SLIDER

Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Loving Can Hurt Sometimes



Last week I had a cardiac ablation. Wires were taken through my groin up into my veins and then to my heart to burn out unnecessary tissue that had been causing me to frequently have an irregular heart rhythm. In the days leading up to the procedure, it took everything in me not to hit up google and seek out the risks associated with it. Because with every medical decision made to hopefully improve the quality of your life, there comes a list of risks and almost every one of those lists ends with 'stroke or death.'

But isn't that the way it should be? I mean as far as the human existence goes, we should be compelled to have a better 'quality of life' about us, should we not? Just living it and managing a physical heart rhythm isn't enough. There needs to be more than just breath.

Still the only true and real thing that boosts the quality of our lives is LOVE. Love is our reason for  existing. It's the precise reason for our being alive. Our goal is to love the Lord God, love others, love ourselves. If we don't have love, we are nothing. Remember that?

Be that as it may...love hurts. Although it’s true that a higher quality of life is embodied in love, it can feel risky. Because of the incredible depth of it, there is always that chance that on the other side of love... is pain. And the fear of pain...or ample experience with it...can hold us back from having a genuinely rewarding existence from here on out.
The many facets and types of love can leave us feeling jaded or even battered depending on our exact situation. Parents may have mistreated us. Friends may have back stabbed us. Relatives may have abused us. Our child may have fallen ill. A spouse may have cheated on us. A boyfriend/girlfriend may have left us. A church friend may have talked about us. A leader may have failed us. A loved one may have passed away too soon. A trusted person may have abandoned or betrayed us.

Any of these situations and the plethora of others you may have experienced can leave you feeling afraid to really love again.

Why take the risk? It hurts too bad. We don't like to be hurt. We don't like how people make us feel.  We don't like when people leave us too soon. We don't like to feel disappointed...or worse, completely broken.. So why lay everything on the line to love people if it's only going to leave you wounded? Intentionally or unintentionally.

These past few years have been hard for me. People I loved died. People I loved got sick. People I loved talked. People I loved walked away. Everything in me wanted to shut down. It felt like too much. I didn't want to love anymore. It felt too unreliable. The moment I felt some certainty  was the moment I'd feel myself sink and my heart ache all over again.
I didn't want to allow love while the pain that resulted from it threatened to wear me down. Over and over, I'd say no more. No more to letting my guard down. My heart had become too fragile.

But that would mean I'm just existing. Breathe in. Breathe out. Day after day. Year after year.
I would barely survive. I would become numb to the beauty around me.
There would be no real quality to my life and the quantity of my days would feel like an eternity.
I would never grow or learn anything.  I would never laugh with someone, or cry for that matter...
I would never feel amazing. I would never feel much at all.
Or at least I would tell myself that.

That is not the life we are built for. This time here on this earth is not for us to hold back and guard ourselves. But rather to continue to stretch and to pour into others, even if there are risks involved. True there may be no certainty in love as far as who, what, when and how much of a 'return' you'll receive on your investment into another human being, if anything.

But that doesn't mean we just stop.

Understand this... we are here for a purpose.
Utilizing the LOVE that is instilled in all of us makes all the difference in the overall quality of our lives. We are not here to be alone and die never giving our best to someone else. We need to do more than just breathe. We are here for that child. that friend, that parent, that sibling, that significant other. We're even capable of loving strangers. People do it all the time.

Despite our misgivings, bad experiences and our fears. We are capable of choosing love over it all.



Loving can hurt. Loving can hurt sometimes.
But it's the only thing that I know
When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive


Loving can heal, loving can mend your soul
And it's the only thing that I know, 
I swear it will get easier
Remember that with every piece of you
and it's the only thing we take with us when we die

Ed Sheeran- Lyrics to Photograph

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Nostalgia


A fit of nostalgia. Is that what they call it? I don't know. 

I tried googling the phrase and I couldn't really find it. But I swear it's a thing. And I've been having one. I made a playlist of songs that remind me of when I was in high school. Because those really are the best songs, aren't they? No matter what decade you were a kid or teenager in, the music that represents the era of your youth will always be the best. 

My dad thinks everyone loves 50s & 60s music. Well, I don't mind them Dad. But they aren't my fave or anything. I'm more of an 80s, early 90's girl when it comes to my musical (genius) playlist.
It's not necessarily because the music is that much better (though I could argue that with comparing it to a lot of today's music). But it brings back memories and feelings of a time where you didn't even get that it would be over before you know it. You didn't even realize you should have appreciated the simplicity of it. You just lived in that moment.

And maybe this is just me, but when you are young, everything seems larger than life. The fun stuff like the concerts and crushes are at the pinnacle of excitement. The hard stuff like break ups and mess ups seemed like they would be the end of us. 
Everything, whether bad or good, was big and impassioned. 
And you unwittingly longed for freedom and adulthood, not knowing that one day when you reached it, a concert would be like...Meh... A roller coaster would be... Blechhh! And crushes and first kisses would be traded for commitment to love for better... or for worse. 

I literally have been walking the track at my gym these past few weeks with tears streaming down face as I listened to the songs and the memories would come flooding in. The opportunities passed. The friendships lost. That sort of euphoric, blissful moment in time has been traded for a really good and comfortable, but a really familiar life. 
And it's not that I want my youth back, but rather I wish I could tell my younger self to protect this season of life. Love it. Love the people in it. Learn from your mistakes. Because it's such a short short time. It's not as bad as you think. But this isn't the best it's going to get either. 

I love where life has brought me. I love all that God has entrusted me with in this season. I love the relationships I have. And I love that I've grown up enough to know how to intentionally contribute to my life. I know to stop and breathe in the memories of my children. I know how to treasure the people I consider my friends. I know that there will be really sad and hard moments, so I need to embrace the joyful laughter amidst the chaos. 

I know that if I want adventure to go beyond waking the kids up late for school, getting frazzled & sweaty, and cleaning up messes of chocolate milk off the floor, I have to pursue it. 

And that is where I think these past few weeks have brought me. 
As I've listened to my songs and felt the emotion through each lyric and melody. I've asked the Lord what can I learn in this short trip down memory lane? Why am I here reliving these moments right now? It's not really just so I can live in my past, but more so I can learn how to better cultivate my future. I don't want to wake up in 20 years, telling myself the same thing over again. I don't want to kick myself for not loving my kids better, not going on adventures with them, not spending time sowing into my friendships or relationships with my family, not walking out my purpose and calling.

As I've taken this journey, I realize how little I have changed. I am still very much the same girl I was as a teenager. I am interested in the same things. I still gravitate to the same style of clothing and music. Not a lot has changed that make up my persona. But I've grown. And that I am grateful for. I can still be me, but I know how to navigate the important things a lot better. 

Though I may regret not preserving the small things in my youth, I don't think that it's an unusual thing. Most of us probably didn't realize how quickly it would pass and how drastically life would change. Most of us probably wish we could tell our younger selves, hang on to these moments, remember them, but don't get stuck in them. I think that is just a part of growing up. Knowing that when we were 'growing up' we'd be somewhat unaware of it all.

So what happens next?
I think just taking each day and making it big, but also pausing in and appreciating the small. Life can't get mundane if we stop often enough to acknowledge what we have... or if we live big enough to have something to remember and talk about to our grandkids.
So that is what I plan on doing. Living life on purpose. Each day. Each moment. I may forget occasionally, amidst a teenage eye roll or toddler tantrum. But I pray that I always come back to be reminded that this life I've been given is an adventure. It's up to me to get in the car and speed it up and slow it down.




Thursday, February 16, 2017

Living The Bitter (less) Sweet Life / when you've been hurt



Life is good. I could end right there. It's good.

Life has been good for me for awhile now. I've gone in and out of troubling scenarios with my kids or my health, but by the grace of God, I survive. I gain wisdom, understanding and strength. I'm way stronger now than I've ever been.  Not physically, but that's an whole other topic. But I know who I am and what I want more than I ever have. And I know who to go to when life seems off kilter.

