Saturday, May 8, 2021

To Be a Mother of a Daughter




Taking time to think of all of what it means to have a daughter in my life. 



I realize I have only just begun to know my Hope. She is 3, and a second child.  I only wish I could pour into her life as I did when I had only 1 kid. 


Here’s what I do know

She is girly to the max. 

She craves my attention always.  

She loves music and puppies and babies.

More often than not, she is in the playroom, and asking me to join. 

Sometimes, I stop my progress in cleaning, cooking, or reading to just BE with her. 

She loves quality time with her mama.


When I am getting myself ready, there is a good chance that she is up in our bedroom as well, rummaging through the treasure trove of my nightstand drawer. There, she finds my bracelets and necklaces to layer on. 


She can’t help herself ☺️.


I look at the way she carries a load of jewelry in her hand and the thought has occurred to me that I relish the idea that she may one day, search the treasure trove of qualities that God’s spirit has formed inside of me. Maybe along with reaching for my bracelets and necklaces, she will look to my spirit of compassion or peacemaking or patience to don on herself.  


Although she does not have a perfect mom, she has a mom who loves Jesus and has tried to clothe herself in the fruits of the Spirit regularly. Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”  Maybe you hope this for your children, too. We all want them to take after our better attributes after all... 


May she also know she is prayed for daily. What a blessing to be able to give our children the safety net of prayer for all the big and little things in their lives.  Every morning, I reassure my kids that I have already prayed for them, or I pray aloud in the car as we drive.  The chance to make prayer and faith as accessible and easy as possible seems to me, the most authentic way to live out our relationship with God. Kids don’t know what they don’t see or talk about. And, if we can be anything, we need to be intentional in our faith-building.


Moms, we need to speak of Jesus on their level. We need to thank God on their level. Eventually, they will see that God meets them where they are, and will hear them when they pray, no matter what the issue or what their age may be.  They will get to know a personal God who loves them because you were the conduit of His love.



John Piper, American pastor and author, spoke of parenting in faith, and his words are so simple and profound (and, I adore all of his writing).



1) In general, bringing up children God’s way will lead them to eternal life. In general, that is true.

2)This reality would include putting our hope in God and praying earnestly for our wisdom and for their salvation all the way to the grave. Don’t just pray until they get converted at age 6. Pray all the way to the grave for your children’s conversions and for the perseverance of their apparent conversions.

3) Saturate them with the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

4) Be radically consistent and authentic in your own faith — not just in behavior, but in affections. Kids need to see how precious Jesus is to mom and dad, not just how he is obeyed or how they get to church or how they read devotions or how they do duty, duty, duty. They need to see the joy and the satisfaction in mom and dad’s heart that Jesus is the greatest friend in the world.

5) Model the preciousness of the gospel. As we parents confess our own sins and depend on grace, our kids will say, “Oh, you don’t have to be perfect. Mom and dad aren’t perfect. They love grace. They love the gospel because Jesus forgives their sins. And I will know then he can forgive my sins.”

6) Be part of a Bible-saturated, loving church. Kids need to be surrounded by other believers and not just mom and dad.

7) Require obedience. Do not be lazy. There are so many young parents today that appear so lazy. They are not willing to get up and do what needs to be done to bring this kid into line. So we should follow through on our punishments and follow through especially on all of our promises of good things that we say we are going to do for them.

8) God saves children out of failed and unbelieving parenting. God is sovereign. We aren’t the ones, finally, who save our kids. God saves kids and there would hardly be any Christians in the world if he didn’t save them out of failed families.

9) Rest in the sovereignty of God over your children. We cannot bear the weight of their eternity. That is God’s business and we must roll all of that onto him.



Being a mom is no easy task. Being a Mom who is a Christ-follower, is even harder. It takes intention. It takes devotion. But it doesn’t mean perfection. The key is to allow our little girls (and boys) to see a pursuit. 


May your children know the love of a mom with authentic faith, and the joy of the Lord. May they bless their own children someday with the same because of what you have modeled at home... I know my mom was that model for me. Thanks, Mom. ❤️


Happy Mother’s Day, all! πŸŒΈπŸŒ·

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Almost 40




In a few months from now, I will be rounding the corner to my 40’s. 


My 40’s! 


As I sit poised at the edge of 39, I am given some clarity and thoughts that might speak to you as well,  no matter your age.


