braying donkey

braying donkey

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's Time to Stop Trying to be a Good Mom

As I was running on the treadmill today I started to hyperventilate.  No it wasn't due to the strenuous 10 mph pace I was keeping, it was due to the pressure I was putting on myself to be a GOOD mom.  You see today is a holiday and on a holiday a GOOD mom would take her kids somewhere fun, like the beach.  But also a GOOD mom would shop for and prepare nutritious gluten-free meals and snacks for the school upcoming school week.  And a GOOD mom would actually fold the six loads of laundry spilling off the couch onto the floor so her kids could find the clothes they wanted.  A GOOD mom would remember that her kindergartner still has not passed his shoe-tying test at school, has not learned his second packet of sight words, and barely knows his talent show routine.  A GOOD mom would take time to help her children succeed.  A GOOD mom would have already written the twenty-plus thank you cards for the birthday presents her son got last weekend. A GOOD mom.... AHHHHH!  

And then it hit me.  I don't have to be a GOOD mom.  Instead, I need to be a GODLY mom.  A godly mom is filled with God's love and shares it with her children.  A godly mom realizes that it is not by her strength that things will get done, but by relying on God for His strength and letting Him share the burden.  A godly mom does not stress about prioritizing what is most important but spends time seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit, and then accepts that wisdom with faith.  A godly mom teaches her children godly character not just with words but by her actions.  When I am obsessing over being a GOOD mom, I usually become overloaded and have some sort of emotional outburst that eventually destroys any GOOD thing I have managed to accomplish.

So to any moms out there that are feeling burdened by social pressures, life circumstances, to-do lists, personal goals, and chaotic schedules..GIVE UP!  Stop trying to be a GOOD mom. Chances are you will never measure up to your own standards.  Take a minute to pray to the God who created family, who created you and your kids.  Ask Him what you should do.  Ask Him to help you have the wisdom and endurance to do it.  Then take a deep breath, focus on Jesus and His love, and move forward in what He has called you to do.  You are not alone.  You have the Creator of the universe by your side, not to mention countless other moms out there who feel burdened just like you!

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

When God Has Other Plans

Anyone who knows me knows I am a planner and that I am good at sticking to my plans:

  • Get accepted to Cal Poly - Check!
  • Get married - Check!
  • Graduate with a B.S. in Civil Engineering - Check!
  • Have child number one after obtaining my professional civil engineering license - Check!
  • Have child number two before I turned thirty - Check!

That was it!  I had arrived!  I had the best husband ever! I was a stay-at-home mom to two amazing children, a boy and a girl.  I had a career to fall back on if I ever chose to go back to work.  Life was great. I loved it.  I made the decision to not have any more biological children.  I thought there may be a possibility of adopting when the kids were much, much older.  At that moment, I didn't want anything to change.

Then it happened.  We heard through family that there was a ten-month-old boy in need of a home.  Our hearts broke for this little boy.  We prayed he'd find a good home.  Then we learned that there was a possibility that his mom would want us to adopt him.  Could we do this?  Was this God's will for us?  We prayed, fasted, and searched God's Word.  I know intellectually how God can speak to people, but I always struggle with how to hear from God when I am seeking an answer.  I just prayed the God would overlook my ignorance and in faith I opened the Bible hoping that God would just make the passage on the page His answer to me.  I had opened to Matthew 18.  Contained in this portion of Jesus' teaching, two passages struck me:

"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me"
Matthew 18:5

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." 
Matthew 18:10-14

I knew then that adopting this child was God's will.  My husband received confirmation from the Holy Spirit as well.  After just hearing about the child on Friday, we met him that next Tuesday, I babysat him on Wednesday, and he moved in on Friday.  So within a week, my life that I had not wanted to change was now completely different.  For the first few months, it was exciting to see God work.  To see how easily my other children accepted our new family member.  To see how much our new son flourished and grew.  But then there were nearly two years of difficult legal battles, health issues, and adjustments.  I was frustrated, tired, and starting to doubt if I had really heard from God.  After all, this was not part of my plan.

