Encouraging Encounters

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***NOTE: For some reason this post remained in my draft box. But I wanted to post it anyway – this was a great encounter***

Today I went to the doctor. I was desperate to be seen after the long holiday weekend because my Bell’s Palsey had once again returned. My drooping face was alive with nerve pain and I needed help! Thankfully they fit me in with a different doctor and new location. I was fine with the change and thankful to have an appointment.

I met a very knowledgeable and compassionate doctor. She was forgiving and gracious as I showed her the pill bottle of medicine I’d been taking while waiting for a doctor’s appointment. I know you aren’t supposed to take medicine that was prescribed to someone else – but I was desperate and I’ve been dealing with this condition for almost ten years so trust me when I say I was VERY careful. I showed her the pill bottle and admitted the name on it was my son, all the while apologizing for taking medicine not meant for me.

She assured me I hadn’t done any damage, but asked I not do that again. Then she asked about my children and we discovered we both had three boys, with only two-years separating their ages. Her boys are 7, 5, and 3 while mine are 17, 15, and 13. Here I was, looking into the face of a woman ten years behind me in the great timeline of motherhood and my mind flashed back to that season.

For some reason she felt comfortable with me and she asked, “Will it get better, will I make it!?” I asked for more information and immediately identified with her concerns and struggles. You see, I have been there, and now I’m on the other side. The issues didn’t go away, but yes – I made it. She provided me with medication to fix my face and stop the infection and pain. I hope I provided her with the same level of healing.

I walked out of that office with a smile on my face (well, a half-smile because my left side wasn’t working yet) because I felt useful and connected to a wonderful mom who just needed to hear that she was doing great and her boys were 100% normal. We all have stresses and issues we’re managing each day. But I hope we can stop and speak a word of encouragement and peace to our fellow mothers.

We live in a society that is truly trying to stretch its inclusive arms of acceptance. I love the moms in this blog because I know you are doing what you can to help each other. Try each day to give a smile, a thumbs up, or a hug to a mom who needs it. Just be there and be available.

Tonight I’m still praying for that sweet doctor and I believe when she finished her rounds she was able to go home with a refreshed sense of hope and excitement when it comes to being a boy-mom.

You’re all amazing and I’m so thankful for you!

Kasey

Grit

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No matter the age of our children, all parents understand the importance of having grit. In the world of education we define grit as having courage, resolve, and strength of character. Students with the ability to stick with something when it becomes difficult display grit. When the baby continues to cry, when the teenager rolls their eyes, when the toddler says no to everything…in those moments, parents display grit. We stick with it. We don’t give up on the child or on our relationship – we hold tight to what we KNOW instead of what we feel.

This past week our family spent time in San Francisco, Mammoth Lake, and Yosemite. It was a very full trip with a ton of time spent in a van. When hiking through Yosemite, our youngest started to really struggle. To be honest, I was struggling too! The steep climb, the slick surfaces, the water and heat – it was all just too much at times.

I found myself talking to him, but saying the words because I needed to hear them. Things like, “Just a little further to go.” “Take it one step at a time honey.” “You can do this, look how far you’ve already come!” “Deep, slow breaths buddy – give your body fuel with oxygen.”

As I marched along the 6+ miles with my men, I started reflecting on the moments in my short parenting life and how many times grit was not natural or innate. Instead, I had to dig deep, beyond my physical strength or mental capacity.

As a parent you might think you’ve reached your limit, the end of your patience and energy – but don’t give in! You have a never-ending, overflowing resource – your Heavenly Father.

Some might brush this off as a crutch or something that isn’t “real” or tangible. To those people I would have to say this: On my own, relying on my own strength – I am not enough. I can’t take care of myself, my family, my job, my marriage, my friends on my own. Maybe I’m weak. Maybe I’m not accessing my full potential. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m being realistic!

We have three children. Three very different children. One is really putting us through the paces when it comes to letting go and still having to implement consequences for his behavior. The other is finding his identity and is sometimes reactive and we’re not exactly sure why. The other is simply trying to survive – he’s finding his own way and living into his talents – he’s good and therefore is sometimes overlooked. For me to think for one moment that I’m wise enough, strong enough, or quick enough to manage life on my own would be a true sign of my pride and ego.

When a child comes into your life, your pride quickly begins to leave. You seek help and advice, support and relief – the days are long and your patience becomes short. So no matter where you are on this journey of parenting, keep your grit! Dig in and don’t give up. When your grit starts to waiver, call out to your Creator. He knows your heart and He knows what you need. Reach out your hand and allow Him to lift you up and guide you through whatever you’re facing.

A scripture for you to hold tightly to:

Isaiah 40:28-31 (MSG)

“Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And He knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

So if you have a day when you feel like you dropped out or you fell or stumbled – it’s okay. God has you – He’s always had you. He carries me through my days in a fresh and new way when I think I can’t go on. He gets all the glory and I get all the gifts from His presence.