Seems being the key word. Because the word "seems" usually parallels to the word "feels." And we know that what we feel in a moment or in a season may not necessarily be truth. Although, I do validate feelings, because they are real. You can't tell someone to not feel hurt or sad if they are hurt or sad, but the question is 'where do we go or what do we do with those feelings?' Is it possible to move on?

I wanted to share something that the Lord spoke to me recently that has helped me a ton to move on and live in freedom and really love people. I'm mean for real. Love them. It's super simple, yet chock full of wisdom.

Last summer, I was feeling yuck. I can't really put my finger on it. But I was feeling sort of hurt, offended,  and just overall sad. People were making me sad and it seemed as though I was living a life of being either let down or full on abandoned by people. It's sort of the unfortunate nature of the beast when you are a preacher's kid. And I just got used to it. People leave or people talk, and you hear about it. And if you let it, it can take a little piece of your heart every-single-time. And I was feeling weary and worn down of living the past 30 years this way. It can be rough. I was honestly just tired of smiling and hugging people or liking everyone's facebook status in my very best attempts to 'walk in love.' I was doing a pretty good job of pretending I was okay. I was letting it roll of me 'like water off a duck's back' as they say. Yet inside, I was one big Blahhhhhh! Ho-hum. Wah-wah.

I was taking a walk, talking to the Lord about it one day. I didn't want to try so hard to walk in love. I really didn't. I was tired of making the effort to love. What I really wanted was to genuinely love people. Friends, enemies, frenemies and naysayers. I really just wanted to be genuine when I prayed for people. I really just wanted to hug people and not feel burdened on the inside with bitterness or sadness. And I was honest with the Lord about it. I told him like it is and how I felt. Because really, who wants to live like that? It's a crummy way to go through life. And God is cool like that because he listens. And He tells YOU like it is back.

The weird thing is, I didn't even realize I was holding on to any bitterness. I honestly thought because I was doing my best to smile and walk in love, that this was enough. My very best effort to walk in love was equivalent to forgiveness, no? As I was talking to the Lord about it, He said "Why don't you forgive them?" Wait, what? But God, I liked their facebook status. I smiled at them at church. I hugged them. I waved when I saw them at the grocery store. I did my very best, didn't I?

To even try to walk in love in our own strength, in particular when we've been hurt, will never be enough to move on or feel happy or content on the inside. It's a nice try and your heart probably is in the right place when you go on pretending as if all is okay for the sake of your 'love walk.' But if you truly want to feel free to love, it starts with forgiveness.
By that I mean, speak it. Say it out loud. God, I forgive 'so-n-so" and I release any bitterness and all hurt I have felt because of him/her. I want to love that person like you love them, with your love. I thank you for going to the cross for me, I thank you for forgiving me and because of that I can and will let go of any hurt or  pain because of what they did or said and I will let go of any resentment I've harbored ...and I give it all to you.

I hate to say it, but I had lists. Things I didn't even realize were hurting me still. And I went through them one by one. People I loved, people I didn't care for all that much, anyone and everyone. I remembered situations I had let slide. I remembered things said that made me cringe and my stomach sink. The tears rolled. But I gave every last bit of it to the Lord and I forgave 'em all. And wouldn't you  know it, my heart is free. It's free from all the yuck. The sad feels. The irritable feels. The frustration. And I can love people authentically now.
If a new situation occur or things get said that make me want to crawl back into the hole of contempt, I remember what God said to me... "Why don't you forgive them?'

I told you, Simple...yet profound. And liberating. Stop trying so hard. Just forgive them. And love will be easy.

I want to challenge you now. If you are thinking of a person or people that you've tried hard with. You've smiled. You've hugged. You've let it roll off you, in sort of a pretense of walking in love. Maybe you forgot to give it to the Lord. Maybe you forgot to actually forgive them. Maybe, like me, you need to ask God for his forgiveness for hanging on to it and trying to do it all in your own strength. Do it now. Say it out loud.
God, I forgive them. I want to love them like you love them. I want to walk in freedom from hurt and bitterness. I give it all to you and from this point on I can smile and hug  and love with sincerity. I don't have to pretend any more.








Monday, January 2, 2017

What I'm Saying Yes To In 2017!



2016 taught me a good many things about what I want out of life. Particularly as I sat down this fall and began to give myself a few hours to really pray and think over what I did and didn't want. Like most of us do, I want the good stuff. But a lot of the time I'm too busy, too scared or talk myself into a frazzle or frenzy to really embrace the good stuff. Somewhere in my brain, the good stuff becomes the bad stuff. Because the meaningful and good responsibilities and opportunities in life feel more like chores, chaos, hard or things I have to do.  But I started to think, it's not the stuff that is bad or overwhelming. Could it be our perception of it has gotten off, rather? And although we may need to say no to a few things, a lot of time, we end up saying no to the things that were intended as blessing and abundance of joy and peace.

My friends and I talk a lot about how we need to get together. It's not like we ever walk away feeling disappointed in the once or twice a year that we actually do it. Yet, somehow getting ourselves to that point. That point where we HAVE to get dressed- HAVE to go out of the house and do something enjoyable with the people we love feels like a chore. Why is that?

Why do that things that are good for our spirit and soul and body feel so extremely hard some days?
I began thinking about how this happened. How did the really good things in life somehow become the things we sort of dread and maybe even stopped doing. We've lost perspective. We've lost sight of the blessing and joy we once felt really being with those people or doing that thing we used to hold important.  Over time we let life overwhelm us and we start saying no. But we start saying no to the wrong things. We began saying no, because we got preoccupied with unimportant things. Or busy things. Or us things. And the more we said no, the easier it has become to say no and eventually just stop all together. Probably not on purpose. Maybe our intent was a little break or me time (which isn't wrong) but somehow when we began focusing more on us, we forgot the things really made life worth living to us.

So recently and going into 2017, I'm saying Yes to saying Yes. I'm not letting the perishable things overtake the worthwhile and eternal things. I'm not letting my No be sort of an automatic response just because it's what I've become accustomed to doing in my, dare I say, laziness. I'm weighing the importance of the things I'm presented with and I'm choosing the good things.
I'm pushing myself to really esteem the people, the family, the church, my body, the calling and this life God gave me. I hold them highly enough to remember them, the spend time with them, to work on them, to encourage them, to smile with them, to talk kindly about them, to work diligently on them, to serve willingly with them and to enjoy doing it all. Because I don't have to do any of it. I get to. They are beautiful opportunities given to me by a merciful God who loves me and a Heavenly Father who knows what's best for me. A God who sent His son, Jesus to give me an abundant life.

I only got one shot at 2016. I missed chances to be present. I missed chances to change my attitude. I missed chances to love others. I missed chances to work on my health. I missed chances to smile and laugh with my people. I missed chances to honor and encourage people. I missed chances to step into what God called me to do. But in 2017, I am saying Yes more often.

What I'm saying Yes to in 2017!

-Being Bold and Brave in what God has called me to do. I know bits and pieces of my place in this big enormous puzzle of life. I don't know everything. But what I do know, I won't shy away from. I will walk confidently in it, because I know the Greater One lives in me. And I believe when I speak, God will speak through me. So I will walk in what I know...

-Spending more time with my parents. I see my parents often. At least twice a week. But I've taken for granted 'seeing them' and replaced really loving them with my time and heart for a brief hi and bye at church a few times a week. We've had a few scary moments (at least for me while my parents were in the hospital), though my trust was in the Lord. But these past few years I've seen how important it is to be with the ones you really love. Because life can pass quickly and for some too quickly. And I never want to have any regrets. I want to give my all.

