Braking My Heart

In my defense,  I was trying to be helpful. I had driven the tractor before. Both my kids can.  It had just been awhile… but I wanted to help mow. I proceeded to successfully back the tractor out of the machine shed.  An accomplishment when you consider the mower is stationary on the back. It is really hard to back up when you are essentially a land mass unto yourself. Any turn of the steering wheel and you can quickly side swipe the shed with the mower deck. But remember,  I’m skilled. Done. Check. No dents.

Happy with myself, I moseyed out onto the lawn, pulled the yellow knob, the blades whirled and I started mowing. Back and forth, around trees.

Like. A. Boss.

Until a few variables kicked up the difficulty a bit. I was making my way up the hill through the thick grass when the motor started to slow and cut out- the tractor started to creep and sputter. I realized that the tractor was going to die so I quickly shut of the blades. But it was too late, the motor cut out.  In a panic, I realized that a stopped motor on a hill was a bad thing. As I started to roll down said hill, I tried to push the accelerator, tried starting it. Nothing was stopping my descent.

Oddly, I did everything but apply the brake. (thus the name of my blog). Didn’t even occur to me as PLAN A.

So I slowly rolled down the hill.  Until the last few feet, a light came on and I hit the brake-but it was too late to stop the momentum of a John Deere cab tractor and we hit the fence post. Luckily nothing broke. (Well…a popped a fence staple.) It all happened so fast. One minute I’m doing great -the next,  I’m in a free fall and I’m living my recurring nightmare about backing up with no brakes. (seriously about once a month I have that same dream) But why get into a machine when you don’t know where the brake is? Reminds me of the dent my daughter at the age of four put in the garage door..yah we didn’t tell her about the brake before she jumped on her first little 4 wheeler. I’m sensing a trend here…

tractor
Said tractor building said fence. 

 

Run away vehicles aside,  I don’t know how many times I have found myself in a similar situation where my feelings have started to run away and my brain shifts into neutral.  I become a victim to worse case scenarios,  false thinking/beliefs and quickly descend into panic, self loathing and usually tears.

Scripture teaches the heart is exceedingly deceitful. But yet we live in culture that prompts us to follow our hearts. It is no surprise that anxiety is increasingly a problem.  Our thoughts create our feelings. Unless we know how to apply the brakes to negative thinking we will continue to find ourselves in free fall when the going gets tough.

Putting a stop to the heart and engaging the more rationale part of the brain takes practice and a plan for when you start to free fall. Much like getting into your husbands tractor….it is good to know what you are going to do when problems arise. Plan ahead.

Simply,  a couple of things that have helped me.

Proverbs 3:5 teaches Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Usually, I don’t always know what is triggering my anxious thoughts but I found a quick prayer asking for something besides my own understanding can help. (Psalms 139:24) God reveals to my head the trigger.  Often my heart panic can be traced back to my lack of trust that God is going to help me through the hard times and that ultimately He is in control.

I keep a verse on my fridge and it is often the brake I need to slow my mental freefall.  “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  (Matthew 6:34) I have found this to be very true…even in difficult times if I focus on the present moment I can cope!

When worry and fear overwhelm me,  it helps to reflect on my Savior through worship. Andy Stanley says, “worry reflects your devotion. Devotion directs your emotions. To change your emotion, change your devotion.”   In worship, I hear God’s truth to combat my negative thinking. He re-frames my circumstances. He leads me by still waters. Everything can then seem smaller.

I’ll be honest, nothing is a perfect science and sometimes I do curl into a ball of despair. Usually because I hit the brakes too late! I read once that we have 5 seconds to act on something before our default (bad habits) takes over. We have a couple of heart beats before our nature starts running things.  There just isn’t much much time to take rogue thoughts captive and obedient to Christ. So we have to be ready to push the brake.

I may lose my tractor privileges after my husband reads this.

That may not be a bad thing.

