Monday, August 22, 2016

Is quiet time ever possible?

Bible study is good.  Quiet time with God is better.  So, how does a mom of many kids even find time to do either?  I am not sure.  My kids are up early and never stop all day.  By the time I get any moments of relative peace, I am ready to collapse.
I remember days of working diligently through Beth Moore studies (which I enjoyed) and journaling faithfully. I remember quiet mornings listening to the day wake gently.
Then life happened in a big way.
My Bible study now is a reminder tone on my phone twice a day.  I read verses at a time.  Sometimes I spend more time in the chapter, but many times a verse is all I have to hold on to.
I sat on the couch this morning reading Romans 5 as my three littles played Slap Jack of all things.  Then they decided to make a banana peanut butter snack which of course needed my assistance.  No one can play quietly, of course. No one can be happy with anything.  Eyes are rolling and not just mine.
How is a mom of many to do it?
I loose it daily.  I mess up all the time.  I yell.
God says that I am justified.  That means declared righteous.  Oh my!  I don’t feel too righteous.
God says that I have access to his grace.  That means I can tap into his undeserved favor.  I certainly fit into that underserved category.
I don’t know how I am going to get through this day except for  hanging on to those few verses that I read.
Sometimes this mom of many needs to grasp painfully to the truth of who God is and what he has done for me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Beauty

She came in to show me how beautiful her paper dolls were.  She likes beautiful things:  flowers, rainbows, flowing dresses.  The doll was two inches high, drawn on white paper, decorated with colored pencils.  Beauty shone in the eyes of the beholder. I sat next to Anna as she held her treasure.
To most, Anna is a cutie.  Her blue eyes shine, and her hair curls just right.  Still much of today, Anna was not beautiful.  Though Jesus lives in her, Anna, as many six year old girls do,  let her vision become skewed.  She yelled a lot, drew much negative attention, and bossed others around mercilessly.  Beauty was only skin deep.
We talked for awhile about what makes someone beautiful.  She could give the obvious answers:  pretty hair and nice clothes.   But what if a girl had messed up hair and her clothes were torn and dirty?  Was she beautiful?  Anna knew what she was supposed to say, but I could see in her face that she struggled with the answer.
Anna is not the only one who struggles.  I spend time doing hair and makeup.  My clothes are clean.  I give away what does not fit me right and throw away what is ruined.  That does not make me beautiful.  (Mind you, at my age, makeup helps.). Still, my words spoken in anger, my face frozen in a scowl, my sarcasm given in retaliation mar deeply any hint of beauty.
Think of it this way.
My littles walk into the house after playing and see a beautifully decorated cake (you will have to use a great deal of imagination if you know me at all).  The icing was perfect.  Rosettes adorned the edges.  Gold dust glistened making it look like a jewel.  The colors were intense, vibrant.  The cake would catch anyone's attention.  It was beautiful:  a Cake Wars contender.
Then they got closer.  It didn't smell quite right.
Then they took a bite.  Inside was sour and moldy.  They could see egg shells and worms.  It had not even been mixed all the way.
Beauty was only on the surface.  Once they took a closer look, they were appalled and walked away from what was supposed to be a sweet treat.  (Please know I have not presented this to my kids in reality.  Work with me here.)
The story made the point for my little ones.  Outward beauty quickly dissipates when the inside is exposed.  All the extras we add are just that:  extras.  Unless we let God do his job of creating a new thing on the inside, what others see on the outside means nothing.  
Beauty is a good thing.  God thinks we are beautiful.  He makes all things beautiful in His time.  We falsely think that we can force that beauty on something filthy.  I am so thankful that God has changed my horribly sinful heart and has given me a new life along with a promise to never stop working on me.
Please, Lord, may my girls never settle for a showy, sweet icing that covers an ugly heart.  May they let your beauty shine all over them that their face glows simply because of you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gratitude

Mid –July sneaked up quickly. My calendar remains full of both busy days and lazy days, but before long September will be here.  Somehow, all the planning and prepping for school manages to be finished in time.  Hopefully, I don’t hyperventilate or lose my mind in the process.  So before I have a panic attack, I thought I would take the time to remember what God has chosen to bless me with recently. Here goes.

