Open Arms Pregnancy Resource Center

Hope and Help for Moms-to-be, Parents, Single Dad's, Families and Others Created in the Image of God   

Small Writings

Melting Glass:

Some Mid-Week Motherhood Musings

By Kristen Sosebee of Virginia

Posted: 01 May 2012

 

As we rock, heavy warmth of you
 
Eases into my chest
 
Straight through blood and bone,
 
Into the center of me
 
'Til I'm filled to bursting.
 
I can barely touch who you are before
 
It becomes who you've been.
 
What to Expect never said to expect
 
That the swelling and stretching
 
Life-commandeering, gut-rearranging habitation
 
Of me, by you
 
Never ends.
 
I think it can go no further -- this overhaul
 
Making me a glass with water dancing
 
 Toward the overflowing brim.
 
But I don't shatter or drain empty
 
Even as my heart breaks over impossible, glorious you.
 
I melt and grow
 
To hold you
 
Still in the womb of my soul.

From Mountain Thistles

Small Writings

Confession #2 - Some Heart Wrestlings 

by Kristen Sosebee

April 2012

I'm having to come to terms with some things about myself.

Such as: I will never be the best at everything.

I know how disgustingly arrogant that sounds. And I admit it, I can be disgustingly arrogant.

But maybe some of you perfectionist, type-A mamas out there can identify with me on this. And here follows yet another perfectionist mama confession.

I've always found a sense of self-respect and fulfillment in striving to be the best.

Please bear with what may sound put-offishly arrogant to get to the following point. *smile*

I never let anyone work harder on anything at college than I did. And while I knew plenty of people who were better musicians than I was, I wasn't ashamed of the skill I'd cultivated. And I could write a fairly reflective and at least superficially profound essay. Yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.

But now I'm face with my own limitations and inadequacies.

There is always someone else who lost all their baby weight faster

Someone who takes more elegant and well-edited photos of their children

Someone whose home looks more like something you'd want to post to Pinterest (a social network I have yet to find appealing)

Someone whose blog gets more comments

Someone who writes more profound blog posts

Someone who volunteers for more charities and takes more meals to bereaved families

Someone who lives more frugally and saves more money

Someone who sews more creatively or more precisely (or just actually enjoys sewing, for that matter)

Someone who cooks more healthily and from scratch

I've lost my measuring stick.

Or I'm being forced to give it up in desperation.

Because if I don't, I'm threatened by other women's successes. I shut doors of friendship and hold back words of praise because my porcelain doll self-image might shatter under the weight of comparison.

I start despising myself, too.

This pathetically limited soul that can't figure out how to be a published author, gourmet cook, perfect seamstress, granola natural mama, size 6 model, southern hostess, orphan saver, and passionate lover all at once.

(It reveals my ridiculous amount of pride to admit that I ever feel like I should be able to be all of that at once.)

Oh dear.

I'm stuck with just me. Limited. Called to things that seem to require perseverance and a strong back more than creative genius and intelligence.

And somehow accept that, in God, what I do is enough. The life I live is enough. Enough of the glorious and mundane and creative and beautiful and messy and weird all rolled into one.

To just ignore some things I don't like doing and let others do them better. And dabble and splash about in the things I do find suited to this soul God gave me, but not expect to do it all beyond compare.

And know that the many (MANY) things that others do better, more beautifully, more artistically, more profoundly, more praiseworthily are worth glorying in and celebrating with them - not viewing as a challenge to step up my inadequate performance.

To live neither in the depths of self-loathing and inadequacy

Nor on the heights of self-sufficiency and delusions of perfection.

To come to earth.

Earth. Humus. Humility.

                                                                                                                                                  

January 1, 2012

Introducing – The Gentleness Challenge

 

Yelling at a bud won’t make it bloom.