You do you

One of my all-time favorite youtube videos is of a sweet and independent toddler trying to put her seatbelt on. She is obviously struggling. So Daddy asks, “do you want help?”, she responds politely, “ no thank you.”   Daddy then asks “what do you want me to do?” She responds, “ you worry about youself.” Sweet but defiant, she remains determined to fasten the seat belt herself. Repeatedly she tells Daddy “you worry about youself.” Frustrated that the attention still rests on her, she admonishes her father, “ Daddy drive! You worry about youself!”

This has inspired an expression in my house- you do you.

Continue reading

Separation Anxiety

Remember when our littles figured out we where leaving the room.  You could step away 2 steps but if you were out of view- the tears would start. You would quick scuddle back to reassure that all was well.  There is that brief time in a child’s development where you leaving,  is like you are never are coming back.

Fast forward 16 years for me and I’m feeling a little that way myself!  This fall both my kids went off to a boarding Christian high school. I’m excited for them, they were ready. But it’s a new normal and a bit unsettling as these amazing humans that I have poured into for a decade and half,  leave the house.  Three o’clock rolls around and I’m not sure what to do with myself! No music lessons, library trips or after school activities.  The first week was rough. I had lost my spark. Cooking for two is weird.  Sensing my pouting,  my friend penned and then gifted the following poem to me. I was encouraged and needed the timely reminder of the truth held on the page. I share with you parents who may also be feeling some separation anxiety as the circle of life beats on!  Rest easy. It’s ok to be sad for a little bit..its all part of our development.  And you thought we were done….

liveout loud

 

For The Brokenhearted

Debra Snyder

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  Psalms 34:18

I’ve stood in the background but have always been near

Watching you mold, raise and love them with strength and sometimes fear

The joy of a family I’ve helped you to know

It brings Me much happiness as I watched it grow

All the while the thought in the back of your mind

Is that they aren’t just yours, but they are also Mine

One day soon you know you will have to let them go

You talk to me and share how you wish it wasn’t so

I know that you stay strong and with them put on a brave face

But to me you confess the ache and pain, you ask for it to be replaced

The quiet days ahead you sometimes find yourself dreading

We talk about those days, the emptiness you feel and ask me to take, even start begging

Through it all though you have remained strong and also true

What I have asked of you for My children you have done and will continue to do

I want you to know dear one that I feel all you do and more

My own dear Son I sent away to save you, all your sins he bore

You see when I created mankind I wanted them to truly know love

For them to understand fully it is a gift from above

So when you look into those faces that are a part of Me as well as you

Know that I will go with them even when you cannot, it is my gift and what I shall do

Remember that to you all I am always right here

Holding everyone close with a love stronger than anyone’s fear

For I have said in My word I am near to the brokenhearted

My love and strength remain they have never ever departed

The job I entrusted you with you have done and been faithful

You have raised them up well and for you I am forever grateful

Rest now in Me and begin to renew your strength

Give yourself My peace, of My waters come and drink

They will always need you as My son still needed Me

Let all my words comfort you now, bring you peace and set you free

 For you have trained them up in the way they should go

Together we will help them continue to choose the seed we will forever sow

Love your Father

 

 

 

Happy Birthday!

Seventeen years ago my son, among many other precious little ones, was a 9/11 baby. Born the day after on the 12th..he is nonetheless a 9/11 baby in my heart.

I woke up the morning of the 11th with “pregnant”  anticipation. Stubbornly my first child was in breach presentation and despite a failed attempt at rotating him in my belly, I had a scheduled c- section the next day.  Home by myself, I commenced my morning routine of waffles and Good Morning America. But the morning was anything but routine.   Continue reading

Wrapping around the Christmas tree

Most of my half baked ideas I can tie to youth and inexperience.

Well, ok a few.

The others? Mostly because I’m slightly inpatient.

Ok, a lot.