I had a surgery yesterday, and as I recoup on the couch, I reflect on what my 30’s have brought me....two children, another dog, many sweet memories and triumphs with my husband & family, a few grade changes as a teacher, new friends, and discovery of some God-given gifts that are still unfolding. It also brought a plethora of gray hairs, extra pounds, stressful stages with toddlers, and life lessons.


Immersed in my reflection, a somber thought occurred to me as I recognized that every day, we die a little.... nobody wants to think of it that way, but if you and I were to compare a snapshot from 20 years ago to one taken today, our faces tell that same truth. Humanly speaking, we lose a little of our physical being daily! You might also attest to the fact that a surgery here or injury there proves our mortal status. All the face creams and vitamins in the world will not. stop. that. clock.


In lighter news, here is another zinger—— daily, I am renewed in Christ. 


Every day that I choose to spend time focused on Him, I am being made new.  The Bible reveals this truth in a few ways:


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 

2 Corinthians 5:17


“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2


He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30



Ladies & Gentlemen, if those verses don’t bring you hope, read them again and again! Stick one on your bathroom mirror. Write them in your journal. Tattoo one on your bicep.


God wants to make you new. God wants to use you for His purposes. Don’t be so impressed with what you see in the mirror ... for as time goes by, we all become less physically appealing. What will matter at the end of your days and mine is what God can glean from your life.  How did His love transform you to transform this world?


Listen, we will all arrive to the end a bit scarred, embattled, weakened, and aged. But by then, will you be able to say that your soul is lighter, mightier, stronger, faith-filled, and wiser? 


What a tragedy it would be to make it to a ripe, old age and never be renewed with the love of Jesus... to never choose to open God’s Word and be filled....to never know the love of a Savior... to never fully forgive someone.... to never step out in faith... to never utter a prayer to the only One who can answer... 


No pursuit of perfection, but pursuit of God.  Choosing His presence over all distractions. Choosing His ways over all of the solutions this world has to offer.  If you don’t know where to start, please ask me.


My goal is to walk a bit more closely with God each day.... by my life’s end, I hope to see His handprints all over my life. Not my wisdom, but His. Not my strength, but His. Not my plans, but His.


So for now, I will be gradually beginning to cover the grays, and getting back to physically working out my aging body after healing from this surgery.


And Though our physical beings will wear out, may our spiritual beings shine brighter than ever from one decade to the next... ❤️πŸ™ŒπŸ»



One of my favorite Casting Crowns songs perfectly sums up the brevity of this life and the God that holds us all:



I am a flower quickly fading

Here today and gone tomorrow

A wave tossed in the ocean

A vapor in the wind

Still You hear me when I'm calling

Lord, You catch me when I'm falling

And You've told me who I am...

I am Yours, I am Yours.




Sending much love to you all today! 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Crib

 



The crib pictured above has served as the sleeping quarters for two of the dearest souls on Earth. Soon, it won’t be needed any longer. Admittedly, we have kept our daughter there longer than we planned.


As emotional as it makes me to admit that babyhood is now in our past, I have made a certain peace with it (only slightly weepy as I type this).   For I do know, its passing has meant no more diapers or nightly wakings. My own body is certainly thankful we are “done.”


In some moments of clarity recently, I can surely say that most of life is passed in eras just like this. We bid goodbye to yesterday and step into a new tomorrow constantly. No matter if the crib is in your past, present, or future, you can still relate to the idea that in good times or hard times, no matter how long a season seems to endure, “this too shall pass.”


This too shall pass, or “TTSP” as I have heard it quoted, is a mantra worth holding onto these days.  For the tougher moments, it is a way to cope and see light ahead. 


Are your mornings rushed and hectic with the loading of kids and backpacks into the car?  If so, TTSP...


Has the pandemic stretched you so thin at work that you are a shell of yourself by the time you get home?  If so, TTSP...



For the sweeter times, it is a valid reminder to hold onto the present moment.


Does your little girl ask to paint your nails weekly? 

Does your son still enjoy a bedtime story?  

Are the kids still thrilled to run in the sprinkler?  To all of these, TTSP...


You and I both know that time marches on, no matter what stage we find ourselves. 


Let’s praise God for that.  I, personally, have to be careful not put myself in a cycle of mourning every time we approach a “last” in any given era.


God’s desire could not be stagnancy. One just needs to remember the swirling ocean currents, the moon phases, seasons, births, deaths, dawns , and dusks to know that His design is always of renewal. And in each phase, there is good and there is purpose—- even when it is painful.


Ecclesiastes 3 states it perfectly:


“Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. 


He sets the time for birth and the time for death, the time for planting and the time for pulling up, the time for killing and the time for healing, the time for tearing down and the time for building. 


He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing, the time for making love and the time for not making love, the time for kissing and the time for not kissing. 


He sets the time for finding and the time for losing, the time for saving and the time for throwing away, the time for tearing and the time for mending, the time for silence and the time for talk. 


He sets the time for love and the time for hate, the time for war and the time for peace.”

‭‭

And you know what these verses do for me? 


  • They bring to light that I am not the orchestrator of it all. What a relief!


  • Although each special moment with my family or work is valuable, it is not the BIG picture—- just like each difficult moment with my family or work is taxing, it is not the BIG picture. Again, what a relief!


The truth is: the difficulties and joys of every era can and should bring us closer to the Creator of our days.  Wherever you find yourself today, I pray the hope of a loving God holds you, and His presence ushers you into whatever is next.


The challenge in every new day, and eventual era, is to accept it ALL with the help of God.  To faithfully invite Him into it, and with all you have, avoid the distractions that lead us into the holding too closely to the things of this world.


Bring on the big girl bed. ☺️


 


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Humble But Revolutionary




These are dark times for us, for the world. It is much safer to come home and shut the garage door and turn on the TV. It is much easier to make merry with your immediate family and forget the world at large right now. Admittedly, our little family has been really playing it safe with COVID looming so broadly in our local area. 


Here, 2 weeks away from Christmas, the darkness is closing in as we see this virus ramp up in a way that it hasn’t yet. We know hope is coming in the form of a vaccine—- praise God! But in the meantime, I can’t help but think of how the timing of Christmas can and should impact our storyline right now.  


I have once heard it said that the Bible is really an account of evidence of God’s relentless love for the world.  His constant desire to reach out and love us stands true through Genesis to Matthew- where it peaks in a humble, but revolutionary way when Jesus, Immanuel, is born. I love that Immanuel means, “God Is With Us.” And if we ever needed to know that God was with us, well- it is now, December of 2020. 


As a follower of this Jesus, this Savior, I know that we have a part to play in God’s plan of love in the darkest of places. Also in a humble, but revolutionary way, we can be the light of Christ. We have a social responsibility to love others and point them to the Savior. 


One prayer that I pray often is that, “Others would know Jesus, because they know me.”


Several years back, my husband and I knew a man who frequented our favorite restaurant on Friday evenings as we did (before children). He was friendly as could be and in months, we came to enjoy seeing him weekly as we had our dinners next to each other. Eventually, the holidays were upon us, and it dawned on me to get him some gourmet salsa and lay it on his doorstep as a means of wishing him a Merry Christmas. You know that almost 10 years later, when we see him, only occasionally these days, he STILL thanks us for it?  I mention this because that simple act of placing a $5.99 jar of salsa on his porch, was evidence of a love of our Creator...not of my invention but of God’s loving inspiration.


If each believer saw him or herself as a conduit of God’s love in tangible, meaningful ways, our darkness would be a little less dark this December. 


Any humble kindness can be revolutionary for someone right now.


Your ability to love others is not limited by the current situation, your wallet, or your inability to fly to a third-world country and build shelters right now.  Likewise, your ability to love others only depends on your availability and willingness to do so to anyone who might need it. We are all in need of it.


Just as a crude stable in small rural town burst forth with the love of our Creator that first Christmas night, a bag or note you thoughtfully place on a doorstep could show that very same relentless love to a dark and depressed world. 


For those of us who do proclaim to love Jesus, here are some piercing questions:


Do others know His love because of you?


Has the love of Jesus made a difference in your life?


Who is in need of a humble, but revolutionary porch drop-off ?


We were recently the recipients of many such porch drop-offs and I can tell you that when you are down and out, and your work buddy sends hot chocolate or your neighbors surprise you with donuts or your sister sets down a whole turkey dinner on your steps, you are fulfilled and valued and held in a love that ties us all together. 


What a beautiful thing.  I believe this is what God hopes we will do! John 13:35 states, “If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.”  


And love isn’t at its best unless those good intentions are put into action.


In these difficult times, at this very sacred time of year, I hope you get to safely and genuinely share the love and light of our good God. It’s not about the salsa, it is about the hope you ignite to brighten this darkest of Decembers.


πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„Merriest Christmas to my friends. May others know Jesus because they know you & me. πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

‭‭

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Thief





In hours, I am embarking, once again, on my self-imposed tradition of Facebook fasting for the month of November. (Albeit, I am not trekking the tundras of Alaska or anything.) But— it is a break from the swiping and scrolling- to be replaced by more purposeful, reflective use of my time. 


You know, this year, more than any other years before, I am hesitant. I realize how dependent I have come to be on this site. Almost shocked at my hesitation, I followed my thoughts long enough to lead me on a rabbit trail to conclude that  I have become just as reliant on Amazon, Yahoo, Zulily, and Walmart.com.   


Then, I quickly surmised it was not so much these sites as it is my phone... the thief in my world these days.


It has been a gradual process, but I can say that it has increasingly stolen time, joy, money, rest, and even relationships.  You see, I am not one who has my phone near me at all times. In fact, my husband has joked, “If I am in a car crash, you are not my first call.” Yes, true. Do not call me if you are in a fiery car wreck. I probably won’t answer right away.


But, in my still, alone moments- my phone is RIGHT there, and you bet, I am swiping, commenting, and posting. It’s when bedtime is upon me, and kids are tucked in, I browse a site for hours—- just searching, clicking, adding to a cart here, or reading a headline there. I lose myself, and more importantly, my rest. Just like when I settle in the tub for 15 minutes and I start scrolling, in essence- I have lost my bath.


We are all on limited time, here and if we aren’t careful of how we use our time, chances are, we are wasting it. 


I am the crusader of tech control in our house. Trying to be as mindful as possible about when and what our kids consume, it turns out that I am the one who needs some control.  Also adding, I am a click-happy fool at those ads on my feed. I can go from sending condolences for someone’s departed dog to finding a steal on kids sneakers in no time flat. Is this rapid, domino-effect clicking  quarantine -induced?



Now really— you all don’t need to know every detail of my day or even week, and frankly, vise-versa. I love my friends dearly, and all of their highlight reels, but even more so I love to feel rested in my body, rejuvenated in my soul, creative in my mind, and purposeful in my life. 


So tonight, I remove the power of the thief by signing off from Facebook (and maybe a few others) until December. It is trivial to some of you but it is necessary to me. 


Purposeful isn’t easy.

Purposeful isn’t convenient.

But, purposeful means I am closer to purpose-filled.


My greatest purposes on Earth are to be a loving wife, devoted mother, inspiring teacher, and encourager to others....all without my phone attached.


In November, I hope to gain more Biblical insight, a few more conversations & memories, a bit more letter-writing and rest for this leg in my journey.   


May my break spur you on in a helpful way. (Hebrews 10:24)



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

‭‭                                                        Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬



Photo by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Weary

Of all the months of 2020, July has left me the most weary


I am one broken mom. I am waving my white flag.


As we are here in the full swing of August, I feel bummed that summer fun is coming to a close, burdened with the thought of physically returning to the classroom, and equally disturbed at the thought of online schooling again. 


Very honestly speaking here—- I have mostly good days until they turn quickly into a bad day... moments alone are rare, and my children have developed radar that when I am not in the room, the fastest way to get me back is hurling insults or toys at each other.  


Even starting out at 7 am, some mornings feel—- well, hopeless. The ruminating, cyclical thoughts begin, and I can’t seem to lift my chin enough to stay above the waves.  Then there is laundry, the dishes, meal-planning, etc...


You know it’s going to be a hard day when the volume of the sneezes of your son aggravate you. Am I alone in this? Every. Little. Thing. Bugs. Me.



Really- March, April, May, and June were occasionally peppered with mild mood swings like this...but by late July, man- I hit my limit.  It is like I am an overpowered, filled-to-overflowing fire hydrant ready to blow- many times over in a day....I usually don’t blow until evening and then, it’s all over.


When my husband sees that I am face-down on the playroom rug, he knows my mental state and tries his hardest to create a force field around me by wrangling the kids to another room.


I sit here thinking of the tears of my toddler last night as she was sobbing over her early bath and bedtime. I knew we would all be better for it if she just laid down....I should also mention that she had foregone a nap yesterday as it seemed she could handle herself rather well in the afternoon. WRONG.