Hang in there. Your grit is better when God is behind it. No matter how steep the hill or battle you’re facing, you will make it – just take it one step at a time.

Kasey

Focus

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I teach middle school. This statement says a lot about my constant struggle to keep people’s focus. If you were to peek in my classroom you’d think a crazy woman was in charge. Sometimes I’m acting out vocabulary. Other times I’m clapping and dancing around the room – all in an effort to keep people focused and with me.

God doesn’t go to such dramatic efforts. He is consistently available and is always capable. Nothing we bring in our chaos will cause Him to lose focus. As my education has continued, so has my insight. I am very aware of how much I don’t know, and yet I’m anxious to apply what I do know. I’ve been applying for jobs. I’ve been having great conversations with people, but nothing has come to be.

So I’m focusing on what I can do, where I am, with the situation that is in front of me. Sometimes the enemy tries to get us to focus on issues or situations that are out of our control. He wants us to panic or become anxious. When we focus on the unknown, we forget to focus on the KNOWN.

Here’s what I know:

I know God created me. He made me from the inside out and He knows me better than I know myself! (Psalm 139:13-14)

I know God is here to give me real and eternal life – more abundant life than I ever could have hope for! (John 10:10)

I know God provides my identity, fogiveness, healing, satisfaction, and redemption! (Psalm 103:3-5)

I know God can do more than I could ever ask or imagine. His power is at work within me! (Ephesians 3:20-21)

I know God is with me everywhere I go – I am not alone! (Joshua 1:9)

I know God is my shield. No matter what the enemy tries to throw at me, I have a shield. I can relax and breathe. (Psalm 115:9-11)

I know God is my refuge and strong tower. I can lean into Him. I can rest in His presence when I feel weak. (Psalm 61:3)

So no matter what you’re facing today – whatever fear is lingering in your thoughts and spirit – I beg of you – focus on what you KNOW to be true, and the unknown will have less power and influence over you.

Focus on your faith so you can limit the fear. I don’t know what awaits me in life  but I’m choosing to focus on the Creator, not the chaos.

Will you join me? Share your faith journey below in the comments and allow us to feel encouraged through you! Thankfully we don’t have to dance around or clap our hands to get God’s attention. He’s listening. He’s here. He’s in control.

Kasey

Update

Storms come and go. Riding them out takes some serious patience and strength. I’ve decided to start thinking parenting a teenager is a lot like riding out a storm.

Storms in the Midwest can be brutal. They come up quickly and they can destroy a specific area and skip another area. A storm can come on a beautiful, clear day with almost zero warning. We have sirens and our meteorologists try their best- but mother nature sometimes has other plans.

Teenagers are like Midwest storms. They can come out of no where and leave a path of destruction.

The destruction from my last post ended up being pretty bad, but the clean up and restoration process is continuing. You see – I don’t want these moments to define my relationship with my kids, but it’s so difficult to keep perspective. Some of you responded to the last post with such sweet words of encouragement and yes – perspective.

Storms are unpredictable and they can’t be managed – only endured. So I’ve decided to keep my eyes focused on the One who provides shelter from the storms of life. My Creator. My God who knows my heart and knows the true needs of my boy.

He also knows the future.

God keeps reminding me of the following things:

It’s not my job to ensure my son knows the Lord. The Lord doesn’t need my help.

It’s not my job to fix my boy.

It’s not my job to control things.

It’s my job to guide, to love, to live out my faith. I’m keeping my focus on the One who holds the past, present, and future.

I’m growing and learning and I’m so thankful to have this beautiful community around me on the journey.

You are a blessing to me!

Kasey

Upside down

Right now I’m sitting on my bathroom floor as the tears roll. I have a teenager. He is fantastic 90% of the time. But when it comes to accountability, organization, and school. Well – that’s where the 10% becomes almost unbearable.

Am I the only one that truly wants to give up? Sure kid – fail out of school. Sure kid – sit around and watch Netflix and YouTube all day. No problem if you never turn an assignment in on time. No problem. I’ll just be right over here making your meals, washing your clothes, and watching you live it up.

Is he responsible with work? Yep. Helping his dad with projects? Yep. Willing to give of his time for others? Sure. But for me – when I call him on his issues – I get to be the jerk. The one he hates. The person who is always causing him problems and destroying his life.

I used to think these sort of battles would be easier to manage because I would be objective. But here’s the thing…kids who are upset do really stupid things.

Like drugs, they turn to social media or videos for comfort- some even take their own lives.

So the pressure I’m feeling to stay quiet is very real. He has so much potential. He has so many gifts. But his pride. My pride. His sense of justice. My sense of reality.

Well- it all gets very messy and my husband has to step in and clean up.

Lately I’ve had a mantra: “I’m the adult. I’m the adult. I’m the adult.”

Right now I feel like a scared kid who can’t do anything right. I’m losing my boy and I feel 100% responsible. My brain knows that isn’t true but my heart is broken and my spirit is so very tired.

