Be Still and Know

Courtesy of Pixabay

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

I’m tired.

No, that’s not right. I’m exhausted, used up, a limp version of my former self.

Why? Raising children is hard. Raising grandchildren increases the hardship many times over. Yes, I understand that parents get tired and exhausted. I was a parent once, too. This is different. I promise you. Whether we like it or not, our bodies age and keeping up  with the pace of children is much, much harder as a grandparent.

This past weekend, I took some time out to go to a Beth Moore event with one of my friends. Bruce willingly agreed to handle the kids for the weekend. It was great to get away and focus on spiritual matters, but it wore me out! I usually try to grab an extra hour or two of sleep on Saturday morning. That, of course, couldn’t happen.

Between school schedules, work, and trying to meet deadlines, I’ve been averaging about five or six hours a night. I need eight to nine hours to fully recover from most days. Some of you don’t need that, but I do. Add to this the change to Daylight Savings Time, and well…a recipe for extreme fatigue.

This week, we had the District Science Fair judging for Victoria on Monday evening (results in a few weeks), gymnastics on Tuesday evening, and by Wednesday afternoon, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I sat at my computer fighting the pull of sleep. In fact, I was so tired I forgot to take the kids to an appointment. I don’t forget things. That’s not like me. But this life is making it harder and harder to stay on top of everything.

What can I do?

Keep the calendar updated. Remember to check it daily (my mistake yesterday). Take a nap when I can. Go to bed early if at all possible (it usually isn’t). Keep extracurricular activities to a minimum. Yes, I said it. One extra activity per week is enough for the kids. They need time to be children without structure, without a planned schedule of activity. I don’t know how parents do it today. Many of them have their kids in some after-school activity. Every. Single. Day.

We need to slow down. Let the kids slow down. Let them run around without a plan, play in the yard, use their imagination, sleep in on Saturday. There’s a reason God directed the Israelites to take a day of rest.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

Even Jesus recognized the need to take a break. One well-known story tells about a day full of crowds seeking his wisdom and healing. Afterward, he and his disciples boarded a boat to get away from what must have been an exhausting day. A storm blows up and Jesus sleeps through it until his frightened disciples awaken him.

 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.  A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:36-41

We tend to focus on the rest of what Jesus says to the disciples but notice his words to the storm. Jesus is tired. He’s worn out. He needs rest. The storm created a problem for him because the disciples fearing for their lives, woke him. What does he say? Quiet! Be Still!

We need our rest, whether we’re parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters. Everyone needs time to be still and know.

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My Daily Balancing Act

We discovered these rocks on the shore in Rhode Island. There were hundreds of these stacks, balanced against the winds from the ocean. © Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

A few days ago, I knew exactly what I wanted to say in this post. Today, the desire to say it is gone. There are other needs pressing on me, and I don’t know whether I’m ready to share them.

I know, I know, I’ve been an open book about the struggles of my life, but most of those posts talk about situations in my past. Many of them quite a few years ago.

I’ve come to a point in my story where the posts have caught up to real time. To now. Today. That means the stories I’m sharing are ones I’m experiencing. The people they affect are dealing with them now. There are parts I can’t disclose, yet.

That makes the goals of my posts a bit harder to share. The outcomes are unknown. Yes, I trust God to take care of us, but everything I’ve been through has shown me that His way is often a way I can’t begin to imagine. He doesn’t always give us the easy outcome. He has a long-term perspective that I can’t know or see. To be honest, that frightens me when I stop to think about it.

So I don’t stop and think about it.

There’s enough going on in our lives to keep me from focusing on things I can’t change. Thankfully, I’ve never been much of a worrier. I’m a doer. I prefer to be on the move, headed toward a goal. And that goal, for now, is to get through this day. To get through the next day. To help my grandchildren cope with this unfair situation. To find time to spend with my husband, time separate from the grandchildren. To find time to focus on the rest of our family.

AND, to make sure I take time for me, so I’m the person they need.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

It’s not easy. It’s a balancing act. Most days it feels like the rocks in this picture, balanced against all odds. Like these rocks, I will persevere. I will stand against the elements and time. If nothing else, my story has taught me blessings will come. So, I wait and balance.

It’s what I do…for now.

