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, November 16, 2015

Your Future Is Bright

Over the weekend, I've been trying my best to process what is happening in our world. The evident evil taking over otherwise happy, everyday moments of so many lives in so many places. From threats of terror to movie theater and school shootings, life can really feel unpretty these days. Like the rest of the world, my heart was aching the moment I heard about attacks of concert goers and city dwellers in Paris. My heart was aching and my mind was fearful. Then articles started pouring in about suicide bombings in Beirut. And hashtags start switching from #prayforparis to #prayfortheworld as people around the world began letting their voice be heard of their own tragedy.

Everytime I hear of a mass attack on humanity by any means, two things automatically cross my mind. One, what happened to these people? These were once someone's tiny sweet innocent babies, full of life and purpose. How did they get to this place where this was okay in their mind? And second, why oh why have I brought children into this world? I am just one person and can only protect them so far, so how do I protect them from things like this, because it seems to me, no one is immune.

In the midst of all our facebook filters and hashtags rallying support around others that have had tragedy strike, we either live in fear or we keep convincing ourselves to just keep living fearlessly, because we may as well make the best of our life, do the most that we can, while we still have breath to breathe. We know our true future is in Heaven, but what about now?

My 12 year old son was showing some concern on and off over the weekend for the "what ifs?" What if it happened here?  How do we arm ourselves and our families? How do we not show up at the wrong place at that wrong time? And as I was looking to the Lord, he showed me that our only answer is to know His voice. We need to know the voice of God's spirit. We need to learn how to let it lead us, how to let it stop us and how to let it give us the go ahead. The Holy Spirit was given to us as our comforter and helper, to reveal to us the deep things of God and to show us things to come.
1 Corinthians 2:10, John 16:13.

In times like these people tend to think that God doesn't care, but the fact remains that he gave men dominion of this world for this time period. They do with this world what they wish. For some, it's evil. For other's its selfishness. For others, it may be just living life oblivious to what we are truly here for. But while he gave mankind dominion, He gave believers the Holy Spirit so that they would allow Him to lead them and guide them throughout their life. And we better have our ears tuned in to His voice, because our future and life depends on it.

It frustrates me at times, watching the enemy working on the lives of Christians, getting them to a place where they compromise truth for lies. They compromise living lives in close communion with the Lord to living lives based off quotes and memes on the internet. Honestly, when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter how inspirational a person or his words are, if it's not the whole word of God, it's not truth. And memes and quotes aren't going to save anyone when the enemy is working on someone's mind to blow a up a building that you just walked into. Being led by God's spirit and knowing His voice is our only hope and comfort in this time. We need to know Him and be willing to obey his leading. We need to stop getting in our own way, stop playing the devils games and get serious about this life, friends. Clearly the devil is serious. He means business. He is at constant war with humanity because his sole enemy is the God who created them. So why do we play games in a world he's infiltrating?

I know this is a serious post, but this is a serious time we live in. And sometimes I fear for people that want to say as long as we love Jesus, everything is okay. Love Jesus or not, if we don't know His voice, how will He ever warn us or show us things we need to know? Time away from this 'world' and spent soaking in God's presence is key. I believe God will and does show all kinds of people all kinds of things they need to know for their future, but if you are too busy following all the other voices that are beckoning you in this world, online, in books, on youtube or even in our own mind... you will always second guess or flat out disobey his voice--His voice that was trying to show you things that will protect or bless you and your family.

I get tired of the gross darkness that is attempting to cover our world and even infiltrate the body of Christ. And I just had to say it. It's deceptive. It's sneaky. And It's meant as a distraction to water down the power and presence and anointing of God in our lives. And ultimately, it's meant to deter the body of Christ from hearing His voice and doing what they are called to do. God's love is bigger than acceptance which seems to be the mantra these days . Jesus came to set people free from the things that hold us captive, to give us authority over the enemy, and then He left us with His Spirit to keep us growing, moving, protected & guided. All incredible acts of His incredible love.

And right now I'm thanking God for all the tools He's provided for me. I'm thanking God I don't have to live in fear. And it's my hearts purpose to make better use of what He left for me to use, both for myself and for the world around me... I'm thanking God my future is bright. My kids future is bright. My husbands future is bright...

And yours can be bright too, friend.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11

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?
Me: (via text) Are you doing anything tonight?
Me: (via text) Any chance you would be able to watch the kids tonight?

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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Am Not Broken.

I've been noticing this trend in our culture.
This trend where we dare to break free from fear of what people might think and we do our best to live authentically. It happens in all circles. Political, religious, personal. We are 'authentic.' No more being afraid of what people think. No more secrets.

We open the pages of our lives, for most of us it's online,  (unless we are a published author or speaker or celebrity) and we dig out the nitty gritty dirty things of our lives and we share them. We parade our humanness in order to relate to humanity. We want people to know and understand us. Sometimes we need them to know us for our sake. We need them to get that 'we are only human.' We fall, we mess up, we suffer. So please, cut us some slack. But I think more often that not, we want to empathize with people. In order for people to hear us out, we need them to know that we understand. We've been there. We are there. And we are working it out. Someway, somehow... this too shall pass.

I've dipped my toes in these waters. I've opened my pages for others to see bits and pieces of my story. The messy parts. The hard parts. And the promising parts. I don't think I've dived completely in, but I've waded, somewhat hesitantly. And I've stumbled around, finding my place of comfort, my place of discomfort and where I can be stretched... and those places where I sense the Lord is giving me the 'go ahead' to lay it all out there.

And just like you, just like us all, I have been through the wringer. Some days the wringer has wrung and wrung and wringed and wrung. Some of those days have turned into weeks, and some of the weeks into long tormented seasons.
But here's the thing. I am still standing. Here's the thing. I am a daughter of God. Have I had brokenness in my life? Yes. But I am not broken. Have I had messy days? Yes. But I am not a mess. Have I failed? Yes. But I am not a failure. Have I felt hurt, been sick, lacked provision at times? Of course, we live in a human world.

But my identity is not wrapped up in my brokenness.
My identity is wrapped up in redemption.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10 "...I delight in weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
So I get it. I understand that it's when we finally realize we can't do this hard life alone, that Christ's power can work through us. But it's for that purpose that we recognize the broken, tough, icky messed up parts of us... we recognize it, so that we can then become strong. If you are a redeemed son or daughter of God, you are not broken. You are not a mess. You are not a failure. You are not weak. You are not frail. You are not empty.
YOU ARE STRONG, friend. Walk in it.

Does our need to relate to others sometimes have us glorying a little more in our weaknesses than in His strength?
Have our immensely poetic and philosophical thoughts and quotes carried us to to a place where we just float and sulk in a weighted heaviness that Jesus already bore on the cross and redeemed us from? Sometimes I almost think it's unfair to Jesus, that after everything He went through for our salvation, healing, provision, joy, peace, abundant life and redemption as a whole... that we still qualify ourselves as 'broken.' We sing melancholy tunes of our empty lives that Jesus already filled.

Our testimony to others isn't in the middle of the mess we made of our lives or in the pain that our circumstances caused us. Our testimony of God's goodness comes when we walk out of our mess into our victory with confidence and thankfulness to our Redeemer.

I understand that people, all people... relate to brokenness. People relate to hurt. People relate to screwing up and making bad choices and being let down. And that is why all people need hope. They don't just need us to empathize with our own sad stories and a tidbit about God thrown in at the end. They need more.

We all need more. We all need Jesus.

People need to know 'I am just like you. I've been depressed. I've been abused. I've been poor. I've been sick. I've failed too many times to admit. I've been a bad parent. I've neglected my spouse. I've rolled my eyes, gossiped, wallowed in self pity, been addicted, experiences loss....
But that is not who I am.
I am not broken, because I know the restorer of broken lives.
I do not fall apart daily because my God is the lifter of my head.
I may fail but I am not a failure, because I know someone who forgives and empowers me to keep going.

Life can get pretty dicey sometimes. We live in a natural world. But as sons and daughters of God, we are no longer broken, but made whole. Let's show the world how big Jesus is, what he can do with broken lives and how his redemptive work brings healing and newness.

Old things are passed away. All things are become new.

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 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?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Best Is Yet To Come

Today, I was sitting at lunch with my sister as we discussed her upcoming delivery of her very first baby. We talked about the hospital stay, the first moments of life with a newborn, all those things we cherish but that go by way too fast.  My baby, my last and final baby is just weeks away from turning one year old and I can't express enough how quickly this year has flown by. I don't even think I've even sat down to write about how our lives have changed with 4 children since Wyatt has been born and that's mainly due to the fact that time just keeps moving and I have barely sat down in a year to write much of anything.

As we talked, I caught myself in a moment of jealousy for all the moms I know that get to still do the new mom thing. Even if it's a 3rd or 4th baby, it's a refreshing and exhausting season of life I would never want to give up. Being a new mom (or a new mom all over again) is exciting. That fresh baby is worth every sleepless night we might find ourselves complaining about (amidst our tremendous blessing.)  And I've loved every moment of every time I've got to live it. Four times. Four children. I am so extremely blessed.

Over the next 9 months, I will close out my 30s and move on to a new chapter~ My 40s. Oh goodness it sounds so 'gaaahhhh' to say. Like I should somehow be ashamed of my age.  I enjoyed a good portion of my 30s. The earlier part of it was no picnic, but once I surrendered my everything back to God somewhere half way through, He started to work new things in me. Things that were probably sitting there getting stale for awhile, but I hadn't cared enough to let free.  But when I did give it ALL to God, life just got really fun all of the sudden.

And now as Wyatt approaches being a toddler, I see a new chapter on the horizon. A chapter that is baby-free. Yes, I still have plenty of kid raising to do. Lord knows, children don't stop being work and time after the first year. That's a whole other blog post. But I see myself turning a new page in my life where I invest deeper in the things I already have been given and walk through doors that God has and will be opening for me. I may be a little sleepy. I may trip over a sippy cup or a tricycle or something along the way, but I'm ready to move forward.

Before lunch I was sitting in a women's ministry meeting at church and the speaker mentioned how she loved her 40s. But she has really been loving her 50s. And I thought to myself. I want to love it too. Life doesn't end here because I'm about to be 40. It doesn't end because I'm done having babies. Life is only beginning. God has so much purpose for each of us. He has so much more He wants me to teach my family. He wants me to keep growing, to keep seeking, to keep moving forward and upward.  When I'm in my 50s, I want to say "These have been the best years of my life."

Same goes for my 60s and 70s and 80s.

I do want to look back over my life with fond memories and affection for 'the good ole days.' But I never want to think my former days were better than the season I currently am in.  I know my best days are ahead of me. I know the best is yet to come. It's really true for us all. If we allow our minds to stop apprehending what is in store for us, we can know that despite what might creep up in life, the best is yet to come.  But will we allow it? We have to allow our futures to be bright.

I'm not afraid of the next chapter like I used to be. I'm embracing where God has me with all my people and all my places. I know he is moving me from glory to glory. I know his mercies are new every single morning.  And I am so so so looking forward to spending more and more mornings & evenings and everything in between getting to know him better~ His heart, His spirit, His truth & His will for my life.

Today I am simply thanking the Lord for his numerous blessings in my life. Life hasn't been always been easy, but I look over it and know I am so blessed. I see his hand at work in my life, woven in the in-betweens. And I am grateful beyond words. I am grateful for where He is taking me and my family. A new chapter means new adventures in Him.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Moments In Time

This goes without saying, but it still needs to be said. I love my family more than anything.
I love my siblings and parents.... and I love my husband and children.

Life is such a precious gift from our Heavenly Father. Every moment needs to count.
It goes by so fast. It sounds cliche, I know. But it really does.
I feel like it was just yesterday I was asking my dad, "Can you believe you have a 30 year old daughter already?"
~Talking of course about myself.  It has been almost 10 years since that conversation.

It feels like my first son was just born. Now he's 11 years old. Of course I could go on and on. We all could. Those moments that we want to freeze in time. Those moments we want to sort of grab our kids and say "Cherish this moment. Remember it. Because before you know it, you will be an adult with your own kids." Sometimes you want to shake people and make them 'get it.' Get it that life is precious. Get it that life isn't meant to be wasted on the petty and frivolous things. Get it that life should be taken seriously. Get it that at the same time life is meant to be enjoyed.