-Actually seeing My friends. Sometimes this means girls nights in. Sometimes this means girls nights out. Sometimes it means play dates. Either way, I'm committed to not getting lazy and actually acknowledging my friendships someplace other than social media. I have never ever walked away disappointed and almost always walk away needing my inhaler from laughing so hard. This is so good for my soul. So YES!

-Going to church and liking it. Ok, I grew up in church. I was/am a preachers kid. Ever since I can remember, I've gone to church 3 times a week, if not more. As an adult with 4 kids of my own, it got more difficult, but we've tried our best. Because really, no one ever got hurt from learning about Jesus and sitting in His presence, listening to His word and being around other believers (for the most part). It's a habit I want to instill in my kids. Maybe it sounds old school. Going to church more than once a week. Hardly anyone does it anymore. And as our church has gone from 3 to 2 services a week and our midweek volunteer status has dwindled. It's been easier and easier for me to say NO to church more than once a week, because I honestly have no one to watch my toddler. However, with the convenience of the situation, it affected my attitude somewhat. Not negatively per say. Just indifferent, I guess.  I truly love learning the Word. I've been sitting under the same preacher (Daddy) since I can remember, yet rarely when I go to church, do I go in rolling my eyes thinking I've heard this all before. Because the Word of God is life and His presence is refreshing, no matter what. And I know if I go in expecting to receive, I will. So I am saying Yes to church and receiving what God has for me in the place he has me. If I'm going to skimp, this isn't the place I want to do it.

-Laughing and playing with my kids. 4 kids are a handful. I have a toddler, a teenager and two in between. It's not for the faint of heart. I've gotten overwhelmed and stressed and snippy and cranky more often than I like to admit. I've looked at my phone when they had to repeat their question over and over again...more often than I like to admit. And I want to have fun with them. More game nights. Movie nights (though those rarely go over well in my home). More conversation. More one on one date nights. I want to give them moments to remember. So when they grown up, they don't just remember how much I yelled at them, but how much we played and talked and snuggled.

-Fun day with Wyatt once a week. Wyatt is with me at home, all day, every day of the week. The little dude is the happiest kid in the world when we get to go somewhere. He loves to get out of the house and explore. So I committed myself to attempting a 'once a week' outing with him at a gym, play yard, fun zone, park, pool, wherever it may be.

-Gain Knowledge and Understand Truth. I am generally a really touchy feely sort of gal. I'm a heart girl more than a head girl. When God speaks to me, it moves me, tears me up, inspires me and really gets me thinking. But lately, I've sensed myself shift in a bit of a new direction. I want to gain knowledge and rescue truth in a world where so much opinion, false doctrine & political correctness is esteemed. And now when God speaks, it get's me excited because I can see His plan and purpose laid out throughout time. I want to know and understand what God is saying, why He said it and to whom He said it to without preconceived ideas. I want my heart to be wide open and my eyes to be wide open. I want to understand people's hearts too, yes, but so that I can better relay God's truth. Because His truth is the only one that will set people free from bondage. And I feel there is a reason God is shifting my time with Him.. I can't place my finger on it quite yet though. YES to Knowledge, Understanding & Truth!

-Writing. I started writing on this little blog of mine 4 years ago today! Whoa, I just realized that. And I've toyed with the idea of book writing or writing a devotion. Time, motivation and lack of confidence has kept me quieter as the years have gone by. But this year, I'm upping the ante and getting back into the swing of things. Yes to slipping away more often and letting the words pour on out.

-Rest, Nutrition and Exercise. I really hesitate even putting this out there, because ever since Wyatt has been born, I've failed miserably in all three areas. However, with current health issues and toddler issues, I really, really, really see (and feel) the need for good health and I have to start somewhere. I'm saying yes to better choices. Going to bed earlier more often, Yes to healthy foods (not just no, to junk food) and Yes to exercise, no matter how hard it seems to do it.

-Date Nights. Really, what are date nights? I sort of pride myself on letting the world know that Jeff and I have only been out alone maybe a total of 5 times alone since Wyatt has been born, for 4 hour increments at most. We finally took a little 2 night trip for our 20th Wedding Anniversary (What?!) But no more. We will budget and plan date nights (or days) this year. If they have to be in house, they will be, but they will happen. YES to fun and romance with my man!

-Serving and Encouraging. I sincerely enjoy serving people and serving my church. I like encouraging others. But at times, it has felt like 'what's the point?' When we are not recognized or felt like we are not needed, we can get apathetic in this area. But the Lord has spoke this to me, as written in a recent post, "Do It For The Ones That Show Up." There is always someone who needs what you have. My church needs me and someone needs to me to say or do what I can say or do. So despite what it looks or feels like some day, I will continue to step out and step in with a good attitude. I will continue to set my hands to good things.

-Prayer and Life Speaking over others. I'm tired of the complaining. I'm tired of the whining. I'm tired of the gossip. I'm tired of the tiny sparks our mouths may have set that turned up forest fires in the hearts of others. I'm tired of spoken fear, disappointment or lack. From my mouth and from others. And I'm done. I've said enough and I've heard enough. And I really don't think I've prayed enough about that things I was whining about. Have I said spoke blessing? I've let fear sit on my tongue. But no more. These past few weeks, I've made it a point to begin speaking LIFE. I've began praying for others. Lifting families and hearts and lives up to the Lord. Speaking blessing on people. Forgiving people. Speaking life over our church. Blessing over our nation. And thanking God for his continual presence & anointing resting upon the leadership in my life. I'm saying Yes in 2017 to using my mouth to speak blessing, rather than cursing.

-More Selfies! Haha! This is random and I get that it sounds self absorbed. But honestly, I think my lack of selfies has been more self absorbed than anything. My lack of pictures of myself, with my kids or with my husband or friends really has to do with my lack of self confidence in my appearance. The weight I put on with Wyatt, I only lost about 1/2 of so far. I've always lost my pregnancy weight easily (and trust me, I gain a lot!) and I've never been stuck so far above my 'normal' weight for such a long period of time. He's two and a half.  And I'm several years older since I've really taken a decent picture of myself or with my family to top it off, so I'm really just trying to come to terms that this is me, right here and right now. And I'm going to want pictures of myself with my kids. So, I've been working on it. A few snapshots here and there. Because I will want the memories. And I think when we say, "I don't want to be in the picture' it's more or less because our fear of social media. But yes, we will want the memories with our people.  And I want to believe in myself, not just my appearance. This is one time, I will say Yes to more selfies!




What about you?
What are some things you can say YES to more of this year?
Jesus came that you could have an abundant life! Are you saying YES enough to the things that are good for you? Are you saying YES to the blessing He's been trying to hand to you? Are you saying YES to having a fulfilled life?
Don't let your NO become your normal. Just say Yes!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Change Your Picture



I'm told I don't have a life. I don't know how often I've said that to myself. Or thought it.
But it's been a lot.
And I want to address this subject of 'not having a life' we hear of and speak of so often.

About 3 weeks ago, I was honored with the good ol' parental obligation of taking away privileges. It became a big thing in our home that day. BIG. I won't even go into the original reason, but we took computer privileges away from my oldest, about to be a teenager-but still a child, son. The original sentencing consisted of 2 days or so, but gradually additional days were added per attitude. Somehow, we wound up around the 2 1/2 week mark with no laptop, no phone.

He has only had a phone for a couple of weeks and technically it doesn't have service, but it's my old phone and is still able to connect to WiFi, so we thought we'd let him use it, all the while making it clear that it is still my phone and I am able to let whomever use it of my choosing. But mainly, he's the oldest, so we let him keep tabs on it. It was long awaited and begged for and he loved it from the moment it was handed over. So along with the laptop (his first love), it was the 2nd to go.

