Author Archives: samanthalandrus

I’m moving!

My domain is officially up and running! After a few late nights, I have decided not to give up my day job to pursue website building and management.  Yikes!

Come check out my new home at http://clippingthewingsofsupermom.com

You don’t even need to bring a casserole or housewarming gift!

See you soon~
Samantha

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The cost of contentment

It was the second week of my very first bible study. Being a new member of our church, and the body of Christ, I was trying to learn and absorb as much as I possibly could. Last week, Judy, our bible teacher, asked us to write out our favorite verse. Mine was a no brainer.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13
 
Apparently, I was not the only one. Four of us wrote that as our life verse. The problem, as a new believer, is that I believed that calling on that verse was a sure sign of prosperity and blessing upon whatever project I was working on. It was my cure all verse to conquering whatever ailed me. Fear in making sales calls. Guaranteed success on whatever business venture I put my mind to. The trick to making me an amazing wife and mom. A sure fired verse that would help me accomplish getting the home of my dreams and a life of accomplishment. My error was when I made this verse all about me and how Jesus would serve me. How Christ could help me achieve my dreams and ambitions. How Christ could take me from the struggles of being a young, insecure wife and mom and transform me into a confident woman who could handle anything with success and ease. A woman that other women longed to be. It was not about Christ at all, but about me and my own selfish desires to succeed. It was a few years later when I discovered the verse in context:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or living in want.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phillipians 4:11-13)
 

You could say the Apostle Paul, then Saul, was on the fast track before Christ caught his attention. But on that road to Damascus, everything changed. Paul was willing to sacrifice everything to proclaim the name of Christ. His life work. His good name among peers. His comfort. And he did it all through Christ who strengthened him. He was humble in riches and peaceful in poverty. Oh, that I could achieve Paul’s belief that no matter what, Christ will give me strength.  I challenged myself to rewrite this verse in a way that applies to my own life.  Here is what I came up with:

I am not saying this because I am in need, because you have something I covet or envy. I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances, even when they don’t make sense to me, or line up with what I think should be the promises of God. I know what it is to be in need. To be empty and lonely in my deepest places. To not have enough to cover all the bills for the month. To be without the wisdom I need for the moment. To feel lacking and incomplete. And, I have known what it is to live in plenty. Moments when I can’t lose. Money in the bank. Time spent well. Everything rolling exactly as I would expect it. Perfection. I have learned the secret to being content in every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I used to think I could use that verse as a magic wand to pull out for a tough situation. Abracadabra- I closed that sale. Abracadabra- Super balanced Super Mom. Abracadabra- selfish plans and motives instantly transformed into God’s will and plan for my life. But that isn’t it at all. It’s a commitment to contentment. It’s me, surrendering my life like a blank page, handing the pen to God and saying, “It’s all yours.” It’s leaning on Christ to step out in faith, intentionally and passionately, to pursue the calling he has for me. Even if I’m stepping into places I don’t want to go. Seeking only God’s face. Letting go of my selfish pride and ambition. At times, making choices that don’t make a lick of sense to those around me. Trusting God to be there when I step. He promises to be the light in my darkness. He promises his power will be made perfect in my weakness. The cost for contentment is death to self and rebirth in the promise of my Savior. Lack of concern for my life, while passionately and intentionally pursuing his purpose in the time he has given me on this earth.
Lord, in this moment, may my life be an open book in which you can write my story. Lord, grant me the strength and courage to pursue my purpose passionately and intentionally. In Jesus name, Amen.

What just happened here?

It’s been a pretty good day! It’s lunchtime. My list of to do ‘s is almost complete. I’m even willing to overlook the fact that today’s prospective move in chose instead to go to glory. My bank account is parched but I have just enough to get my daughter’s PE uniform. It should be officially revived from unexpected car repairs this pay day-just two short days away. I feel like I can finally take a breath. Over the course of the last month, it feels as if the carpet has been pulled out from my feet more often than I can count. I’m seriously ready to catch a break. Physically, emotionally and financially.

(Incoming text): Mom, Mr. Jackley says I need a $20 bill for class tomorrow for my driving permit. I didn’t know about it until today but he says I have to bring it tomorrow.

