A Good Reflection

Are you an earnest humanitarian or reformer? That’s Merriam Webster’s definition of a “do-gooder.” Another description is a person who reaches out to the needs of others in an attempt to create change. Wouldn’t it be nice if this described more Americans?

Join me today as I post with the Presidential Prayer Team.Click HERE to read the rest of my devotion. (*Remember this is only a direct link today, September 26. After today, you’ll have to select today’s date from the drop-down menu.)

As our nation’s next leader is being considered, now is the time to pray for our country and those who lead it. Sign up today to receive daily emails of encouragement from the Presidential Prayer Team. Check out their site for details. While you are visiting the PPT, click around on their site. I think you’ll enjoy some of the articles and prayer tools you’ll find.

Carol

Dealing with a Hateful Customer Service Representative

“I need to order some insulin.” Holding the phone with my shoulder, I tossed some clothes in the wash and waited for the customer service representative from my mail order prescription company to reply.

After a long pause, she said, “I see you have a prescription and it doesn’t expire for another eight months, but…you haven’t filled it in a long time.”

I sighed deeply and prepared to explain…

I’m posting at the Internet Cafe today. Click HERE to find out just how hateful the customer service representative was. It just might surprise you.

Carol

3 Steps to Guilt-Free Living

Read yesterday’s post Why Am I Feeling So Guilty? HERE.

How many times have you wanted to scream because the guilt of not living up to your own expectations overwhelmed you?

Ladies, we are our own worst enemy. The mind can be a dangerous thing. We have to learn to control it.

Have you ever made a snowman? You remember how you pack the snow and roll it? As you roll the snow, the ball gets bigger and bigger as more snow jumps on board. Tiny flakes of snow that alone wouldn’t cause any notice, become a force to be reckoned with when they are compounded with other tiny flakes just like it. And a cliché is born: It just snowballs.

Our thoughts are the same. One tiny “I feel guilty” reminds us of another thing we feel guilty about, and before we know it, we are kneeling down rolling up a giant snowball of guilt.

We have to stop rolling the guilt.

The Bible tells us this way:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

In other words, when we start having the “I feel guilty” thoughts, we have to squash them with truth. Let’s get started by looking at 3 steps to shedding the sequined coat of shame.

3 Steps to Guilt-Free Living

1. Take it to God.
The first thing we should always do when we start feeling bad about not meeting expectations is to pray about it. Unfortunately, we usually head to Facebook to see if we have any friends who are worse than us. Or we start trying to make up for it in other areas.

Instead, we need to ask God if this is something we should really feel guilty about.

2. Recognize our freedom in Christ.
While praying, we need to ask God to help us recognize our freedom in Him.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation or those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 NIV

 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6 NIV

These verses tell us there is no condemnation in Christ, but also points out that if we are living “in accordance with the Spirit” we aren’t worried about some of these things.

What does this mean? Who cares if I go to the bus stop in my pajamas? I love my kids and constantly teach them about God and His promises. Focus on things that are truly important and let go of the rest.

3. Acknowledge the positives.
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. While you may not be the best underwater basket weaver, you may excel in Target end-of-the-aisle bargain shopping.

After yesterday’s post, a reader commented, “While I may have wrinkled clothes that take a few hours after the dryer quits to come out and be hung up, I also take my son his now clean clothes to school so he’ll have clean practice football clothes.” Guess what? She’s got it right!

For every negative, guilt-filled item you have, I bet you can come up with a positive. Let me try it with my list.

Negative: I feel guilty I’m not more involved in the PTA.
Positive: I’ve been a room mom for the past 7 years!

Negative: I feel guilty for not folding clothes right out of the dryer.
Positive: I’m good about keeping the clothes clean. And while I may not be gifted in laundry, I’m great about keeping the house picked up and organized.

Negative: I feel guilty for not exercising more.
Positive: I’m working on finding time and did walk 2 miles last night.

Are you catching on? Stop right now and find a positive for one of the items on your guilty list. I’ll wait.

See? That wasn’t so hard. I’m proud of us. Let’s take our pajama-clad selves and meet at the bus stop and high five! If you are struggling with the guilt, take it to God in prayer, let Him help you recognize your freedom in Him, then recognize how wonderful you truly are.

God didn’t intend on us living a life full of guilt, he just intended on us living a life full. (John 10:10) Let’s start living it.

Know someone who is living a life bound by guilt? Be sure to share this post with a friend.

*photo credit

Carol

Why Do I Feel So Guilty?

I have a confession to make.

I’m guilty.

Really guilty. I’m full of self-reproach. And once I tell you why, you may decide you are too.