When do I get it back?- is always the first question. Usually in disgust.
NOT how can I change my attitude to get it back or what can I do to win your trust again, Mom?
When rolled eyes (by him) and pure frustration (by me) changed to let's sit down and talk, I was finally able to pull together my thoughts on what was happening and why. And then we talked.
"You will get it back when I feel you understand what life is really about and what it's not about."
I know that's big and deep, but it's not really. Life is not about the computer. Life is not about the phone. Or the tablet. Or the Wii U. Or the Xbox One. Or even 'wince'... Netflix. The computer we let you use is not a right. It is a privilege.  And your phone is not real life. When I say "Do your homework" or "It's time for church" or "Get ready for school" or "Come and eat" or "Let's do something as a family" - I am not interrupting your real life with things like family/ God/ responsibility because I loathe you and want to (I quote) ruin your life. Despite what you may feel at that moment.

Life is simple at this point. God. Family. Responsibilities. That's what I told him.
That's what having a life is. For real.
(I will add friendship on as well, because obviously that is important. But if you tell that to a 12 year old in the year 2016, with friendship automatically comes skype and gaming or things of the like, and we aren't going there for now.)

My heart to heart with my son turned into a day date with him with lots of hugs, apologies and him nodding his head in agreement of what I was trying to teach him. We had a fun day. However my words sat with me so much longer than that day.
What is life really about?

Just days later, those very words "you don't have a life" were casually flung in my direction (not by my son, for the record). Whether or not it was intended doesn't matter, because either way it made me think hard about what I do each day, what I want to be doing and who I am doing it for....

I don't currently work outside the home. I had a good 20+ years of work on the outside starting at the age of 14 and will probably get back there someday and will have the rest of my life to do so, but for now I stay home with my little man and of course, my four kids in the summer. I don't really want to miss a moment. (Well, maybe a couple moments wouldn't hurt -hint: free babysitters please) But it's just where I am, personally. And it's where I want to be. Over the course of the ups and downs of my adult life, I've realized what I want out of this life and I am 'going for it."
Going for it sounds small to to others when you are "just sitting around" -at home. But raising a family, being with your children and involved in almost every single moment of every day and experiencing every moment with them is gigantic. And beautiful. And exhausting too, in it's own way. If being a mom and who God called me to be isn't enough, I do also home school my oldest son part time (which even part time feels like a full time job some days- props to you full time home school Mommas!). I watch other peoples kids occasionally so they are able to work. And I volunteer more hours than people realize for our church all week long. Not to mention, I write my heart out when I can squeeze in some midnight moments like tonight.
But primarily in this season of my life, it is my honor to just be Mom. I can't imagine it any other way. When I tickle and snuggle my baby boy after the big kids leave for school in the mornings or when I pick my girls up from school and Leila talks my ear off or when I sit with Jada and we do devotions together or when I sit with Wesley and we go over his home school lessons together and he gets distracted with telling me minecraft stories, I never ever thought of it as not having a life. Every single time, I think to myself, this is what life is all about. Honoring the Lord, by loving my family and training them in the way they should go. This is the desire God has given me. In this particular season, yes, this is what I am designed for. For such a time as this...

All the other things we can desire or strive for on this earth, I wouldn't say they are always distractions from the true abundant life, but they certainly can be if we let real life become more about them and less about what will stick with us...

It makes me ponder all the Mommas out there who have had this very thought or said these very words out loud. I don't have a life.  I don't get any sleep. I can't get a babysitter. I don't ever get a break. I used to love to read. I wish I had time for myself. We say it jokingly in our facebook posts or to the other moms, but half way crying on the inside, wondering where our life went. All this because real life is kicking your tail every single day.
Girl, you DO have a real life... and this is it. The circumstances may have changed (and become better really, I think)...But this is abundance if you know how to really live smack dab in the middle of it.
Be so so thankful and embrace each breath, each giggle, each minute. Work hard and at the same time, just rest. You're doing it. You do have it all. The dream. You just have to change the picture in your head of what life is supposed to be. (Thanks for that, Hart of Dixie!)

To all the Mommas that work so hard outside the home and come home to just a few short hours with their babies each night, to all the Mommas busy creating and writing and designing in between those home school lessons, to all the Mommas who desperately love their children, and are taking care of someone else's children too and never seem to have a kid free moment... I just want you to know, what you are doing is important. This is life. It's not a matter of not having one. It's a matter of what you what you want out of it, make of it, who the grace comes from and all glory goes to.

Change Your Picture.

When our desire and pursuit of God's heart, 
our recognition of the beautiful design of family (and friendship), 
our ambition to take on responsibility genuinely and with integrity, 
and our passion for honoring the Lord by using our talents and chasing those dreams God placed inside of us...
When these things all come together, then we have found a beautiful life and yes, a real life.
We have found the abundant life Jesus wanted for us and gives us. 
It's not about the things, the jobs, the titles, the comparisons...
It's about knowing who you are in Christ and embracing all He's placed around you and on the inside of you. Don't let it sit there. Stand tall in those roles you play in life. Wear all those hats proud. And as you do every moment, do it in honor to the one who gave it all to you.




Sunday, December 27, 2015

Loving Them Well



I started writing this around Thanksgiving and seemingly got busy and sidetracked and never quite finished. Fortunately, I can say with some certainty that it wasn't too much of the 'holiday rush' that consumed me, but just having a family. And that's a good thing. It's a good thing to have people to love. It's even a better thing to love them well.

All year long, most of us pour our lives into our people... our families our friends. And this is unquestionably a season where we intentionally set aside time, funds and thought to others outside of our circle. During the holidays, we make an effort to extend that extra hand in particular those that are in need. It's what we are called to do at all times, to love. But as we celebrate the gift of Christ each Christmas, we are reminded to love and give to those around us. We go above and beyond. However, going above and beyond for many of us may just mean to start at learning to love the people in our lives better.

We live in this era when there is something to be said for just being there in that moment without having to document it for the world to see. There is something to be said for loving our people well...for no other reason than just because. Not for a photo op, not even to make ourselves feel better, but just because those are the people that have stuck by us, will stick by us and they deserve our best and our better most days.

Earlier this year, I really felt God tugging on my heart to step out of my comfort zone to love my people better. I'm a home body. I'm perfectly comfortable pretty much never leaving the house. I adore my friends and I love my family, but getting up and out takes work and energy.  Mustering up the words via email or a text or vox to let someone know I have their back when I wont actually leave the house to have their back seemed pointless. So I knew God was calling me to stretch a little and make sure the people who have laughed with me and cried with me knew that I loved them truly.

As the body of Christ we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this world, but I  have always had a problem with the person that can be kind to the stranger or will give more time and thought to the passerby in their life, yet fail to treat those who have always been in their life with respect, honor and kindness. I don't want to be one of those people.
I happen to believe most of my family and true close friends are God given. Those are the people who have defended us, who will repeatedly forgive us and who will go on trusting us over and over again when others wont. Those who will try and talk us out of the bad decisions or even tattle on us when we make them are the people who love us. And first and foremost, if we are to practice love, we need to learn to honor them with our time, our integrity, and our sincerity... I truly believe if we can learn to love our circle of people well, that love will spill over naturally to the world outside of our circle.

This past February, we very unexpectedly found out my dad had to have open heart surgery. I don't want to say I was scared, but I was prepared. At least as I could be.. And I made sure I was there every moment possible of his 10 day stay in the hospital. With four kids, school, my husband being out of town for 5 of those days, it wasn't easy and I was exhausted. But I knew how important it was for me to be there. It was important to me that I was there for him, and I needed my dad and mom to know how much I loved them. The previous year, my mom went to the ER and was told she was a week away from a heart attack. Those are hard and scary moments. I'm a faith girl and I believe in the promises of God, but those moments are just hard and I am thanking God for his peace through every moment.

