Surviving the Storms of Home Life

Jan Porcellis, Ships in a Storm on a Rocky Coast

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”Galatians 6:9

Sitting in the dark shadows of my small cozy library as the sun went behind the mountain, found me and one of my older children talking quietly of struggles, challenges, battles of life, and long term endurance. The deep friendship, shaped over years of shared life, had knit our souls quite together.

I wasn’t expecting this moment to be a memorable one. Just a normal moment in the dusk of day, that shaped a soul-satisfying memory.

“Mama,” my grown child tenderly whispered, “One of the greatest things you have ever accomplished is to keep our family together through love, faith, laying down your own life, and enduring with as much grace as Jesus could give you, so that our lives could be whole, healthy and strong. I know that only God will know the ways you have chosen to give and serve and forgive,  when you had to make the choices to do so. But all of us kids have benefitted because you were willing to weather the storms of life for us and hold us together.”

Much of our lives as a family has been a battle through raging storms.

But, there are some amazing graces on this side of motherhood, when my four children have reached adulthood—I don’t have to go back through any of the storms we barely weathered and much of my labor is behind me. And from all of it, I see four healthy, strong, vibrant young adults who are also my beloved friends.

Life is a journey from our present lives,  to the future home Jesus is preparing for us to live in, with Him, for all eternity. Our own lives are filled with storms and gales and the blowing winds of a fallen world. Many times, unexpected gales of life threaten to undo us and overcome us. I hardly know of a family who isn’t suffering through some sort of illness, loss of job, relationship heartbreak, conflict and difficulties.

An illusion that some people have about our family is that it has ever been easy for us to hold fast to ideals. Through 17 moves (5 international); clinical asthma with three of my children; adhd and ocd to extremes in two children; illnesses, financial issues, church splits, rejection from family members for ideals–so many storms that I was never trained for or ready to live through. Then there were the fusses, messes, long hours and no support systems.And then the weird children and unusual parents–we are all a study in contrasts and misfits.

All family travel into the eyes of life-storms. It is not an evidence of a bad family, it is the reality of a fallen world, with rebellion and fallenness evident with every dark cloud.

And yet, wanting to love God and serve Him through it all, was the glue that held me, us, our own family, together when life threatened to tear all of us apart.

It is not the grand, noble accomplishments that are the most profoundly valuable to God. It is the unnoticed, the invisible practicing of being faithful, courageous when no one else is looking, that become the jewels of our faith in the eyes of God.

Accepting a loud, boisterous child and seeking to be patient and gentle over and over again, when feelings threatened to erupt into frustration and anger.

Working beyond exhaustion and getting up in the middle of the night, again, for a sick child, when there was no one to help or anyone to be a friend, through all of the moves and loneliness.

Enduring by choice the heavy burdens of the tests of marriage.

Cleaning up messes one more time. Making one more homemade meal and drawing the family circle together to celebrate life, reflecting the real vibrant life of God, when a nap or getting far away seemed more desirable. Having one more devotional in the midst of wiggly, distracted children and believing that somehow eternity was entering their hearts.

These, and more, are the noble and valiant, priceless works of motherhood. The unseen heroism that captains a ship successfully through the dark storms of life–bringing hope, and security to the lives of those making the journey–courage and strength in the face of storms is the choice that a mom makes which deeply touches the soul and heart of the child being guided and sheltered through the storms.

I can see this now in the lives of my children. When I would worry that the instability of our family life would ruin them, or my flaws would harm them, the Holy Spirit was making them strong, showing them how to exercise muscles of faith in dark situations.

The words and heart of my child was salve to my soul–it all mattered, each day, each moment of faith, each decision to keep loving and giving against all force of selfishness. Somehow, God took the sacrifice of my fish and loaves and made it enough.

And the words of an adult child, returned home, became the voice of God, encouraging–

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Hebrews 6:10

And so, somehow, many failures forgotten and discouraging moments lived through, the Life of God and the strength He gave in the face of strong winds of temptation and fear with faith lived out, became in my child, a strong work of heart that gave foundations of faith.