It is in these times that I realize- this exhaustion, this stamina, this creating-something-to-do-because-we-have-seen-too-much-YouTube is without parallel. I love being home. I want my kids to love being home. I just didn’t realize it would cripple my moods some days.  


After I slept last night, and came downstairs early for some quiet reading time, I have clarity. 


First, I am human. My kids need to see my limits. My own mother, I still believe, is superhuman. I can count on one hand the number of times she laid on the couch in the middle of the day between the years of 1981 to 2000.  Nevertheless, I have faults, bad moods, and am at a loss for activities sometimes.


Secondly, one of my greatest desires is for my kids to see Jesus in me. Life-changing, real, and powerful as He is, I want them to see it first hand, with a mom who doesn’t allow her joy and peace to be stolen by the ebb & flow of our days.  


Let me combine these two points of clarity, 


“I am human and the spirit of Jesus lives in me.” 



This statement allows room for me to make mistakes but return to the only hope of this life. It helps me to gracefully move on from the previous rotten five minutes to the next all with the reminder that God is as present as I allow Him to be.


I have said it before——— we are elusive, He is not. 


We are over scheduled, scattered, and moody, but He is not.  


Today, I choose to practice the presence of God. Lord, help me to choose it again tomorrow, and the next day and the next.


And if I have changed anyone in this world for the better in knowing Jesus, then I hope it is my own two children... may they see Him in me today and every day of my life.


I am leaving you with a prayer that I had saved on my tablet. Not sure where it is from, but I came across it around Christmas time last year, and refer to it every now and again:



Dear God,

Help us to focus on you today, remembering that the gift of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, is our most treasured gift for the whole year through. Fill us with your joy and the peace of your Spirit. Direct our hearts and minds towards you. Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you’re still with us. You never leave us. Thank you for the power of your daily Presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to our prayers. Thank you that you surround us with favor as with a shield, and we are safe in your care. We choose to press in close to you today…our Lord, our Refuge and Strength.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The “What-If’s” of 3 a.m.




It is going to be a long day ahead... as it was quite a long night last night. 

Ugh. The human mind at 3 am is something, isn’t it? 

How is it that lying in bed skews all your good judgement? It moves my mind in leaps and bounds to the worst possible story ending before hopping over to another equally awful scenario.

It is like the dark, quiet bedroom in which I typically find solace and 8 hours peaceful sleep becomes the dank dungeon of heavy thinking that cannot be escaped.  Thankfully, this happens only occasionally- but last night was one of those occasions. (And, honestly, why doesn’t this ever seem to happen to my husband?)

There I was last night, though, eyes open, thoughts racing and coming up with the scariest possible conclusions for all my darkest fears.... the same thoughts that could float right on by me at 3 pm came rushing in at 3 am bombarding me like a freight train to the point that I get up and come down to the living room for a change of scenery. Thankfully—— the change always helps, but doesn’t always guarantee a quick return to slumber. 

But there is Someone— my Sovereign God—-who always returns me to peace, and usually some sleep... not sure why I don’t resort to Him in the first place when I can’t find the rest I need.

It seems after I have myself a decent wrestling match with my tumultuous thoughts, my mind begins searching the card catalogue of my memory for verses to comfort my weary, sleepy head.  I hope you can find some comfort in the ones that brought me right back to the land of reasonable thinking last night.


  • This one is a biggie for me lately—- it seems to immediately restore a sense of control over my being because I know fear is not from the Lord.


       For God does not gives us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and 
                                self control.” 2 Timothy 1:7


  • Also, Romans 8:28 was a memory verse for me long time ago, and the word “ALL” makes the difference for me... 


      “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him,        those whom he has called according to his purpose.” Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭

This helps me understand that life, in all its twists and turns, is not perfect, but God is in the details, and as long as I walk with Him, he is working it all out for good.

  • And lastly, in Matthew, Jesus talks to his disciples about God providing for their needs- and here in 2020, I have to say the words are like honey to me...it is just solid advice for the person whose mind is forever fixed on tomorrow.


      “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34
‭     


And so, I ask of you, what verses do you bring to mind during a late-night, eyes-wide-open session?  What promises of God feather your pillow and and anchor your soul? I would love to write them down for memorization and future reference.  Feel free to share yours on my Facebook post or right here below.


Also hoping that today brings a little revitalization and possibly, a napπŸ₯± May God bless you today, friends!