As we start a fresh new year, I want to turn our hearts towards our children.  I remember the first time I ever “lost it” with my son.  He was around 2 1/2 and his baby sister was 6 months old.  I had laid them both down for a nap and up he popped out of bed – “mommy, I’m not tired.”  I gently laid him back in bed and told him mommy knew he needed rest. But again, he popped out of bed and refused to sleep…after about 5 times of returning him to bed, this weary mommy’s temper began to rise until I raised my voice in anger at him.

I remember feeling terribly guilty that day…I could not believe the anger that was inside of me.  I NEVER thought I’d yell at my children.  But there I was – with the situation out of my control I felt helpless and lost it.  I repented, apologized to my son…but little did I know that that was the beginning of a long road of my patience being tried by my children lol!

Matthew Henry says “What is spoken wisely should be spoken calmly, and then it will be calmly considered. But passion will lessen the force even of reason, instead of adding any force to it.”

Are you baffled at the fact that your children are not listening to you? Research has shown that when a parent raises their voice at a child – a defense mechanism kicks in that helps the child emotionally protect themselves by tuning out what you are actually saying. When we as moms go on a long rant about something the child has done wrong – we may feel better because we got our feelings out – but our child has not been brought any closer to wisdom and understanding.

Surprisingly, when we harshly tell our children we do not like something they are doing – all they hear is – “you don’t like me“- period. It’s the harshness that accompanies the correction that causes the child to take personal offense and not listen.

And so I’d like to embark humbly on a Gentleness Challenge for mommy’s everwhere who struggle with raising their voices to their children, scowling, speaking in rapid fire foolish words or lecturing in anger. 

It’s interesting to note that all of the fruit of the Spirit address this very issue – the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Gal. 5:22).  When we walk in the Spirit – we will be gentle mothers.  But when we walk in the flesh – we lack all of these attributes.

Which brings me to conclude that we must be in God’s word and on our knees daily – depending on God to help us be the gentle mothers he has called us to be. 

Each Monday in the month of January, I will be posting a video excerpt from the Summer Book Club I led over at GoodMorningGirls.org.  We were reading in Sally Clarkson’s book the Ministry of Motherhood and there’s over 20 videos in the series – but I have chosen the ones that best fit our challenge to share with you - in hopes that it will give you further inspiration outside of my writings. 

So here is our first video featuring me in Ohio skyping my partner Angela in Texas. They are a little lengthy (10 minutes), so grab a cup of coffee and sit back and relax.  We discuss using words of encouragement, food, and kindness to minister to our children along with our fears of being a push over or lecturing too often lol!  

 
Let’s focus this January on dealing gently with our children. Touch them gently, use their names gently, use your words gently, slow down and be loving, kind, and gracious.

 
http://www.womenlivingwell.org

 

Walk with the King!

Courtney

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST 26, 2011

God in the Peach Cobbler

(by Kristen Sosebee, Virginia)


I’m afraid I have very few really vivid memories from being a little girl. Some people can recall stories from their childhood with such exact detail, even what different people said. For me, the memories are mostly images that all blend and swirl together.

 

But one thing I do remember with intense clarity. I remember one afternoon coming home from sleeping over at a friend’s house. Her mom dropped me off, and I walked inside. The sunlight was right at the point where it turns that warm golden evening color. Everything inside was spotless. There weren’t even any footprints in the carpet Mama had just vacuumed. I could hear the vacuum still running downstairs where she was finishing the cleaning. A peach cobbler sat out on the shining counter, still warm and smelling like cinnamon and sugar. I never felt more like I’d died and gone to heaven.

 

That was more than a decade ago.

 

I doubt my mama ever had any idea that the cooking and cleaning she did that day would stay in my mind so long. After all, we cleaned our house every week ‘til it shone, and she was always making incredible food. It probably seemed like just another day’s work. Another routine.

 

But I often remember that moment. Everything in order and shining, smelling like lemon cleaner and peaches. I think of hearing the vacuum running, knowing I had come home to someone who loved me. That moment, I fell a little more in love with beautiful, orderly, pure things.  And perhaps this will sound a little over-the-top, but I truly believe it--because of that, I grew to love God more. After all, God tells us not only to hate evil, but also to “cling to what is good.”

