Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mommy guilt

I love to read inspirational stories. Stories about people who have overcome obstacles or who make mistakes and recover from them. I like stories where people find themselves in unexpected situations that turn out to be blessings-in-disguise. I see a lot of these going around facebook and I sometimes get them in my e-mail  They encourage and inspire me. I especially love stories that are written from a mom's perspective to other mom's to lift them up. A favorite that I have seen lately and even shared the link on my facebook page is this one from Short Stop. Check it out, it's a good read.

But, as much as I like those, there are some others that make me cringe. They're written with the intent of being encouraging, of reminding moms about the important things in life. They talk about stopping to smell the roses, about enjoying your children while they're young, about valuing people over things. All good things that we DO need to be reminded of from time to time. But beneath the pretty words and the sweet pictures they paint, they all say the same thing to me-"You're not doing it right." If I don't immediately drop everything to look at the watercolor rainbow my child painted, I've wasted a precious moment that I can never get back. If I don't allow my child as much time as she needs to pick an outfit for church even if it causes us to be late, I've rushed her and taken away her joy.If I put my child to bed and without reading the 10th "just one more story", I'm gong to regret it because someday they won't want me to read them bedtime stories anymore...

I read through these stories and poems looking for encouragement, but all I feel by the end is guilt. I remember all the things I didn't do right and I feel guilty because I can't change them. I don't get a do-over. I've messed up my kids and there's nothing I can do about it. I can try to do better tomorrow, but I'll probably just mess it up again.

 Instead of feeling inspired and uplifted, I feel used up and worn out. Am I the only one?

Some of my friends have lovingly teased me about being "super mom" or the "model parent". Believe me, I am FAR from being either of those. I mess up. I yell (*gasp*). I'm impatient, I don't always want to have the kids with me 24/7. I don't always listen to their stories or love when they bring me a handful of dandelions to put in a plastic cup on the windowsill. I'M NOT SUPERMOM.

But there's good news for me (and for you). God didn't call me to be supermom. He knew that I would have shortcomings and failures. He knew I would mess it up. He knew that I would never be able to do it right. But, it's okay.I don't have to do it all right because where my weaknesses lie, God's power takes over.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, " But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

What a relief! I don't have to strive to be the perfect mother with the perfect children anymore. I don't have to pretend to be strong and to have it all together when I don't. All I have to do is the best I can and let God take care of the rest. 

So, I'm off to turn in my Supermom cape. I don't need it anymore. Who's coming with me?


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Good soil

I have been so blessed to get to be a part of an awesome ladies' Bible study group for the past several months. I love it! We meet at the coffee shop on Saturday mornings and spend a couple of hours chatting, encouraging, offering advice, and studying together. I love hearing all the different perspectives and learning from the other ladies. I have made some great friends through our time together on Saturdays.
Our last study was on the book of Luke. I learned so much! One week in particular, God really spoke to me through the reading. We were reading Luke chapter 8, which contains a story that is very familiar to me.

"4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."
I have heard this story so many times. Usually the emphasis is "we need to be the good soil and yield a crop for Jesus." But as I read through this passage again, a different picture came to my mind.
Think of a farmer sowing seeds. He depends on the seeds for his living, so he's not going to just carelessly toss them out anywhere. He wants them to fall on good soil, so before he sows his seeds, he invests time and energy into preparing the soil.  He breaks up the hard ground, removes the rocks, pulls up the weeds, and even adds fertilizer to the soil to feed his crops.
Good soil doesn't happen on it's own.
It takes effort to prepare it and work to sustain it before it can produce anything.  As Christians, this is our job. We can't just go around halfheartedly sharing our faith and hoping it "sticks" to those we come in contact with. We must be intentional.
Sharing our faith must be more than just wearing a t-shirt or posting a scripture on facebook. Not that these things are bad, they are, as people often say, "planting a seed." But if that's all we do, what are the chances of those seeds growing into anything more? How do we keep those seeds from being lost to the birds, rocks, and thorns of life? How do we help them grow?
We help them grow through relationship, through connection, and through love. Verse 15 says  " persevering produce a crop". I love the definition I found for persevere at "to bolster, sustain, or uphold".  This requires outside assistance. Good soil can't make itself good, nor can seeds that are sown grow and produce a crop on their own. Someone must continue to tend them and help them reach their potential.
We need to be there for people when they need us. We need to love those around us and invest our time into their lives to build relationships. We need to know when they're hurting and when they are struggling and love them through it. We need to celebrate with them  and cheer them on. This is how good soil is developed. This is how the seeds grow and produce a crop.
Lord, help me to go beyond the surface in sharing my faith. Show me how I can love the people you bring into my life like you love them. I pray that the seeds that are sown will fall on good soil and will produce a crop of souls who will come to know who you are by what they see in me. Thank you for your love for me that teaches me how to love.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cracked Watermelons

A few weeks ago, the kids and I ran into the grocery store to pick up a few things. My goal was to go in, get only what I needed, and get out as fast as possible-not an easy task when I have all my "helpers" with me. We were making good time,  with only a minimal amount of "put that back" and "we don't need that today," and were ready to head out the door. All we needed was a loaf of bread and we would be on our way.

