas trying to make ends meet while completing their college degrees. She graduated first while he went to school part time and worked. Then she got a job, and they moved to Oklahoma and bought a house. He then went to school full time to finish his college degree and then went to Law School full time. After he graduated Law School, they moved to Montana.

Finishing school took time and they planned to wait until they were out of school to start having those two kids. So EIGHT years after they were married, and once they both had jobs and had bought their second house, she got pregnant with their first boy. His name was Michael. About two and half years later they had their second boy. His name was Jonathan. And so their family seemed complete. All was going to plan.

EXCEPT. She found working out of the house and being a mom to two small children was extremely difficult. She was not able to create those magical experiences she had planned. There was absolutely NO magic going on when she was torn between tending to her kid's needs and meeting a work deadline. AND, she found out she was NOT a “gifted” mom. She didn't really enjoy hanging out with just kids all day. Her husband worked a lot, and she missed having a friend. She was tired and frustrated, and again, she became very sad and cried a lot. She didn't want to work anymore. She didn't feel like parenting anymore. And she was lonely.

Again she questioned God. Why did he make her this way? Why couldn't she love being a mom? Why did she have to work? Why couldn't she make a close friend? What was wrong with her?


{Questions for discussion}
Is she allowed to question God? What should you do if you feel depressed and sad? If you were her friend, can you think of any Bible verses or stories that might encourage her?

{Story #3}
Eventually, she got to cut back on the hours at her job, she made friends with other moms by spending more time at the school, and her kids were growing up and participating in all kinds of activities. She learned the trick to creating a SOMEWHAT magical childhood for her kids was to become best friends with another mom who was a REAL “mommy” mom. This other mom had great ideas, and all she had to do was find out when and where, and show up. This other mom was also good at making friends and soon she had a group of friends that she could hang out with. Life finally seemed fun now. AND easier.

Her kids were now around 9 and 7 years old, and she and her husband let her husband's brother and fiance come live with them. As an introvert, it used up all her energy having other people in her house all the time. So she was looking forward to when they were going to move out. However, the week before they were supposed to leave, her husband had a knee injury, her father-in-law died from a heart attack, and the rest of her husband's family, his mom and brothers and sister, moved in with them for several months. Her husband ended up having ACL surgery from the knee injury, got blood clots in his lungs after the surgery, and almost died. They also experienced two more deaths of close family members that year. She got REALLY mad at God for a while for letting all these things happen, but with time, she was finally able to be ok with everything and move on.


{Questions for discussion}
Should she have gotten mad at God? Does God still love us if we get mad at Him? If you were her friend, can you think of any Bible verses or stories that might encourage her?


{Story #4}
In 2010 they decided life was good again, and they would try for a girl. She was almost 40, so in their minds, it was now or never! By May she was pregnant and the whole family was very excited. However, in September, through ultrasound, they found out the baby had a severe brain malformation and that he had several other birth defects. They were told ALL the terrible things that might be wrong with the baby. They were told the baby would die sooner or later, or would suffer a lot if the baby lived. They were told they should KILL the baby.

She was very scared and VERY sad. This time though, instead of questioning God or getting mad, she did something else. She wrote what she did in her blog a month after the ultrasound:

“That night on September 8, 2010, I cried.  I mourned my expectations of a normal baby.  Throughout the night, I gave the baby to God, the Creator of the baby - the One who forms in the womb.  I asked Jesus to hold my baby in His arms; to comfort and protect him.  I confessed my guilt and fears - guilt over considering aborting, guilt over wanting God to take the baby if he was going to struggle to live on earth, and fears of the baby dying.  I asked for love and strength to take care of a disabled child who might not be able to return the love.  And then I prayed for a miracle. 
I had swallowed my pride earlier that evening and asked my husband if I could ask for prayer on Facebook.  My husband had already called the church for prayer earlier too.  Beginning that night, after crying and praying, I began to feel peace.  I felt it had to be the Body of Christ praying for us.  I had never truly felt that before - the peace that passes understanding.”

{Questions for discussion}
How did she react differently this time when she got bad news? How could she feel peace when facing something so hard? How can YOU face hard things in YOUR future?

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The following are the three scripture passages I shared with the group:
Psalm 139:13-16 The Message (MSG) (David describing how God knows him) 
13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 The Message (MSG) (Paul talking about his “thorn in his flesh” after God gave him revelations that could have resulted in pride) 
7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 
Isaiah 40:27-31 The Message (MSG) (Isaiah speaking to exiled Israelites when they thought God had given up on them or forgotten about them) 
27-31 Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
    or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
    He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
    He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
    And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
    gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind.