Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Living in a big girl world.

Everyday I tell my sweet Julia that she is mommy's "big girl" and she repeats "I mommy's big gull." I tell her that because "baby" is considered a put down. Little doesn she know that she'll always be my sweet baby.

There are days that I wish that I wasn't a big girl,not because of the responsibility of being a wife and mother but for the experiences we must face head on. I wish desperately that I didn't have to face the burdens that adults face, that I could return to innocence and bliss. I wish that I could return to a time when I just thought that people were "sad" or having a "bad day." There are days that are filled with such heartache and pain yet I look at little miss Julia and she doesn't seem touched by the sting of anguish that we as adults feel. As a family we have been burdened for a dear friend who is battling for her life and my heart physically aches for her and her family. I know that it is a part of growing up and also a gift to have the opportunity to love and carry the burdens of those you love but I would be lying if I said it didn't affect me.

It is my prayer that God will use me in a mighty way to show His love and affection for those around me no matter what the cost. God allows us to be close to those who need us most and to be close to the people we need. I am so thankful for the gift of friendship and for the beautiful people that God has put in my life. What blessings to have the opportunity to love such amazing people.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Living Fearless In A Fearful World...

"And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” ~Matthew 14:28-30

Did you ever try to walk on water? Me neither. I think sometimes I tend to compartmentalize the accounts in the Bible as not pertaining to me. I mean really- who has had a walking on water experience? I have had my fair share on being overwhelmed and I might as well have tried to walk on water. I used to get panic stricken at least once a week; mostly when I thought about the day ahead of me, the financial struggles we face and all of the "tasks" on my to-do-list....it all just seemed like too much to handle.

I have been reading a wonderful book by Max Lucado called "Fearless". His words cut me to my core as I read them. My blinders fell and I realized that my life was not honoring the Lord or my faith in Him.

“Feed your fears, and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your fears will.”

If I don’t keep my eyes fixed on our Savior, I start sinking, like Peter. I need to keep my gaze on Jesus and my purpose in life for Him. I have noticed that when a period of time goes by and I do not spend my time and energy in prayer and serving my purpose as a godly wife and mother my attitude about difficult circumstances becomes bitter and irritable. Don't get me wrong. Tom and I are facing major obstacles in our life right now, but it is so comforting to know that we serve a mighty God who is able to not only change our circumstances but change our fears to joy! If we faced the difficulties that we are facing a year ago I am not sure that I would have made it. Seriously. Through the challenges and tests of faith and the failure that I have experienced in recent months God has molded me into a vessel that I believe He has always wanted me to be. Not sure how to explain it. I praise Him for his ability to take away my fears, anxiety, and feelings of insecurity to replace them with His overwhelming grace and joy. Life is good folks...

"Now, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~Romans 8:37-39

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lifestyle of Encouragement

Sometimes it can be very tempting to fall into the trap of comparing myself to other moms. Just the other day, for example, I was struggling at the grocery store with little miss, when I saw a mother of four walking calmly through the isles. Her son was seated securely in the front of the cart, while her three daughters stayed right by her side with their own little carts full of groceries. Meanwhile, I was trying to prevent my one-year-old from opening a bag of cookies or grabbing a random bag of crackers off the shelf. That mom seems to have it all together, what am I doing wrong? Then I start the thoughts of "Well, at least I don’t do such and such like so-and-so. Whether I view myself as being a better or worse in comparison to other mothers, the end result is always negative. I become more self-conscious about my own abilities as a mother, and I diminish my ability to truly love the other mother to whom I am comparing myself.

Perhaps you are tempted to compare yourself to other mothers from time to time. I sure am. Have you ever pointed out another mom’s actions that you disapprove of just to affirm your own choice in handling a certain situation? Or, are you stuck in the rut of trying to impress other moms because you feel like they do a much better job at mothering than you do? In both of these cases, you are tearing the body of Christ down, not building it up. I struggled with this for a long time as I am in the same circles with many wonderful mothers whom I truly admire.

God understands the temptation we feel to compare ourselves with others. But, He also knows that doing so will only bring us down. He desires us to be the best moms we can be. According to God, rather than comparing ourselves to other moms, we should be encouraging each other as women, wives and mothers. When I started doing this, I found that I became less envious, more loving, and much more self-confident as a mother. God taught me to pray for and encourage other moms when I felt tempted to make comparisons. So, when you find yourself dealing with a screaming toddler or a defiant teenager in the middle of the grocery store and spy another mom who seems to have it all under control, first ask God to help you, and then thank Him for that other mom. Ask Him to continue to watch over that mother’s family and guide her throughout her day. You could also give her a sincere compliment. Likewise, rather than justifying your own actions by pointing out another mother’s flaws, ask God to help her and show you how to encourage her. Our heavenly Father knows how much we need encouragement—let it begin with us!

Listen Carefully

Sometimes, as a mom, I feel like I am a broken record. I wonder how many times it is possible to say, “Please don’t do that,” in one day. I thought about taking my daughter in for a hearing test after ignoring my requests repeatedly, but then I realized that she has absolutely no problem hearing me when I announce that she can have a cookie. Even when my daughter does answer my requests by saying, “uh-huh, Mamie,” she doesn’t always follow through and do what I have asked her to do. Of course, I realize that even though I am a mom, I often times choose to have selective hearing myself.

Whether we want to or not, most moms are probably guilty of nagging our children every once in a while. It’s quite frustrating to instruct our children to do one thing and watch them ignore our requests. Why don’t they do what we ask? Don’t they know that we love them and know what is best for them? God probably asks the very same questions about us.

At times, some of us don’t seek out God’s voice at all, while others of us listen to God’s words, and then choose to pretend like we never heard anything at all. Perhaps we get caught up in the business of being a mom—cooking, cleaning, laundry, keeping up with the kiddos, or just managing a household. Or, we don’t like what we hear God tell us to do, so we simply ignore His requests and go on with our day as planned. How different is this from a child who doesn’t want to stop to go to the potty because it will take her away from her toys? God loves us and desires the best for us, even more than we do for our own children. The thought is almost hard to imagine, yet I believe it with all my heart. Today, I challenge you to keenly listen to God’s requests and follow through to do what He asks us to do. We will see our lives change before our eyes.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Busy Girl

My one year old daughter has quite a bit of energy. In fact, she almost never sits still. She is not the type to cuddle up on the couch and snuggle. She would much rather be running around the house or the yard. There have been times where she has run out of her shoes. Many days I find myself saying to her, “would you please be still, just for a few minutes!” I can see a lot of myself in her, she always has to be doing something.

This morning, she woke up early and I brought her into bed with me. To my surprise, she layed back and snuggled with me. I wrapped my arms around her and held her tight. She actually let me rub her back, stroke her hair, and just love on her. I told her she was beautiful, smart and special, and I loved her more than anything. It was so sweet, and a pleasant change of pace from me chasing her around all the time. I loved the quiet time with her and I think she did too. But, it wasn’t long before she was up, out of the bed and running around again.

I began to think about this encounter with my sweet girl. She is just like me – never wanting to sit still – always doing something. I realized she is sometimes missing out on the love I so desperately want to lavish on her because she won’t be still long enough.

I wonder how many days I’ve missed out on the love my heavenly Father wants to lavish on me because I won’t be still in His presence. How many times have I missed hearing Him say “you are beautiful,” “you are special,” or “I love you more than anything”?

I think I will try harder to wake up early and enjoy a little “still” time with my God. I don’t want to miss out on the love He so desperately wants to lavish on me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

His Love

Today as I reflect on Valentine's day and all that this day is about I am overcome with a sense of gratitude. It isn't about the gifts, the flowers, or the candy, its about what God has done for me. I have many loves in my life and I am beyond thankful for each of them. God has blessed me so...a healthy, vibrant little girl to love and a husband that shows me unconditional love everyday. How beautiful that the Lord created Tom in his mother's womb to one day be my husband. God knew that Tom would be my husband when He created his life. To me that is so powerful and it shows me how all consuming God's love is for me. It is hard to fathom, yet it's beautiful. So on Valentine's Day I hope that you know that there is a God who LOVES YOU! He created you and He is always with you. It is my prayer that you allow Him to guide your steps. I have learned from experience that being with Him is the best place to be, no matter what the circumstances. There is a peace that I cannot even explain. God is good, all the time.

