Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Look Up

"One thing I ask of the Lord,...that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple." -Psalm 26:4

There was a time before having kids that I would head into the mountains to trail run. We had a trail about 15 minutes from our house called Barr Trail and I'd go up there after a day of teaching to unwind after a hard day. When I first moved to Colorado, everything about being on that trail would take my breath away. The tall pine trees, the natural fence that lined the trail, the view of the valley at every switch back, the huge boulders. It was beautiful. I noticed everything and I'd come off the mountain feeling like the cares I carried up the trail were gone by the time I got down. It was there that I felt the closest to God--in the quiet stillness of the outdoors.

I talked with Him every time I was up there. Depending on the day, I told Him my frustrations, I cried tears or on some days I simply praised Him the whole way...whatever it was, I always felt a peace from having spent the time with Him in his beautiful creation.

But like so many things as time goes on, year after year of hiking the same trail, I began to realize something. It was very gradual and I had probably been doing it for quite awhile. But I noticed how fixed I was on the trail. My eyes started focusing on my steps, the rocks in the trail, and as I climbed my thoughts drifted to, "Ugh, this is so hard. I'm so tired. My legs are sore today. How much farther?"

Without thinking about it, I was taking everything that once inspired me for granted and I began to complain and grumble under my breath with each step. One day, in particular, I noticed it. As I came up over a ridge that I had run many times before something inside me made me stop. It was late fall and there was a trace of snow in the trees and my eyes watering from the cold had a crystal clear vision of the most beautiful mountain scape in front of me. I was speechless. And as I stood there, I was overwhelmed by the majesty of God's creation. How had I missed it so many times before? My thoughts drifted through the cold and I started to look at my journey in a whole new way.

Was I missing it?

I love both of my boys to the ends of the earth. That goes without question. But there are days when I run out of things to do with them and I know I have to get dinner ready and they've already watched enough cartoons that I throw my hands in the air and say, "I'm tired. When do I get to rest?" It's not just physical exhaustion, but mental as well. Trying to keep up with requests to do this, get that, play this, can I eat that? It's not until my husband insists on me "getting out" that I have a chance to catch up on any thoughts that I might have aside from the daily demands of mommydom. And even then, sometimes I just drive to the store, do what I need to do and come home. It's just too tiring to try and have any creative thoughts of my own.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm climbing a mountain.

God, help me to look up! Help me to see the beauty that you've put into my life. The blessings that so often I take for granted. You have not changed, You are always here...waiting for us!

Be blessed today. Be encouraged. The journey may be challenging, but the view is breathtaking if we'll only look up.

Fix our eyes on you. Give us a clear picture of your beauty today. And help us to seek You in the climb.
In Your Name we pray,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lessons Learned the Hard Way

I was blessed to be part of a mom's Bible study recently where the teacher encouraged us to be constantly evaluating where we are at as moms. This really spoke to me and made me think of the times I realized I was making a poor choice as a mom and had to undo my mistakes, or I realized that there were things I should be doing that I wasn't. At times I was very hard on myself, but these words encouraged me that it is a process. We need to constantly evaluate our routines, discipline plan, time management, how we are instructing our children in spiritual matters, what behaviors we are encouraging and discouraging, and the list goes on.

I have learned some things the hard way by making mistakes and having to fix them. And I have also made some good choices that I am grateful to the Lord and other godly moms for guiding and inspiring me to make. We all make choices based on what is best for our family, and they will not necessarily work for another family and may even seem strange to them (thanks Kate for that wise statement!). But we can all learn from each others mistakes and benefit from the Lord's revelations to other mommies. That's one thing we hope to do on this blog.

So this week I thought we could share some things we would do differently, and next week we can share what works for us and may be of help to others. Here are some lessons I learned the hard way.

First, I would not introduce a bottle while in the hospital as I did with Selah at the nurse's advice. She assured me there was "no such thing as nipple confusion". After days of frustration, tears, and Selah not latching on properly, if at all, I called my pediatrician. The first words out of her mouth- nipple confusion. She told me to get an infant medicine dropper, fill it with pumped milk, and drip some in the corner of her mouth while getting her to latch. That worked well for us, but I will never forget that awful experience. On the other hand, I would also introduce the bottle a bit sooner than six weeks as Susie refused the bottle b/c I waited too long. I believe there is a happy medium somewhere in there. Hoping to find it when the Lord blesses us with Baby #3!

Another habit that was hard to break was having to lay down with Selah to get her to fall asleep. At first, it was so sweet to fall asleep next to her at nap time. She would even put her little hand on may face to feel my breath, just making sure I was still there. It was so precious and sweet, but when we tried to put her down by herself.... let's just say she was not happy, and she let us hear about it! Those long nights of having to let her cry it out were so tough and seemed like they would never end.

I also realize that I would have liked to have introduced Scripture a little sooner. Selah is 2, and she knows worship songs from her Praise Baby DVDs (LOVE these!) and prays aloud with us, but I wish that I would have spoken more Scripture to her so that she would hear it as it was applicable to certain situations.

For example, when disciplining I would really like to state the appropriate verse so that Selah and Susie hear the Word of God applied to what is expected of them. When Selah does something to hurt Susie or vice versa, ideally I would like to correct her and tell her that she was not being very loving and God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves. She does not fully understand this, but if this verse is spoken each time, she will come to know it and be able to repeat it, knowing what is expected of her and thus living out the Word of God. It will come alive to her and not be just words.

The same goes for positive reinforcement. When she shares a toy, for example, I would like to respond by saying what a great job she did sharing with a happy heart and that God loves a cheerful giver. I am praying for the Lord to give me verses for each situation and starting this now.

My kids are younger, 2 and 10 months, so I still have a long way to go and lots of wisdom to obtain, but I am praying daily and listening intently as other moms and dads share their tales from the trenches. One major goal I hope to accomplish is to maintain a good relationship with my girls throughout those anxiety inducing teen years. I believe it is possible!

These are just some things I have picked up along the way. They may or may not apply to everyone, and that is okay. I am hoping that you will share your mommy tips for young and old in the comments section for other mommies to read and glean wisdom from. If you are not set up to comment using your e-mail, you can post as anonymous. You can always add your name within the comment, if you wish. In this way, I pray our bumps in the road can be lessons learned for ourselves and difficulties averted for others. Next week we can share the good choices we have made or routines, traditions, etc.

Challenge- Pray about sharing something you have learned from personal experience with the moms on this blog. Evaluate your routines, discipline, instruction, and leadership as mommy. Pray for the Lord to give you fresh insight and wisdom in these areas.

Prayer- Father, I thank you for constant presence in my life and the gift of my children. Please give me wisdom to build and establish our home. Please reveal to me any areas that need reevaluating and show me how I can better honor you in these areas. Please give me foresight to see how the behaviors I am encouraging today will shape my children's character as they grow. Help me to learn from my mistakes and teach my children to do the same. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Consumed by Good Things

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” Revelation 2:2-4

I had done it again! I was utterly exhausted. I had enjoyed a wonderful weekend with family and friends, but I was also playing the role of “super mom”, “super host”, and “super wife” all at the same time. Now I was super spent. I had nothing left! As I reflected on the events of the weekend, I knew that I was busy doing good things: hosting friends from Fort Lauderdale (who were great house guests by the way), cooking, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, cleaning up after the kids, cooking again, cleaning again, meeting friends at the park, going to a birthday party, doing laundry, paying bills, etc. Feel tired yet? I am.

Every day life as a mom can be exhausting and so can the Christmas season. Think not? Well how about: buying gifts, going to holiday parties, making gifts, making cookies, going to Christmas tree lightings, practicing for the play at church, going to see Santa at the mall, taking Christmas photos, preparing Christmas cards, mailing Christmas cards, putting up a tree, hanging lights outside the house, driving around the neighborhood to look at lights, planning the holiday meal, decorating the house, etc. Ooooh boy (deep breath), I love Christmas time, but I am getting exhausted just thinking about it. But why?

Christmas is all about the love of the Father for us—a perfect Creator coming into a fallen world to redeem a sinful people. A Creator who loves us so much that he let his own creation put him up on the cross so that we may have eternal life. Whooo! That is some serious love! So how is it that we forget to prepare our hearts more than we prepare our (you fill in the blank): homes, Christmas parties, cards, gifts, etc.?

I hope I am not sounding harsh. I am really preaching to myself! I had become so consumed with “good things” that my quiet time with the Lord was starting to suffer, and I was feeling agitated. I felt on the verge of tears over little things (I am going to partly blame hormones for this flux of emotion), and I needed to have a date with Jesus. I did not need to check more things off of my to-do list; I needed Him and the peace and perspective that only He can give.

You see, I did have some reasons for missing my quiet time: the guests needed clean sheets, my sweet (yet teething) baby was waking up numerous times during the middle of the night, etc. BUT, I was forgetting to make time. The truth is that I needed to say “NO” to a few things. I needed to put things in proper perspective. I needed to prioritize.

On paper I know my priorities. My relationship with God is first, then my husband, and then my kids, etc. You get the drift. Yet somehow, I was managing to put keeping a tidy house and other non-essentials at the top of the list. I was forgetting my quiet time, falling asleep on my husband, and constantly telling Mikey that I would read to him, play with him, and cuddle with him “in just a moment”. The truth is that “in just a moment”, I found myself doing some other non-essential task…something that could wait until later.

In fact, just before I settled down to right this blog, my sweet husband prayed for me. He said two things that really resonated with me:

1. Lord, please help my wife to prioritize.
2. Please help her to be concise and not long-winded. LOL 

I needed that loving encouragement! Let’s learn to prioritize what is most important and learn to be concise with everything else. Someone once told me a story that really blessed me. She said that a teacher gave her students an empty aquarium, a bag of large rocks, and a sack of sand. The teacher instructed the students to fill the aquarium with all the rocks and all the sand. The young class quickly became frustrated because they could not get all of the contents to fit. They thought their teacher had given them an impossible task. After a while, she stood before the class and quickly demonstrated how to successfully complete the assignment: fill the aquarium with the big rocks first (the most important things) and then pour the sand (all the less important stuff) in to fill in the holes and spaces between the rocks. How simple, yet profound!

So as we prepare for this Christmas, let us prepare our hearts more than our homes. And let us be more excited about the celebrating the birth of Jesus than about our plays, decorations, and holiday parties.

Dear Father,

You are so patient and loving towards us. You give us gentle reminders to put you first above all else. Thank you for this wonderful and joyous Christmas season where we get to celebrate the most spectacular event in all of history—the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Help us to prioritize you and keep things in proper perspective. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Verses to ponder:

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” Psalm 119: 15-16

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” Lamentations 3:40

Have a wonderful, God-centered day, ladies!
In His love,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A subtle reminder

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Gen.2:18

Have you ever felt stuck? Stuck in the simplest little things pertaining to daily routine? It’s an effort to get the kids ready in the morning to get out; hard to figure out what to make for dinner and your morning time with God is sort of dry. That was me a while back. At first I didn’t understand. Things were going so well with home schooling and settling in to our new environment. We even had a bible study where I’ve met some girls and formed some relationships. Still, something was off.

You see, after salvation and marriage, the birth of my two boys has been the single most life-changing event in my life. Wonderful but harder than anything I’d imagined and definitely all consuming. My husband and I have had a few long years of just survival mode due to that life change and the overwhelming strain of owning a restaurant along with his full time career during that season. So we had gotten pretty use to just passing each other in the house, busy about our own day, focusing on our respective workloads and then collapsing at night enjoying our own separate ways to relax. Between his work, the kids and the house, we were consumed and when the pressures mounted we’d get impatient with one another and frustrated with our situation.
When God stepped in and moved us out of South Florida, my husbands’ work changed, kids grew up a little and the burden lifted gradually. Finally I began to have time for myself. “I will start painting, take up photography and maybe I can lead a bible study,” I thought. For a while all that was great and then, like I mentioned, I got stuck. God was after something. So I began to seek Him for clarity.
He began to show me that now that my boys are a bit older, my focus needs to shift back to my number one ministry; my husband. It was a subtle request, almost a whisper, repeated in my mind many times over every time frustration in our house mounted. (Because bad habits die hard, we were still short with each other at times).

It can be so hard to refocus from our children to our husband when you feel like there is now finally some time left for me. Those things I desired were all great things but I needed wisdom as to the timing. What is Gods will I began to ask myself. Is it my time now to do those things? Can I start it and drop it if need be. The answer was a clear, no. To be able to do my art I would need a good, uninterrupted chunk of time and space to create. Headspace, which with home schooling is still hard to have, as well as a room I can just close up when it’s time to fix dinner without looking at the mess. I realized it’s not my time yet. I would just get frustrated starting in that direction and not producing quality results.
The bible teaches us that we are “heirs together of the grace of life.” (1Pet.3:7) I began to see that I wanted to consume the blessing of free time upon myself. But God desires to bless us together as husband and wife, because He created us to be one.

Once I made peace with this fact that it’s not my time yet, I began to wonder how much suffering was going to be involved in considering my husband first. I kept waiting and waiting for it to appear. I was predicting a strain on my will and flesh, the strife inside of me of having to choose between my desire to create and my husband and children somehow. To my amazement, it never appeared! I started noticing a greater peace and joy in serving him, a flow of inspiration to try new recipies for him and enjoying spending more time together. See, I had thought that I had to muster that up, that it was going to be an act of obedience and a constant fight in my thought life to lay down my own dreams of having the time to create art again. I never believed that God was going to empower me to do His very will! I didn’t realize that the act of obedience God needed to see had already occurred the minute I made peace with the fact that it wasn’t my time yet. As soon as I did that, God took over and power flowed.
I’m still so surprised. My husband and I have now been married for almost 9 years and I’ve never had more fun with him than in the last month. He has also done some amazing acts of love toward me that have just melted my heart. Like helping with cooking and cleaning the entire house after a full day at work and spending more and more quality time with the boys. Then recently he announced that while drawing up some plans for the house we are about to build, he decided to add an entirely separate building for an art studio for me. I just lost it then and cried over Gods goodness toward me thru this man. What can one say to Gods passionate love for us? How can anyone not be changed by the way He loves us?
I expected suffering but experienced ease, perhaps by a small decision to surrender to Gods timing. This is the amazing and many times undiscovered country of God, because we don’t see the blessings until we submit to that voice of God that instructs us in taking a different path. Each time I heed His voice, I discover more and I am blessed.
If you are in this new season of more time and a lighter burden, God may just want you to enjoy it to recuperate. Or He will show you the opportunity to fortify your marriage and strengthen what may have become weaker with the strain of having little ones. It’s much sweeter to enjoy a blessing together with the one you love than having it all to yourself.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Friends ...Stand in the Gap

“We always thank God for you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
 – 1Thessalonians 1:2-3

Over the past couple of Saturdays we have been talking about friendship. We shared how friends speak the truth in love (week#1), as well as support and strengthen you through tough times (week #2). This week we will end our friendship series with the topic of prayer and how friends stand in the gap for us and with us.

I can remember it as if it was yesterday. As I was walking down the hall at church I ran into Chris, an acquaintance (at the time…now we are friends), who stopped to say hi. We chatted a bit then she asked how she could pray for me. I was surprised because I barely knew her, but I proceeded to tell her my request. Ok so I have to pause here and be honest that I can’t even remember the request I gave that day…but she did.

It was a few weeks later when she asked for an update on my prayer request. I was so blown away that she remembered to pray, and wanted an update especially since there was no depth to our relationship (at that point). Wow what an impact that made on my life. I was so in awe and blessed she cared enough about someone she barely knew and prayed faithfully for my request. I want to be like Chris.  I want to be someone who asks others for prayer requests and remembers to lift them up later. She later explained that she keeps a small spiral in her purse to write down prayer requests so she will not forget them later. What a great idea!

“Share each others burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”-Galatians 6:2

We can lighten the load our friends are bearing as we lift them up in prayer.
Many times I have called out to my close friends asking for prayer because my day has been trying and exhausting. We need to be willing to share our hurts & needs regularly with close friends without allowing pride to worry us about what they might think. Rather we must praise Jesus for strategically placing those ladies there to refresh us as they lift us up in prayer. What a gift!

Prayer also causes us to be more intimate with Christ. Stopping throughout our day to pray, for those in need, causes us to converse and chat with the Lord more. This allows us to be more transparent with Him about our own needs.  When my mom is asked to fervently pray for a need, she puts a small dot sticker on the center of her watch. Every time she looks at her watch she is reminded to pray for that specific need. What a wise mom I have! What a great idea to help remind us to lift up the needs of another!

We also get to partake in everyday miracles. What???? Yep… it was a few weeks ago when my oldest son, James caught the stomach flu. He had thrown up five times in less than an hour. So I sent out a last minute text asking my friends to pray and I truly believe those ladies were a part of a miracle that day. After the text went out my son stopped throwing up almost immediately. I was blown away and it was such a declaration to all involved that prayer and faith will change your day. I was then able to share with others that I witnessed a modern-day miracle all because of their faithfulness to pray. What a great testimony to those who question if He can heal!

Prayer is a powerful tool. Reach out and touch the hem of His garment and be changed for the better. Allow Him to use you to refresh another.  Look beyond yourself today and into the lives He has placed around you. Ask how you can pray for them. Then sit back and marvel as the Lord does some amazing things all because you sacrificed a few minutes to pray.

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”–Colossians 4:2

Challenge: Ask someone today how you can pray for them? Write it down somewhere and commit to call/email/txt them in a few days to check in. It will mean the world! Then periodically go back and check off those He answered! These will be testimonies you share later about His faithfulness through prayer. 

“The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.” - Oswald Chambers

Friday, November 25, 2011

Some Day my Prince Will Come

Our daughter Michelle is 21 years old.  When she was about five years old, I remember hearing her cry one night after I had tucked her in and said good night.  I came back to her room to check on her and asked why she was crying.  In that precious little rough voice, she said, “I’m just afraid (sob sob) that one day my Prince Charming will come and I won’t recognize him!”

Would you say God blessed me with a Romantic?  I tried to hold back the laughter. I was glad it was dark so she couldn’t see me smiling. Michelle was bawling as if it had already happened and she would be single the rest of her life.
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Tomorrow my Princess Michelle will marry her Prince Charming!

I can hardly believe those words, or this reality.

It has been a pleasure to be Michelle’s mom. It has thrilled my soul to watch her grow into the Princess God has intended her to be. I am honored God entrusted me with the privilege to love on and pray for Michelle and her future spouse.

But the reality is, it has just gone so quickly. Too quickly.

Reality is, life happens fast.

Our babies do learn to feed themselves, dress themselves. They grow up and learn to communicate and interact with others.  My prayers for Michelle and her future spouse were that they would fall madly in love with Jesus and find someone who is in love with Him too!

And then it happens. The Prince we prayed for comes.

So today as I enjoy our activities of a Bridesmaids luncheon and a rehearsal and a rehearsal dinner, I know our Eternal Prince will come.  He will so sweep us off our feet and carry us to His perfect home.

Our Father is watching us grow and change.  His desire is that we daily live in humility, falling before His throne and growing in our trust and obedience to Him.  Christ is interceding on our behalf that we fall madly in love with Him and that we accept His love.

As you clean up from the activities of yesterday or busily shop with the Black Friday crowd, don't miss your Prince Charming...He is waiting for you!

I Thessalonians 4:16 - 17 "...for the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a mighty shout...then we who are still alive and remain....will be caught meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever."

Todays Prayer:

Oh Father, You are so worthy of all the glory!  I say thank you for each gift you have given me.  Thank you for the events of yesterday and the thrill of this moment.  May I be ever mindful of your presence.  May I reflect You to my children.  May they be drawn into a sweet relationship with You. Help me to stay focused on you, and not get so wrapped up with the distractions of this life. I look forward to seeing You, my Prince Charming!  I love you Lord!  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Thessalonians 5:16-17

This week I had my kids write down what they were thankful for. The younger ones I had them tell me what they were thankful for and I wrote it down. Since today is Thanksgiving I thought I would share with you what they had to say. I tried to stay word for word on what they said and for the older I did correct their spelling on here but left everything else just the way they wrote it. You will notice with Boston that we just learned about the comma. Here is what they are thankful for:

I am thankful my family is going to be here for Thanksgiving!
I am thankful God gave us a beautiful house!
I am thankful for a beautiful family that loves me!
I am thankful for friends!
I am thankful for food!
I am thankful that God loves me!
I am thankful for a mom that loves to make desserts!
I am thankful for Po! (Po is the hamster)
I am thankful for hope!

I am thankful for my dad coming home for Thanksgiving, Grandma, Papa, my cousins, aunt and uncle. This will be the best Thanksgiving ever. I am thankful for my mom that makes me food, this big home, the clothes that my mom buys me.

I love Aunt Jaicy. I love Uncle Dallas. I love Aunt Jenni. I love my mom. I love Quincie. I love my mom. I am thankful for Boston. I love my dad. I love Jesus. I am thankful for Gus and Cameron and Bryce and Ben. I am thankful for the Bible. I am Thankful for Alexis. Is there anymore friends of mine? Oh, yeah, Josh, I am thankful for Josh. I love my dad.

I love you God. I love Emily and Ella is so cute. I like to play with Bryce and Cameron and Olivia and Bella. I am thankful for giving my toys away because it’s nice. I am thankful for Aunt Jaicy and Uncle Dallas cause they gave us a hamster. That’s all, actually one more thing. I am thankful for loving Boston because he has a hurt ankle. That’s all.

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”
John 1:16

We should count our blessings each day not just on thanksgiving. Imagine if we all made a list of things we are thankful for and kept them in a spot where we would see them each day. Aren’t there days where that would do wonders for your attitude? I know it would mine. There are days that it is hard to “be thankful in all circumstances.” I know I could use a good reminder that I do have things to be thankful for.

As I read the things my kids are thankful for, these are things that I can be thankful for in all circumstances. They were thankful for the relationships that God has blessed them with. They were also thankful for the roof over their heads and the food that they eat each day. On a rotten day, I still have all that. I am so very, very blessed.

I pray that on this Thanksgiving Day that each one of you has a blessed day where you remember all that God has given you and all that you have to be thankful for. And just as my kids did, make a list, so that when one of those days creeps up on you, you have a good reminder of all the blessings you have received.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unexpected Blessing

I have not been a great volunteer in the past four years, I have to admit. Since having Cooper and Griffin, my days have been filled with diapers, nursing, naps, waking in the middle of the night to feed babies, calm little fears, and have left very little time to give to other people. But when we moved here to Florida I decided that I was going to try to become more involved. Our boys now past the age of three, I really wanted to look for ways to volunteer at our church, listen for opportunities to serve, and minister to this new population of people. I was ready and I wondered where God would use me? We had come from a church where we felt very served by the people in the congregation and now wanted to be a part of that for other people. So, when we found a small neighborhood church near our house that was just starting out we felt it would be a great chance to be on the serving end of things and step in where there was a need.

Shortly after settling into our new home, there was an opportunity to volunteer in my son's Sunday school class for 3-6 year olds. I was finally doing it. I was going to serve my boys and their new little friends and teach them about Jesus. They were going to memorize Bible verses, sing songs, listen to stories...I was committed and I was ready to jump in where I felt God was leading.

I was given the pre-school curriculum thinking, "Oh, good. I get to teach all the old familiar Old Testament stories this quarter. Noah and the Ark, Moses and the Red Sea, Joseph and the coat of many colors...what a priviledge that I get to teach them some of these first Bible stories." I had heard these stories over and over as a kid, so it was exciting to think that along with all the other kids in their class, my two boys were going to learn about God's promises and his faithfulness over and over again in these first chpts of the Bible.

But God had something in store for me, too.

God is so good.

When we moved here I was a little afraid. I didn't know Florida, let alone south Florida. The only time we had ever come was to vacation, so that was the picture I had in mind. I was afraid of the unknown and I was clinging to a trust that I knew was the only thing that'd keep me going when times got tough in this new part of our journey. But God knew that. And He is faithful.

The stories that have been part of the Sunday school curriculum these last 12 weeks have all centered around the same thing: God's faithfulness. Abraham and Sarah trusted God and they were given a son. Moses trusted God and walked his people through the Red Sea. Joseph trusted God in jail while innocent and God delivered him. Daniel (in a lion's den) trusted in God and his life was spared. Noah trusted God and built a boat. At a time when I finally felt like I was going to serve, God had given back 100 times the blessing that I could ever be to another. To my surprise, He has comforted me through scripture that has been part of the core of this pre-school curriculum. So much so that I feel humbled to have thought that these little pre-schoolers were going to be the only ones really learning. Isn't that just like God? To meet us where we are (even in the midst of trying to serve others) to strengthen and comfort us all the while. Like a rushing stream of cool water to refresh us on our journey.

Even writing for this blog I've thought this is where God is leading me--to serve other mommies for a time. But oh, how much more blessed have I been through reading the other entries day to day.

I look at our fridge which is plastered with Sunday school verses in big purple and green print--all of which speak directly to my heart and I think to myself how big our God is. At a moment when I think I am going to witness to someone else, He whispers to me, "Sweet child, I love you. And I've got you." And I am humbled.

Here are just a few:

"God said, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go." -Genesis 28:15a

"The Lord is faithful to all his promises." -Psalm 145:13b

"God said, I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you." -Isaiah 41:10b

You know, sometimes us moms think we have to have it all together for our kids. We have to become a near perfect version of ourselves before we have something to teach, give, pass on to them. But I don't believe God sees it that way. I loved Maggie's "Silence" blog this week, because it emphasizes how very big our God is. That if we let Him, he will create in our children what we all desire--a love for Him and a desire to do His will.

And if we will open our hearts as moms, we may learn as much if not more about how big He really is. He will meet us there. He will bless us and we will walk away refreshed.

I have such a thankful heart this week for how much God has provided this year for our family. I know some of you have similar stories and I just praise him and give him all the glory this Thanksgiving!

I just praise you for all of the blessings that you have given this past year. It goes way beyond earthly things, God. You have provided comfort when I was worried or afraid. Peace when we didn't have answers. And wonderful people that have treated us like family. It is this kind of blessing that shines through all the darkness of this world. You, Lord, have provided so much. I pray that we might all look beyond to the things that truly matter this holiday and come humbly to you in thanksgiving. We deserve nothing and yet you give us so much. For this, we give our thanks.
In Jesus' Name,


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thank God!

Last week the girls were playing in their bedroom when I heard Susannah let out an awful scream and begin crying. I walked in to find Selah standing on her bed reaching across the top of her dresser and a toy Christmas tree on the floor next to Susie, who was crying and holding her eyes. I thought the worst. It took a while to calm her down enough to get a look at the eye. That in and of itself added to my concern, as Susie is my tough one. She only lets out a little grunt when given a shot, and her cries typically never last for very long.

Once Rick and I were able to examine the eye, we saw what appeared to be a scratch on the surface of her left eye on the white part. Wouldn't you know it? It was a Sunday. So, I called and left a voice mail for my pediatrician while we contemplated taking her to the ER or walk-in clinic. By this time she was happy again, playing and munching on a snack as if nothing had happened. She was able to focus and grab things as usual, so we decided to wait to hear back from the doctor. She told me to bring Susie in the following morning, and look for certain signs that would mean we need to get her in somewhere sooner.

After a visit to the pediatrician followed by another trip to a pediatric ophthalmologist, the prognosis was a scratch that did not effect her vision and would heal on its own. Praise the Lord! He really protected my baby that day. And that is not the first time.

When we found out we were pregnant with Susannah, I had just accepted a position to return to work teaching middle school. I was 2 days late but convinced it was stress or something else. I couldn't be pregnant... but I was. We have always said God's timing with our kids, and we were really excited to have another precious baby in our lives. Then 2 days later I began spotting pretty heavily and was at high risk of miscarrying. I asked the Lord through my tears why He would allow me to take the test if we were just going to lose the baby. I could have just thought my cycle was late and never had known what I had lost. The next two weeks I continued to spot and pray continually. Finally, it ended, and our baby was okay. I cry just remembering the joy and relief. Susannah has always been in God's hand of protection.

These days, I continue to need His protecting hand. I have pulled so many random objects out of Susie's mouth since she began to crawl that I once even started a collection with plans to take a photo and blog about it. Then I absentmindedly threw my collection away while cleaning. She has chewed on leaves, small toy parts, plastic bag pieces (you know, those little tabs that come off of grocery store bags), cat food, pillow stuffing, and some other things I would rather not mention. Any of which could have choked her or made her sick. Praise the Lord for His protection and for the finger sweeps that got those things out of her little mouth in time!

The fact is that no matter how closely we watch our children, stuff happens. We are called to protect them as their Mommy, but ultimately, they are protected by their Mighty Father who never takes His eyes off of them for a second.

I have a tendency to be a fearful person by nature when it comes to my kids. How can you watch the news and not be these days? Stories of molestation, abductions, and the like fill our minds and hearts with fear of something bad happening to those whom we hold most dear and have been given the job of nurturing and protecting. I would lay down my life for my kids and would fight to the very end to protect them. I believe we all would. But the fact is that that job is already taken. They are in God's hands. He is my protector and theirs. He who knows every strand on their head is in charge, and I must put my faith and trust in Him when it comes to everything in my life, including and especially my kids.

This Thanksgiving, I pause to thank the Lord for His mighty hand of protection and provision as well as for my husband and our wonderful little girls. I thank Him for the things He has protected me from as well as for His protection of my family. I renew my trust in Him in all areas of my life and with the lives of our children. I pray you will do the same! He is faithful and worthy!

What has the Lord protected you from in your life? Are there times you can recall when He has protected your children from harm? Do you fully trust Him with your life and the lives of your children? Have you thanked Him for His protection lately?

Oh Mighty God, my protector and provider. I praise you for your constant watchful eye in the life of my family. Thank you for the things you have protected them from, both known and unknown. I place my children in Your hands Father, knowing that You are in control and love them even more than my husband and I do. I trust you with my life and with theirs. Thank you for all of the blessings you continue to bestow upon us. We are yours, Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Heart of the Matter

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

It was two weeks before Thanksgiving, but I found myself at a Christmas celebration for kids at the local mall. There was face painting, a bounce house, fake snow, a Christmas band, goodie bags full of gifts for the kids, and Santa even flew in on a helicopter. As I was walking around with my two boys—Jeremiah snuggled in my arms, and Mikey sporting a Christmas crown and a light up snow man toy—a news anchor approached me. “May I ask you a few questions?” He asked. “Sure”, I said, ”But what are you going to ask me?” “I don’t know yet,” He said. I replied, “Yeah right, but go ahead.”

Before I knew it the camera was on, and he knew his question alright, “So, Thanksgiving is not even here yet, but we are already celebrating Christmas! Why do you think that is?” Not having much time to think I said, “Because stores want to make money.” He looked at me somewhat confused. I explained…”Stores need a holiday to celebrate each month to attract more customers with sales.” He was amused by my response, which was later on the 10 o’ clock news. BUT, if I had more time to ponder my answer, I would have added that Thanksgiving doesn’t sell (except for Black Friday), because it is a holiday that focuses on what you already have instead of what you want to get. Christmas sells because people have replaced the birth of Jesus with presents and Santa. It’s sad, and perhaps a bit cynical, but true. As soon as the moms and dads and their kids watched Santa land in his helicopter (the highlight of the evening), they all headed inside to warm up…and almost every store was having a fantastic “early Christmas sale”. Christmas sells!

But what about Thanksgiving? Perhaps we can learn a few lessons about true Thanksgiving by taking a brief look at the life of Job.

“There was a man named Job who lived in the city of Uz. He was blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, and five hundred female donkeys, and he employed many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.” Job 1: 1-3

Job had everything it seemed. Then (for reasons far greater that our own comprehension), God took it all away…ALL OF IT! Yet Job did not blame God…not even a little bit. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1:21 Boy, could I learn from Job!

By God’s grace, it occurred to me that Job knew where his real treasure was. However, many people are tempted to skip over Thanksgiving and on to Christmas because they feel burned. Maybe they lost a job or foreclosed on a house. Maybe they don’t feel like they have much to thank God for. But, is that really true?

One thing I love about Job is that he was transparent. While he did not blame God, he let all his emotions ooze right out of him. He did not try to hold it all on and act like everything was ok. He let everyone know he was frustrated, he was hurt, he did not understand. He questioned God! And eventually God literally showed up! You see, I can’t claim to understand everything that you are going through right now, but I do know that you are never alone. God is with you now, and He will show up when you need Him most.

Many of you know how the story of Job ends. God restores Job physically and financially. But even before that, God restored Job spiritually and emotionally because through his trials, Job experienced God for himself. He said, “I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” Job 42:5 What a wonderful inheritance! As Christians, we have the privilege of experiencing God even in the midst of our hardships. If we allow God to transform us through our trials, he can change us from the inside out…starting with our heart.

I pray that as we walk through trials as wives and moms, God will continue to transform our hearts to make us more like Him. In fact, I was having one of “those days” this past Friday and was letting another mom know that God was teaching me some more valuable lessons, but I was tired of learning that day. She quickly and wittingly responded, “Well, when God quits teaching you and you have no more lessons to learn, he will call you home.” I laughed and said, “Well, I guess I’ll keep learning then.” The truth is I do want God to make my heart more like His…even though the transformation is painful. Because when I am right with God on the inside, I can see God more clearly on the outside. So, here are a few nuggets that I have picked up from my Mom to Mom group that have helped me along the way:

1. My relationship with God on the inside will affect my relationships with my husband and kids.
2. Our children know us well enough to know our hearts.
3. Spiritual heart health—or heart disease—can be contagious.
4. God is in the business of heart transformation—and we should be too.
5. A joyful mom-heart makes a joyful home.

Dear Lord, you love us so much. Thank you for the good times and the times that stretch our faith. Please help us allow you to transform our heart so that we can see you working in us and around us. Please bless us with a joyful mom-heart so that we can be contagious for you this Thanksgiving season. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Verses to consider:
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” Psalm 51:10
“For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and all your strength.” Mark 12:30
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

Sunday, November 20, 2011


“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold” Pr.25:11
“Silence is beautiful, don’t break it unless you can improve on it" 