This is it. The straw that breaks the camels back. I sit in my car drowning in hopelessness. Officially empty. Completely embarrassed and ashamed that I have to tell my kid that the $20 or the PE uniform would have to wait for Friday. And, to be honest, I’m angry. In that moment, I remember King David’s authenticity in his darkest and most desperate moments. David didn’t worry. He authentically went to God with desperate expectation and handed his problems fully to God. I remember my promise to go to God with the same authenticity.

“God”, I prayed aloud, “you want authenticity? Well here it is. I have nothing left. I’m spiritually and emotionally empty. I have no physical resources available and life just so happens to be nickel and diming me every chance it gets. I’m doing everything you have told me to do.  I’m tithing. I’m chasing hard after the dream of writing you have placed on my heart in the midst of my overwhelmed life. I’m taking care of my body-eating right and exercising. What more do you want from me? God, I have nothing left. I need you to meet me here and handle this. I don’t know what else to do. ”

(Incoming text:) Mom. Never mind. Mr. Jackley was confused. I don’t need the $20 since I’m not 15 yet.

Hmph. Well okay. Uh, Thanks? I’m still annoyed but I thank you for taking care of this for me.”

In the moments that follow as I drive back to work, peace about my circumstance begins to settle in. Confidence that God is piecing together each and every thing I need  between now and  pay day.  As I read my devotion this verse stood out as the psalmist describes God’s righteous people:

They will have no fear of bad news; their hopes are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalm 113:7)

I prayed in that moment for God to help me build up my trust in him. To enhance my belief in his unlimited ability to provide  for my every need. To convince me of his unfailing love for me. An unconditional life changing love. That my focus would be removed  from my own worry and weakness and transferred to his mighty strength and power.  That when bad news comes, and it will, my heart would be steadfast and I would trust in him.

How refreshing!

“Mom!  My kindle free time is frozen and I need you to exit out of it!” Madi exclaimed.  She shoved the device in my hand as I was simultaneously peeling a potato.  I stopped what I was doing and realized that the entire device had frozen.  Madi, in her usual hurry, was ready to get on to her game.  Pronto!  “Madi, your kindle needs shut down.  You have to give it time to think.”  Just like mom, I thought in my head as I went back to finishing preparing our dinner.   How nice would it be to have a button I could push when I needed a break.  A quick little refresh to get me right back on track.

Much like every woman I know, I take on far too much in my day.  It’s like a badge of honor, having all those wonderful balls to juggle in the air.  Perfectly balance and in sync.  Just don’t try to throw anything else in the mix without prior approval or the whole show might come tumbling down!  As much as I hate to admit, my well orchestrated life is often an illusion.  And, like any good magician, only I know all of the tricks to making it appear seamlessly. To say I am overwhelmed would be an understatement.

The question I must stop to ask is how.

How do I get myself into this place of overwhelming exhaustion time and time again?

The first thing I have to consider is how much time I have allowed myself to get saturated in the word of God.  Like eating a healthy diet and daily exercise, time in God’s word is a daily essential requirement.  And, often the first thing to go in my routinely busy day.  Daily, I need to be reminded that his grace and mercy are new to me every morning.  Daily, I need to be reminded that God’s power is made perfect in my weakness.  Daily, I need to be reminded that I am a loved and cherished child of God.  An heir to his kingdom.  The crown on his head and the royal diadem in his hand.  A symbol of his living power, grace and mercy to a lost world that surrounds me.

Then, I need to trust him with every detail in my life.  Nothing is too minor.  Every worry and concern, every dark & unlovable feeling I am harboring, every circumstance and situation that seems impossible and out of my control need to be laid before the Father’s throne.  And left there! I need to trust that the God of the Universe can handle every detail of my life!

Last, I need to steal time away to sit and listen.  Quiet & uninterrupted.  To do that, I have to intentionally escape the realities of my life.  I personally love lake and pond areas.  However, my back patio will do in a fix.  This is time just to sit and listen for the still, small voice of God.  Time to allow his spirit to resonate my stress and anxiety that he may instead give me a peace that surpasses all understanding.  True refreshment to my parched soul.

I find that it is not the big things that most often overwhelm me.  It is the little day to day stuff.  Limited finances that crash into teens with endless pockets.  Broken car parts. Unmet expectations.  Broken dreams.  The responsibility of saying “yes” to one too many things.  But I have to remember that in these moments of overwhelming exhaustion, I am not alone.  In Psalm 3 it says that God is my glory and my shield.  He lifts my head high.  I picture a loving father, gently placing his hand under the chin of his beloved child.  Lifting gently until their eyes meet and he gently reassures her with the love and compassion in his gaze.   There is no refreshment quite like it.

