a mother’s musings

mom-and-son

With the start of the new year, I thought I’d depart from my normal format and share a little of my heart with my faithful few.

I don’t know why I thought parenting would get easier the longer I was in it.  Nobody ever told me it would be easy, but I guess I just thought the older my sons grew, the more they would do for themselves.  You know the drill.  The more they could do for themselves, the easier it was supposed to be, right?  Well, there is some truth in my assumption, but the very thing that I thought would bring relief has brought with it so many unforeseen challenges.  They’re growing independence certainly hasn’t always meant that things are easier.

My oldest son is nearing his senior year in high school, and on my days when I’m not prayed up, it’s frightening.  I find myself cringing, fussing, and worrying over some big but mostly small things in the big scheme of things.  After all, our first son will be leaving the nest in a little over a year, and I want him to be ready.

I found myself wanting to correct him (again), and decided to do a little therapeutic exercise to vent my true feelings.  I’m not calling it a poem because it’s not literary, and it certainly doesn’t follow any correct poetic formula.  It’s not really a letter, so let’s just say it’s a mother’s musings.  I I hope that some of you mothers can relate.  Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with you.

a mother’s musings

you’ll never know the joy

of a mother seeing her boy

smile, walk, talk, and grow

laugh, try, succeed and know

he is special, smart, and filled with love

from not only his parents but from God above.

you’ll never know the fear

of a mother who’s near

to releasing her son who longs to be free.

she swallows her tears to let him “be me.”

she longs for the admiration in his eyes

that she saw as a baby gripping her thigh.

you’ll never know the pride

that’s so hard to hide

when I see you try and make it

when I see you fail and take it

when I see you sit up and walk tall

when I watch you speak up and tell all

that you are becoming a man

and that you understand.

you’ll never know the nights I’ve prayed

that you would never be led astray.

my heart so full of dreams for you.

my love sunshine that beams for you.

when I’ve said the wrong thing at the wrong time

when I’ve spoken what you think is out of line,

remember my motives are always pure.

it’s only good that I want to endure.

remember God’s Word, and keep it.

do your best and believe it.

when your back is against the wall,

He’s there and will catch you when you fall.

never give up.

always look up.

don’t be down.

keep positive around.

let love abound.

shine your light.

bear good fruit.

give freely.

take sparingly.

talk less.

listen more.

live strong.

answer softly.

think wisely.

walk proudly.

pursue peace.

act surely.

read more.

learn more.

lean to God.

grow forever.

love more.

know . . .

You are special, spectacular, significant, my son.

You are a gracious gift that God in His mercy gave me.

You are this and so much more.

Love,

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Destined for Peace

One of my sons has had the busiest school year that he’s ever had.  I’d been getting on him about getting and keeping his room picked up and organized.  After much frustration, I did what I’ve done many times before.  I decided to clean his room for him.  I had his room looking and smelling better than it had in a good while.  When my son came home from school, he walked into his room and said, “Thanks, Mom, but you didn’t have to do that.  I was going to clean it up.”  I told him that I just wanted to help him.  He explained that if I really wanted to help him, I’d let him have a few bucks and hang out with some of his friends.  I was irritated!  I felt like he didn’t appreciate all I’d done for him.

After reflection, of course, I realize that he is responsible for being obedient and doing what he’s told, but I had to admit that I had cleaned his room more for me than for him.  I also realized that while he may have been grateful to have me off of his back, he really didn’t care whether his room was clean or not.  It made me think about how often we do things to please others, only to find that it was the absolute wrong thing to do, and often, our motive, in spite of our best intentions, can be wrong.

When we make decisions based on pleasing people, we will find ourselves insecure, tired, and frustrated, and unfruitful.  The bondage of people pleasing can a nightmare.  I know; I’ve lived it.  When you don’t want people to be disappointed, angry or upset, you are vulnerable to being tossed around by their every whim and emotion.  You’re always trying to figure out what people want and how you can accommodate.  You can’t clearly hear what God wants because His voice is drowned out by the desires of others.  When we live in fear the disapproval and rejection of others, we are in bondage. We can’t focus on our real purpose unless we shift it from others to Him.  Only the Lord’s presence can quell the demands that a person is apt to feel who has issues with people pleasing.  Proverbs 29:25 instructs that, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”  While we should seek peace and strive to help others, our desire to please the Lord must always come first.  Then, we will keep healthy relationships with others and be free from bondage.

If our decisions are based on self, what feels, looks, tastes, and sounds good, we will have a shallow existence.  While we might temporarily feel good, the feeling will never last long.  Like a bucket with a hole in it, a person living a selfish life can never be satisfied for long.  Christ’s love should control everything we do in our lives.  With His death on the cross, we should be dead to living for the desires of the flesh.  II Corinthians 5:15 tells us, “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”  So, we must “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Our decisions must be based on pleasing Christ and His Word, the final authority for our lives.  When we do this, some will surely be displeased with us, but we will always have inner peace, knowing that we have been obedient to what the Lord would have us do.  As we all know, we can get caught doing the “right” things for the wrong reasons.  We end of spinning our wheels, not being productive, when we aren’t properly aligned with His will.

I’ve been meditating on Isaiah 26:3, which says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”  When we focus on Him first, and not seeking after approval from others or fulfilling our own selfish desires, we will have peace in even the most adverse situations.  As I was reminded this week, it’s not about being “religious.”  It’s a heart issue.  Our very core must seek to please Him because when we do, we won’t be overwhelmed, stressed, or burdened.  Instead, we will move peacefully and confidently through our dilemmas, knowing that God will lead us and protect us.