For it was the storms of life that prepared my children to be strong for their lives and gave them a pattern of learning how to ford the rough waters that their own lives would hold.

Take courage today, sweet, tired, mama. Your labor is not in vain and in contrast is the very work of the soul that will be your best labor for eternity.

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Comments

  1. says

    I too, am seeing the fruit of these choices that we’ve made to nurture, disciple, raise our children. We now have adult children and young ones still growing and learning. I find that through it all God had done the biggest work in my own heart.

    Thanks Sally…

  2. says

    Thank you for this gift.
    It is easy to think you have it all together–you write! you speak! :)
    And to forget, you’ve been here. You know.
    Here in the trenches of two years olds. (and 5 and 7 and one in heaven)
    Your words encourage and inspire. Thank you.

  3. says

    We moved 1200 miles across the country last month. The next time we move – just might be across the waters. With no real support system or help – with 2 of my 3 sick – with first year homeschooling – with a longing to connect….yes, a storm has brewed here. Timely post for me. Very timely.

    I receieved ‘Desperate’ in the mail this week :) Can’t wait to dive in…and I’m sure recommend!

    Thank you for posting – and for pouring in to this weary Mama.

    Blessings,
    Kate

    • Sally says

      Bless you, Kate! So many lack the support systems that would be helpful (more about that in Desperate!) I have always found it necessary to create what I needed–it seems to just work that way. Praying you feel the Lord’s strength today.

  4. says

    This Christmas was the first in a long time that I felt true joy again. The new life far outweighed all that was now gone, especially those people no longer around whether from death or just a long move.

    I think part of it had to do with my son getting married to a lovely Christian young woman and graduating from college this month. He was my difficult child for so long and as I see him becoming such a wonderful young man, everything fell into place this year.

    Nothing can bring my mother back and I do still have the hope of seeing her again but with the exception of her no longer here… seeing the flowers that are my kids blooming into the people God wants them to be is true joy!

  5. says

    Sally~

    I don’t mean to use the comment section as a “prayer request” box, but THIS post has me in tears… I have felt to the point of emotional exhaustion in my marriage…and yet I continue on, forgiving and trying to give Grace again and again (I am the Queen of Second chances)… I seem to be the only woman who visits your blog regularly with a family that has “religious differences”… It seems to threaten to tear our marriage and FAMILY apart. My husband is in a religious “group” that is on the verge of being a cult (some would certainly classify it as such)- and I use to go along with the belief system but could no longer endure/compromise with the obvious errors in theology/doctrine- if not for myself than for our 3 young children. What do I do when I’ve tried to reach my husband for the past 4 yrs, with my stand AGAINST this vile/damaging doctrine(?)-but to no avail… We have been married for 18+ yrs and the “issue” has threatened my relationship with the Lord (I don’t feel I can even be a Christian because of the frustration in my marriage- it affects me/runs me into the ground)… Of course this also has a terrible effect on my children as well… I truly feel “Desperate” but not to just keep up the “Godly Mother” role- but to even survive in the bitterness and resentment of an unrespected role as a “woman”- (you see there really is “religions” out there that still bind women to the role of “inferior”- and yes they claim to be “Christian” at the same time)…

    I often wonder WHY I am the only one it seems that God has chose to “test” in this manner- it feels more than I can bear- and certainly more than I can overcome and conquer…and “create” a home life like I desire- it is heartbreaking in the least of terms to describe it… (I probably should have sent this in a private message, but other women who read this may be encouraged to APPRECIATE the home life and unity they have…) ~

    If you have any great words of wisdom/advise for a sufferer in my shoes- please to share… I’m sure I am NOT the “lonely” one going through something like this-even though it does feel that way… ~ Meda

  6. Sally says

    Can you send me a personal message on fbook and be more specific? It is difficult for me to answer something in the vague.

