Grace In Faith, Grace In Family, Grace In Healing, Grace In Motherhood, Grace In Parenting, Grace In Sorrow, Uncategorized

Feeling Our Way Through Parenting

feeling-blog
www.kellymcmanus.org

One of the most valuable revelations that I’ve had as a mom recently relates to my kids’ feelings. I hadn’t really thought about feelings much until our newest adopted littles began to struggle. It blows my mind, after much prayer, and the answers, I now have a few golden keys to better communication and relationships with my children.

Growing up, maybe like you, I was taught to work through emotions more quickly than I knew how. I was told to go to my room if I was going to cry, get over it, and to stop crying or pouting. Yet, truth be told–I observed and absorbed everything around me and couldn’t always process my feelings at a quick rate. I am a thinker, if you haven’t figured that out yet, and thinkers take a lot of time to mull over–everything. It didn’t matter if I felt anger, worry, fear, grief, or frustration–when I was pushed to work through my feelings–my body and mind often didn’t agree. As a result, I didn’t always feel heard, I didn’t always feel valued, and I often felt unintentionally rejected by those I loved. In short, like most, I wasn’t equipped to process the traumas of life and later brought broken communication patterns into my relationships, marriage, and family.

In God’s grace and mercy however, I’m learning how to help our children work through their past and present feelings. No big deal, right? Wrong, it’s a bigger deal than my husband and I ever thought–thoughts and feelings are a root cause to every action and reaction and I’m working through them everyday with our littles at home. It takes more time than I ever thought I had but I’m learning and it’s worth it. Weird as it may sound, I feel like I’m healing too in the process of taking deep breaths, holding them close, rocking in the rocking chair, and in trusting God for the questions to ask my children. Throughout the last twenty-three years, I’ve grown in shepherding my kids’ hearts, gone through trainings and certifications, and have opened my heart to daughters and sons with their own unique traumas but I’m learning something new in this season. I’m learning we all must identify and process feelings fully to truly work through pain so we can then step into a place of connection, attachment, bonding, and joy. I’ve also learned not to rush my kids, myself, or others through their grief–because it may later intensify and cause acting out. They need to cry and I need to allow it–realizing tears are beautiful unintelligible treasures, washing the spirit, the mind, and the heart like nothing else can do.

So, parents out there, based on my own microwave experience and approach to parenting failures–please stop rushing your kids through their griefs. Please, stop provoking your children to grieve more by brushing them off. Engage. Listen. Look at them in their beautiful eyes and empathize with them. Parenting is less of a to do list and more of a state of mind. Be present. Be parents–your kids are crying out for you to notice and hear them. Believe me, the duration of hugging will grow shorter and before you know it you’ll find yourself holding your firstborn’s child in your arms instead. Truly, it’s the most amazing thing ever–I should know–on December 3rd I became a grandma to the most beautiful granddaughter!

Today, is a great day to recommit to engaged, loving, and empathetic parenthood. 🙂

 

Grace In Faith, Grace In Following God, Grace In The Storm, Grace In Womanhood, Uncategorized

Drawing Near

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“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 (NASB)

Have you ever felt like your mind was spinning and trying to pull you in too many directions? Have you ever felt like maybe it was time to retreat and draw near to God? In all the rush to finish preparing for our Christmas celebration, I knew I needed to say no to a good thing this week. I didn’t go to church Sunday with my family–I needed to be alone with my Father. There was nothing more I wanted that quiet morning–my thirst could only find quenching by Him. In preparation of my heart and mind for our Christmas celebration this week, I knew it would require more than just singing a few inspired carols, getting gifts wrapped, the remaining lights strung up, or meals prepared in advance. I knew my heart and mind felt distracted by the stuff the world expected in such a celebration. I knew there was much more yet to prepare. Gratefully, I remembered the good news–the world’s standards were not my Lord’s standards. He instead whispered to my soul come, wanting my quiet and contrite heart. He wanted me to walk my teen daughter by His quiet waters and remember why–why and who we celebrate at Christmas. I needed more of Him Sunday. I needed more of Christ. I needed to experience a refilling of His Spirit, a long worship, and reminders that He remains the reason for these holy days.

I pray that for you also today. Before you search out one more recipe or one more decorating idea–hide away, still yourself, and draw near to the One you love and celebrate Him this Christmas.

