So, yesterday I wrote a post about living in freedom from the "comparison game". I'm not sure if I've ever met any woman (probably men too), who have not played this game at one time or another.
In Part 1, I told of how I used to play it much more often than I do now.
Well, I haven't confessed the area that I am tempted to play this "comparison game" in the most. You see, my fourth pregnancy ended in the stillbirth of our son, Joseph Mark, at 39 weeks.
This is gut wrenching tough stuff---the loss of a child. He was so perfect it's hard to describe.
There was a single knot in the umbilical cord.
Ugh. A hard blow.
However, it was not to be our last heartache.
Last fall, during my seventh pregnancy, (We have five children living at home), we lost another son. Thomas Franklin. My sweet little Thomas was about 17 weeks gestation...( I didn't know he was gone until we went for a 20 week check-up and heard no heartbeat.)
Another very painful loss.
And, yes, I had to deliever both of my sons.
So, can you imagine the thoughts that I myself struggle with? And, as far as other women have shared, I believe I am not alone. Especially if you have suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, or the loss of a child? Thoughts of "Why should I have lost my child? This child would have been smothered with love and kisses their whole life! Why did that young girl addicted to meth get to have her baby? And, he's healthy! I don't understand.".....
On facebook the other night, I was asked by a friend who had recently suffered another misscariage....how do you cope? I mean, besides reading your bible and talking to God and your hubby?
Here, is my list of ways I fight off the temptation to be jealous and/or have that pity party we all are the ONLY ones invited to! :
1. Remember, that life is hard for everyone at some time or another! We are NOT the only ones that are suffering in this world. We get so bogged down at times with our own "issues", that we hardly notice what insight our story could be bringing to others.
Our worst trials, can be the greatest source of encouragement for someone else.
2. Also, I realized I have to truly FIGHT AGAINST thoughts that pop into my head. Thoughts like I mentioned before..... "why does that woman seem to have such an easy life and I don't".....along with many, many other thoughts that are negative. I warn you NOT to let them stay long, lest you give in to them and believe them. I truly have to fight them off mentally or with scripture, and truly REFUSE to let myself go there. I REFUSE to let myself have a pity party. Truly. I am quite stubborn about it. Ask my husband. Don't get me wrong, though. I have had many tears over losing my boys. This time around, losing my Thomas came only one month before losing our home. Double whammy! Yet again, God carried me through these incredibly dark times.
Beg God to keep you mentally strong, and He will help you! But, you've got to get your weapon of scripture and use it.
Get in the Word.
Get in the Word.
Get in the Word.
Must I repeat?
Tape verses pertaining to your situation on 3 x 5 cards, and tape them above the sink, on the bathroom mirror, and other places.
Remind yourself of the truth, so the lies can't creep in in the first place.
We have weapons that we sometimes forget we even own. We don't think about the power of the written word, and try to muddle through life without tapping into our greatest source of power and encouragement.
God doesn't desire for us to stay in the muck.
He desires TOTAL and COMPLETE FREEDOM for our lives!
The best weapon against the lies that get inside our minds :: The TRUTH of scripture
Ephesians 4:27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
3. Give yourself GRACE. God gave us feelings, and there is nothing wrong with feeling the way we do. However, I believe it is what we DO with those feelings that does matter.
Will I take my jealousy, grief, sadness, anger to God? Will I share with him how I feel, and lay it down at His feet? Will I accept His help in this?
Or, will I try to combat this on my own.
Talking with our husbands and friends is a wonderful thing to do. I find quite a source of encouragement from both.
But, am I looking to Christ as my first source of strength? Or, am I expecting others to meet my needs?
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
4. Develop a heart of gratitude and thankfulness.
Okay, so your parents have probably tried to instill this in you since you were young. Your mother probably said: "Say "thank you" for the sweater Aunt Judy gave you".....or something along those lines many times.
However, thankfulness has to come truly from our heart. Not just our mouth.
And, you know you hated that tacky sweater she gave you, anyway.
There is one lady who has changed my entire way of thinking about thankfulness.
Sitting down at my computer in the morning, I am excited to see what a couple of my favorite bloggers have going on in their world.
Such loveliness, really......
:: Photographs of beautiful babes in their mama's handknits ::
:: Houses organized so children (and mama's) never have to go around searching for lost pencils, books, and the like ::
:: And, the recipes. Homemade breads that look like they would absolutely melt in your mouth. Pastas, soups, and the list goes on. ::
Most days I am inspired by the hands of these women bloggers. Who not only actually make and DO these things......but they find time to BLOG about it!
Then there are other days. Like one not too long ago.
With one of these wonderful blogs on my mind, I meandered into my kitchen. I looked around at my counters FULL of dirty dishes. I work very hard to provide REAL food for my clan of seven. This takes a dish or two, you might say. Or, possibly more than that.
Needless to say, my heart saw a pile of hard-crusted, baked on foods----withholding any thanks for the nourishing food God had provided for our family, and the health it has given to us.
As I perused the dishes----as if staring at them with a "look" I have been known to give my hubby at times of disagreement, would suddenly cause them to jump into the dishwater themselves and scrub up quickly---I heard a sound in my ears.
Not a sweet sound, mind you; It was the sound of screaming from my angry two year old. The world (or an older sibling most likely), had wronged him again. His world was crashing down, and all he knew to do was balk as loudly as possible in anger.