And since this was not my plan I had to stop relying on my strength to do it all.  I had to set my focus on The One whose plan it was.  In laying down my desires and my picture of what I thought was the perfect life, God has shown me that His plans are far superior.  I could not be happier to have this child as my son.  I love to hear him exclaim his love for my husband, his siblings, and me.  I love to hear the way all three kids laugh and play.  I love how he sings often.  I love his deep belly laugh that is like none other.  Without him, our house would not have all the joy it does today.  Without him none of us in this family would be who we are today.  So thank you God that your plans are always better than my own, and help me to remember this everyday!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

In Memory of My Smiling Papa

I can't help but think that on Friday morning the world became a little darker when my Papa 89-year-old went home to Heaven.  My Papa, Harlan Selvey, had been a pastor since 1948.  After pastoring 9 churches, he "retired".  What this meant was that rather than having just one church under his care, he served as an interim pastor in churches that were in need of a temporary pastor until a permanent one was found.  During his "retirement", he and my grandma, Shirley, would drive sometimes over two hours to minister to a church body.  He was always meeting with people in the hospital or in their homes to pray for their needs.  He was still teaching the Bible late into last year.  I always thought of Hebrews 12:1b-3 when I thought of my Papa's dedication to share Jesus' free gift of salvation with everyone:

...And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.  Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

As he touched many people's lives, there are a few special things that will leave a lasting impression on my life.  The first thing is the way he was always slow to speak.  He was the best listener I have ever encountered.  And whenever I asked him for advice, I knew he had thought considerably and prayed before he answered.  One family member said of him, "I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone."

Another thing I will always remember is the smile he would get when he taught or talked about the love and grace of God.  It was so genuine and filled with joy.  His countless hours of study of God's word and prayer to his Father gave him such a great understanding of the character of God, he could not help but exude the light of Jesus' love.  Just like Romans 15:13 in the Amplified Bible says:

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.

Lastly, I will always be inspired by his love for my grandma.  They were married almost 63 years.  They were known around Hollister for their frequent walks to breakfast at McDonalds.  Anytime they were seen, they were holding hands.  This was the way they lived.  Always showing each other love and respect, and stealing kisses any chance they got.  

I am glad my Papa is not suffering with cancer any longer.  I am glad he is in Heaven with the one he so faithfully served, but I will truly miss him!  His life will continue to be an inspiration to me to listen, speak thoughtfully with kindness, serve others, spend time in prayer, share the love of Jesus, be joyful, and never be too busy to show affection to my spouse.  I hope my memories of him may inspire some of you as well!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lavish Grace

I don't think that I am alone when I say that in the midst of parenting I sometimes catch myself parroting my own mother.  It just comes so naturally to do and say the things I grew up with, the things that are so familiar and understood.  On the flip side, it is difficult for me to parent in ways that are unfamiliar and hard to understand.

I recently finished reading She's Gonna Blow by Julie Ann Barnhill.  In it she gave an exhortation to lavish grace on our children.  To paint a picture of her idea of lavish, she told a story about her grandmother covering a cake with loads and loads of frosting.  I too have one of these grandmothers whose fluffy chocolate frosting always almost equals the thickness of the light angle food cake below, so I readily latched on to the word lavish.  Yes!  I want to do this!  I want to coat, bury, envelope my kids with grace.  After all, that is what my Heavenly Father has done for me.

But here is where it gets difficult.  Grace is unmerited favor.  It is God's gift that He gives even when, especially when, I don't deserve it.  And, frankly, this is something that is so hard for me to understand.  Throughout school and work I excelled in our performance-based society.  I like to work hard and enjoy the benefits that "I deserve".  I even went through a period in my teens and early twenties where I hard-heartedly was a proponent of everyone "getting what they deserve".  In my human mind it just made sense.  And lately I have realized that while I have grown in my ability to extend grace to others, I still have trouble accepting God's grace towards me.  When I had a day of failures this week, and then my son got sick I started to pray that he would recover soon and that the rest of the family would not get his illness.  Then I stopped in the middle of the prayer and thought, "no, I deserve for the whole family to get sick."  I know I am not the only one who thinks this way because whole religions are based on the concept of atoning for one's own sins.

About God's grace the Bible says,

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!).  For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.  God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  
Ephesians 2:4-9

I want it to be my daily prayer to have a deeper understanding and acceptance of my Heavenly Father's rich and unending grace.  For I know the more that I do, the more I will be able to lavish grace on my own beloved children!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Missing My Mommy

On Sunday I had some tearful moments.  I was thinking about how next Sunday will be Mother's Day and how I cannot share it with my mother.  In my adult life I enjoyed taking her out for brunch on Mother's Day.  Then when I became a mom, she insisted on taking me out and lavishing me with gifts to celebrate "the great mother" that I was to her grandchildren.  That is just the kind of woman she was.  She was so giving and loving - my best friend.

When Jesus finally took her home to heaven after her two-year battle with pancreatic cancer, I was so happy that her suffering was finally over.  I knew that she now had a new and perfect body and that she was doing what made her happiest: singing worship songs to Jesus.  Only now she was actually face to face with her loving Savior!  Now, as Mother's Day approaches this continues to bring me comfort and I am also reminded of some miracles that have taken place since her passing.