Very recently I had undergone some minor surgery that required me to stay in bed for a few days and rest while healing. I had been stirring all week prior to it to make sure I had help lined up for my boys, meals figured out for 5 days ahead and all the laundry done so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed when I finally could move around again. God is good, my husband, mother- and sister-in-law all helped in every way and I really was well provided for. Second day after surgery I wasn’t sleeping much during the day due to pain but I still had to lay in bed so I decided to listen to an audio book on my kindle. The book I listened to was “The Chosen” by Chaim Potok. It was about two young Jewish boys raised very differently and their very unlikely friendship that formed in the midst of their differences. They ended up saving each others lives in a way. Both boys were brilliant Jewish students but one was raised very strictly and groomed to take his fathers place as a Rabbi even though he had no such desire. The other boy wanted to become a Rabbi simply because he loved people and felt the calling. One boy raised by his strict father in total silence (except for when they studied the Talmud together) The other was free to enjoy long discussions with his dad at any time.
Throughout the book my feelings grew colder and colder toward the very strict father and I just kept getting more and more upset over how a father can cease to speak to his own child entirely, except for when they study the Word of God. Toward the end of the book this strict father gives this lengthy explanation as to why he chose to not speak to his son from the age of 4 to 17.
 The father explains that when his son was 4 years old, he read to him a story about a suffering man and when finished, his son was able to retell the story exactly word for word from memory. He was also ecstatic over his own ability to do so and had enjoyed the story immensely. Seeing his sons response to his ability, the father goes into his study weeping before God. He prays; “God, why have you given me a son with a brilliant mind but without a soul?” From that day on, the father knew that he had to somehow teach his son to have compassion and love for people. He also knew that his sons brilliant mind was going to be his biggest stumbling block. So when the son was older, the father stopped talking to him except for when they studied the Talmud together. He wanted his son to look into his own soul for answers from God, once he knew what the Word taught.

Surely there must have been an easier way to teach a son compassion, you say? Not speaking to your child for 11 years? I agree, but there is something about this story I haven’t been able to let go off. A truth that perhaps we are able to extract and apply. So many times I am so quick to provide the “godly” answers for my children that I rob them of the beautiful discovery of Gods ways for themselves. Many times I instruct and reinforce to no end making my children weary. And sometimes I notice my words carry less and less weight because I’ve overused them. There is also something beautiful about extracting something that isn’t so easily given and provided. It becomes a treasure when one has to seek it out to aquire it. Why not silence then at times? Why not speak less and allow our children to discover for themselves and  “feel” the consequences of their actions rather than a constant out pour of warnings or instruction. “There is a time to speak and a time to keep silent” Eccl.
I think the reason we are not so comfortable with silence as a tool is first of all; we are women who like to talk and talk through everything. The other reason might be fear. We realize that the world will never stop screaming lies, trying to deceive our children. So we try screaming louder than the world; feeding them more bible stories, more Christian songs, more interference in their play, more fellowship and activities, more scriptures and more telling them the Christian way of being and so on.

The more I pondered this discovery of silence and withdrawal of help to my children, the more I realized it’s why God taught us to fast. It’s a separation from all the fleshly efforts in order to draw closer to God. I wanted to try it with my children. My opportunity presented itself almost immediately. After 4 days of bed rest my help was gone and I was on my own with the boys. Everything I did during the rest of my recovery was at half speed. During that time I spoke less to them, expected them to work out their own arguments and even asked for help from them. I truly was stunned by what I discovered. Not only were they able to play by themselves for hours, they would also be mindful of me resting, kept asking if I felt better yet and were content by me just staying close by. This silence, a slower pace and withdrawal were all beneficial things to both my boys and myself. Here are some scriptures I found.
 “Love is not loud, doesn’t demand it’s own way”.
“Do not be quick with your mouth” Pr.5:2
“…let your words be few.”
“…many words are meaningless” Pr.5:7
“…the fool multiplies words Pr.10:15

There is something to be said about withdrawal of constant out pour of words. We are to instruct our children from Gods Word, yes (in my book the father spoke to his child when they studied the Word) but no strong enforcement after that. In fact, the son was sneeking out to the library to read “forbidden books” such as Freud to satisfy his constant hunger for knowledge. Even though his strict father knew about it and din't like it, he didn’t address it with his son. He trusted the Word to take root and produce fruit in time. He wasn’t fearful. It’s radical and powerful and takes my hands off of my children in a way, entrusting them entirely to God. I’m convinced if I can learn to apply it rightly, I’ll experience much freedom and less fear in parenting.
When Jesus was tempted in the desert, he truly was alone. The angels didn’t minister to Him until He passed the test. He didn’t run to the Father for comfort or asked to be rescued from the temptation. He answered the devil by what He knew of Gods word and was able to overcome. That’s what I want for my children. They will very soon stand alone and I want them to discover and learn enough of God to be able to answer the enemy and overcome.
So what happened to the son and his strict father in my book? He was free to choose his own course in life, once his father saw that he had learned to love people more than his brilliant mind and abilities.

In what areas are your children capable of standing for themselves? I encourage you to withdraw your help at times and let your children stand alone with God whenever possible. You may be surprised at their ability and your own peace.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friends...Strengthen & Support

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT

We need friends to walk with us through life. We need friends who will rejoice with us on the mountain top experiences and not leave when we walk through the valley.  We yearn for friends who strengthen us with words of faith and encouragement, and yet are wise to recognize the times a hug is all that's needed. Friends are vessels Christ uses to build up our character, because when we are weak they are strong. When we fall, they help brush the dirt off our knees, smile, and remind us it is the falls which make us stronger. They share of their fallen experiences which helps the bruises of our heart heal faster.

My friend Maggie is a great example of this. We have Friday play dates and so many times I struggled pulling into the parking lot on whether or not I would get out. One of my sons is very active and at times he catches me off guard. He surprises us...sometimes a HUGE hug or kiss out of the blue and other times it's something that challenges my authority and tests my patience. This caused me such anxiety. For months I would go to play dates and have little conversation with other moms because my kids were off gallivanting where other kids WEREN'T. Even when kids gathered for snack, mine were far far away from the blanket the rest would be sitting on :) I didn't understand why my kids wouldn't play with the other kids. It was on those days I needed a gentle reminder, that the Lord strategically placed my friend Maggie at the park to refresh me. Sweet, gentle Maggie.

Maggie would come over, look me in the eyes, and ask how I was doing. Sometimes even hunting me down! She genuinely cared and always gave such tender encouragement as I cried over my struggles as a mommy. She was beneficial and helpful.  She built me up. Maggie brought these verses to life for me.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. - Ephesians 4:29

The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. - Proverbs 12:26

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. - Proverbs 27:9

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.  - Proverbs 27:17

God used her to whisper words of affirmation and love when Satan wanted to discourage. I would share my hurts and how I longed for my boys to be like the rest. Maggie would remind me, "Kate, they are just boys...exploring." She would speak truth of how different each child was.  It's so easy to get lost comparing our child to another, isn't it? Her words were a glass of cold water to a dry and thirsty mommy.  I am so thankful that as I fell (Ecc. 4:10) there was someone there to pick me up.  I always felt better after talking to Maggie. I would drive up defeated and leave ready to go back onto the battlefield. She strengthened my courage and sent me back out there to be the best mommy I could be. What a gift...I will always treasure.

What does support look like? Sometimes it is a gentle word that is needed. Maybe helping that friend move or babysitting for free for the family who hasn't been out since having kids. It may be making a meal unexpectedly for a tired and weary mommy. Or bringing that favorite coffee drink and watching the kids for a few minutes so that mom can regroup and come back strong. It may be leaving an envelope signed "Love Jesus" with cash in it, anonymously to the one hurting financially.  I have been on the receiving end of this so many times. I am so thankful to Jehovah Jireh, my perfect provider, who gives to me so that I can give to others.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


Ask the Lord to show you how you can better strengthen and support your friends. Sit back. Watch...He will give you plenty of opportunities to be used for His glory.