 

Do I ever know which of the things I do are important?  Maybe how I decorate my house or keep it in order, or the way I set the table for a meal, or the time I spend making an apple pie from scratch for a neighbor rather than just picking one up at the store, maybe that will tug someone’s heart a little closer to God.

 

The saying goes, “The devil’s in the details.”

 

But maybe God is in the details. The million moments in which I could slow down, notice, and handle life gently.  With care. And by handling those small moments with care – protecting the stillness, reclaiming order from the mess, strewing bits of beauty throughout life – perhaps then I handle the souls of the people around me with care.

 

Perhaps they will see God as much in the warm pumpkin bread that was made with time and love for them, as they will in the length of time I spend praying or the number of Bible studies I lead or the church events in which I involve my children.

 

Perhaps God speaks loudest in the quiet, little things. A professor once told me that life is a work of art and each of us is the artist of our own life. I hope mine paints God for someone as clearly as my Mama’s peach cobbler and clean floors painted Him for me as a ten year old little girl.

 

 

 

JULY 13, 2011

THE NOBLE ROAD

(by Kristen Sosebee, Virginia)


The washing machine whirs and clacks. Wind chimes hanging from my porch eaves sing in the breeze. And I sit here with my pen and journal, thinking over the many changes life seems to be slinging at me. As a high schooler, I thought that when I was a college upper-classman, I would have “arrived.” As a young woman, I thought that to be married and having babies would be the culmination of life and the destination for fulfillment.

Now I’m slowly realizing that there is no mountaintop on this journey, except the mountaintop of God – the burning cloud that hangs over every step of my path, showing me the way. Every mile of this life-road is strewn with smiles and heartache and monotony and wonder.

Some say that to be a useful Christian you must be a world leader and culture-shaper. Others say that to be a godly woman, you must marry, have a van-full of children, and put aside all vocational and academic interests. Others say you must lead ladies’ Bible studies and take casseroles to all the sick or bereaved in your church. But what really is the life to which I’m called?

Perhaps the only truly noble thing is to follow the path He sets before me, one hill, one year, one day, one hour at a time. To take hold of the Hand that reaches out to me. To lean on the Everlasting Arms in the midst of exams, presentations, dirty diapers, grocery bills, and morning sickness. Not to hold back when He leads on.

I am finally doing what I have always wanted most – being a wife, a mommy, a homemaker. And it is more fun and rewarding than any other stage I’ve encountered. But the fog of discontentment settles easily over life if I’m not watchful. And thankful.

While in college, I always had a goal in front of me. Now there is no one grading me, which means life is less stressful, but there is also no constant reassurance that I am doing well. No one gives me an A at the end of my labors to say, “Excellent work. You couldn’t have done any better.” I have become accustomed to thriving on competition. I would let no one out-do me, sweat and tears all the way. But now what? Who do I look to for encouragement after shopping for the same groceries, trying to squeeze everything into the same budget, and washing the same towels and mismatched socks, all for the millionth time?

I must look to the One it has all been about since the first dawn. My path has taken me through the world of learning with its books filled with beautiful words and the victory of overcoming yet another 10-hour seminar exam. Now the path goes through quieter lands. I find new challenges and gifts waiting for me. And I must keep hold of the Hand that leads me, grateful for every new turn and hill, constantly listening for His “well done” that leaves my heart at peace. Grateful for every sigh from a well-fed and sleeping husband, for every happy little somersault and kick of our baby, and for every wicker basket full of clean, folded towels.

Cause me to hear Thy loving kindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk: for I lift up my soul unto Thee.      Psalm 143:8

                                                                       
 

JULY 1, 2011

DAILY BREAD

(by Naydean Bodenner Julch, La Veta, Colorado)

      

BIBLE READING: "...give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." (Proverbs 30:8, New International Version)

BIBLE READING: "Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11, New International Version)

I get excited when I see the Old Testament and the New Testament linked in common thought and purpose, as they do in ways too numerous for me to count. This is but one example. The writer of Proverbs 30, in the Old Testament, prays for daily bread, and then goes on to express that if he has more than daily provision, he will have too much and will not rely on God, and that if he has less than daily provision, he might consider himself poor and be tempted to steal and thus dishonor the name of God. 

