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

Blink

Ty and James

I was cleaning out my Google Drive today and this picture stopped me in my tracks. My eyes filled with tears. This is our middle boy when he was around 2, holding his day-old brother in the hospital. Everything about this picture ruins me. The pudgy fingers, round cheeks, tiny sneakers and closeness…all of it…

This is a snapshot of a season that was so very wonderful and yet so exhausting!

The tears are not because I miss this time of life. Are you kidding!?

Weight gain, pumping, nursing, schedules, strollers, diapers…the list is so very long.

The tears are because back then I was in control. I really was. I set the schedule, I made the meals, I buckled them in, I managed their social calendar and planned their activities – I knew where they were all the time.

And now, well – it’s so very different.

Our boys are now 16, 14, and 11. Is it still awesome? SURE! But control is a slippery concept I can SOMETIMES feel.

People ask me what it’s like to raise teenagers. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Think about riding a roller coaster. That long, slow ride up the first big hill. You know, when you hear every single click of the wheels against the railing and feel the weight of the struggle against gravity. You’re on edge, waiting for the rush – constantly looking over at the people around you. You vacillate between tears, laughter, and absolute fear.

Okay, that feeling on the way up? That’s what it’s like to raise a baby and toddler. A constant battle with physical, mental, emotional exhaustion and keeping things under control.

The journey up feels like it takes FOREVER – but really, the drop at the top is what you remember. You are suddenly completely out of control and surrendered to the loops, twists, and unknowns.

That next part? That’s what it feels like to raise a teenager. To NOT be in control of how they are driving, who they are talking to, and what they are doing at school. We are involved. We ask questions and have great conversations – but the control? Well, the control is shared and slowly moves from me to them.

It. Is. CRAZY!!!!

When they drive away from the house or come home telling you about a girl they are taking to a school dance…you realize that you are along for the ride a little more than you thought. It’s such a great ride – but it is so very different.

I will end with this – I read these words in my devotion this morning:

“Affirm your trust in Me, regardless of how you feel. Thank Me for everything, though this seems unnatural – even irrational. Gradually you will begin to ascend, recovering your lost ground. When you are back on ground level, you can face your circumstances from a humble perspective. If you choose supernatural responses this time – trusting and thanking Me – you will experience My unfathomable Peace.” – Sarah Young “Jesus Calling”

So wherever you are on the ride of life. Trust Him. He’s with you – every hill, drop, loop, and swerve. You are not alone and this part of the ride doesn’t last forever. Try to take a deep breath and enjoy it – there’s always a reason to ascend above our circumstances as we “ride” on the wings of hope that only our Creator can provide.

Hug your kids because you’ll blink and the ride will be ending. Regardless of how you feel – be thankful.

Kasey

To Be or Not To Be

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We teach our children that life is full of choices. Their choices have consequences.

As moms, we’re no different. I made a choice almost 4 years ago. A choice I made with my family’s support and knowledge. I went back to school. As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to earn my doctorate. This past May I walked across the stage in my funny cap and billowing robe. As I walked, I heard my sweet boys yell, “Yeah Mom!” It was the best moment ever!

I’ve had to learn a new “normal”. No more researching, writing, and reading in my spare time. I finally have TIME!

Now that my closets are cleaned out, drawers organized, and moving boxes unpacked (it only took a year!)…I’ve decided to embark on a new challenge.

I’m making a choice to focus my extra time on God’s Word and how it impacts the  unknown world I’m managing when it comes to raising teenagers. It is NOT easy. Not at all. I’m hoping some of you can relate, reply, and help me redirect my thoughts when things get to be too much.

I’m ready to get real – I hope you are ready too.

I’ve been away from blogging for a while now, it feels good to be back  instead of focusing only on my kids, I want to focus on my Savior and the promises found in Scripture.

I hope you’ll stick around and experiment with me as I approach this month in a new way. I’m choosing my focus. I’m choosing God’s calm over the world’s chaos.

Ready, Set, Go…


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