My husband and I have such a burden for our family and friends who do not know Jesus.  We long for them to have the peace and joy that only He can bring. We want to spend eternity in heaven with them.  As hard as it is, we have often prayed that at any cost, we would like to see these loved ones come to have faith in Jesus.  Through my mom's illness and in her passing, we know of one stranger and two family members who accepted Jesus as their savior.  Our "at any cost" mindset was tested and I can tell you that I still feel that way.  It is where people spend eternity that matters; not how long they remain here on earth!

After nearly two years with my mom gone, my dad realized how much he missed laughter in the house.  He decided to join an Internet dating site (which if you know my dad, this alone is an act of God).  Within a week he met a woman and they married sixteen days later.  I thought he was crazy!  Now, one year later, I see that he was not crazy.  This was the plan God had for him.  My new step-mom is such a blessing!  She accepted my family with open arms and my children LOVE their new grandma!  In addition, my dad had a medical emergency at home one day, and I believe that if it wasn't for her being there with him, he would have died too.

So, I am approaching this Mother's Day both with tears and rejoicing.  I am grateful for the mother who loved me so dearly, I rejoice for those saved by her testimony, and I thank God for the step-mom He has blessed my family with.  But for my own loss, I also cry.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Adoption: From Pain to Jubulation

I had an epiphany this week.  The past two years have been hard and sometimes very painful.  When I heard the word "adoption" I equated it with hardship.  When our new addition entered our lives we had no concept  of the legal battles, the financial issues, and the sick feeling we would experience when we were again and again presented with the fact that this wonderful child could be taken from our lives.  What I realized this week was that these were the birth pains for our third child.  They definitely took a different form than those I experience during the two natural child births I had, but believe me, I screamed just the same!

As we approached the finalization date of the adoption I was so excited, just like I had been as I approached my due dates.  I could not wait to be an actual permanent family.  To hold my son in my arms and know that he would always remain with us and we could love and nurture him in our home.  To know that his siblings would never have to experience having him removed to go live with strangers.  I was so excited; it felt unreal!

Then it happened!  We gathered with family and friends at the court house, swore and oath, signed some papers and the adoption was finalized!  Just like giving birth, I felt the release of stress, I felt elated, and I cried tears of joy.  Suddenly all the pain was worth it and even welcomed because of the blessing it brought.

Adoption is so beautiful!  Why?  Because it is the picture God chose to identify us as believers in Him.  We are adopted into His family and we are His heirs.  He is our "Abba, Father".  He too went through the 'birth pains' when He sacrificed His Son as our ransom.  And I am blown away that He loves each of us so much that He too knows the pain was worth it!

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:3-8

Friday, April 12, 2013


To my dismay, my daughter has decided she loves the band Superchick.  Their bublegum-pop sound is just too much for me.  The chirpy chorus "Cuz we've been down to the bottom, stories we've got em" rang out from the stereo and my husband commented sarcastically, "Yeah, I'm sure THEY'VE been down to the bottom".  In the past I would have quickly agreed with him, but in that instant I actually bristled and replied, "Maybe they have."  

You see, what I have learned over the past two years are that there is always a lot more going on in people's lives than we can ever guess.  I just spent the past year cringing every time someone would complement our family.  From the outside we apparently looked like we had it all together, but as I wrote in the post "Behind the Tattoo", I was losing my struggle with anger.  I had let it take roots so deep in my heart that I believed the lies of Satan more than the words of God that I had trusted in for so long.  There were times when I didn't just question my salvation, but I was entirely sure that I was not saved.  I thought I was destined for hell and I took some sick comfort in the promise of the coming punishment.

Of course God is faithful and He never left my side.  Through that dark time I learned so much about His abounding love, grace, and mercy.  I also learned the importance of not judging others.  I had always believed that we shouldn't judge the sin in other's lives because we are all sinners, but I had a bad habit of judging the perfection I saw in other's lives.  I would compare myself and envy other's "perfect" lives.  Once I became more vocal and open about my own struggles, people began to share their hardships too.  Some were so shocking because there was no outward indication that any of this was going on.  In my honesty I found such freedom!  As others opened up relationships became deeper and more authentic.  This is what God calls us to do.  We are to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15).  When you are open with others people can pray for your real needs and then you can rejoice together as you watch God work.  Satan, the Father of Lies, wants us to withdraw and put up a front.  Why?  Because he is like a lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).  Don't let it be you!  If you are going through something hard, gnarly, or even repulsive, find a trusted friend and be transparent with them.  It may be incredibly uncomfortable at first, but I am confident that ultimately you will be glad you did.

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.  If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 
1 John 1:5-9