Think of a time you had a friend strengthen and support you. Call and let them know how God used them to minister to your heart. Allow Him to use you to encourage another!

Next Saturday...part #3 of our friendship series ..."Friends...Stand in the Gap"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Are you ready?

How often to do you hear the question, "Are you ready?"  In our home, starting in late August, we start hearing that sentence.  In our home, it pertains to football.  WE LOVE FOOTBALL.  The slogan for the TV is…"Are you ready for some football?”  No, we are not PLAYING football, rather we are excited for the football season.  Yes, we have a favorite team (which have had almost the worst season of the league), but are we ready for football means, have we pulled out the grill?  Do we have the house decorated? Have we invited friends over to watch the game with us?  And Yes, the preverbal need for hot wings and cokes have been purchased.
In our lives as moms, we hear, “Are you ready?”  Are you ready for your child’s first day of school, or a new school?  Are you ready for the birthday party (or parties) for the weekend? Are you ready for the field trip, the homework, the quizzes and tests? And if you are a working mom, the list expands to, are you ready for the carpool or your presentation at work?
How about this question? Are you ready for Thanksgiving?  What will it take to get you ready for Thanksgiving?  You mean, have I bought a turkey, made a menu, pulled out recipe books, or made travel arrangements? 
I read an article this week which was an interview with Alton Brown the professional TV chef.  The question that most intrigued me was: What is your most important tool in the kitchen? Mr. Brown's response was...
image found here:
"The table."    
He went on to say it doesn’t make any difference how over the top your ability is to impress your guests, it is rather the need for the table, the place where he says communion takes place.  Mr. Brown observed that if you take away the table and the act of service at the table, “everything falls apart."  His response was not what I expected. However it has given beautiful perspective of what is really important as Thanksgiving looms. 
Psalm 100, is the familiar Psalm of Thanks.  David wrote this psalm to be sung as the Israelites offered their sacrifice of Praise.  Had we asked David if he was ready for Thanksgiving, I believe based on Psalm 100 he would have sung all the more loud and excited. Psalm 100 appears to be "the table" of Thanksgiving!!
Image found here: pin/507680965/
Moms, this psalm is only five verses.  I challenge you to begin teaching your children this psalm as your preparation for Thanksgiving.  Psalm 100:1 says "Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth."  Girls, this shout would be the equivalent of a parade.   Lets teach our children these five verses and lead them in a parade of Thanksgiving through our homes, yards, and if the opportunity presents itself, on our streets.  
This psalm points out the praise due our Lord, our God and our Shepherd!  He is good!  His love endures forever!  His faithfulness continues through all generations!  Praise is truly the center of Thanksgiving. If someone asks "Are you Ready for Thanksgiving?"   Be sure to shout "Yes!" as you quote this beautiful Psalm of Praise.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Here Comes Barbie.... Not!

A very nice lady that I had become acquainted with once called me a perfect little Barbie who has all her children put together nicely in a row. She meant it as a compliment and I love her for it but it was a comment that grinded me like nails on a chalkboard. It caught me off guard and I thought really, as hard as I try some days to have it all together, I am certain I have never accomplished it. I almost immediately asked my sister what this woman was talking about and she assured me that no one really thought that about me. And I found I was relieved. That may sound silly; I should have loved a compliment like that, right? But that person this lady described is a fairy tale. She is not real, and because of that, she is completely unrelatable.

God has put a conviction in my heart to love people where they are, encourage them to grow spiritually and to use the experiences of my own life’s messes to help others. The blogs that I write are things that God is either reminding me of or teaching me. I am not a fictional character, I am a real live person with mess like everyone else and I will be until the day I die no matter how hard I try to have it all together. Life’s messes can sometimes be embarrassing, uncomfortable and just plain ugly. So here is just one little bit of proof that I am not a Barbie who has all of life figured out.

"Self-pity is of the devil, if I go off on that line I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world." Oswald Chambers

You can look at another person’s life and fairly quick recognize self-pity. Even in our own lives we can look back and recognize our own moments of self-pity but when you are in the midst of a pity party sometimes it is a bit more difficult to realize what is going on. Well, I had my own little pity party this last week. It was a beauty too.

I had been sick all week; I was physically drained along with some emotional baggage. I had recently visited my family for about two weeks. I have a new niece who is beautiful, and two other nieces who are growing so fast. I was missing my mom, my sister and the joy of being an aunt up close instead of from far away. I was really missing my friends and the opportunity to just sit with them and enjoy their company, their wisdom and friendship.

Honestly, these are things that hit me from time to time but I handle it. I know God has brought us where we are and He will give us everything we need. I find peace in that. But on that day I was having a hard time holding on to that perspective. I had let myself get so worn out that those feelings blew up and I spiraled down right into a massively huge pity party. I blamed my husband and kids for my being so exhausted. I was crying about being lonely and missing everyone, all of which, of course, to my husband whom I made feel terrible.

Through all this I kept praying, trusting in God because if I couldn’t understand anything else I could understand that I was freaking out and I needed God to put me back together. I kept praying and repeating over and over in my head the truths of God that His word tells me and that is how I fell asleep. The next morning God cleared the fog away. He helped me take a step back and see what I had done. The key word here being I, no one else had made me exhausted, I did that to myself.

Each day I got up that week I felt sicker. Each day I would rest a little when I would usually exercise, but that is all I did to take care of myself. I home school, so school went on as normal, chores and dinners. I did my best to make sure that everything was not interrupted by me being sick. Why? Because I didn’t want the kids to miss a day of school, I didn’t want the house messy, I didn’t want Josh to have to make dinner. There are a lot of I’s in that sentence. So by the end of the week I was exhausted.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true. I blamed everyone else for my exhaustion. I was not thinking on things that were true. Because what was true was that my kids would have loved a day off school to chill and cuddle, they are very capable of picking up there own messes, not to mention the only one the mess bothers is me. Josh would have happily come home and made dinner or picked up a pizza. So if I were thinking on what was true I would have seen that I was the only one to blame.

That day when God helped me step back and take a good look at myself I actually learned several things. But the one I want to point out today is that my own expectations were what exhausted me; they weren’t my husband’s or my kid’s, they were mine. On a normal day, in a normal week there really was nothing wrong with my expectations. But this was not a normal week. I needed to be willing to step back and give my expectations a break, I should have never of clung to them so tightly.

We all have our moments of weakness where the pity party sets in, but lets not camp there. In those moments let’s think on what is true, let’s check our expectations and see if we are maybe holding on a little to tightly. I learned nothing in my pity party; I was too focused on me. Where I learned was on the other side of it. I believe God used it for good and I pray I learned what I needed to know.

Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

I hope that when my kids are older that they will be able to say of me that I hunger and thirst after righteousness. I don’t want to hear that I am a Barbie or that I have it all together. I don’t want to be thought of as some fake fictional character. I want to be relatable and even though it can be embarrassing, uncomfortable or ugly, I want my kids to see that I mess up too. But most of all I want them to see that I come out on the other side, I learn from it and let God use it as He sees fit. I want them to see God at work and know that God can work in them too.

Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? Do you put that above looking perfect on the outside? Are you focusing on what is true? I pray that you will take some time to look at your own hearts and ask yourself these questions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


"When the cloud remained...the Israelites...did not set out." -Numbers 9:19

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." -Psalm 40:1

Last week, our boys were sick. First one and inevitably the other followed. Fevers, throwing up, the whole bit. We were sick and not going anywhere for awhile. We were forced to stay home and simply had to hunker down through this bug.

For a mom of two boys living in Florida, staying inside is kind of a foreign thing. It feels strange not to get outside and play and let them burn off some steam. But my oldest, especially, was certain that laying down and watching cartoons all day was going to be the best medicine for him. And based on his fever, I would say he was right. So, I let him.

My sister, Katie, was going through the same thing up in Michigan, so we had some time to talk and compare. And through our conversation realized we were both learning the same lesson that week. God was putting our lives on pause and we were forced to slow down and take in an unusual stillness that is so often missing in a house with little kids.

So often, as moms, we feel like we have to be productive--run here, run there, buy milk, throw a load in, make a meal, buy another gallon, play a game, sign him up for this, volunteer for that...that these little moments where God pauses us turn into a time of reflection and stillness that we otherwise wouldn't get. What might start out feeling like an inconvenience, may actually end up being a time of growth.

I was so reminded of this fact when I was pregnant with my second child. In month 7, something shifted in my lower back and my psyiatic nerve was being pinched. I tried everything to change it back to normal, but nothing worked. I even got a prenatal massage, but in the end limped around with my 19 month old wanting and needing things that I couldn't get for him. I was on pause. Thankfully, something naturally shifted after about four weeks and I could focus on more important things. But something happened during that time of feeling less able. I sat in our car one day as my husband took Cooper into Home Depot (because I didn't feel like limping along) and an older couple started coming out into the parking lot. I noticed them because the husband was leaning on his cart and limping from pain in his leg. I could tell, because my body was in the same condition. In an instant, my heart went out to the man and I felt a little ashamed at my self pity knowing my pain would probably go away once I had the baby. I worked in a nursing home during college, so I had been around plenty of elderly who experienced pain. But it was during my time of being put on "pause" and watching that man in the parking lot that I really understood the feelings of getting older and how hard that must be. And I was sad for him. God had taught me something in that moment. To empathize with the hurt. To not take things for granted. And to always be thankful. This time of being put on pause was not wasted. The Lord used it and taught my heart a valuable lesson through my own experience.

They always say kids need "hands on" experience (real life experience) to learn in the best way. Why wouldn't God use that in His classroom, too? If you experience something yourself, you are better equipped to serve those who have also gone through something similar.

Have you experienced a pause lately? Do you feel like you're being held back and you don't understand why? I know it's so hard to sit and wait and wonder, but I would encourage you to use this time (like I have to encourage myself) wisely. Look for the lesson that God may be teaching you in all of this. Try to look past (so hard) your own experience to the life of someone else who may be going through the same thing. And rest in Him knowing that none of this will be a waste if we can hold on and use our struggle to encourage others in the future.

Oh, so good from Streams...

"Yet having to wait was another story altogether. 'When the cloud remained,' however uninviting and sweltering the location,...however boring and wearisome to those who were impatient...there was no option but to remain encamped."

"When God sends no answer and "the cloud remains," we must wait. Yet we can do so with the full assurance of God's provision of manna, water from the rock, shelter, and protection from our enemies. He never keeps us at our post without assuring us of His presence or sending us daily supplies." (Wow. Wow!)

"Young person, wait--do not be in such a hurry to make a change! Minister, stay at your post. You must wait where you are until the cloud clearly begins to move. Wait fo the Lord to give you His good pleasure! He will not be late!" (Daily Devotional Commentary)

What are you learning today that will create in you a pure heart? Is God trying to teach you something through an experience that is causing you to pause?

Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray that our hearts would be open in our times of waiting. Help us to understand the things that you are trying to teach us in those moments of life. And to go on and use those valuable lessons to bless those who need it in your perfect timing.
In Jesus' Name,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stored Treasures

When I was pregnant with Selah (my first), a friend of mine bought us a bunch of Disney princess dolls when she found out it was a girl. My husband Rick put up shelves in the bedroom in preparation for Selah's arrival, and we filled one shelf with these dolls along with some other stuffed animals, books, and collectibles we received as gifts. Selah is now 2, and the other day she asked to play with the dolls that were up on the shelf. She has never seen any of the movies, but she knows the characters from books and toys she sees in the store. When she initially asked, we were getting ready to head out the door, so I explained she could play with them later.

A small part of me was very hesitant to open the boxes. I mean, they had been on that shelf for more than 2 years, and wouldn't they be worth something if left in the original boxes? I thought to myself how silly I was being. First, I am not the type to collect and sell these kinds of things, and second, they are toys, and toys were made to be played with. So, the next time Selah asked, we opened one box at a time, removed the shoes and other small parts little Susannah could choke on, and off she went into a world of make believe with her new toys. She makes them dance, sing, pray, jump, and even shares some of her snacks with them. One or two are always placed gingerly in the diaper bag by Selah before we head out the door, and from time to time, she will even tuck one in next to her as she gets warm and cozy for nap or bedtime.

It makes me think about how we want to teach our children to think of "things". Each has its purpose and use. We need to care for our things and not abuse them while at the same time see them as objects that are nice to have but not to be treasured to a state of covetousness, selfishness, or idolatry. Had I kept them up on a shelf to collect dust in hopes that they would be worth something someday, I would have missed out on their real purpose and worth.

Many of our nice things have become not so nice anymore with stains on our "stain resistant" couch, torn "pretty" throw pillows, and scratches on my locket from teething babies. But, alas, they are just things. Stains can be cleaned, pillows can be sewn or replaced, but my kids are only kids for so long. I have set my mind to not get too upset at the wear and tear and just keep things in perspective.

My hope is to teach my kids how to take care of their things while at the same time putting them in their proper place, spiritually speaking. (... ummm, and literally!) I hope to expand this lesson to teach them to find more joy in giving than receiving (or at least as much joy, this is one lesson that takes time and maturity).

And through the process of teaching it, I hope to have it sink into my heart a little deeper as well. My hand mixer does the job, I do not need that fancy electric mixer. And it is not necessary to have another pair of shoes just because they will go perfectly with that dress. Whether we have the financial means or not- just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

Challenge for this week- To put "things" into perspective, especially with the Christmas season fast approaching. What are my weaknesses in this area? Examine myself and my children for behaviors of selfishness, covetousness, or even idolatry, and begin to ask God for help in changing our hearts and mindsets regarding 'stuff'.

Prayer- Jehovah Jireh, You are our provider. You supply all my needs according to Your riches and glory and go above to bless me beyond that. I pray that I will see 'things' for what they are and not allow them to become idols or shape my character in a way that does not bring You glory. Please help me to teach my children to balance respecting and caring for the blessings You give while at the same time not having selfish and covetous hearts. May we store up treasures in heaven and keep our heart and minds ever focused on You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.