We want to tell the people that are sad and lost and desperate that Jesus came to give them the abundant life. Please just receive it. Rest in it. We want to tell people that live life wasting their days on the small and worthless things that before they were formed in their mothers womb, God set them apart for a purpose.  God's plan for them is so much better. Please just live out that purpose.

I want nothing more than to live out God's design and purpose for my life here on this earth. That includes how it affects my family, my husband, my children, my church, my friendships, and even my online community.  This life is a gift. It's hard some days. It was hard today.  But I recognize God's goodness woven in all the ups and downs of it and I am grateful for each person, each opportunity, each moment from Him...

And I want nothing more than to give it all right back to him in gratitude and humility.
He gave us these moments.... so we honor Him by giving them right back to him.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Weep // Wonder // Dream

It's March. For the past 13 years now this month has come and gone with a painful memory in my rear view mirror. I can still glance up into it with tears brimming in my eyeballs. I can still blink away those tears pretending that after all this time, they don't still sting just a little bit. Those words. "I'm sorry. I can't find a heartbeat."

I was just a few days short of being 18 weeks pregnant. Just days short of finding out the sex of our baby. My pregnancy was an unexpected surprise. A nauseating, tiresome, but happy surprise nevertheless. I was the only one I knew that was pregnant at that time and I never expected anything would ever go wrong. The thought never even crossed my mind once.

By the following morning, she was in our hands. Not our arms, but our hands. Her tiny 6 inches so fearfully and wonderfully made. Back with Jesus is where she really was. And every year around this time,  I count another year come and gone that our Naomi would have been that much older. A teenager this year.

Five years ago, I saw her. 

All I can really say to describe it is that I had a vision of Jesus carrying me through some of the scariest and heartbreaking moments of my life. I saw Him holding me as I was tossing and turning night after night in tears after losing our first baby. I saw Him hugging me as I sat on my bathroom floor desperately trying to break the chains of depression years later. I saw him protecting me as a child when our family had gotten in a car accident on a snowy wintery day. Then I saw Jesus was walking with me on streets of gold. And she ran up to me. Naomi ran up to me. She looked so much like my 9 year old Jada does now. She had a french braid in her hair...
and that's all I remember. That's all I know about her.

I've lost two more babies since Naomi.
And I have 4 children with me here on earth.
And I am in awe of each of them. The incredible joy I know because of who they are.

So, how are we supposed to feel when we've endured this kind of pain? This pain that no mother ever should have to encounter, yet our lives are still so full of beautiful bits of chaos and good things every single day?

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no perfect length of time to mourn. It's not wrong to be miss what would have been even when we have so much to be thankful for now. I don't think there is ever a time to 'just forget and get over it.'
We can move on in joy. We can be abundantly blessed with so many good things from our Heavenly Father. We can be filled with gratitude. And we can still think of our babies. We can still blink away those tears. And it's okay.
And it's okay to let the tears run now and then. (Even after 13 years and 4 living children.)

And somebody has to tell you's really okay for you to long for your arms to be filled.
It's not a betrayal to the babies you have lost.

I used to feel guilty. I used to feel like I wanted a baby so badly. I was obsessed with pregnancy after I lost Naomi. Maybe you know the feeling. I. WAS. OBSESSED. But at the same time, I felt guilty. Like I would be replacing her. So guilty.
No child can ever be replaced. No human love can ever be exchanged for something better. But our hearts can be mended. Our broken spirits can be redeemed. Our joy can be full again.

And yet in those tender alone moments, we weep. We wonder. And it's still okay.

Weep. Wonder. Dream.
But let God heal you.

In just a few weeks, Heaven will be celebrating with our sweet Naomi 13 years back in eternity with Jesus.
Happy Birthday, Naomi.

Love, Mommy

For more posts about miscarriage and loss, click here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Making Room [ To Simply Be Me ]

Let me just say this. I adore my husband. I am wrapped around my kids fingers. I love my church. I take great responsibility in all the little roles I play in life. The hats of friendship and motherhood and wife and leader... and chauffeur...and housekeeper...and milk maker...

All of that. I take it seriously. But lately I have found myself wondering if it's possible we take too much pride in all of our hats we wear. Do we take all that we have to do so seriously that we forget who we are supposed to be? Do we glorify our position of mother or wife or leader? Do we forget that deep within us God has woven complex patterns of His design and creativity and desire.

I'm a HUGE believer in doing everything we do as unto the Lord. I can't say that enough. But I always feel sort of yuck when I hear people say things like 'even if you are called to clean the church bathrooms, you can do it for His glory.' Or even if you give a cup of cold water, you will not lose your reward. Not that I don't believe that with every ounce of my being. Because I do. But I never want to diminish anyone's capabilities or gifts to merely cleaning bathrooms or delivering cups of water. Those are more or less God given responsibilities I believe. We all have responsibilities within our homes, within our churches, within our communities. And it's our job to take them seriously. And God sees our faithfulness in those areas (the little and the big) and we are blessed in return.

But I am certain that in every single one of us lies more than the ability to clean a bathroom. We all have dreams and passions. At least I hope we do. Some of us it takes longer to admit or find what those are. (It took me a good 36 years). But when we do, we need to take the reigns of those things and force them to move.

What happens when our very personal God given details remain buried? I think there is a lot of fruit that goes unharvested in our lives and in the Kingdom of God.

I've been certainly feeling downtrodden lately with my hats and to-do lists. I've been feeling like there is no time left for Me. Not Mommy. Not Wife. Just ME. I haven't been able to do the things that I really love to do and want to do for myself. And it's not in a selfish way. It's actually the opposite. The fact is when I am allowing no time to develop those things that my heart fancies, part of me remains empty. Parts of me that God wove into me. Big parts of me. And I am left giving those empty bits and pieces to all the people I serve all the live long day.

I'm giving them empty pieces of me.

As my God given responsibility of wife, mother, leader, etc...Am I not responsible then that the people I serve should be receiving life-filled pieces...not empty stale parts of dreary worn out ole me?
Not only that, but my dreams and passions are designed within themselves to give God glory in some way shape or form. Whether I can use them directly to shine Jesus bright or whether I am simply enjoying the abundant life Jesus came to give me...and letting other people see that~
We are supposed to be making room in our lives to simply be us.
To be the US that He created us to be...

I am not last place. You are not last place. And giving yourself priority isn't selfish.

It's a gift from heaven to be full of Him. It's a gift to be given dreams and talents and callings directly from His heart in His plan. Do you realize that those details in your life that you've kept buried are directly from the heart of God? Those are pieces of Him and so many times we hide them away, in the name of busy-ness or servanthood. Because we think if we let them out, it's giving us priority over others or we are being selfish. Not true. It's giving God priority & ability to work and share his heart through you. It's an honor that God sees you in detail, made you in detail and set you apart in detail for such a time as this.

This is your time, friend. Are you running in circles, busy switching hats and to-do lists? Have you taken time to find the YOU buried deep inside and under and tangled in all those things you are doing? Never doubt that those things you loved and grew up with, those things you forgot you loved so much as a child are still in there waiting to be used for His glory. Of course our roles in life are important and we are to be good stewards of them. But don't try to fulfill empty of YOU or empty of HIM. Let God restore joy into just being YOU, so that HE can overflow to them.

I know vulnerability isn't everyone's thing. And it probably shouldn't be. But I am a wear my heart on my sleeve kinda girl. And it's been rough around here. I'm taking the time after 2 am to force myself to write, because it's been too long. And I miss it. And I know in an hour or two my teething baby will wake up. But I miss me and the things I love to do. I'm trying to make space to allow God to work though me all the things He placed deep within me. I'm trying to weave my way out of all my hats to breathe a little. So that I can be a better me. For me. For Him. For them.

What about you?

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free spirit...
Psalms 51:12

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Don't just sit there. Do something.
That is what has been ringing in my ears the past 20 days of this new year.
But it felt so trite. Do something? Really? Isn't that the whole idea of a resolution?

To set a goal and act on it.
To set a goal and act on it.

Could I really come to my blog and tell you that the word that God has seeped into my being these past 20 lazy, negligent, unintentional first days of 2015 is the word ACTION? Clearly, I can't find the online thesaurus to jazz it up a little.

But here I am. Saying it. ACTION.

And let's be honest.. It's been more than 20 days of me sitting on my rump (both figuratively and literally speaking) and pretty much doing squat. No, I didn't say squats. I wish I did. That would certainly help said 'rump.'