I woke up this morning with this song by Avalon running through my head and it seems so appropiate this Valentine's Day...

You Were There

I wonder how it must have felt
When David stood to face Goliath on a hill
I imagine that he shook with all his might
Until You took his hand, and held on tight

'Cause You were there, You were there
In the midst of danger's snare
You were there, You were there always
You were there when the hardest fight
Seemed so out of reach
Oh, You were there, You were always there
You were always there

So there he stood upon that hill
Abraham with knife in hand was poised to kill
But God in all his sovereignty had bigger plans
And just in time, You brought a lamb

'Cause You were there,
You were there
In the midst of the unclear
You were there, you were there always
You were there when obedience
Seemed to not make sense
You were there, You were always there
You were always there

So haven't I learned that my ways
Aren't as high as Yours are
And You alone keep the universe
From crumbling into dust
You are God and though we would
Not have understood You
There You were

Hanging blameless on a cross
You would rather die than leave us in the dark
Every moment, every planned coincidence
Just all makes sense
With Your last breath

You were there, You were there
During history’s darkest hour
You were there, You were there always
You were the Victor and the King
You were the power in David's swing
You were the calm in Abraham
You are the God who understands
You are the strength when we have none
You are the living, Holy one
You were, You are and You will always be
the Risen Lamb of God

You were, You are and You will always be
The Risen Lamb of God

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Its February and I Have My Resolution!

Do you have a list of things you want to accomplish before you die? There are a ton of things I want to try. I want to kiss my husband in front of the Eiffel Tower, shop on Rodeo drive, cliff dive in Mexico, look into the grand canyon, ride on a train, design greeting cards, ride a horse bareback on the beach, and so many other things. From a life’s work perspective, I dream of being a decorator, a photographer , a mentor, an author … the list goes on and on. I want to be available at all times to my husband, my daughter, my extended family, my church, my friends, and anyone else who needs help.

But can I just be still and know that God is in control? Could I just spend my time loving others without having an overwhelming need to "do" or "be" something? Why do I always fill up my life with things, and in doing so end up feeling disorganized, unsuccessful, incompetent...a failure because I can’t do it all well?

How do we determine the "right" things to work on? Which of these great things to do are part of God’s will for my life, and which are just my own feeble ideas? If I could find the answer to that question, I would know exactly what to work on each day and I would know that I was following His plan. I wouldn’t waste any time on things that he didn’t think were worthwhile. Wouldn’t that be a great feeling?

But what if God gives me lots of options within his plan? Maybe God’s will is like a meal. He could sit us down and place exactly what he wants us to have in front of us. All we need to do is eat up and we would know we are being obedient. On the other hand, he might lead us to a glorious banquet where he lets us choose those things we really want out of many wonderful options. Where whatever we choose is within His will. Some choices might be healthier than others, and some may be more pleasing to our tastes, but he allows us to feast on whatever we choose!

The closer I get to God, the more I see that he wants to give me choices, and often any option I choose will be acceptable (within reason). But I am quickly awed and overwhelmed by the alternatives. I try to take a piece of everything and my plate quickly overflows. Just imagine my plate at a church potluck, you get the picture!The gravy gets in the corn, the Jell-O melts into the spaghetti, and soon I’m not able to separate any one item from the rest.

Perhaps my goal this year should be to address God’s feast one course at a time. To step up to the salad bar, take a reasonably sized portion, and finish that before moving on to the soup. I want to really taste and enjoy each part of my life without rushing on to the next great possibility.

I’ve decided to spend my journaling time in February evaluating my activities and my long list of dreams. I want to understand the few, the most important things and to be able to do them well. The other activities may come in time, and if they don’t I may be a little sad but I won’t see it as failure. By the end of this year I want to know that I’ve sought after God’s peace that passes understanding, not that I’ve grabbed up a piece of every interesting or important thing I’ve seen. God wants us to know his peace… and he stands next to us just waiting for us to reach out for it. But our hands are too full of all the things we thing we have to do. I pray that I may empty my arms of the "things" of this world and embrace His gift of peace!

What to you want to embrace this year?

What Really Matters

Before I married my husband I could have been labeled as having a “Type A” personality (still sometimes it rears it's ugly head). I was proud to say I was always on time, I gasped at the thought of clean laundry piled up on the floor, and my movies were always returned on time. Three years later, all I can say is at least he is still as handsome and good looking! Each Sunday we are literally running in the doors of church 10 minutes late even before we had Julia. Sometimes the laundry is put away but most of the time we hunt for socks in a pile in the floor. Rarely, our movies are returned on time.

These annoyances drove me insane, and I took it out on my husband. I spent many a morning with God trying to convince Him that my husband needed a BIG change. ”Please just make him take two extra steps to the laundry basket to throw his dirty clothes and that will make me happy”. Little did I know that while I prayed for my husband to fix HIS problem, God was unwinding MY problems. It is so easy to point the finger, and blame the spouse for the imperfections in a marriage. I would consistently tell my husband that “If only you would…then our marriage would be great”. I think if I was really quiet I could actually hear God laughing at me!

As I sent those prayers of pleading for a fix in my husband, God continually sent me a scripture to change my heart. For a long time I had this verse on a post-it note on our bathroom mirror because I needed to be reminded daily of what true love really was.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
~1 Corinthians 13:4

Even as I write this today, I have to stop and inhale this scripture reminding me to focus at what really matters. What matters is that that we spend our precious time as husband and wife glorifying a truly righteous and holy God and not on the fact that a dish is in the sink and the Christmas tree was taken down at the end of January.

I encourage you stop what you are doing at this very moment and pray for your husband and allow God to remind you of what really matters in His marriage. Thank God for giving you such a precious gift, a mate, someone who loves you despite your imperfections. Someone who yearns to encourage you as a woman, a wife, a mother and most importantly a child of God. What a beautiful thing God has given us in our husbands.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What Were You Thinking?!?!- Just for a chuckle.:)

It seems that several times each day I find myself wondering (often very loudly and in an irritated tone of voice) what on earth this child is thinking when she performs some of her antics. I am reasonably sure that she is really not just trying to drive me crazy (is she?) and I believe she is of at least average intelligence but sometimes the things that she does just shocks me.

Take Julia today. I was busy taking care of my business in the bathroom (yes, you know that I get no privacy what so ever) and she had found my keys.

Well, anyway, Julia, being the adorable little 16-month old that she is started using the key to pretend to open all the door in the bathroom. I remember thinking how cute it was to see her pudgy little hands role-playing with the key and thinking how brilliant she was that she knew what a key was and how to use it. I'm just being honest. After all, if your own mother can't think that you are brilliant then who can?

Well, I had to interupt my reverie to finish up what I was doing and so that I could get dinner going. In the 30, no more like 10, seconds that it took me to look away from Julia to attempt to find the tissue. We can not keep it on the roll anymore because those cute pudgy fingers will rip the ENTIRE roll to shreds which literally KILLS her father who will fold it and lay it on the back of the tiolet...but that is another story! So in that short amount of time she managed to transform from cute role-playing toddler into a crazed maniac.

The girl had put the key UP HER NOSE! Yes, that's right, the key was placed inside of her nostril. She was just holding it up there just as calm as you please. She did have a slightly quizzical look on her face. Was she wondering "What posessed me to do that?" I do not know for sure.

I did not want to shout too loud which would frighten her and make the pointy object go even further into the place where it should not be! So as I moved towards her to calmly remove the key from her she removed the key and went on about her business. She dropped it and turned and starting walking away.

I found myself trying to recreate the moment that the key went into her nose. Was she merely wondering, "What do keys feel like in your nose?" or was there something more intellectual, more scientific in her query?

I guess I will never know. (Thank goodness!)

The Tiniest Breath

I remember the night we brought Julia home from the hospital, laying with her in our bed while she slept soundly and peacefully next to me. Not to worry, I was not sleeping, but just laying there amazed at how our life had changed with the arrival of this sweet girl. After daydreaming for a while I was startled to not notice her breathing.(Admit it, you other moms have done that too, irrational as it is.) So I put my ear close to her mouth and what I heard was a sweeter sound than any other. Something about listening to her breathe was so soothing, so peaceful it was hard for me to stop. For just a few seconds, my muscles relaxed and I took a deep breath. Even as I realized how tired I was, I somehow felt rejuvenated and warm all over listening to that precious little breath.

Well, I still listen to Julia's breathing every now and then after I lay her down to sleep. And it still soothes me. Last night, she was fussy and kept waking up which is not her usual routine. As I walked back in her room for the third time I have to say I was not happy, I was beyond tired. I took a deep breath and I gingerly laid her down in her bed and instead of quickly sneaking away like I usually, I ever-so-gently put my ear near her mouth and listened to her regular, rhythmic breathing. I was instantly soothed and I offered up a prayer of gratitude to God along with a repentant heart for having grumbled and complained about getting up with her.

I prayed "Lord, I am so grateful to have this special little girl in my life, your creation that you have trusted into my care. Thank you Lord for giving her breath and thank you for giving me ears to hear and a heart to love her. You are an Almighty God, deserving of all praise and I rejoice in your name forever."

After that, I was on a roll, could not get back to sleep and went to work on my frugal living workshop presentation. When she woke up again, I went with a grateful (although admittedly tired) heart to put her back to sleep again. God is so good!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our Family

People become family in different ways.

As I think about our life and where we are and where we are headed I can't help but thing about who is with us. I am speaking of family. You start creating a family nest with marriage. You have a baby with the man you marry and the three of you become a family. Your baby, the genetic "mashup" of the two of you, along with your marriage vows somehow melts the little trio together into a mess of love, irritation, sleeplessness and loyalty. What a beautiful thing that God created for us! Eventually, more kids come and then there is no turning back. This is your choice: you are a family.

But sometimes, very rarely, there are friends who become family.

Friends who love you before they’ve met you in person. They love your children, speak to them with gentle words and hold your one-year-old on their lap and rock her to sleep with pure affection at their finger tips. They laugh with you until midnight three nights in a row, invite you back even after you’ve made a mess, cook for you, understand your crankiness, and actually want to see you again. They are the ones who pray with you and hold you when life gets too tough. They are the ones who encourage you and remind you of God's love for you by their presence alone. They are the ones who would do anything for you, day or night. They are the ones who call you at 3am when you are on a road trip to make sure that you're still awake!
Your kids play together and really think that they are aunts and uncles because of the love that they feel and the example that their parents embody. You look at them while they are cleaning the kitchen and wonder if you will be friends when you older than dirt...You are sure you will. Friends like this, they open their home, their hearts and their vulnerable places to you with wholeness and say, “There hasn’t been enough time..” as you drive away. These are the friends that make your life more meaningful with each encounter and you drive away knowing that God has blessed you with their presence. These types of friends are family, and maybe family of the best kind.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Finding Your Gold Mine

I hope that in 2010 that you have a dream or vision of something greater than you have now. I am not talking about a "New Years resolution" or attaining more "stuff." In regards to our relationship with God, if we aren't thinking, hoping, or asking for anything, we are cheating ourselves. Ephesians 3:20 says God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that we could hope or ask for. For this reason, we need to hope for BIG things. One of my favorite Christian teachers, Joyce Myer, said "I would rather ask God for a lot and get half of it, than ask Him for a little and get all of it." However, I believe that it is unwise to solely ask the Lord to change circumstances or provide for you if you are not willing to give 110% of yourself. I have learned in my mere 25 years of life that most people go the "quick fix" route for every need or want that they have. As people we go for what feels good right now. That gets us into trouble. I know this from experience. I believe that there is a gold mine in every life and it is up to us to dig deep enough to find it...and when we do God pours out His blessings and provision on us. I know that I must keep digging because I have not hit "gold" yet, but I know that God has great plans for me and I must make goals and personal sacrifices to find them.