I am thankful for - - -

Unprompted “thank you’s” from grateful learning kids
A clear MRI scan for Aly
Helpful nurses and doctors who help me navigate my concerns
Bandaids for the MANY boo-boos my littles manage to acquire
Iced coffee to satisfy my addiction
Warm Jersey Shore ocean water that can keep my kids busy for hours
2100 miles ridden in 8 days safely with 6 kids
2100 miles ridden in 8 days sanely with 6 kids
Bryan’s flexible work hours which enable him to take a vacation
Open conversations with my children about marriage, jobs, and racism
Steak dinner out with my dad and no kids
Swim time with Miss Marti and my mom
Black and white tv shows on Netflix which help us to avoid commercials and other junk
A coming week with Laura home before she goes back to college
Opportunities to disciple my children when life can go a bit haywire
Answers to prayer shared with many friends
Godly men and women who are intentional with my children
Dancing close to Bryan while country music plays and our littles grab on to our legs
Supportive and helpful parents who don't hesitate to assist at the last minute
The motivation and strength to take on another day

I have a lot to do.  My kids make it hard to accomplish much.  Thank you, Lord, that you are there in my crazy life.  Help me to be grateful for each day, for each opportunity.  Help me to know what is important and what is not. Please guide me to the right answers.  Thank you for summer.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Perspective as a Mom of Both White and Black Children

How do I as a Christian mom of both black and white children respond to the cruelty, hatred, and horror of the last week?  What is my role?  Is there a solution?
I do believe that sin and Satan are  at the heart of the issue (Ephesians 2:1-2). That to me is obvious.  I know that God is over all (Colossians 1:17).  I believe that sin will lose in the end (Revelation 20:10).  So, how do I protect and disciple my children in this mixed up world?
I keep coming back to the verse found in God’s Word.   2 Peter 1:3 says “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”
I cannot heal the innumerable hurts of those dealing with loss, abuse, and prejudice.  I can, however, prepare my family to respond by consistently bringing them to a power source for life.
Evangelizing and discipling my children are essential to making it possible for them to thrive in a broken world.  Using truth that God has already given has to be the beginning. I do not walk around quoting verses or thumping my Bible (or phone). I can, however, use God’s Word in all situations.  Whether I am dealing with a tearful child, an angry explosion, a resentful attitude, a selfish response, or a doubting heart:  God gives us his power through his word.
Realistically, the rest of my children’s world does not follow this pattern or believe this truth.  So how is it even possible?
All of us are sinners (Romans 3:23).  Even if we tried, we cannot be perfect.  We will mess up.  Yet my kids need to live lives that are above reproach to the best of their ability.  God calls us to live so there is not even a hint of ungodliness (Ephesians 5:3-4).  Sadly, many of the individuals who have been in the news this week were identified not only by their color but also by what someone THINKS they did or did not do.  There is no way to govern what others think of my children, but my kids have the choice to live a life that is aboveboard.
I have to trust God that he is telling me the truth when nothing else makes sense.  When my kids are confronted with racism, they need to hold desperately to the truth that God has created each one of us in His image and with a purpose. No one and nothing can stop God’s plans for our lives (Job 42:2).  Each of us is worth his gift of salvation he gave by dying (John 3:16). We are all valuable.
My kids will need to respond in grace.  Hurtful words are real, but they do not deserve any ruling power in our hearts and minds (2 Corinthians 10:5).
When an authority figure tells them to do something (assuming it is not against God’s Word), my kids need to obey immediately. It is not their right to assume that authority and disobey (Romans 13).
If at all possible, my children need to seek peace (Romans 12:18).  That may mean giving up what they think is their right at the moment.
Kindness, compassion, respect, and forgiveness all need to be so obvious that no one has to do doubt that God is real in my kids’ lives. (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12, I Peter 3:15-17, Colossians 3:13)
My kids need to be the ones to seek to outdo each other in honor (Romans 12:10).
Their words need to be seasoned with salt, so they know how to answer every person.  Their words can preserve peace and also be part of the healing process (Colossians 4:6)
As believers, my children should have fruit as evidence:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
God’s Word is so powerful.  My role as mom of many means that I keep my kids connected to that power source.  Our culture wants to make my black children feel devalued. Culture wants to place itself above everyone and everything.  I want my kids to find strength when hurtful words are hurled, when fists are thrown, and heaven forbid shots are fired.  My kids need not only a personal relationship with God, but also a passionate love for His word.
I cannot find any other answer to life's chaos, but God.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Another Year