I'm going to follow that last statement with this tid-bit. My daddy is a preacher.
You're wondering how that has to do with anything I'm talking about, aren't you.
Action. Rump. Squats.. Annnnnndddd Preacher.

Just hold tight a minute. It will all come together.
On the first Sunday of  2015 and my daddy got up and preached a sermon titled "A Year Of Action." Granted he was mostly talking about gearing up and setting out to do something for the kingdom of God, but it still resonated with my insides.
It was something I knew must happen.

Both for the Kingdom work...but also for me.
God has been shouting me this very practical word at me for a few weeks now.
And along with it, he said "Don't just sit there. Do something."

There is so much I want out of life.
I want a blissful and romantic marriage, not just a team membership.
I want my kids to WANT to love Jesus and treat each other and us with respect. Is that too much to ask?
I want to lose 35 pounds. What on earth is taking me so long?
I want to control all these health issues I've been dealing with. I've been hospitalized and in the ER more times these past 6 months than my life. I'm tired of ulcers and asthma and eczema and allergies.
I want to be strong in my body.
I want to have energy. (Let's face it. Netflix and One Tree Hill has been very good to me lately. I mean, really quite very good.)
I want to write a book (yes, still).
I want to have a full fridge.
I want to have a home that isn't leaking tub water into my kitchen floor.
I want to speak and inspire and encourage women.
I want to shine for Jesus only. Not for myself.
I want to share my heart and my story, and somehow not get any glory out of it, yet be totally comfortable with not getting any glory out of it. Does that make sense?
I want to wake up each day and say "Jesus, what's on the agenda today? Hit me with the good stuff. But first, give me what I need to get 'er done."

But all these wants come with some sort of "doing something."
They require some sort of action. Whether it's to start making better eating choices or romancing my man... or whether it's praying about something we need, all I know, just sitting around watching Netflix isn't working for me.

Okay. Let's be fair to myself. In my defense, I did just write in my last blog post about how my baby keeps me busy. And he does. He needs my loving attention a lot these days. He loves a good snuggle. He loves for us to walk around holding him. God forbid we sit down and hold him. And my kids need me. But there are things. Things that I could do to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Things that require me to not watch Netflix.

Set the remote control down.

Just honesty here today, friends.

I was telling my husband and my close friend today, as I was given this apparent divine revelation (Ok, maybe I'm a little slower than I care to admit) that I felt like God actually spoke this to me, that "action" may even mean to go to sleep .
I'm not kidding.
It may even mean that I don't have the energy I need, because I'm not getting enough sleep.
Action may mean to me that I need to turn off the television and take a nap.
To not just sit there and do something, means some days... to sleep.

See how I keep pushing the sleep thing?
But seriously, that is part of it. It's simple. It's intentional in reaching my goal for a healthy body, mind and spirit. 
This ACTION word. Is this a new word? Because it suddenly has become so clear to me.
To wake up each day and take action. Some days it may be hard. It may be inconvenient with a baby in tow.
It may be unclear. But it is my goal. 
It is the first word I want to think of when I wake up in the morning. Maybe the 4th word. Maybe like Ready, Set, Jesus, Action.

Alright Daddy-o. Let's do this. A Year of Action.
I'm getting some things done this year. I'm telling ya!
I'm getting (sorta) organized. I'm taking new steps into unknown territories for me.
I'm getting healthy. I'm getting sleep. I'm not always going to play it safe and comfortable.
I'm going to live just a little bit on the adventurous side.
I'm going to be a little more brave with my dreams this year.
I'm going to shock the heck outta my husband with my amazing romanticism. (Oh Lord, I hope he doesn't read this). These are aspirations, Hon. One step at a time.

I'm going to set some things in motion that God has dropped in my heart long ago.
Yes, it's taken some time. It's taken tears. It's taken facing my fears and insecurities. It's taken a fight against laziness and tiredness. And it will keep taking all of this out of me. But I'm willing to try. I'm willing to say it out loud and hope that I stick to it. I'm willing to fail and pick up and try again.
And do that over and over again.

I'm willing to not just sit there. But mostly this year, I'm willing to do something.
Are you?