  7. heartkeeper says

    Meda -

    A place I have found a lot of encouraging and helpful advice (especially for marriage) has been at peacefulwife.com. If that doesn’t show up, type in “peaceful wife blog”. Having a working marriage helps parenting so much. Don’t give up – keep seeking and following the Lord – perhaps His answer is different than you were looking for! Looks like Sally is willing to talk to you privately about this as well. Prayers and blessings.

  8. heartkeeper says

    Thank you for these words today Sally. I am keeping them for one of “those” days. It helps to hear/read something like this when you need it. I realize that the guarantee is not that your children will believe – rather that REWARD will come. (That may indeed be children walking in His ways.) Thank you for being a voice of encouragement to so many.

  9. Stacey says

    It is not possible to say how grateful I am for your recent thoughts toward being a mom of misfits. That is exactly the word I used to describe my family recently, in a conversation with my sister. To be precise, I exclaimed, “What did I do to deserve such a family of misfits?!” Okay, bad moment on my part. Most days I handle it much more faithfully than that, but I do often lose sight of the blessings that are within each situation. I so appreciate your words of wisdom in how I should view what God has given me for a time. Many heartfelt thanks.

    • Sally says

      We all have those moments. I sometimes feel that way–and then I look in the mirror and realize where the misfit-ness comes from. :-) We are all different in our own way, aren’t we? The key is embracing our unique pictures and doing our best with what God has given us. One day at a time!

  10. Michelle Clinton says

    Oh Sally,

    I’m crying bitterly as my own day seems to be unraveling faster than I can take two steps in a row. I’m more frustrated with myself than with my boys. I keep forgetting to be gentle and love God’s way. Thank you for this post. You keep my heart turned toward Jesus…I will try to keep doing good. We just don’t roll well when we don’t have a little more structure to our days. (Or maybe it’s just that mommy needs more structure…Ha!)

    Much Love,
    Michelle

    • Sally says

      Michelle, give yourself grace. Don’t give up your confidence which has a great reward! Stay faithful and begin again tomorrow. Bless you.

      • Michelle Clinton says

        Thank you Sally. “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it…no mistakes in it yet?” :) Big Hugs.

  11. Elizabeth says

    Thank you, Sally, for sharing your reflections from “the other side of things.” As one of the tired mamas of four, your words encourage me to persevere through sleepless nights and long days of what feels like herding cats. Trust. It’s all about trust, isn’t it? That He who began the good work, gave the calling, will see it through to completion. Thank you for your long years of sowing that have resulted in an abundant harvest in so many fields. Blessings.

  12. says

    OH. Oh, you have no idea how much I needed this particular post today. Being 5 days away from my due date with #3, being sick with a bad cold, my husband sick with the flu, our anniversary with no way to celebrate today, my Papa dying far away in Dallas when I can’t go to him…I needed to know that even when I lose it with my little ones, just holding it together and keeping doing what I’m doing can be enough in the hands of God. Thank you.

  13. Michelle says

    My, how timely this was for me to read. I have five beautiful children and I often feel so pulled and stretched; These past few months have been particularly challenging and I have wondered if homeschooling was my will or God’s! Surely, it is His call, as I couldn’t even manage a “bad” day without His help. I pray my children see that and that they will undoubtedly carry my love with them all of their days. Thank you for your encouraging words. I so desperately needed them.

  14. Jenny says

    Sally, Once again you have posted a timely bit of encouragement for this weary mama. It seems as 2012 draws to a close our family is feeling pressure on all sides. In the past 6 weeks my ailing mother-in-law has moved in with us permanently. She is a remarkable woman who is enduring dialysis 3x/week. Adding another person to a household of 6 is enough to increase the stress of the family, but a week after she moved in our 2 oldest children were rearended at a stoplight by a guy going 70. it totaled our SUV and gave the kids a bad case of whiplash. Our son was driving and had only had his license a week! On top of all this, 3 weeks later my dear MIL fell and fractured her hip. She was just released from rehab back to our house where I am her caretaker (on top of being a homeschool mom to 4 kids). Lots of lessons in compassion here!
    So thank you for reminding me that a stormy season at home can be navigated and there is hope.