 

Grace In Adoption, Grace In Church, Grace In Faith, Grace In Family, Grace In Following God, Grace In Healing, Grace In Marriage, Grace In Motherhood, Grace In Parenting, Grace In Sorrow, Grace In The Storm, Grace In Womanhood, Uncategorized

Trust A Little More

Trust is a funny thing isn’t it? It can seem so simple and yet so difficult depending upon the situation. In my world, I often trust my car has gas in it when I hop in to run errands. Also, I often trust the charge for my phone will last a full day and it’s still where I left it moments earlier. You and I may trust our kids to obey, our spouses and family to love, friends to care, an employer to pay, or a church family to extend grace. Sometimes though, we are left speechless when trust shatters to pieces. 

About a month ago, I trusted our six year old had overcome his impulsive desires after a month of peace, joy, and calm in our home–it didn’t last. Twice within a weeks span, I felt jarred awake by the alarming news of maple syrup poured over our guest bed, carpeting, nightstand, dresser, pictures, and one surprised and sticky eight year old son. It appeared Timothy’s pain and grief had won out and he took action. Every drizzle showed us that he caved to triggers and feelings of loss–forgetting what we had practiced to calm him. He forgot to come to us with his emotions and here we were–back to hidden nibbled food stored underneath a bed, and a very large mess. Was I wrong to hope? Was I wrong to trust the prayers for my son were being answered?

trust
Trusting A Little More~www.splashingingrace.com

It’s alright, don’t feel bad for chuckling or shaking your head–I hope one day in hindsight, I will too. In the meantime, as I consider where we’ve come from on our post adoption journey, let me assure you, this sticky situation hasn’t erased my trust in what God continues to do in our son and in us. Dare I say, in those moments, I even felt hope like I hadn’t before. I realized after I oversaw the cleanup–I felt grateful. There were only a few nibbles out of the cheese before it was placed under the bed for safekeeping–verses the whole block eaten. His actions were less intensified and less destructive than a year ago. I saw anxiety levels dialed down both in my husband and myself. I believed deep in my heart, maybe, we’d grown ourselves.

While we cannot trust our six or even eight year olds yet, we continue learning how to trust each other more in parenting. We also trust the therapy process more, trust the wisdom of the Bible, and trust that God knew what He was doing when he chose us to become Timothy and Joshua’s parents. You see, our sons aren’t the only ones that are growing in trust. I’ve learned some hard lessons in this season and there’s one lesson I didn’t want to believe or accept. I’ve learned that not only will both big and little people I once trusted lose it at some point, I may lose theirs too, and I’m learning what trusting God in the midst of all the crazy looks like. Only He can put it all back together better than before.

Maybe we can all learn from Timothy somehow. Do we want to gain more awareness of where and why we struggle in trusting God and others? Do we believe God is real and ready to act on our behalf in the midst of difficult circumstances or pain of the past? Let’s go to God and ask Him for wisdom on why we are in distress and not trusting those He’s placed in our lives. May we gain courage and allow God to drive out any fear, panic, doubt, anxiety, worry, or lie from our hearts. Whether we are striving to trust or become trustworthy ourselves–may the Lord give us courage to trust Him first, stand up, and take the next step of faith towards true and permanent healing. He will do this.

“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests. Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. 

Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!”

Psalm 20

Grace In Church, Grace In Faith, Grace In Family, Grace In Following God, Uncategorized

Crawling Under A Microscope

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Last Sunday in the darkness, I rose early before everyone to pray. Our family was about to rise, dress, and prepare to crawl under human microscopes for analysis by a church selection committee later in the morning. Before we had left our home, I had felt afraid of the interviewing process. I wondered, what if our family’s first impression doesn’t paint a realistic picture? Then, I cringed at the idea that we just might. I was well aware of our imperfections and I had more to pray over before our interview. Lord, please remove this insecurity and anxiety from me–please provide Your peace and my trust in you instead. May we make the most of this opportunity to encourage Your hurting Church and bless them. May we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear what You desire and Your will for us. Please, stir our hearts and minds today from Your living word. Then, it hit me.

None of this is really about us, but about                                      what God desires to do through us, for His glory.

By His abundant grace, our family filed through double doors with children all wearing matching socks and shoes. I think it was a first. We filled a church pew, worshipped, fellowshipped, and received Good News from someone I love–one who remains set apart and ordained for God’s use. Yes, I still had to scold our girls for whispering during the sermon and yes, I had to remind our son to quit wiggling next to me, but for the most part–I think we made it through the message without too much distraction.

My husband offered encouragement through his sermon message about standing as a Christ follower–not sitting, not sleeping, not worrying, but standing and shining our lights in this world. Then, after the service and hungry tummies were filled with pizza, we entered the interviewing process in front of the committee. We also had some interviewing to do, because as we all know, some pastor’s wives play piano–I for one don’t. I hope they forgive my blunt testimony to that little fact. My husband and I both felt relaxed and more than ready for their questions. Through the interviewing process, it felt strange; we inadvertently realized how much we’ve changed. Our faith , our experience, and even our skills over the years, aren’t the same. We sat there unified, at peace, and able to laugh­–but at one point we were left with more questions.

Would the selection team, remain at peace with all the expectations we couldn’t meet?

Some of us may never know what it feels like to lead our families underneath a church selection committee microscope such as this. While my husband and I felt at peace with our answers, the process did leave a pang of sadness in my heart. There were some Biblical issues we just couldn’t see eye to eye on and we would not waver even though my husband needed employment.

Hold on, I’m going to climb up on a soap box here. The whole experience was such a great reminder to me of our responsibility within the Church today–regardless of our circumstances.

  • I believe we must pray for and assure those who shepherd our churches and their families–that we love them. It takes great courage to risk rejection, judgment, slander, loneliness, and unsolicited advice from so many. It’s also a courageous thing to obey God as an imperfect person and serve imperfect people.
  • As members of the Church–we also must allow God to revive His Biblical mission in and through each of us personally–not just depend upon the pastor.
  • We must reject the temptation to go with the flow of culture and conform to what’s popular even in the Church setting–we must remain strong. We cannot choose laziness and compromise–we must remember that we are set apart to be put on a lamp stand and shine bright.

In the same way my kids needed reminding to refrain from whispering and listen during a church service, or to stop wiggling so others could focus–I believe we need adults may need some reminding also. To avoid confusion on every issue from creation, marriage, conception and birth, children, church leadership, governmentconflict, sin, gracesalvation, and everlasting life–now more than ever, I now see and believe something I only assumed everyone understood before. We within the Church, must open our Bibles, read them, remember, and do what they say–even if the truth conflicts with our personal feelings and even if it hurts. Tell me, if we don’t who will? 

God wants to direct us, He wants to help us learn from history, and he wants to protect us from our bent towards disobedience and self-destruction. He loves us and wants to tell us just how much. He wants a relationship with each of us–no matter how imperfect. He wants us in our jeans, in our sweats, in our confusion, in our struggles–He simply wants us humbled and real before Him and just as we are. The question is–do we want Him or do we want our churches to become something He never intended? 

May He revive us, His church, with  humble, prayerful, faithful, and grateful hearts according to His will.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-8

***I am happy to report that the very next day, my husband was officially offered and accepted a work position near to home! Thank you all for praying with and for our family–please thank God with us!!***

Grace In Faith, Grace In Following God, Grace In Marriage, Grace In Motherhood, Grace In The Storm, Uncategorized

Life At The Crossroads

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I remember the moment like yesterday, the one when I conversed with my future husband for the first time. We were at a youth gathering, and both of us at college age, were helping oversee the activities for the evening. We had already met before that event and as we sat, we dove into the topic of travel. He spoke about how he had traveled to Haiti and I spoke about how I had traveled to Merida, Mexico and the Dominican Republic–all of them were mission trips where we served the people in various ways. Neither of us remained the same after our travels. Our worldviews experienced a mighty transformation and it connected us together in a new lasting friendship. After months of working with the youth for the summer, then attending college, deep conversation, and prayer together–we became engaged. Both of us not only committed our lives to each other but also to serving God together in full-time ministry.

 I had no idea what I was doing.