To get from the bread aisle to the checkout counter, you have to walk through the produce section. I didn't have any fruits or veggies on my list, so it shouldn't have been a problem. Straight through to the checkout and on to the van.

Except that, directly in our path, sat three large boxes full of watermelons.

Well, what little boy can resist? My son ran right up to the first box and picked out the biggest watermelon he could see. It's almost as big as he is and way too heavy for him. "Please, mom! Can we get a watermelon?"

"Not today. We'll have watermelon for the 4th of July. Put it back." He was disappointed, but didn't argue. He walked back to the box and placed the watermelon back on top of the stack.

That's when it happened...

As he turned to walk away, the watermelon began to roll from the top of the pile. He saw it a moment too late and, before he could catch it, it landed with a loud crack on the floor.

I'm going to be honest and tell you that my first reaction was not what it should have been. Had I been by myself, I would have put that watermelon right back in the box and hit the road. But there were 8 little eyes looking at me waiting to see what I would do. So, I picked it up and put it in the cart. After all, "you break it, you buy it", right? So, off we went to checkout, the kids without a peep because they knew. Mom was NOT happy.

When we got in the van, I started with my mom speech. "How many times have I told you not to pick things up in the store? Didn't I tell you we weren't buying anything that wasn't on the list? If you had just listened to me, we wouldn't have this problem." You know how it goes. In the moment, I decided that the best consequence would be that he didn't get to eat any of the watermelon. That would teach him!

As we drove way, my little boy with his tear-stained face in the seat behind me, the anger started to subside and the reality of what had happened started to set in. Was it really a big deal? Yes we ended up spending an extra $5 we hadn't planned on spending. Yes, it had been embarrassing. Yes, the whole situation could have been avoided if he had listened to me. But was it really, now, that big of a deal? I fought the urge to go back on what I said. He needed to face the consequence of his actions. After all, he had been told a hundred times...

That's when God began to speak to my heart. How many times have I done things I shouldn't do even though He's warned me a hundred times? How many times have I tried to do things on my own and ended up making a mess of it? How many times has God tried to stop me from doing something that will hurt me but I have ignored Him? Ouch!

Then I thought of that tear-stained face. Landon was sorry. Not sorry that he got caught, not sorry that he got in trouble, but genuinely sorry that he had disobeyed and sorry that he had caused a problem. He was sorry that he had upset me.

So many times, that has been me. Running to God with my tear-stained face, sorry for what I have done to disappoint him. Sorry I've made a mess of my life. And his response has always been the same. Not a lecture. Not "how many times have I told you?" Not, "now you get to watch the rest of us eat the watermelon."

His answer is always GRACE. I fail. I mess up.I do things I'm not supposed to do. But He forgives me. He doesn't give me what I deserve, He gives me His love.

Acts 13:38-39 says "38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses."
Isn't that awesome? According to the law, I should be punished. I should have to face to consequences of what I've done. I shouldn't get to "eat the watermelon" and receive the good things God has planned for me. But, through Jesus, I am forgiven! I receive grace and love and freedom from the punishment I deserve.
I'm so thankful for God's grace! And I'm thankful for the opportunity He gave me to be an example of His grace to my kids that day. Landon did get to eat some of that watermelon and I got a great reminder of God's love for me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A fun weekend, part two-tournament

Saturday started out bright and early. We were all up, dressed, packed, and out the door for breakfast by 8. It was so nice to already be in OKC and not have to leave the house at 6:30am! We may have to do that again next year.
Then, we were off to the tournament. We got everyone registered and in their uniforms, then they went off to warm up while we settled into our seats for the day.

That's Cheyenne at the top left.


 I have lots of video from the tournament, but not many pictures. I was so proud of all four of them! The competition this year was tough. We didn't come home with many medals, but they did their best and hung in there.