My daughter is taking the CogAT this week. The whole third grade is taking the cognitive abilities test. Before the test, we get letters telling how a good night’s sleep and a nutritious protein-rich breakfast are so important.

So this week while I’m helping my daughter pick out her outfit and get her hair just right, my husband is downstairs scrambling eggs and cooking bacon and biscuits. But when my daughter sat down to eat, you know what I was thinking?

Moms are supposed to fix the breakfast. I should have been the one scrambling the eggs.

And why don’t I get up a little earlier and provide this kind of breakfast every morning?

And the guilt begins.

I slip my arms into my sequined coat of shame, and I wear it everywhere.

Why sequins, you ask? They draw attention. And every eye is a jury member casting their vote my way – guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

A few weeks ago I was almost sick with it, when my sweet hubby asked me what was wrong. “I feel guilty,” I told him, staring at the ceiling.

“About what?” He sounded confused.

I took a deep breath and rattled off my list. Don’t hold me to it, but it went something like this.

I feel guilty for not exercising more. It’s my fault I’m overweight. I need to get healthier.

I feel guilty for not spending enough time playing with Grace. But when I do spend more time playing, I feel guilty for not sitting in front of my computer and working on my writing. Do you know how long it’s been since I worked on my book?

I feel guilty every time I leave the house and leave Alan with the kids. He is stressed from work. I probably should just attach them with bungee cords and take them wherever I go.

Why don’t I buy more organic foods? I feel guilty that I’m slowly turning us into a family of mummies with all the preservatives we eat. Hundreds of thousands of years from now, the bodies dug up and studied will be the Hatcher family, because we were “preservi-fied” and never changed a bit.

I feel guilty for not calling my extended family more. Why can’t I just set aside one day a week to make some “how are you” phone calls?

I feel guilty for not doing more service projects as a family. I think up good ones, but often fail to make them happen.

I try to have time in God’s Word every day. But sometimes I get busy and squeeze Him out, and I feel guilty.

I feel guilty because they need more Sunday school workers in the preschool at church. I don’t really feel God calling me there, but I am a warm body who loves kids.

I feel guilty because I don’t eat lunch with the kids at school very often. Grace is so busy, it’s exhausting to take her to the school. And now Colin is in middle school and may not even want me at school at all.

And on that note, why I am not more involved in PTA? Am I not the perfect person for it? I’ve been a teacher AND a parent. I feel guilty for that.

I feel guilty for not showering earlier in the day. I never go without a shower, but often don’t take one until two o’clock. Don’t all the good moms get up with the chickens for a shower?

And while we are talking about not showering early, I feel guilty for coming to the bus stop every day in my pajamas. Granted I don’t get out of the car, but what if I need to?

I feel guilty for not doing family devotions as much as I’d like.

I feel guilt when we eat out. That’s a triple whammy because I feel bad for not cooking, for spending too much money and for not eating as healthy as I could if I were at home.

I feel guilty for not folding the clothes straight out of the dryer. Instead, I jumble clean clothes in a basket and let them sit for a week so they’ll be totally wrinkled when we go to wear them.

Are you getting the idea? Alan was speechless when I finished. Actually, I don’t think I ever finished. I believe he stopped me. He didn’t understand.

I was like David who said, “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” (Psalm 38:4 NIV)

But when I mentioned this to a girlfriend, I found out something HUGE – she was guilty, too. Maybe her guilt-ridden items varied slightly from mine, but the shame was still there.

Ladies, why do we do this to ourselves? And even more important, can we be acquitted for all our crimes?

Are you struggling with guilt? Read the 3 Steps to Guilt-Free Living HERE.

*Photo credit

Carol

A Dream Fulfilled – Part 5 of Grace’s story

This is the final edition of Grace’s story. If you need to catch up on the other parts, you can find Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, Part 3 HERE and Part 4 HERE.

When I walked in Grace was under the blue light again for her jaundice. My heart sunk. I was really hoping for her to be released that morning. Each day, I imagined the same thing. I’d walk in the NICU to Grace’s bed to find her free from all her wires and cords. Then one of the sweet nurses would pop out with balloons and a giant card saying, “Congratulations! Your baby is going home!”

That never happened.

Instead, I began to prod and push. “What is keeping Grace from going home? Besides the jaundice.” I asked the nurse. The day before I had a great nurse who showed me the going home checklist. Parents were required to watch a movie about taking care of NICU babies. We watched it immediately, not wanting anything to keep us from going home.

I knew we were waiting on a blood test to come back with the bilirubin count for her jaundice. “Well besides the jaundice, it’s all about eating at this point,” the nurse told me. “Grace is breathing great. She doesn’t need the oxygen. But she has to be able to either take a certain amount with a bottle or be able to nurse.”