Just when I think…..

“So we just started Despicable Me and the pyramid just deflated and I automatically saw the old lady in the front.  ARGGGHH!”

This incoming text causes me to smile as I think of the scene my daughter is referencing in this movie.  It brings a little piece of backwards joy to my heart when I envision her laughing at the inside joke we share.  No details needed.  Just a fond memory shared between us.  In this season, it seems like these moments are getting fewer and farther between.

We are in the frustrating season of the teenage years.  Most days, I am stuck dead center between being the proudest mom in the world and wondering why on earth there are teenagers.  Sometimes within moments of each other.  The emotional level is constantly shifting while I witness my child grasping for every ounce of independence she can get her hands on.  We are in crunch time.  At this point, I am her coach.  I have given her basic character building blocks and now I am standing on the sideline position, doing my best to guide her along her final steps to truly being an adult. To tell you the truth, I truly feel like I am failing her.  Even on my best days.

Just when I think I have lost the ability to communicate, she breaks through the alien barriers of the teenage years and my little girl emerges once more.  She says things like, ” I started a new bible reading plan.  I am going to read the bible in a year.  Can I show you how the passages break down?”  She shows me a purity ring she wants that outwardly represents an internal choice she made when entering her freshman year of high school.  Or, she sends me a text reminding me that I pointed out a braless old woman standing in front of a deflating pyramid in a kids movie.

Just when I think I’m getting it all wrong, I realize that I must have done a few things right.  Just when I think she has tuned me out, I realize that she has heard me and I still have positive influence.  Just when I think this season will produce nothing but hopelessness & frustration, a young lady with an authentically beautiful character breaks through the drama and clutter to reveal who she is becoming in these transitional years.  Just when I think I am ready to give up, I realize that I wouldn’t trade being her mom for anything in the world.

A note to my teenage daughter.

High school is a frustrating season to walk through as a child.  I don’t think it even compares to how hard it is to travel through as a parent.  From the first day of school, I have watched my oldest child grasp her independence and hold on to it for all it’s worth. Daily, her father declares that he is gaining more and more gray hair.  There is much we want to tell her.  Much we want her to know and understand.  More we want to control.  And the harder we push, the higher she constructs her walls.  So, I did what every courageous mom does. I drug out our mother daughter notebook from mother daughter camp several years ago and wrote her a letter that I have prayed will reach her, even through the wall constructed of teenage drama and hairspray.  Lots and lots of hairspray.

My motive is not to preach.  I simply want to say the words that she needs to hear as she starts to move through the complicated world of real choices and real consequences.  And did I mention the boy?  Oh my stars.  It starts all too soon.

I want my daughter to experience her teenage years selfishly.  Yes, you heard that right.  I want her to independently discover her hopes and dreams and pursue them with everything she has. I want her to learn how to love herself before she has to figure out how to love another.  I want her to experience life with her friends, try new things and construct her plans for the future.

I want her to understand that abstinence from sex is about more than a religious decision to stay pure. It is about the ability to try a relationship without huge emotional entanglements.  It is an intentional decision she has to make now.  I want her to understand that when she commits to a solid decision, she will be less likely to allow her emotions to change her mind when the opportunity arises.  And it will.

I want her to understand that her friends have an influence over her life, just as her behavior & choices influence over their lives.  I make jokes about the boy, but the truth is that he is someone else’s beloved son.  He has parents that love him as much as I love her.  I don’t take that lightly.  And when her friends come over, you can bet I am in their business, too.  I want our home to be a safe place for my kids and their friends.  A place where they can come for fun, and guidance, if needed.

I want her to understand that she will make mistakes and when she does, her dad & I will be here to help her sort them out. We are a phone call away, no matter what. I want her to understand that nothing she can do will change our love for her.

I want her to understand that when we act like circus freak parents, our actions are stemming from fear.  Fear is rooted in a very deep love.  A very deep longing that wants only the best for her.

Maybe a letter was the easy way out.  But soon,  after she read it, I felt the walls come down a bit.  My daughter emerged from the fog of body spray and once more started to share.    I don’t pretend to have a handle on the teen years.  They are awkward and scary.  My goal for now is to control my inner circus freak response and create a safe zone.  One that fosters conversation in the mundane that will hopefully bridge the gap for the big deal issues that are sure to come.