In the New Testament, Jesus repeats these words and this thought as He teaches His disciples how to pray. One of the things he tells them is to ask God for daily bread. He did not say to ask for weekly, monthly, or yearly bread. Thus he echoes the prayer of Proverbs – ask only for daily bread, nothing more, and nothing less.

When this prayer example from Proverbs and this prayer teaching from Jesus trickle down into my life, they sometimes bump into my inability to be content with only one day of provision. That’s my challenge. 

THOUGHT TO CONSIDER: When my closets, cupboards, storage closets, and bank account are full, I develop a false sense of security and am tempted to forget who my ultimate provider is.

PRAYER: Help me, Heavenly Father, to learn contentment with what you provide on a daily basis and not be alarmed when you provide only one day at a time. Amen

 

JUNE 2011

(by Naydean Bodenner Julch, La Veta, Colorado)

The Greater Reality

BIBLE READING: "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them." Psalm 34:7 (English Standard Version)

I am so in tune with the realities of the physical world around me - the things I can see, hear, smell, and touch - that were it not for numerous reminders from God's Word, I would surely forget that there is a greater reality. In the Bible, David experienced that greater reality as he warred with the Philistines, and the LORD told him to listen for the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees. Marching in the tree tops? Impossible! Or was it? No, it was God's heavenly host going out to battle on David's behalf. ("And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines." II Samuel 5:24, ESV)

In another Bible account, the prophet Elisha, with his servant, was surrounded by an enemy's horses and chariots. The servant was terrified at the odds against them, until Elisha prayed for the servant's eyes to be opened to that which was invisible. And when they were, lo and behold, suddenly he glimpsed the greater reality. ("Then Elisha prayed and said, 'O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.' So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." II Kings 6:17, ESV)

The Psalmist affirms that this is what angels do for those who fear the LORD. Shhhh! Listen? Do you hear something in the tree tops?

THOUGHT TO CONSIDER: There is more to reality than what meets the human eye.

PRAYER: Lord, please tune my spiritual senses to trust in the reality of Your Presence in my life at all times. Amen

                                                   

 

MAY 2011 

CONSIDER THE POOR

(by Naydean Bodenner Julch, La Veta, Colorado)


BIBLE READING: "For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.' " Deuteronomy 15:11 (New King James Version)

BIBLE READING: "Blessed is the one who considers the poor." Psalm 41:1 (English Standard Version)

Daily I turn on the television, or pick up a newspaper, or go online and read of the plight of the poor, the crowded shelters, shortage of resources. Those needing money or food or shelter seem to be everywhere. Hard-working people in my own family and others of my own personal acquaintance suddenly lose their jobs or their homes and need help.

I am caught between two extremes. Should I side with the idealist who believes that poverty will be abolished by the proper distribution of resources? Or should I throw up my hands in despair and say, 'Since God says they will always exist, how can what I do make a difference?"

Somewhere in the middle, I am reminded that Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments," (John 14:15); and His command is "...you shall open your hand wide...to your poor and your needy..." (Debut. 15:11)

My decision is clear. I must keep His commandment, knowing it will be a life-long commitment.

THOUGHT TO CONSIDER: "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." The Bible, James 4:17 (New English Standard Version)

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, enable me by your grace to never neglect those who are in need, when it is in my power to help them. Amen. 