If this was the first scuffle it might be different. But it’s not.

I’m not sure how much more I can take. God – be with me. Be with my amazing husband. Give me strength I don’t possess.

Light

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Please tell me I’m not the only one.

My day can be going GREAT. I can feel on top of the world and suddenly I’m reminded of a person or a memory. In that split second I am ripped from my balanced, fulfilled life into a chaotic, dark whirlwind of hurt and emotion.

I was raised in a home where emotions were recognized and allowed. However, emotions were not used as an excuse to become selfish or mean. Instead, we worked through the emotions and I was taught to try and help someone else so I wouldn’t focus on the emotions or myself too much.

So here I am. I’ve lived over four decades and I’m STILL trying to remember how to keep emotions at bay, especially those feelings that come with hurtful memories. Yesterday was one of those days. It was an email. A silly email, sent by someone who has NO CLUE the hurt I endured at the hands of some very evil, manipulative people…and yet that silly, short email created a connection to the past and it rocked my world.

These negative feelings, these hurtful memories – time will help lessen their sting – but last night they were very real. I talked with my husband and he helped me shift my perspective.

So I couldn’t stop smiling as I read my devotions this morning. If you’re being rocked by present or past situations – read these words from “Jesus Calling” and step into the LIGHT!  These are words from Sarah Young – I hope they lift your spirit as much as they did mine…

“As you turn your attention to me, feel the Light of My Presence shining upon you. Open your mind and heart to receive My heavenly smile of approval. Let My gold-tinged Love wash over you and soak into the depths of your being.”

So the next time you feel yourself slipping into a dark place, visualize yourself walking out of a dark room, into the sunlight. Now imagine being wrapped in the warmth and light while taking a deep breath. That warmth, that release – it’s a physical representation of God’s spiritual connection with us.

Choose LIGHT.

Turn away from the darkness. Even if you have to turn away fifty times a day. God is waiting to bathe you in His Presence and peace.

You are loved!

Kasey

Fear

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Fear. It’s a four-letter word that can paralyze us and limit our joy. Fear evolves as we grow. It morphs as our experiences intensify, but at its core…fear never changes.

It is a tool the enemy uses to create doubt. Doubt about others, about ourselves, about God. Doubt brings darkness.

Taking a step in the darkness is so scary. Anyone else stubbed a toe or stepped on a noisy toy while trying to navigate a dark room? Walking through a dark place is exhausting! Always waiting for that unknown thing to pop up and take us by surprise – ahhhh!!

If fear brings doubt and doubt brings darkness, why would we allow ourselves to love there? Well – because fear is REAL! It’s real and sometimes we can’t get rid of it all on our own. Instead, we need help. Hep from others, hep from God, we can’t do it alone.

Having faith God can break through the fear and darkness is not easy. It’s a choice.

I often remind my children that their feelings and emotions are very real, but sometimes they just can’t be trusted. Instead, of “feeling” they have to choose to “know”.

To know who they are in the eyes of their Creator. To know how much they are loved. To know they have been called to live a life that consists of more than immediate victories or easy roads.

So let’s replace the four-letter word, FEAR with another one, KNOW.

Here’s what I know:

  1. I know God is ALWAYS working on my behalf, even when it seems nothing is working out. He works ALL things for the good of those who love Him.
  2. I know my strength has limitations. My physical, mental, and emotional limits are very real. So why would I think I can do this thing called life on my own? I need my people around me. Scripture tells us we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. I have people in my life who have witnessed me at my lowest, most vulnerable moments and they still love me. They have also witnessed how God brought me out of the darkness and helped me grow.
  3. I know life is not fair. I have been hurt so badly by people who called themselves Christians. I’ve been judged, lied about, and even misrepresented by people who called themselves my friend. Did I handle myself perfectly in those situations when I was hurting? Nope. But boy did I learn. I learned that in the dark moments, I have to focus on the light. Not on the people trying to drag me down into a dark place of fear and failure. Grace is REALLY unfair. God extends it to really nasty, awful people too. Sometimes that’s hard for me to accept. But maybe if I keep focused on the light, they will see it to and retribution and forgiveness can happen – just maybe.
  4. I know God is enough. Throughout the Psalms we learn read God is our Rock, Fortress, Shelter, Strength, Peace, Hope…the list goes on and on. He promised to be what I need Him to be and that can be enough, even in the darkest of times.

So as we head into this Halloween season with the haunted houses and costumes, I hope we can look at fear in a new way. Maybe we can name what really frightens us and give it to God. He never asked us to walk this road of life alone. He can handle it. Whatever it is – cry out to Him. Start to KNOW your Savior in a new way. KNOW the promises found in scripture and in return, fear will have to loosen its hold on your spirit and life.

You are a blessing to so many and to me! If you have time, leave a comment below telling us how you overcame a fear in your life or maybe a fear you are struggling with. You’re not alone – I’m sure of it. Come out of the darkness and into the light.

Have a wonderful week!
Kasey


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