What Not to Say to Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/freedigitalphotos.net

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. James 3:5

Odds are you know a grandparent involved in the raising of their grandchildren. Over 13 million children in the US are in households with grandparents. In many of these homes, at least one of the parents resides, but today, there are roughly 2.5 million grandparents taking on the sole care of their grandchildren.

My husband and I are one of these statistics. For the last two years, two of our grandchildren, Victoria (10) and Amari (6), have lived with us. We are young for grandparents, both of us in our 50s, but this was not the plan. When we married, I had two children and he had three. Since we married with children already in the mix, we looked forward to the empty nest years. When the house emptied out, we embraced the time for just the two of us. It lasted such a short time, though.

Please do not misunderstand me. I love my grandchildren, and I am glad we are able to care for them. But let’s face it, this wasn’t what we planned on doing at this point in our lives.

People mean well. They see grandparents raising grandchildren, and they try to say something positive about it, but I’ve heard some doozies over the last two years. With that in mind, I thought I would share some of the things you should NOT say to grandparents raising their grandchildren.

  • You’re doing the right thing.  More people say this to me than any other statement. I realize people mean well, but I find this statement patronizing. Did I choose to raise my grandchildren because it was the wrong thing? Or maybe you think I’m having second thoughts, and you’re trying to talk me out of it? Of course, I’m doing the right thing. I don’t need you to remind me.
  • Grandchildren make you feel young again. Alright, let’s expose the myth in this statement. Grandchildren exhaust you. You are not in your twenties or thirties anymore. Interrupted nights of sleep are harder to bounce back from. Your body doesn’t fight off illness as well as it did when you were younger. I once heard someone restate this myth in a more accurate way:  “Grandchildren make you feel young again…for about thirty minutes. Then you feel really old.”  If you have grandchildren, and you’re not raising them, sure it’s fun to spend time with them. I relished in the times I spent with my grandkids when I was just the grandmother, not the parent. It’s non-stop, now. It doesn’t end. I can’t hand them back at the end of the day.
  • I’m sure you have more patience with them then when you raised your own kids. Not necessarily. Look at the paragraph above. The “no rules at my house grandma” can’t live at my house because this is 24/7. They live here. I push them to do their homework, eat their vegetables, go to bed, get up and get ready for school, take a bath, brush their teeth, etc. I’m older and tired. In my specific case, I’m juggling all of this plus running my business. At least when I was a single mom, I came home from my job at the end of the day and didn’t think about it. That’s not so easy when your office is in your home.
  • Can’t someone else raise them? Who? Foster care? When the social worker contacted me she assured me I didn’t want them in the foster system. I know there are good foster parents out there, but these are my flesh and blood. My grandchildren. I shouldn’t have to raise them, but I will do so before I let a stranger take on that responsibility.
  • What’s going on with their parents? If you are close enough to me to know the answer to this, then you won’t have to ask. If you have to ask, it’s none of your business. And PLEASE don’t ask in front of the grandchildren! Seriously. Just don’t. Also, please don’t ask about the missing parents every single time you see the grandparent. Believe it or not, they don’t want to dwell on that. If they feel like talking, they will.
  • I can’t believe your son/daughter is so irresponsible. Grandparents already suffer the pain of the messed up lives of their child. They don’t need you to cast judgement on their adult children. In so doing, you cast judgement on the grandparent, too.
  • Aren’t you enabling your son/daughter’s behavior by raising the children? Of all the things people have said to me, this one shocked me the most. It’s not like I whisked in and grabbed up my grandchildren at the slightest sign of poor parenting. This was not done on a whim. The decision to raise your grandchildren is a heartbreaking one to make. You do it for the safety of the grandchildren. They should not have to pay any more than they already have for the mistakes of their parents.

After reading over these statements, you may be wondering what you should say to the grandparent raising their grandchildren. Here are some welcome comments I’ve received:

  • How are you doing?
  • Can I help?
  • Why don’t you let me take the kids for the day?
  • Are you getting enough rest?

Even this is better because it expresses empathy:  I don’t know how you do it. I had mine for just a day and it took me two days to recover.

If you’ve said any of the “don’t say” statements in the past, don’t beat yourself up. There’s a reason I felt this post was necessary. I’ve heard most of them many times over. So, now you know.