Since then, I've thought a lot about whether I've shown my love and support for family  and friends the way I needed to over the years. And until this year, I don't think I have. At least not as well as I could have. And over the course of this year, it's something I'm still working on. I've been selfish. I've been negligent. I've been busy. But I've come to this place in my life where I realize a lot of the 'issues' we have with our people simply aren't worth the inner fuss and they definitively aren't worth the fight. Our goal in life is simple. To love. And to love well. To be there first for those God has placed  in your life and that are there just for you... and let that ministry of loving well, then, seep over to others... on the outside as well.

I'm really good at saying I love people, because in my heart, I do. I am empathetic. I am sympathetic. In my heart, I rejoice with those when it's time to rejoice. I mourn with those when it's time to mourn. But love isn't an empathetic feeling or a smile or a tear alone. Love moves you. And I want it to move me to be present in the lives of the people that mean the most to me.
In between the week of starting this post and today...One of my aunts who I am closest to had a stroke.... My heart aches. I see her almost weekly... at church, on visits, we spent Thanksgiving laughing and cracking as we all played Heads Up and Catch Phrase, we spend every Christmas Eve with her and her family, and she always has such a giving heart and is such an example of faith to me. And as I've witnessed and experienced these hard moments with people I love these past 2 years, somewhere in between shock and heartbreak, I am reminded how much I really love them, but even more, how much more I could be loving them. And this isn't my goal for 2016, but it's something God has been laying more and more on my heart. Love them well. From now on and forever, love them well.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, who are those people?  Who are the people that have been there for us? Who are the people that we spend our holidays with? Who watched us get married or came to a funeral of someone we love to support us? Who cared enough to tell us like it is when we messed up?  Who cried with us when we lost someone or something? Who texted us to ask if we were okay? Who laughed with us over and over at the same dumb joke? Who visited the hospital when we were sick or having a baby? Who taught us to be more like Christ? Whose words of wisdom have stuck with us? Who hand held ours? Whose arms hugged our neck? Whose shirt was wet from our tears? Who forgave us over and over? Who trusted us again after we hurt them? Who trusts us enough to tell their frustrations? Who looks up to us to care for them? Who do we laugh so hard with we need our inhaler to breather (ahem...)?

Chances are there are several people, friends, family members, leaders, pastors, classmates, co-workers, etc that fit several of these categories... Chances are these are your people. People that are in your life, right here right now, that need your time, your patience, your generosity, your forever support... These are the people you need to love well.
My husband always teases me when I drive through Starbucks or am on the phone with a customer service rep. Apparently, I  talk "pleasant." He's messing around me with me because my voice gets extra high and perky and I suddenly pull out the ultra nice card. I get a good laugh out of him joking with me. But the truth is, it convicts me of how I treat and talk to him or my kids or the people I truly truly cherish. Why do they not get this 'pleasant' side of me? Am I more kind to a stranger than I am to my own people? Do I put more thought into how I treat someone I don't know than how I treat those I love?

It's certainly something to think about...

I pray as we embark upon another year, our hearts aren't broken or afraid or tattered before we learn to love and cherish our people. I pray today, right here and now, before difficulty comes, we stop and make the decision to really love.
To realize and remember those that really impact our lives and we all learn to love, love them really really well...




Monday, October 12, 2015

Leaving the Ninety-Nine





Over the past few years, I've discovered a lot inside myself that I enjoy and love, actually. That sounds weird to say, but I don't think it's crazy to love the things God has stirred and placed inside of you. I don't think it's crazy for you to love YOU. Especially when the you that you are loving is really just the things He put on the inside of you. All those things that make you, YOU... are really just Him.

A few weeks ago, I spoke at a women's breakfast we had at our church. Public speaking is still semi new to me and I've only engaged in it a hand full of times. I'm still in the place of feeling completely awkward, but also "Okay, I can do this." I've sort of fallen into the role of coordinating our ladies ministry, but never really feel comfortable saying "Ok, listen up Ladies. I've got something to say and I think you need to hear it." I'm fairly confident when I hear from the Lord, but I'm never sure of other people's confidence in me, so I hesitate. I step in and sort of just micro manage all the event details of this area in our small church without really having to 'teach' for fear of "What if I'm wrong?"  

But at the same time, I know when I'm hearing from the Lord. I'm careful as to when I speak up or when to keep silent because God is speaking just to me. I've learned over the years when to...and when not to... You live and learn.
I was weighing (overthinking) all the pros and cons of  stepping on stage with a mic in hand and all my notes in front of me, saying "God said...". I told a friend my hesitancy both because I was unsure, but also because I told her I didn't want people to think that I thought I knew it all, because I don't. 
(that darn fear of people).

And her reply stuck with me...

"It's okay to be confident in yourself and your abilities. It's okay to know you are good at something. It's okay to do something  you believe in with boldness and anticipation. It's okay to know you hear from God."

That was the jist of it. It's okay to believe in yourself.
It's okay to love who God made you.

I've done a lot of digging these past few years, deep within myself, and I have to say , I love where God is taking me. It's not big and flashy. It's not really bold and sassy. But it's me and it's Him. And it's unique. It's beautiful. And it's ours. And I love that. 
Sharing my heart, using way too many words, dancing with creativity-I love it all.

And it's okay to love who He made me.

I truly thrive and find such purpose in being used by the Lord to speak truth and life and encourage others. I love watching Him work, not because I am so great, but because I am willing.
And it's okay. 

It's okay for us to be happy and excited with where God has us. It's okay if He promotes us to different or or even monumental spheres of influence. And it's also okay to want to be used more and more by Him. I don't shy away from it as much as I used to , because more than anything, I know if I can't do it, He can... and He's just using my life and my story and my mouth to tell His story. 
His story of redemption. 

But what I keep finding out over and over....and what I keep hearing the Lord ask me is, "Is it okay if I keep you here for awhile? Is it okay if this is just your season, if this is just your place for awhile? Are you okay with just being a friend? Are you okay with just encouraging people with a smile or a conversation? Are you okay with letting your small be  my great?" 

Taking giant leaps in life doesn't always glitter or feel snazzy. Maybe just a few see you sparkle from close up. Maybe no one sees you sparkle at all. Or maybe you don't feel like anyone sees you, because not enough see you. Are you okay with just letting him use you in His way? Not yours?

I was reading the 'parable of the ninety-nine' earlier this week in Luke 15 and it struck me in a new way. In this parable, Jesus talks about the shepherd who had one hundred sheep (or one hundred followers, if you will) and he lost one, but he left his ninety-nine in search of the lost one. That lost sheep was valuable. Clearly, he was a wanderer. He was probably dirty and smelly, which isn't cool. He didn't follow the crowd and wasn't in the corner coffee shop sipping on a chai tea latte keeping tabs on hipster subculture. But he was important enough to leave the ninety-nine that were...
In this technology savvy culture we live in, where we shine our bright lights on the small hand held screens of our peers and our fans, would we be okay leaving our 'ninety-nine' to reach the one lost and hurting one? Or have we so exhausted ourselves undertaking the masses or even just the busy-ness of life, that the small lost sheep gets shuffled aside? 
It spoke something fierce to me. I'm just like the rest of you. We all want people to notice us, our hard work, our deep thought out sentiment, our creativity... but would we leave all our likes and favorites and follows behind, would we pause our busy lives if there was just one small person that needed us? Would we notice them?

And that is where I got stuck all week. Am I noticing them?

God was saying, "Who is that one person that you've been thinking of lately? Are  you willing to take the time to step away from the hype and glam to reach just that one person? Are you willing to use your influence for something small? Are you ready to stop being too busy? Because if you are, what you might deem as small and perhaps insignificant, I am calling great. 
I want to open my life for God to use me, but I'm just more and more seeing that His ways are so much more grand than mine. His thoughts are higher than mine. And we are filled with so much contentment, satisfaction and everlasting joy-- when we aren't getting in the way of his big work in us and through us in seemingly small ways.

Matthew 25:23
His Master said to him 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little. I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.