Today marks another year on this earth.  My 49 years have been full.  Full of meaning, of people, of busy, of learning, of doing, of growing, of loving.
My grandparents and great-grandparents marked many years of living on earth and are now celebrating eternal life in heaven.   Forty-nine seems short given my lineage.  Yet, over the last few years, friends and friends’ family and friends have mourned lives cut shorter.  Maybe it's the fact of closing in on 50, maybe it's simply a melancholy day, but birthdays make me thankful, thoughtful.
God has numbered my days and for that I praise Him.  I fail so often to accomplish much of anything.  I am grateful that what God has started in me He will complete.
I tell my kids often that they need to be seeking God diligently for what He wants them to do.  That should not stop once that school has been chosen, job has been landed, spouse has been found, house has been bought.  You get the idea.
I want my life not to be just going through the day trying to hold on.  That is my situation often.   I want to seek God and do what his purpose is for today.  I don’t know what tomorrow means.  With a house full of kids of all ages and loads of dishes and laundry, tomorrow may mean simply caring for life.  I need to be okay with that.
I dream of tomorrows.  I get excited for my kids’ futures.  I love joy movements with my littles.  I enjoy living life with my sweetie, Bryan.
Lord, thank you for today. Thank you for my yesterday.  Thank you for all the tomorrows.  I am so glad that you have it all figured out.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Happy Anniversary



Twenty-six years ago I became Mrs. Schroll.   My name changed, but more than that, my life changed.  On that afternoon, Bryan and I committed to each other for the rest of our lives.  We had absolutely no idea what or who would be a part of that journey, but we chose on that day to love each other for life. 
Today, many try to redefine marriage.  They choose to walk away from promises.  They choose themselves over another.  Our children see too many examples of marriages that fail horribly.  Culture tells them that a Biblical marriage for life is unreasonable and unattainable.  How sad. 
Bryan and I have weathered hurts and disappointments.  We have dealt with anger and loss.  We have also shared in amazing joy and have seen God’s bigness and grace.  A living thing is defined by movement and growth.  A living thing changes.  My marriage is alive.  I am not the same as I was twenty-six years ago, and I am thankful.  God continues to work in Bryan and me to shape us and grow us into who he created us to be. 
As I read through some journaling in photo books, I was reminded again of Bryan’s commitment to me, to our marriage, to our family, to God.  Day to day life gets hard sometimes.  It is the choice to work through the hard and to look for ways to reconnect that makes marriage work.  I am thankful for such a loving husband.   He laughs with me and cries with me.  He holds me when everything is falling apart.  He works hard but does not let work overtake him.  He loves me for life. 
Happy Anniversary, Bryan.  I love you more than words.  I look forward to still more years of dreaming, of adventures, of living life with you. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Except God



Over six years ago, my daughter, Julia, went to heaven.  I remember the moment that I learned that she had gone before me.  I covered my mouth as I sobbed uncontrollably.  My head throbbed.  Sleep eluded me, and when I did sleep, my dreams were horrible.  I found myself in a daze, empty.  Nothing made sense.  I had never met my little girl, not even seen her.  I had no memories but my baby bump that I could no longer feel.  I had heard her heartbeat, but never saw her smile.
This past week, a friend from years past lost her only daughter.  Tragically, her daughter died at the hands of an angry young man with a gun.  His motives, though unclear, took the life of a young lady who loved Jesus.  Christina was the same age as my oldest daughter, Laura.  As little girls, they were in the same class for a few years in school.  They played together on an indoor soccer team and even won a championship.  They sang in the same church choir.  They celebrated birthdays together. 
My friend and her daughter were friends.  She was her biggest cheerleader.  I have not had the chance to talk with the family.  As circumstances are, I will most likely not.  My heart hurts for the family though. 
My friend celebrated life with her daughter.  She walked through the ups and downs of a teenage life.  Now Christina is celebrating life in heaven, and my friend has to figure out life here.  I am confident that she cannot stop crying.  I imagine that sleep is non-existent.  I would think that these past few days have been a blur, a horrible nightmare.  Nothing makes sense when the life of a young lady is taken so horrifically. 
Except God.
At the loss of a child, there seems to be no answers except to trust in a sovereign God who knows yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  But it still hurts.  Oh my goodness, it hurts. 
I am praying for my friend and her family as they mourn and walk through today. There will be a forever scar and an emptiness.  There will be questions with no answers.   Yet, I am confident that God will heal their hearts and will prove Himself faithful and true.  I know this because He has done the same for me.