Monday, May 12, 2014

Motherhood: When NO ONE else Gets It

Some days on this beautiful journey of motherhood I feel like I am all alone. No, I am not a single mom (but shout out to any single mom’s out there cause you all are AMAZING!). And, yes, I have a great support system- a husband, family, friends, etc… BUT some days I feel like no one really gets it. Like no one understands…NO ONE!

My husband who has the biggest glimpse into this job and shares the task of parenthood with me… some days, it feels like he doesn't get it.

My siblings who get to be the “fun” aunts and uncles, but have no babies of their own… most days, they definitely don’t get it J.

My friends, who haven’t yet had babies, but sometimes try to offer wise advice…. don’t get it.

Even my fellow moms out there who may be experiencing the exact same thing I am… some days it feels as though they don’t understand either.

Sometimes I feel like no one could possibly get it. No one could possibly understand this roller coaster ride that is motherhood. The beauty and discouragement. Joy and sadness. Love and sacrifice. And, sometimes just the pure exhaustion.

I was reminded of this during the weekend as my family went on a little over night trip and my younger sister tagged along. After being with our family in a hotel room for less than 24 hours she bluntly stated, “You are an angel, I don’t know how you deal with these kids.” I couldn't help but chuckle. Angel? Probably not. But when my baby was crying his eyes out on our short little road trip, I was there to fix a bottle, sing a lullaby, and gently put my arm around him the best I could until he finally gave up and drifted into sleep. When my toddler was tired, and fell down, and her legs were “broken” I was there to pick her up and carry her even though truth be known I was tired too. When it was time to shop and have fun but my children were done for the day, and clearly not excited to do any shopping, I was the one who chose to call it quits, without making the purchases I wanted, because it was just too much. When it was bedtime and the baby was again screaming his sweet little head off, I held him, and cuddled him, and rocked him until he was peacefully asleep. And then when he woke up at 1, and at 3, and at 5, I was there to wake up from my own sleep and do what was needed to comfort him. And, when my toddler woke up some time in between there because of a bad dream, I was up then too. When they both decided that although it was vacation and we had nowhere to be, 6am was the time to be awake, I was the one who woke up with them, while the others were snoozing. I fixed their plates, and got them dressed, and dealt with their fits, and their messes.

I say all of this not to say that I am awesome. And, there are others who did many things for my kids as well. I’m sure my husband could come up with a long list too. But this is the life of a mom, is it not? My sister got a 1 day glimpse into what many of my days are like, but she still doesn't really get it.

I am so glad that my Father in Heaven sees my heart. He sees what I do each day, every day, when no one else is looking. He sees the 1 am wake up, and then the 3 am, and the 5 am. He knows the times I would rather sleep in but instead I’m awake. And, the times I want to go shopping, or read a book, or watch my tv show, or eat my dinner while it’s warm but instead I am rocking babies, or giving discipline, or reading children’s books, or fixing plates that are not my own.

On those days when it feels like NO ONE could possibly get it, I know He gets it. I know my Heavenly Father understands. Because He doesn’t just see a glimpse, He sees it all, he knows it all. He gets it.

My friends, I LOVE my babies, and I LOVE being a mommy. It is truly one of the biggest blessings in my life. But, there are still those days. I’m sure you have experienced them too. So, on those days, rather than complain or feel sorry for yourself, I encourage you to go to your Heavenly Father. Talk to Him. Seek rest from Him. And, let Him work on your heart. Because when it feels like NO ONE understands, He does. 

Psalm 139:1-4 
"You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Defining Yourself Daily: Who Are You?

In the short time we have been in the month of May I have spent lots of time reflecting on life. As I have watched my baby sister graduate high school and celebrated my brother graduating college, we have sorted through child hood photos and talked about lots of memories. Today marks my birthday, so again I find myself reflecting, thinking about life. 

As I have gotten older I think I have finally come to realize that THIS IS MY LIFE. What I’m doing today, what I do tomorrow, it is who I am.

As a follower of Christ, ultimately I realize that my identity is in Jesus Christ, and I am so grateful for that. But, the reality is that to the world around me I am defined by my actions. The choices I make, the actions I take, the words I say or don’t say, even the things I post on social media- these things all show the world who I am.