"We long to see God's power and glory, the miraculous and supernatural breaking into the temporal. But let's not forget the one. Don't forget the one next to you-the person to whom you can be Jesus' hands of compassion. In God's economy, the person who just reaches out to one and sees that one find grace is just as important as the evangelist who leads thousands to Christ."-Heidi Baker













Friday, September 4, 2015

Because I Hate Bad News.



Me: (via text) Hey Mom. What are you up to today?
Silence
Me: (via text) Are you doing anything tonight?
Silence
Me: (via text) Any chance you would be able to watch the kids tonight?
Nothing.

Finally I hurdle through *what feels like an impossible* challenge of using my actual words for an actual phone call to possibly hear an actual real time rejection of my request. It's so much easier to ask a favor via text because then if I am turned down, I can sulk quietly in the privacy of my home. On that same note, it's easier for the favor to be asked of someone via text because they can ignore the request and pretend they didn't see it. I'm not saying that's what my mom does, I'm saying we all do it. Because we hate bad news. And in some cases, being stuck babysitting on a Friday night is bad news.

Am I the only one who avoids looking at my bank statement because I'm scared of what it might say? Or avoids going to the doctor because what if it's serious? I do it like I'm watching a scary  movie with my hands covering my eyes and I peek through the space in my fingers. I have pillows on either side of my ears to drown out the intensity of the music. I want to know what happens, but I dont really want to see what leads up to it.

I was talking to my mom on the phone one morning earlier this week and I asked her about the possibility of  'unpleasant news' and she said to me, "I haven't thought about it yet. I want to get into the presence of God first and pray and read my Bible. Otherwise it will ruin my day." {On a side note: Can I just say I love my mom for that? She's sets such an incredible example of looking unto Jesus first, and not circumstances.}

As I was mulling over these thoughts yesterday, I forced myself to go over in my head all the *bad news* and things that I had thought about these past few weeks.
*Wow, I can't believe she died. Where has she been all these years anyways?
*Guys are such jerks. What on earth is wrong with people?
*Who on earth is that disgusting? Perverts.
*What do we do if ISIS was here? And I hear it is. Seriously, what do we do?
*Another mass shooting? Do I ever want to go to a movie again?
*Her Instagram feed looks so cool. What's the point? I'm not that creative. I can't compete with that.
*I wish I was cute and skinny again and had money for clothes like that. Those days are gone forever.
*Ugh. This country is getting more and more corrupt and immoral. I can't even handle it anymore.
*Do they ever see their kids? Is she ever happy or in a good mood? Can they ever not share gossip stories on facebook?

The list goes on.

So many thoughts that hit my mind regularly are negative and derived from something I was looking at online, either in the *facebook trending* news or on social media of some form. You guys, I'm not sure how I feel about  the shock of celebrity gossip or watching our society recklessly abandon biblical principals on the regular or shuttering over heart wrenching death being at the forefront of my day. I was always one to sort of avoid 'the news' because I didn't want to feed on anything that was going to cause me additional fear or pain. Maybe that's just me.

I often have this inner battle with my online status and whether or not I should step away from social media or the internet occasionally because of the way it affects me.  I think alot of us do. It almost seems silly, but the internet riles us up, ya know? It can boil our blood, put us in tears, cause us to roll our eyes, confuse us, sadden us, frighten us and deter our faith if we let it. And it's real. I hate to say it, but it's not just silly social media anymore. It's real life.
You know why? Because it really affects our hearts.



Above all else, guard your heart, because everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23

This verse has been rolling around on the inside of me this past 24 hours. Guard your heart. You guys, protecting yourself from 'bad news' or whatever it is that trips you up, isn't silly. It's actually biblical. You are the one who is responsible for your life and what flows from it. You have a responsibility to your people. Your kids. Your husband. Your community. Is life flowing from you to them? Is joy and peace flowing from you to them? Or is frustration, fear, irritability, confusion, doubt? Whatever it is, it's coming from somewhere.

What you are filling your heart with is what will come out. And if you aren't filling it with life, then life isn't what is coming out. You know the saying- Garbage In, Garbage out...

This post has nothing really to do with facebook or instagram or the internet within itself. In fact there is so much good online. So much that has inspired me and given me hope. But this has to do with what is affecting your heart for the worse. We might blow it off like it's not a big deal or tease people because they take it so seriously and abandon their social media, But in our culture, social media is *a thing* for a lot of people. Internet temptation is real. Fear is real. It just is.
Online life *is* real life for the majority of our society.
And if that is what is affecting you daily, then it's up to you to protect yourself. It it's something else, then guard yourself from that. Don't feel silly about it. Take your heart seriously.
You are responsible for the life (or death) that is flowing from you to your people, to your dreams, to your vision, to your purpose. I don't know about you, but I want life flowing into my vision. I want life flowing to the people I love and serve.

I'm not saying never go to the doctor because you don't want to hear bad news, or don't take cover when a tornado siren is going off. Obviously, we should use wisdom and we know there are tests and troubles in this world. We go through them with Jesus by our side. And we overcome.

But don't go looking for unnecessary ways to crush your spirit and spew death into the inner most parts of you, because you are responsible to give life and you can't give life you have none in you to give. 

Semi Side Note: Of course I know the word of God says to "cast down all thoughts and imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God" and I do when they come, Thank God for His truth.  But what if we didn't feed on or help plant those thoughts to begin with?

Bad news isn't entirely unavoidable. But feeding on it is. Where is your bad news coming from?






Friday, August 28, 2015

Mom Guilt.



This afternoon my girls started walking out the door to head next door to my sister's house (yes, she lives next door) and immediately I went in panic mode. My sister has a brand new three week old baby girl and who knows where my kids hands have been. I don't keep perpetual tabs on what their fingers are digging in or playing with, but I know whatever it is, it probably made their fingernails grimy and black and sticky and I can only assume that no one wants the gritty fingers of adventurous children touching the cheeks of their first precious baby girl. So I panicked. I made them scrub their hands and I pulled out the toenail clippers, because I couldn't find a fingernail one. A toenail clippers will do just fine. And I cut those babies down as far as they would go. I breathed a sigh of relief. Almost. I knew Leila had just been running through the dirt without her shoes on. Here's to sending her off and hoping she doesn't take her shoes off while she's out of reach.

Mom Guilt.

Last night, my son sort of went into a mild hysteria. It suddenly dawned on him that school was just around the corner, when I told him at 10:30 it was time for bed and it was time to get on a school bedtime schedule. His bedtime is actually 9:30 on school nights, but I'm easing him in. He nagged, cried, yelled a little, begged and then he mumbled something about people 'controlling his life.' And before I knew it, the word "brat" popped out of my mouth and everything in me wanted to pull it out of the air. I also wanted to take back a summer full of bedtimes at midnight for him, but what can I do about it now? Deal with the repercussions of my inconsistencies as a parent. Inconsistencies suck.

Mom Guilt.

Last week, the girls were playing quietly and working hard all day in their bedroom. I saw blankets and tables being dragged into their room and I turned a blind eye to the inevitable tornado I was sure had hit their bedroom. I knew it was being demolished. But they were being so quiet and I was enjoying the silence.
And also, I'm a type B personality. I'm not saying a bit of panic or irritability doesn't set in when the house is a mess and people are on their way over or if I'm trying to work or watch TV and there are clothes and lucky charms strewn about. Stress happens. But usually, I tell myself to chill. Enjoy life. Yes, I can enjoy life in a mess, because my kids come before the house. My happiness is found in Jesus. And I simply don't have time to do it all. Particularly not in the summer when I have 4 kids and their friends over all the time. So I rest in the fact that I will get to it when I can.
However, this particular Saturday, I had just recently put the mattresses back on the bed from the bridge the girls built the day before with them and I left the house. The moment we had re-entered the house, I caught them in their room with the mattresses back off the beds and they said they were "making a book" with them. I put the kibosh on the book making fun and Jada told me in character of a typical nine year old that I was mean. In fun, I took the situation to facebook and asked how many moms out there were 'mean' like me and would not let their kids turn their mattresses into a book. The response basically bit me in the tush because it boiled down to 98% of them were mean by their own claim and were seemingly appalled that I had let it go that far.
I basically got the "I would never!!!" vibe.
And suddenly it kicked in.