  15. Meshell Carey says

    Sally, thank you so much for your post today. I am a homeschool mom of 7 children at the ages of 7 and younger(2 sets of twins which are the bottom 4). My husband is a fireman and has been at work for 2 days. I felt so overwhelmed today and felt I failed a million times. Your words are exactly what I needed to hear tonight. Thank you

  16. says

    Sally, your words here really encouraged my tired soul. I’m a sahm of 2 tots under 3, and a life w/o “me time” really male me feel so overwhelmed wĭtĦ everything I must do; tired and weary. But thanks God I’ve found your blog since last year, I can get lot of encouraging words that refresh my soul and spirit. Maybe you don’t know me, but I’m glad I know you. Thank you for sharing your life wĭtĦ me; as your reader :)

  17. Lorna says

    Thank you Sally for that post. It was just the encouragement I needed to pick myself up and begin a new year afresh. I am a mum of 7, and have my own list of difficult things which make me feel so discouraged. Each year I try to begin anew with the expectation of better things… I can see maybe I should shift my perspective to thankfulness for the trials rather than worry about how damaging they could be to my children. My prayer for me will be for the strength to be the mother God calls me to be that our family may Glorify Him and accomplish His purposes for us. Thank you again for sharing and for your encouragement.

  18. Heidi says

    A dear fiend forwarded your article “Storms of Life” to me. I have been going through a very difficult time with one of my children and your article was a great encouragement to me. Thank you very much.
    In Christ’s Amazing Love,
    Heidi Jones

  19. says

    Dearest Sally, I am a “graduated” homeschool mom of 3. I started homeschooling 17 years ago and the first book I read was The Wholehearted Child. It was my guide throughout my homeschooling years. We, too, went through so much of the “storms of life” you were describing. I was woken up from a deep sleep tonight by my youngest, 18, who is going through her own personal storm right now. I was able to stay up, hug her, cry with her, counsel her and pray with her – all because of our deep friendship and souls that have been knit together – forged through the turmoils of living life – just like you described. God has been so faithful – even through my huge failures. Our family is so much stronger because of our choice to homeschool and follow God. I appreciate so much your candidness in your post and I want to thank you for the huge help and blessing you have been to our family through your book and your teachings. You will probably never know this side of heaven how many people you have helped through your work and your faithfulness – Thank you and God bless you and your family!

    Tricia

  20. says

    Thank you so much for this open en precious blog. I am so glad to read this, this evening! Its the first time I read your blog and now I will read more. God bless you and your family!

    Dutch blog mama

  21. SaYo says

    What a blessing this post and others have been to me, a mama of 3 under age 5, stationed in Okinawa, Japan with my husband, “Captain America” for the last 7 years. Being in a military community there are no older women to surround myself with, God has been all things to me when I needed it. That’s why I am so thankful to hear of mothers with daughters who have come out on the other side of childhood guidance, correction, training into the light of knitted hearts that glorify God. My daughter is 4 and both the joy of my heart and the ulcer in my gut. How many cries I have had over our relationship and how to mend it. After believing in first time obedience and ‘tough love’ I have all but ruined her heart and made it as callous as mine. I didn’t have a loving mother and am terrified that every time I fail, I see her unlove affecting my sweet daughter who is quickly becoming insensitive, unresponsive and untrusting of me. (sigh). The story of God’s grace and His power to convert negative input into positive output by a renewed heart and reclaimed relationship gives me hope. Thank you for taking the time to post such personal conversations between you and your children. It is my deepest prayer that I would be able to introduce my children to a sacrificial and loving God by modeling it. I pray He can right the wrongs and heal their hearts so that one day they can give glory to God in their own relationship with Him.

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