This past week I was faced with two totally different dilemmas.  After conversing with two friends, each about a different dilemma, I was met with the same question: “Who are you doing it for?”  The question struck me with the same force both times it was asked.  Regardless of what kinds of decisions we make, it’s always important to examine why we make the decisions we make and who we’re making them for.  We must make sure that we are doing things out of our love and obedience to Christ, not others or our selfish desires.

Even in the small things, like helping my son clean his room, I should’ve stopped to prayerfully consider the options.  Then, it would’ve been clear to me.  I would not have cleaned his room.  Instead, I would’ve made him do what I told him to do, and I would’ve avoided that little aggravation.  There’s a verse that tells us that the little foxes are the ones that destroy the vine.  Many times, it’s like that.  Those little things that we do, when we aren’t called to do them, cause us stress and can take our focus off of fulfilling our purpose.  Let’s make sure that we’re always listening to the right voice and doing exactly what we’ve been instructed to do by God so that we can live in perfect peace.

woman reading Bible

The Lure of a Like

Asian-woman-pointing-like-button  FB like

“People like you more than they like me,” I jokingly complained to my husband.

“What are you talking about?” my husband asked.

I explained to him that he had more Facebook “likes” on his fan page than I did.  He scoffed at the whole idea.  “Maybe you just post too much.”

I pondered over his conclusion.  Maybe I do post too much.  That led me to ask myself, “Why do I post?”   As I’ve reflected on that question, I’ve come to a lot of conclusions.  All of our family is far away.  Many of our friends live quite long distances away as well.  For me, posting is a way to keep family and friends in the loop about the major happenings of our lives.  With so much negativity all around us, for me, it’s a way to celebrate positive people, places and things.  Most importantly though, it’s been a way for me to not only share what God’s given me to share, but also to learn and get support from other believers.

While all of this might sound fairly reasonable to many, I must admit that I have some other much less noble reasons for posting on Facebook.  I like the “like.”   I’ve noticed how different I feel when I post a blog and there’s no interest in it, opposed to posting one where there has been a lot.  There’s a validation that comes from knowing that people “like” what you’ve posted.

There’s also the marketing aspect to Facebook that you can’t get away from—especially if you are selling anything at all.  As an author, it’s important to connect with readers to let them know about your work.  It’s surely an art not to beat people over the head with what you’re selling, but to gently rouse up interest and support.  We can also endorse products and services with the “like.”  This, in turn, generates more business for the thing we “like.”  We can also find out about new products, get promotional deal and use coupons—all through social media outlets like Facebook.

I began to do a little Google search about the psychology behind the Facebook “like.”  Studies have discovered that Facebook can actually trigger the brain’s reward center, much like food, sex, acceptance, and money.  I wonder if that’s why, for some of us, Facebook has an almost addictive quality to it.  We use it because it gives us a feeling of satisfaction.

For others, I shall call the Facebook lurkers, who never “like” hardly anything, but always see everything.  They pride themselves on not posting or rarely posting because they’re “above that.”  They’re too private to post, but peer into everyone else’s lives.  Strangely, they are just as fascinated at others’ posts as the average Facebook Joe but have convinced themselves that they are much too enlightened to engage in petty posting.  In fact, over the years I’ve been told, “You are always on Facebook!”  I always chuckle to myself, wondering how they know.  In spite of it all, even the lurkers find pleasure by observing and not “liking” much of anything.

A study found that we get more satisfaction and experience less loneliness when we receive a comment from someone on Facebook as opposed to a “like.”  Some FB users have stopped “liking” posts all together and just post comments, finding more satisfaction from that type of interaction than a simple “like.”  An obvious takeaway is that, generally speaking, Facebook posting helps us to feel more connected to one another–especially posting comments.

Lately, I’ve realized that while striving to stay connected, support others and market for my upcoming novel, I cannot allow the lure of the “like” to overshadow the ultimate approval I should be seeking.  My daily aim should be to please God.  Galatians 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” When we seek to please Him first, we get a lasting satisfaction, not only in our brains, but in our body, spirit and soul.  His approval lasts far beyond the fleeting pleasure of a “like” or comment on social media.

Often the things that receive the most nods from others are the very things that can be detrimental to us.  James 4:4 says, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  We live in the world but we’re not supposed to be of it, meaning that we don’t live to gratify the lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, and succumb to the pride of life.

Another verse in John 15:19 says, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  We can be assured that when we truly live for Him, there will be many times that we have to walk alone.  There will be many times when we won’t be liked; in fact, we will be hated.  It is okay though.  He has overcome the world!  He loves us now to eternity.

I like Facebook, and many of us do.  Most, if not all of us, love to be affirmed.  We like it when others think well of us.  It feels good to be validated and help others do the same.  However, we have to be careful not to let the lure of a like, whether from social media or other areas in our lives, keep us from seeking His approval in everything that we are, do and say.  He is our Creator, and He is the only One who knows all that we need and desire.  He is the only One who can quench our thirst and satisfy us in every area of our lives.

Knowing that God is looking at my life in its entirety, would He push the “like” button for who I am?  What about you?  Is He pleased with you?  Not just pleased with what you’re doing, but is He pleased with the condition of your heart?  Yes, He accepts us as we are, but He wants us to love and serve Him first and with our whole heart.  He is looking for a life that is dedicated to Him, not a perfect one.  He wants us for Himself.  Will you trust Him with your life today and always, not concerned with who likes it or not?

Blessings,

MaRita

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.   —John 3:16