Mom Guilt.

Most days, I realize the mom guilt or self condemnation by any nature sets in when I compare myself with other people. Other moms. Other pictures on my Instagram feed. Probably type A's. In any case, I compare and I suddenly feel like I don't feed my kids the right foods. My kids aren't being home-schooled. I don't do crafts with my kids (at least not on a regular basis). I'm not a room mom at their school or on the PTA nor do I care to be. I let them make bridges with their mattresses occasionally. And yes, they eat in their room and their carpeting is paying for it. (Not to mention, my eyes and sometimes my feet.)

Am I the only one that feels the tremendous guilt weighing down on you when you find out what someone else is doing or isn't doing? Perhaps you are a working mom who longs to be at home with your children. Perhaps you are a stay at home mom, who feels like you should be providing better for your family. Maybe you rush home after a busy day only to feed your kids cereal or a peanut butter sandwich. Maybe you feel like you don't have time to study up, much less have money to buy organic, gluten free, paleo foods for your family. I've been in tears as I've watched other moms from a distance. I've seen their successful businesses made with 6 kids in tow while they homeschool and pastor a church or travel the globe and I think to myself, "How Lord? How do they do it and still seem so happy?"

All I can come up with is that God has equipped them in this time and this season to do what they are doing. And same goes for you and I. God has equipped us in this time for this season to do what we are doing. He hasn't asked you to do more. He hasn't asked you to do what that girl is doing. As a mom, God gives you the direction, you the grace, you the time to just be MOM. Being mom doesn't come with a rule book or a play by play. And the rules and suggestions of our culture are always changing so you certainly can't go by that. You have to go by your heart, your intuition and where He is leading you to. Sometime his leading allows for some unstructured fun in your kids bedrooms. I'm not kidding. I've felt that 'nudge' to let go of my own self proclaimed precedent about what life or family should or shouldn't be and I've learned to go with the flow.
I've followed His leading. His simple leading to enjoy life. Enjoy my family.
Don't wait for the weekend or for vacation. Enjoy it today, even in the rush.

I'm not saying structure is wrong. Or rules are wrong. Or schedules are wrong. They are all great. And perfect for you, if you know how to work them and maybe you thrive on them. But I'm talking to the 'everyones' who feel guilty because they don't feel like they match up to the next persons way of doing life. Maybe you are a structured by the book kind of mom and you wish you were more laid back. All I know is this: Follow that God appointed parental intuition on the inside of you. It's there for YOU and YOUR family.

I'm always learning. I'm always re-evaluating. I told my son last night as he was in tears about 'having to go to school to learn' that  90% of our life is learning (okay I don't have the statistics on that, but you get what I'm saying.). It never stops. I told him, I'm learning right now how to talk to you & work with you. Life is a continual process. And when I screw up and say something to my kids I feel badly about, I make sure to set the standard at apologizing with sincerity. Mommy makes mistakes, but I shouldn't have said that. I didn't mean it. So they know that it's okay to make mistakes, but it's better if we learn from them and resolve the problem or hurt we created.

So for all of us moms. Or parents.
Know that you are fully equipped with everything it takes to be a good parent... or a better parent if that's what you desire.. It doesn't take more money or healthier foods or more craft nights, being on the PTA or less mess. Or maybe it does. But just know you have what it takes. You have the ability to make sound decisions and fill their hearts with love and adventure right where you are.
You are enough.

Because He made you to be.




Sunday, July 12, 2015

Parenting, Grace + Doing "It All"



It's been a quiet place around these parts lately. I don't really have any reason or excuses to give. I actually could rattle a list of things that have kept me busy/ entertained/ losing my marbles, but nobody is asking me for a list. I've been settling lately. Settling for just being, not so much doing. I'll be honest. It takes effort these days for me to hop on here and write something. Anything. And all my energy is sunk into family in this season. I feel like I've been saying that all year long, but since having a 4th child and with him still being a baby, it's just true. Ya know? It is what is is. I'm wiped.

I have noble head goals to want to do more for myself. I want to go full steam ahead or I want to take it day at a time. Whatever works. But I've done neither. Because parenthood really does take it out of you and you really have to be super duper intentional to get anything done in life other than 'the kids.'

I don't beat myself up too much. When I realized a month has gone by, then two months since I sat down to write...my fists clenched a bit, my heart felt a little frustrated and in that moment, I tell myself "What is wrong with you? Just do it. Do what you want to do. Get it done...better yet, Get 'er done." And then someone yells "MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!" And that's that. And that's why I don't beat myself up.

I'm so very thankful for the grace of God in this season. I can't say that enough. I seriously believe all parents must have a dose of God-given ability to raise little people into big people. Believer or not, that ability is God given. It's just learning to rely on Him which takes some practice and faith. Self reliance leaves us feeling frustrated and imperfect. Because none of us can do it alone. Who really wants to go at it alone?

I think sometimes we dwindle the grace of God to be a blanket to cover our sin or weakness. Or we mistakenly use it to excuse our laziness. He never intended for us to be bound to our weakness so that He could simply cover for us when we fail. He wanted us strong. He wanted us to rely on Him. He wanted us durable so that we could hunker down and finish this course with joy and satisfaction. His grace is a spring board that we can catapult from and move forward, despite our human weakness. It picks us up and gives us the muscle along the way to move faster, lift harder, and carry bigger loads if they are dropped in our lap.

Grace isn't a covering or a blind eye to what went wrong. It's so much more. It's a strengthening to help us get it right. And we all need more of that.

When Paul addressed the things going wrong in his life, God told him "You got this. Why? Because "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So Paul then said he is content to admit he is weak, because then the power of Christ can strengthen him and work through him. 
(2 Corinthians 12:9) It kept him going!

The other day I had a friend comment on my facebook that she loved 'how open and honest' I was about life. I so appreciated that comment because I felt that all these words I spill out into the world are not pointless. Some days I wonder. But I know this sort of gut wrenching openness wouldn't be as easy if I didn't know victory and peace on the other side of the stories I share. 
If I spilled my guts without sharing my glory, it would really just be me candidly complaining about life and everything in it.  But I'm open about my frustrations + weakness + victories as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, in my health, in my commitments and goals, because it's real life. And more importantly, because in my real life there is real grace to do it all, sometimes go through it all, sometimes trudge through it all...knowing that HOPE that only lies in Jesus. It's His ability alone working through me that keeps me moving, keeps me real, keeps me victorious in the end.

Let me say this. I don't try to do it all or be it all or trudge through anything just for the sake of doing it. Or to win some sort of award for rule following. Or to measure up to some level of perfection I saw on Pinterest. 

I don't even really even try to do "it all." When I say it all, I mean, I do what I have on my plate just because it's there set in front of me. Don't get bent out of shape thinking I'm struggling to reach some unseen level of perfection to be noticed by God or anyone else for that matter. I do what I have to do and my aim in every basic life activity is to bring Glory to Jesus. Why shouldn't it be?

On the other hand, I'm not trying to give the illusion that I don't want to do more with my time on this earth. Mostly, I want to do more in my personal life. But I'm still learning in some ways how to rely on that grace to catapult me into all those dreams I have for my life. And it's okay that I'm still learning. It's okay to admit I don't have it all down pat yet. It's okay if I never get there. It's okay if I am just Mom and Wife and Friend and Sister and Daughter of God....but when I do all those things and be that person, my desire is I do it all for His Glory. Keeping my eyes on Him...