Four days earlier, they had let me nurse my baby. She latched on immediately and seemed to be a good eater. But like any new baby, she wanted to fall asleep while doing it. Honestly, she had all the more reason to do so. The poor thing had to stay in her isolette (NICU bed) unless she was eating. We weren’t allowed to sit around holding her – NICU policy.

Grace in her isolette.

So when her mama was finally able to hold her skin to skin, don’t you think that sweet baby girl was going to settle in and rest?

“Grace eats just fine. I told the nurse. She just falls asleep sometimes and can’t finish nursing in the allotted 30 minutes y’all have given me to do it.” I thought of all the times I had the same issue with both Colin and Faith when trying to nurse them. No one stopped me from leaving the hospital then.

While I knew they had rules in place to assure the health and well being of my child, it was hard not to be frustrated.

“How about you let me keep Grace on my schedule today?” I pleaded.

She didn’t have the authority to allow that, but told me she would check with the head nurse. After what seemed like forever, the nurse returned denying my request, but did take away the blue light saying Grace’s levels were in normal range. “I want to speak to the head nurse myself,” I told her. I wasn’t giving up that easily.

I knew I wasn’t winning any friends, but I was SO over it by this point. Grace had been in the NICU 10 days. She was breathing fine and had been for a few days. The only thing that kept me from bringing her home was the eating issue.

An hour later, the nurse returned with the head nurse. She was stern with me and wouldn’t agree to let me take her home, but said I could hold Grace as much as I wanted and could feed her on my schedule. They agreed to remove her feeding tube so I could exclusively nurse or use a bottle.

Enjoying getting to hold my baby for as long as I wanted.

I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I was going to be able to sit in a glider all day and hold my baby. All. Day. Do you understand how big this was? Up until then, I held her in increments of 30 minutes whenever it was feeding time. Not sure if I wanted to jump on the chair and fist pump the air or sit in it and sob happy tears, I just grinned.

All day I rocked my precious girl. I talked to her in soothing tones and kissed her little face. All. I. Wanted.

I nursed her without time limits. I snapped pictures of her little face with no tubes and emailed them to Alan and all my friends.

The first time seeing my little baby girl with no tubes and wires. That little body was so cute!

After lunch, I asked if Grace could do the car seat test. NICU babies must sit in a car seat for a certain amount of time while their heart rate is monitored to make sure they can handle it. Some of the tiny preemies don’t do so well with this. Grace passed with flying colors, sleeping through most of it.

Grace taking the car seat test. You can see the heart monitor cords.

By late afternoon, the head nurse came by to tell me Grace would be released first thing in the morning. “But why not tonight?” I asked.

“We usually release babies in the morning, not the evening,” she explained. I just looked at her, my eyes pleading.

After a call to the doctor, the head nurse formed the words I’d been waiting to hear for 10 days –“You can take your baby home.”

I don’t think she was expecting me to jump up and hug her, but I did. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!” I gushed.

“She is coming home!!!!!!!!!!!” I texted Alan.

He loaded up the kids and headed to the hospital, while I dressed Grace for the first time in real clothes. Sliding her tiny arms and feet into a pink and brown polka dotted outfit, I’m sure I giggled. She was so cute. And we were going home. We were going home!

Grace in her going home outfit.

Soon we walked out of the hospital with our baby girl. Alan snapped her car seat into the base. In my mind, in the dreams I’d had of leaving, he had already done it a million times. Colin looked over the seat at his newest sister with a gaze of amazement, while Faith looked at Colin as if to say, “Is this for real?”

The kids were elated to bring home their baby sister!

We left one car at the hospital instead of splitting up to drive two home. “I just want to drive my ENTIRE family home. That’s all I want. All five of us.” Alan explained. We could deal with the other car later.

Walking into the house was heavenly. We let the kids take turns holding Grace and vowed we would hold her hour upon hour to make up for lost time. And we did. We still are.

Faith and Grace

Colin and Grace

It’s easy to forget how rough those first 10 days of her life were. Now she is full of personality and life. Her lungs work great – she proves it every day.

Looking back on those times now, I realize somewhere along the bumpy road we found it.

We found Grace.

God’s Grace.

Finally home.

Thank you all for sticking with me this week as I shared Grace’s story. I hope you enjoyed it. I wrote about a lot of these things in the book Your First Year of Motherhood. You can find it under my Published Works page.

I hope you’ll stick around. If you don’t already receive an email subscription to Sheep to the Right, you can sign up in the upper righthand corner of my website. You’ll only get emails when I post something new.

Find someone today and tell them how much they mean to you. 🙂 You all mean a lot to me. Thank you for your encouragement and comments.

 

Carol