Be still my soul. Oh, and grab me some Calgon. (Okay, I'm showing my age here.....34 to be exact!)
As a mama, you probably see where my attitude is headed. In a southernly direction. Not north, west or east.
I have dealt with this attitude in my eldest daughter. You see, for some reason, the female gender seems to have a love/hate relationship with the comparison game.
You know the one.
You play it alone. In your mind.
You say to yourself little quotes such as: "Man, she sure has better skin than I do." --- "How in the world did she have seven babies, and still have hips the size of a nineteen year old ?!?" -----or how about my favorite, "Her life must be perfect, or at least waaaaaaaay better than mine."
I am glad to say I have had to fight these battles less and less over the years, as I've grown in my relationship with the Lord, He has helped me to have victory in a lot of areas. However, I still can get "sucked into" the game at times, and have to pull out the big guns. You know-----oh, did you think this was just a child's game?
No, maam----we've got to pull out the heavy artillery for this battle. Why so? Because when mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! It will affect our marriage, our children, and of course----our spritual growth.
How do we do this? What does it look like in real life, to live in freedom? And, what in the world is this "heavy artillery" I speak of?
Four ways I fight the battle for joy, and the thoughts I personally struggle with the most, can be found in Part 2 of this series.
Can I just say how glad I am that this boy of mine, who has waited for months, now has a mama made hat on his head? I truly had tears and laughs as I first knit a hat that was even too big for his father. Then, I knit a hat that -barely- fit his little 2 year old brother.
He has been waiting ever so patiently since last July, when I promised him I would try to knit a winter hat for him. Six months was a long wait for him. However, I did keep my promise.
The pattern was found on purl soho, which is full of inspiration and ideas for sewing, knitting and crocheting.
As the needles weave back and forth, back and forth~I find my thoughts turning to the one I am making this item for. I smiled with the thoughts of the outdoor adventures my boy is sure to have in this hat.
But, I also prayed for him as I made this hat. I prayed whatever thoughts came to mind.
I prayed for all manner of things.
That he would be a good example as a big brother to two little siblings; that he would be thoughtful in word and deed; that he would really learn from his father (who I must say is such an example of this), what it means to be a real man in this world.
More than anything, I pray for him to say "yes", without hesitation, to whatever God asks of Him. An exuberant, ready-to-work kind of yes.
And, when he asks me for another knitted item? A scarf to possibly match his hat?
Weather that we "hoped" would be below the freezing mark, encouraged the making of this with my Katie. She loves to touch anything and everything, so hands on projects like this suit her well. I saved a bit of the greenery from our Christmas tree, as I've had this in mind for a week or so.
There really were very few berries to be found, but I think we did claim enough to make it stand out a little. And, Katie getting to use a knife, (even if it was a butterknife!)~ well, let's say that makes her feel very grown up.
Of course, getting a taste of the juicy oranges really was a treat. We stopped for a snack mid-project. Even a few of the other children had to beg for some orange from us, as they really were perfect.
Of course, after we hung it on the branch when it was all done, the sun was shining brightly.
Drip-drip. Uh, oh.
Yes, the beauty was gone in a matter of a couple of hours.
The memory of our time together, will last for always.
My inspiration for this craft, was found in this wonderful book by Amanda Blake Soule.
My baby has now turned 2. As my hands have been busy mixing and stirring....he has been busy sleeping away the afternoon in the arms of his daddy.
As I busily prepare his birthday cake, I can't help but let my mind wander over and about the last couple of years.
So very much happens, that if you dare to blink, the first two years have already gone by. Learning how to talk, walk, and get along with his sisters and brother. His siblings are his biggest cheerleaders, rejoicing in all his new accomplishments.
Not a day goes by as of late, when I don't hear someone say, "Mom, did you hear what he did? He can say 'milk' now! Wow!" And, the other day his big brother came up to me and told me how proud he was that his little brother had learned how to really play trucks now, and not just mess up his playing or throw them around.
A little daily celebration happens when you have a two year old in the house.
He loves playing trucks....he points his little hand out the window when his daddy's home...and says "dat daddy's vroom-vroom", speaking of his semi, so very proudly. Growing more independent by the day, I noticed how he got his own velcro "work boots" on yesterday without any help from mama.
He knows what he does and doesn't like...of this he will let you know. You can be sure a shrill scream will be coming from those little lungs if he disagrees about something! Oh, but there is so much more good than bad!
~soft, white swedish skin
~blue eyes with the longest lashes
~laying with him on the bed before naptime holding a book in the air and reading together
-snuggles with his "banket", as he calls it
My ears will be quite lonesome when there are no longer any truck noises being made by little mouths while I am baking in the kitchen.
And, to celebrate this special milestone? A simple cake....truly a coffee cake style recipe, that is neither too sweet or too dry. Just right for little hands.
A Simple Birthday Cake
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar (we like organic cane juice crystals)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla (homemade, if you have some)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3-5 tsp. milk (add more to get the consistency you like)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar (or cane juice crystals), baking powder, and salt. Using pastry blender or fork, cut in butter. Add milk, eggs and vanilla. Stir well. Pour batter into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Blend icing ingredients, and drizzle over warm cake.