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne." Hebrews 12;2




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Go Big Or Go Home



I've been clinging to every bit of baby I can. I love babies. I could keep going. But at 39, it's alot different than at 33 or 30 or 28 (the ages I was with my other 3 babies). Plus now I have four kids. So it's like a quadruple load of work for someone 11 years older. Eleven years makes a big difference in your energy level, especially if you've not been keeping up on your 'health and fitness routine' the past few years. Ahem.
So I cling. I find the baby, the tender moments with all my kids. But especially with my BABY baby. My sweet Wyatt Cash. As I sit there breastfeeding him, I talk to him. I tell him to stop growing so fast, I stroke his fluffy baby hair or his soft baby cheek with my fingers. I sing crazy made up mommy songs. Or I just kiss him one million times in the course of a feeding. And he just laughs at me. He eats and I see the smiles and hear the giggles all at the same time. It's one of the best things ever. EVER. It's difficult knowing it's coming to end soon. But for now I will keep going~ you know, at least until it's awkward.

I said all that to say this, with all my babies, I was in a hurry to lose my baby weight. With every one of them, I gained 55-70 pounds. And with the first 3 kids, I lost all the weight within 6 months. With Wyatt, not so much. It's been a struggle to be motivated, to stick to goals, sometimes to even care. One of my good friends and I have made it our mission to lose that final 30 together and to motivate each other to do so. Every day we send each other voxer messages with what we call 'a daily dose of inspiration'~ what it really comes down to is us whining to each other about how horribly we did today or this week, talking about how disappointed we are in ourselves in our poor choices.

And we make excuses. Lots of excuses.
One of my major excuses (and partially legitimate one) is that I am breastfeeding. I don't want to diminish my milk supply, therefore diminish my 'baby' time with my last baby. I don't want to eat too few calories and lose out on those tender moments with my little man because my body isn't making enough milk. So instead of not eating 'too few' calories, I eat all the calories in the world. Basically.

Go Big or Go Home.
Why do we do this? Why do we put the 'All Or Nothing' clause on ourselves. We set goals, we have aspirations, we want change and we throw ourselves into the thrill of renewed passion for dot, dot, dot.... We want to get closer to God. We want to be more organized. We want to eat better. We want to break free of addiction. And instead of letting God change our heart first, we throw ourselves into better behaviors with nothing concrete to uphold us. We dive into the excitement of something new and something flashy. It has all the feel goods of something that just seems better and once the thrill wears off or the work load seems too hard or we fail miserably for just a moment, and we throw in the towel. We give up. We don't look past that failure. We've already told ourselves it's all or nothing. Maybe not purposely, but our actions certainly lean in that direction.

Maybe there is a reason for the saying 'slow and steady wins the race.'
Maybe there is a reason for the saying "life is a marathon, not a race.'
Maybe it's because we want to sprint to success, and since a sprint is so short, one single trip up can cause us to lose the whole race.
Or maybe we start out running our marathon with all the momentum of a sprinter, quickly losing energy and zeal as we get tired or tripped up.



I've made my bold declarations online along with the rest of humanity. My declarations for change in my life. Change with my children. Change with my relationship with the Lord. Change with my health. Those bold declarations came forth in the midst of the 'exhilarating newness' of what I anticipated would happen if I stuck to my guns. My declarations came in hopes that if I was bold and loud, that 'this time' it would make me stick to what I was saying. Because people were watching.

But my thought is, what if instead of making brash announcements of all the outward changes we are embarking upon, failing at and quitting...what if instead we allowed God to do a work in our heart? What if we allowed God to teach us, give us wisdom, reveal his will to us and change us from the inside out and like Mary, we 'keep all these things, and ponder them in our heart.' (Luke 2:19)

A quiet change. But a real change.

What if instead of throwing our all into the first 5 minutes of the race and getting weary, we start off quiet and we pace ourselves knowing this race is life long? What if we realized there will be rough terrain and uphill struggles and to make it through those, we need something stronger holding us up than a sparkly cool pair of running shoes to keep us going? We need sustenance.
For whatever it is we are doing and wanting out of life, whatever successes and accomplishments we aim for, we need a change of heart. We don't need a crash diet, we need a lifestyle of better food choices. We don't need to run to the altar in tears yet again in a moment of emotion and regret for a pick me up. We need to know  Jesus more intimately and consistently, knowing his grace and his strength as he helps us push through the rough terrain, he picks us up when we fail, and he gives us strength to just keep swimming.

What if instead of allowing our failures to control us, we just keep moving past them.
And better yet, what if every failure isn't a failure? Instead it's a motivator. It's a life lesson in what to be careful for next time.
Let's face it, most of our life's journey is circling the same course over and over. We know what temptation trips us up. We know restaurants to steer clear of. We know what stresses us out, what bothers us and what may drive us into the arms of those same addictions.
So now we can take our FAIL, and learn from it and step over it next time.

An outward act or declaration of change before a true change of heart is simply going through the motions. You're sitting on the outside but standing on the inside.

We have to have something deeper motivating us. I always said when I turned 40 I wanted to be the healthiest I've ever been. I don't think I really understood that concept until this past month when I watched my dad go through open heart surgery. It was hard. And it scared me. It scared me for him. It scared me seeing him go through that.  And it certainly made me think a lot more about my health in general and of how I was probably training my children to eat poorly.  Now when I sit at the window of a fast food drive though, I'm thinking about clogged arteries or diabetes, thinking anyone could be headed down that road. It's a serious thing. But it's not something I should be fearful of. However, right now, that is my "deeper" for getting healthy. I know I am needed. I am a mother of 4 for Pete's sake. I am a wife. I have a purpose. I need to take care of my family. I need to take care of me. They need me alive and well.

I'm under no illusion that I'm in "all or nothing" from this day forward. I know it's a process. I've had good days and bad days. But I'm certainly having more good days than I was 2 months ago. And that's something. I'm in it to win it. And that is life long.

You have to remember that your good days are worth something. You may have failed today. Or last night or this entire week. But remember the God we serve. Remember the prodigal son. Remember that season of his life was one big FAIL. He wound up eating with the pigs in their pen. Talk about fail. But the moment he woke himself up and took one step forward in the right direction, his daddy ran to him. He saw past the failure and helped him move on. Thank God! But why should we wait until we are eating with the pigs, to finally pick up and move on? Do it today.

Do it for the long haul. Take it slow and steady. I'm not totally against 'all or nothing' or 'go big or go home' or 'bold declarations'
~if we really CAN go big or go all. But if down the road, the poor decision we make trips us up so bad, we give up, then I say remember to keep it slow and steady...and just keep moving forward. And let your goals come from a deeper place than the approval of man or bold declarations. Let them start in your heart. Start walking. Then pick up the pace and jog a little. Just press on.

Phillipians 3:14 says "I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize, for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us.' 
Right before that verse, Paul says he forgets those things that are behind him. He doesn't indulge in them. He doesn't embrace them. He doesn't wallow in them. He forgets them and he presses on.



Only you know you. Maybe you've tried bold declarations or all or nothing...
Has it worked for you? Maybe this time, you need time just to quietly pursue God or quietly pursue your fitness goal or whatever it is you are trying to obtain. Maybe you don't need to Instagram everything you're learning. Maybe you need the quiet time to allow God to teach you some things. I know I have. The seasons where I have learned the most and obtained the most was when I was the most quiet. My heart was quiet. And I just kept stepping forward every day and persevering... There was nothing grand or exciting about it. But it was bold. And true joy came as a result.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with perseverance the race marked before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.

It was because of that joy set before him that Jesus endured. There is a real joy set before us if we endure and press on, keeping our eyes forward and never looking down or behind us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus and nothing else... looking straight ahead.

I always find it amazing how God's word can teach us in the midst of really really basic life circumstances. Who knew my whining about my eating habits and failures could turn into a blog post about goals & moving forward. I love how He is always right there in the midst of our struggles shining the light on his word to help us. Don't you?


 
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