Dear Friends, do you think you will get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend, dressed in rags and half starved and you say.. "Good Morning, Friend. Be clothed in Christ. Be filled with the Spirit." But you walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup? (Really?)- Where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
James 2:14-17 Msg Bible

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Where Have I Been Going Wrong?

Around 7:30 pm last night I found myself sort of complaining to my husband that it's not fair that I can't seem to get anything done that I want to do or that people ask of me until after at least 11 pm. I have responsibilities and promises I've made to people, to my blog and to my church that have left me saying "I will look at it later tonight after the kids are in bed" or  "I will work on it this week" and tonight or this week never seems to come.
I sat in bed with a baby very physically attached to me eating his dinner around this time, and had my tablet in front of me, as I tried to catch up on some reading on some of my favorite blogs. Bloggers that have shops and books written and kids and churches and ministries and homeschooling that they are responsible for...
and I wonder what my problem is

Why can they get stuff done, but I can't? Even when they don't have it all together, they somehow manage to find the time to hop online and say "Hey, I don't have it all together" and they sound so graceful saying even that. And I so admire these women. But some days I hang my head in shame that I can't be more.

Lots of days I give myself grace to simply be a mom and I know my time simply doesn't allow for anything more. The baby doesn't want to sit in a saucer or swing all day long as some people might think while I work and write and create for myself, much less anyone else.
He wants to be played with, held, snuggled. He wants to giggle and by all means, feed the child. And even though I have 3 kids that, yes, go off to school during the day hours~no, I'm not a homeschooling mom~ I still can't manage to find the time to do anything but "be" with Wyatt (my sweet little 8 month, teething, sitting up, growing too fast baby boy). And if I do have the 'time' as some would think, I am left without energy. Yes, I sleep when he sleeps. Or I do dishes or clean or fold laundry, etc...but I certainly don't sit down on my computer during the day and pursue my dreams of writing or attend to my responsibilities to others.

And I feel guilty. I feel guilty that there are moms that are out there that work 40 hours a week outside of the home. I feel guilty that there are moms that run churches and write books and run shops and businesses and homeschool....and some of them even cook and work out...somehow.
And they still manage to find the time care for their family.

So what is my problem, I think to myself. Where have I been missing it lately?

I've been trying. Trying ever so hard to do it on my own.
I've been telling myself it's okay because God knows. He is the one who has given me this wonderful opportunity to be a mother and wife. He knows my responsibilities. He knows where my time is spent. And there is certainly nothing wrong with putting my family first. And His grace is ever sufficient for me.

But have I been relying on it? Have I been trying to do it without His strength?

After I cracked open my devotional for the first time in probably 5 weeks yesterday I read about being undone before the Lord. Contending to be undone before Him. Before I try to conform to the expectations others have of me and to the expectations I have of myself, why don't I first give Him my all and let Him work in me what pleases Him. His grace and strength He has certainly promised and provided, but I have to soak it up and let my heart saturate it. HIS presence in my life is where I want to be first and foremost. Swimming in it.

Yes, God does understand. And that is why He wants to be my source of strength, comfort, wisdom, time. and everything else I need to make life go smoothly.

Without it, I can very truly do very little to nothing, I see that now.

No, I haven't been wasting away my time or life, neck deep in immorality or impurities of thought.
I don't even have time for that if I wanted to (which I don't.)
But His grace is for more than that.
It's for the mommas and daddies and wives and husbands serving and giving to their families.
It's for the hard workers, love seekers, dare to dreamers.
It's for those of us with dreams of our own and desires to take life one step further and be there for others
(she types in tears).
We can do it, And we can do it with peace in our hearts and in our minds. And we can do it with the full assurance that God has given us already what we need.
He has given us wisdom. He has given us time, He has given us strength.
To be all that we are called and do all that we desire.

But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength...
Those who wait on Him.

That is where I have been going wrong. That is where I've missed it lately.

But they that wait upon the LORD  shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

(I am writing this all between the hours of 1:30 am and 3:30 am. I woke up to a hungry baby and I tried laying him back down 3 times. He is now sitting on my lap looking around, smiling as I type one handed. And I am feeling so extremely blessed, and also hoping he goes back to sleep.)

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