It started with a meme of a Christmas tree with all of it’s ornaments hanging and the tree is saran wrapped.  The meme, meant to inspire laughter at “if only”  quickly became why not??  I thought it was a stroke of genius.  Why not wrap my tree up?  I already hauled my entire tree into storage every post Christmas-throwing the box away years ago. The bare tree sits in the corner of my storage all year waiting for it to be hauled in one piece down the stairs next season.  I was stoked at the idea of shortening the decorating process by leaving the ornaments on and just unwrapping my tree next December.  Think of the time I could save? Continue reading

The Cows are Out!

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There is nothing like this rally call to get my kids out of bed on summer day then “the cows are out!”  They know the drill. We have been here before. We have about 20 acres and our neighbors over the years have put their hobby angus and 4H calves in our backyard.  It’s a call to arms, or rather tennis shoes and 4 wheelers. Still in pj’s we begin the slide into the most maddening thing I’ve ever encountered.  Nothing like herding heifers and baby calves to send the three of us into a spiral of yelling, tears and rising tempers. It is not pretty.  You will not find us at our best-chasing cows.

Hollering, pointing and chastising each other as we try and force our will on these animals whom are clearly not phased by us mere humans and not the least bit interested in going through “that” gate.  They mock us while they continue to graze.

Mamas finally returned to pasture only for the baby to squeak by in a panic, zipping back and forth along the fence row, trotting at a mach 10 down the road and leaping the neighbors fence. Emotions again escalate and soon we all become the bossy expert when it’s obvious that is the furthest thing from the truth. None of us know what we are doing.

My frustration mounts as I notice evidence of their feast in my yard as they leave their larger than dinner plate cow pies behind, left to adorn my lawn for many seasons to come.  Never one cow, these unpredictable large animals  come in a herd size inconvenience, leaving me flustered and intimated.

Kind of like our problems.  

Problems greet us when we are all comfortable and they too don’t always bring out the best in us. We scuddle around trying to shuffle our problems into solutions only to find them squeak out another way. We become consumed with anxiety and worry.  Tempers flair and stress rises. We try to control variables and people to ensure we never see that problem again. Sometimes our solutions seem good but they are ineffective. Much like the 4 FOOT chain Caleb wrapped around the gate post to ensure the cows never get out again only to be shown later that was a waste of time as the cows are slipping out in between fence and shed.

As the saying goes- cow pies happen.

Christ said in this world we would have problems. The good news is that He is there to work the problem with us. When I can turn it over to him-things don’t usually descend into chaos. Christ teaches that unless we link arms with him, we can do nothing. Apart from him we are like a branch cut from tree-disconnected from our life source. (John 15:5-6)  

Scripture can seem trite-stale answers for a difficult life. Can it really be that easy? Remain in Christ?  It’s not. There is a saying that when we plan, God laughs. Well I think when I blog -God moves. I have had this blog written for 2 months and God decided to show me I have a lot to learn about managing problems.  I have a hard time letting go. I’m afraid that if I’m not stressing or working the problem in my head it will get worse.  But usually the only thing that gets worse is my mood.   From a practical sense how to you hand something off to Christ? How do I remain in Him?  Sometimes it’s writing the problem down and promising myself I’ll come back to it after some time-leaving it to God.  Surprisingly solutions can present themselves or resolve on their own.  

The most effective though is prayer. The mental space prayer provides gives perspective to cope and wisdom to act.  It works for the little problems and the big ones.  Usually, I have found the God doesn’t change the problems, but He changes me.  I may realize my problem is not a big deal, or I gain peace to implement a difficult solution. It’s really fun when God gives me a spark to solve something that stumps me. I especially appreciate it this when I can’t balance my books after an hour of trying to find the missing money-yes I pray about that! 

So for the critics that think they can work their problems on their own, I will say this..

When the cows are out and I’m working it by myself it doesn’t go well. However when my farm raised hubby comes home and stands in the road and raises his long arms up and  gently shuffles his gait easily persuading the black beasts to retreat, I don’t question it-I’m relieved to let the master work.  I encourage you to let the master work in your life-any other way is halfbaked!