No one told me I’d enter my darkest days as a new pastors wife in South Florida. No one told me how lonely I would feel, or the difficulty I would have serving teens when I was a still only nineteen myself. I had baggage–major baggage and I felt lost. I felt ashamed and felt so unworthy to serve in the role I’d been entrusted with. I felt ill-equipped and I didn’t want to fake anything. I was spiraling into a depression that would last a few long months. It was no wonder as I gaze back on it; I didn’t know what my purpose was and I didn’t make the time to seek God until I was desperate. The good news, I did awaken from my late morning slumbers and returned to the habits that had once brought me to the cross of Christ–I found hope again.

That season was pivotal in my walk with Christ.

Few understand what it’s like to crawl out of a pit and serve people much less serve God but there’s something I want you to know. My husband and I as many of you, know what it’s like to serve others and there are reasons why we do it. We love our Lord Jesus and we know He loves people–we are compelled by His Holy Spirit to extend His love to others and there’s no way to contain it. We’ve realized over the years, we don’t need a full-time ministry to love or serve people, we can do that in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. Because of our belief, we hope people around us have felt it. I’m aware that any future service will require sacrifice, whether it be over the mountains or through the valley’s. That thought makes me pause, am I willing? Am I willing to grow? 

I don’t like growing pains but I do like to grow.

So, here we are at our vocational crossroads again. My husband’s pipeline project is complete and now we face choices that will determine our family’s future. There are so many directions we could go and sometimes I feel like that’s almost harder. Should he hit the pipeline again for months at a time? Should he return to his successful sales experience for a job? Or do we take that looming leap of faith and do what we really know we should? Should we return to full-time ministry? How should we serve God and serve people? Those are big question marks. We are praying, we are working with the answers we have so far, and we are moving forward until the revelation comes.

I covet your prayers for our family…

(Read More…) I Thessalonians 1:1-10

Grace In Adoption, Grace In Faith, Grace In Family, Grace In Following God, Grace In Healing, Grace In Marriage, Grace In Motherhood, Grace In Parenting, Grace In Sorrow, Grace In The Storm, Grace In Womanhood, Uncategorized

Embracing Mercy

mercy
http://www.splashingingrace.com

When was the last time you witnessed a merciful act? Can you recall a moment when your heart melted at the sight of unconditional love and grace towards someone who may not have deserved it? Mercy’s current definition in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary reads as: “(the) kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly.”

In Webster’s 1828 dictionary the definition holds even more depth.

“That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy that which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.”

I’m amazed at the 1828 definition.

I never considered mercy as only exercised towards offenders, had you? When we are in a family, a community, or even apart of a church family for example, Mercy comes in all shapes and forms. When I’ve snapped at my teenaged son and he hugs me instead of snapping back. When I’ve taken a daughter’s privilege away because I believed someone else’s word over hers, grounded her, and she forgave me. When my husband and I have argued or a friend and I have disagreed, and we’ve made the effort to reunify–mercy shows up. Whenever I’ve personally experienced or shared mercy’s goodness–I’m the one that’s experienced change. God’s mercy on Calvary reminds me to give what I’ve received. For me, mercy says I’ll stay and I’ll care even though I want to run or take revenge. I’ll die to my own desires, choose to see you and value you, as Christ see’s me. I’ll love you in spite of our own personal imperfections only because Jesus showed me how–He set the perfect example.

I remember those moments like yesterday, when God asked me to extend mercy while suffering, rather than sever the very last binding thread in the relationship. Believe me, I can still picture that thin scarlet thread in my minds eye–the one that held my marriage together, the one that allowed my father to remain in my life, the ones that test boundaries in relationships, and the one that preserved our commitment to serve people in ministry.

I now see what mercy accomplishes and the fruit that grows from it.

When our situations become overwhelming, and they may at some point, I believe God will help us choose mercy–if we ask Him to. I also believe He’ll show us what to lay down–anything that may hinder mercy’s flow. He may show us our pride, judgment, bitterness, perfectionism, anger, and the like, and we will have to make a decision. The question we’ll have to answer is–is He worthy? Is Jesus and His sacrifice worthy of ours and the effort it’ll take?  In these dark days, may we the Church return to truth, our Savior, and devote ourselves to praying for His love, mercy, forgiveness, and courage. Let’s never forget, His plan hasn’t changed and He still wants to shine though us by His grace–all for His glory.

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement

of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Hosea 6:6 (Read More Here)

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’

For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:13