I am raising my mini me, after all.

Lessons from the sidelines…..

“Mom, I didn’t get much playing time today.”  The heartbreaking words that came from my son as we walked off the field from the season opener game from JFL.  Even more heartbreaking, the tears that were welling up in his eyes while he was trying to be strong.  Be still my breaking heart.  This is one of those precious moments of parent hood when I had to encourage and support while watching my son have to stand and persevere in his own time and his own way.  I truly think these moments in time are harder on me than they are on him.  You see, I am not a sideline kind of girl.  And my man, not a sideline kind of guy.  We like to be right in the heart of the action.  So, when we are watching our kids struggle to find their place, we find we have a choice to make.  We can make excuses, or we can create teachable moments.

My Lucas is a super talented kid.  He is quiet and polite.  A bit of a genius in his own right.  He doesn’t have to work for his grades.  He just gets it.  He loves to read, to build and create.  And in the midst of a middle school growth spurt, he is a bit awkward in trying to figure out how to work the extra couple of inches of body he has acquired in the last few months.  So, there is  part of me that is thankful for football.  It is a team sport.  It does not come easy to him.  It is something that he has to work for to get better. When something does not come easy for him, it teaches him character that can only come through struggle and perseverance.  So I thought I would share a few things I learned as a mom on the sidelines.

Hard work always pays off.  This was a lesson we learned several years ago in Tae Kwon Do.  Lucas was up for a red belt promotion, but could not quite get the steps to the form down.  This meant he was skipped on belt promotion.  But, he took that additional time to keep work, keep growing and when the next belt promotion came to pass, he earned the award of most improved student.  A proud mom moment for sure, but a lifelong lesson for a kid building character.

Respect Authority.  Any time my kids are struggling, I encourage them to go the experts.  That may be their coach or their teacher.  We have an honest conversation about expectations and ways we can improve.  We hold our kids accountable to those standards.

Be Ready.  Know your job and be ready to do it at anytime.  I reminded Lucas, week after week, that Aaron Rodgers stood in the shadow of Brett Favre for five years before getting a chance to go in.  And when his chance came, he stole the show.  You never know when your chance will come, but be ready, because those who do the right thing will eventually reap the rewards.

Attitude is everything.  When you make good choices, good outcomes will occur.  You will always reap what you sew.  Getting mad, playing the blame game and giving up are the easy way out.  Honoring your commitment to your team is the strongest statement you can make, even if you are cheering from the sidelines.  Stay positive. Work hard.  Cultivate Growth.

Encourage their strengths.  While we may not have the next rising star of JFL, we do have a pretty bodacious brainiac.  My son has a good attitude, a cool head and a polite demeanor that causes people to take notice.  By the end of the year, he noticed that his coaches were taking more time to invest in his talent and he was seeing more playing time.  We celebrated every play.  I can’t wait to see how his talent develops next year.

Watching our kids struggle is one of the hardest things we have to endure as parents.  Even when it doesn’t seem like they are getting a fair shake, we can’t intercept for them.  Life is hard and sometimes unfair.  Isn’t it better for them to learn that now?  The sooner they figure out how to stand in the struggle, the more they will learn how to stand positioned for success in their life.  They will learn how to keep their attitudes in check.  They will learn to respect and learn from the authority that they have in their day to day lives.  They will learn that true success takes work, determination, perseverance and the choice to do the right thing each and every time.  Our JFL boys were told that they win each game play by play.  Isn’t that the truth?  The same can surely be said about life.  Choice by choice, we position ourselves for our future consequences.

I have been holding on this blog for quite sometime and I have to say I am glad that I waited for the end of the year to publish it. I am so excited that I can tell you how the story ends.   At the annual football banquet, one to two kids from each grade level are awarded a sportsmanship award for their performance within their team. Not athletic talent, but coachability, dependability, leadership and attitude.  Kids who set the bar for attitude on the team.  And my son and another young man were chosen for their age level by their coaches to receive the award.  What an amazing moment!  All of the sudden, the sweat, frustration and tears were worth it.  He held strong and he was rewarded for his efforts.  But even before receiving this coveted award, he had made his choice to play another year for the breakers.  I can’t wait to see how his story continues in the off season!