Here's Landon waiting for his forms competition to begin. There were so many kids in his group! This was the first time for him to compete as an orange belt. He did a great job!
This picture breaks my heart and makes me proud all at the same time. This is the moment when he realized he wasn't going to get a medal. He handled it well for a seven year-old.
Sierra also had a really large group. She did a great job! After a tie-breaker, she placed 4th.
Here is Cheyenne bowing in before her forms competition. She did a great job, too. She also placed 4th in her division.

This is Dakota waiting for her forms competition to begin. She worked really hard and spent lots of time practicing at home. It paid off, because came in 3rd!
The kids did really well in sparring. It was the first time for Cheyenne, Sierra, and Landon to spar at a tournament. I think they all learned a lot for next time. Landon was so close to a medal. He made it through 3 matches and lost the fourth by only one point. He ended up 4th place in his division.

Dakota sparred last year in the tournament and placed 2nd. This year, she knew more what to expect and was better prepared. She did awesome and brought home GOLD!

 What a great weekend! Love getting away and having fun together!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A fun weekend, part one-Sam Noble Museum of Natural History

We have had a busy couple of weeks in the Harmon household. Mostly doctor appointments, homeschool group activities, 4-H activities, and tae kwon do classes. Lately it seems like we constantly have somewhere to be or something to do. I am ready for summer to come so things will calm down a little. I love all the activities we get to do, but a little break will be welcome, too.

This weekend, we made room for a little fun among our busyness. Dakota's birthday is coming up next week and she had asked to visit the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History to celebrate. The kids had a tae kwon do tournament in OKC on Saturday, so we decided to go up on Friday and make weekend of it. We had a great time!

 (get ready for picture overload!)
At the entrance to the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, there was a giant inflatable spider. I made sure to keep my distance!
The first area we went into was a special exhibit on insects. There was a scavenger hunt for the kids to do and then turn in for a prize.

We found this sign on binomial nomenclature in the insect room. Dakota just learned about this in Biology, so I made her pose by it. Ha!
 After the scavenger hunt, it was time to get on the "dinovator" up to the second floor. This is the view from the top.

The kids went back downstairs to check out the mammoth up close and were attacked!


Back upstairs, we went into the Hall of Natural Wonders to see what kinds of animals we could spot. We learned a lot about the animals native to Oklahoma.
Our next stop was the Hall of the People of Oklahoma. We met a very nice gentleman who talked to us about how Native Americans used all the parts of the buffalo.
 Next, it was back downstairs to the Hall of Ancient Life. Finally, it was time to see the dinosaurs!

After the museum, we checked into the hotel and relaxed for a bit while Daniel searched for a new restaurant to try. He has a knack for finding great pizza! He did not let us down. We had dinner at Joey's Pizzeria. It was amazing!

If you're ever in downtown OKC and have a chance, stop by Joey's! The pizza was delicious and the service was outstanding. And tell Becky we said hello.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I mentioned before that I have recently joined a ladies' Bible study group. I have to say that I am loving it! It's such a blessing the hear things from other perspectives and to learn from other people's experiences. One week, only myself and one other lady were able to make it, but I still walked away with a lot to think about.
One of the best things that I've gotten out of the study is learning to look deeper into the scriptures and find how each one applies to me. We're going through the book of Luke right now. Each day there is a passage to read with a verse or two as the focus. Today's verse was Luke 5:31-32

 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, the super religious people of the day.  The Pharisees knew the law and followed it. They wore the right clothes, said the right prayers, hung out with the right people. They were righteous. They weren't looking for a Savior, they were just fine on their own.
As I thought about this verse, I was taken back to the day I went to the hospital with blood clots in my lungs. I had been feeling bad for a couple of days. My heart was racing, my head ached, I felt very anxious. And yet, I didn't go to the doctor. I didn't want to admit that there was anything wrong. I thought I could just take something for my headache and rest and then I would be fine. I didn't need any help.
It wasn't until I was at the point that I couldn't even cross the living room without stopping to rest that I finally acknowledged I was in trouble. I was sick and I needed a doctor. I had to finally admit that I was sick and that, by myself, I couldn't get better.
It's the same way when it comes to my need for Jesus. So many times, I try to get by on my own, thinking that I've got it under control and I don't need any help. All the while, I'm digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole. It's not until I am stuck in the bottom of the pit with no other way out that I finally cry out and ask Jesus to help me. And He does! EVERYTIME!
But, how much better off would I be to admit my need for His help from the beginning? How much trouble would I save myself by calling out and asking for his help before I start digging to begin with?
Jesus came to call the sinners to repentance. But we have to recognize that we are the sinners he came to call. We can't do it on our own, we need Him to save us. And the good news is, He is just waiting for us to ask!