                                       

 

 

 

APRIL 2011

 Good Advice from a Prophet

(by Naydean Bodenner Julch, La Veta, Colorado)


BIBLE READING:  "And Samuel said to the people, 'Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil.  Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.' ”  I Samuel 12:20 (English Standard Version)

By this time in Israel’s history, Saul had been confirmed as king (of Israel) in the presence of the LORD (I Samuel 11:14-15).  And now, in chapter 12, the great prophet Samuel gives his farewell speech.  In his discourse, he gives evidence that he has a clear conscience, and the people affirm what he says of himself.  Additionally, the prophet Samuel reminds Israel that it was wicked for them to ask for a king in the first place (v. 17).  Samuel’s words and the realization of their sins cause the people of Israel to greatly fear the LORD and Samuel.  One of their fears is that they might even die because of the great evil they have done.

Samuel’s response is wonderful advice – not only for the Israelites of his day – but to us as well.  In the Bible reading indicated above, he first tells them not to be afraid.  Then he acknowledges that they have in fact done evil.  However, they should not let this cause them to turn aside from following the LORD, but rather it should cause them to serve the Lord with all their hearts from that time on.

The advice echoes down the corridors of time into my own fearful heart:

Do not be afraid;

Admit past evil;

Forsake it;

Seek and serve God now!

THOUGHT TO CONSIDER: "True repentance will entirely change you; the bias of your souls will be changed, then you will delight in God, in Christ, in His Law, and in His people." George Whitefield

PRAYER:  Father in Heaven, help me take the prophet Samuel’s advice to face the facts, respond with a repentant heart, and look to the future with courage, hope, and commitment.

                                     

MARCH 2011

(by Naydean Bodenner Julch, La Veta, Colorado) 

The God of Creation

BIBLE READING:  “…stop and consider the wondrous works of God.”  Job 37:14 (English Standard Version)

Did you ever have a teacher who had no control in the classroom?  You never knew what to expect, it didn’t seem to matter whether assignments were done on time or not, and you learned very little?

Then there was the other kind of teacher. In that classroom, you knew who was in charge. There were ground rules and standards. Great things were expected, and you tried hard to live up to those expectations. It may have been tough, sometimes you trembled with fear, but deep down you felt secure, and you actually learned something.

That’s what I think of when I read the first chapter of Genesis.  God is a God of order. Into an earth of darkness, without form, and empty, He infused light, life, and order. He neatly divided earth time into twenty-four hour periods, designated lights to shine by night and day, created inhabitants, provided food and water, and instituted His method of reproduction for plants, animals, and man.  Sometimes I may tremble with fear, but deep down that kind of power and order gives me peace and security.

THOUGHT TO CONSIDER: "God is not the author of confusion..." I Corinthians 14:33 (King James Version)

PRAYER: Father, remind me that, just as you set in order the universe, you can dispel chaos in my life, and replace it with peace, purpose, and order.

                                            

FEBRUARY 2011

 (by Naydean Bodenner Julch, La Veta, Colorado)

Forgetting the Past

BIBLE READING: "Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.  Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household. The second son he named Ephraim and said, It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering." Genesis 41:50-52 (New International Version) 

If there was anyone in Scripture who could have had bad memories, it was this Joseph that is named in today's Scripture selection. As a child, he was hated and envied by his older brothers. His mother died giving birth to his younger brother. When he was seventeen, his older brothers plotted his death and sold him into slavery.

Torn away from family, friends, and all that was familiar, he was taken to a land where the people, the religion, the customs, and the language were foreign to him. In the household in which he became a slave, he was falsely accused of sexual impurity and thrown into prison, where he was then forgotten by one he befriended. Even though God eventually caused him to be elevated to a position of power in Egypt, he surely often thought about his past, and he could have been bitter, defeated, angry, vengeful, and depressed by the memories of his childhood and young adult years, but he wasn’t. Why?

He tells us why, many years later, at the occasion of the naming of his firstborn son, Manasseh, a name derived from the Hebrew word for “forget”. Why did you name him Manasseh, Joseph? And he answers, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 

THOUGHT TO CONSIDER:  “…one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14 (New International Version)

PRAYER: – Lord, may my testimony be as Joseph’s so that I can joyfully say, “God has made me forget all my trouble.”