At the end of my life, hopefully I will be known to the world above all else as a follower of Christ, but are my actions proving that to be true?

Will I be remembered for the help I gave others? OR will I be remembered for being too selfish and busy to help?

Will I be remembered for the acts of kindness shown? OR for making a choice to be unkind?

Will I be remembered as an encourager, someone who spoke life into others? OR as someone who demoralized and tore down others because of my own insecurities?

Will people know that I lived out love to all those around me? OR will people see someone who was too self-centered to TRULY love?

Scripture tells us that the words we speak and I would tend to believe the actions we take are a direct result of what is happening in our hearts. Friends, none of us are perfect so, this is not a call to guilt. BUT this is a reminder for us all!

For as long as I can remember, my mom’s farewell statement has been, “Remember who you are.” I would take this idea even a little farther today and ask you to not only remember who you are, but to live like who you are. Live today as the person you want to be remembered as. Live today like the Child of God that you are. Live out Christ’s love to the world around you. When you are tempted to say that negative comment, or take that selfish action today, REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE and DON’T DO IT. When you fall down, or fall short today, REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE and seek forgiveness, pick yourself up, and move forward.

It’s a new day, who will you be?!

Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Monday, May 5, 2014

Motherhood: Understanding A Mother's Heart

I think there is something about becoming a mom yourself that makes you view motherhood a little differently, wouldn’t you agree?

All the sudden you become more aware. You become more understanding. You in some small way begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

As a mom, you come to the awakening where you understand how your actions, your choices, your words, and ultimately your life has affected the heart of a mother, of YOUR mother. You now understand the times that you must have unknowingly broke her heart. The times that she surely locked herself away to shed a few tears in the secret. The times you brought stress, or fear, or chaos into her life.

And you also understand the beauty. You now know what it feels like to give life to a person. To invest all that you are into another. You see for yourself the joy, the heartwarming and proud moments that come with raising a child.

As a mother you slowly begin to understand the mass amount of vulnerability it requires to have so much of your heart, and your life, and your time invested into a person, a person who one day will grow up and become their own person.

I have watched my mom over the last several years as one by one the babies that she raised have graduated high school, moved away, started families of their own, finished college, and ultimately became adults. One by one our lives have moved forward and time has quickly passed.  Just this weekend, I watched the joy and the sadness in her eyes as she looked on while her final baby walked across that graduation stage. The happiness and pride that comes with such an accomplishment, but then the heart wrenching feeling that must accompany….

I, in only a very small way understand more than I did before.

Today is a tribute to my mom and to your mom. It’s a little shout out to those women who have already walked in the shoes we moms are currently walking. And, now, now we FINALLY begin to get it.
Thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you for giving, and giving, and giving. Thank you for the days you wanted to just give up on us, but you didn't. Thank you for the love only a mother can give. Thank you for letting us grow up, and become adults, and make decisions, even when we were breaking your heart. AND thank you for a million other little things that I never even knew you did before, but now I do.

I love you mom!
My mom holding her grandbabies

Celebrating the HS graduation of baby sister, Emily, and college graduation of brother, Caleb.

Proverbs 31:10 & 28 “A woman of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies…Her children rise up and call her blessed…”

Friday, May 2, 2014

To My Fellow Christians: STOP Being SO "Churchy"!

If you are a fellow Christian, this is for you.

If you are a part of the church, this title may have grabbed your attention. I SINCERELY hope it did. First, let me start by saying I almost hate using this title because I am fully aware that Scripture has much to say about the church. I understand that the Lord Himself is the one who ordained the church and through His word has shown us the great importance of the church. The church is vital to the spreading of the Gospel in our world today.

I LOVE the church. I love my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, and I love my local church home. I attend church regularly. I’m involved in the ministry of the church. I. Love. The. Church.
Now that I got that out there, let me explain.

Recently, I had an encounter with a nice couple and their children at the park. I was enjoying day of playing with my kiddos and they happened to have kids similar in age. Our kids were playing together and so in the polite manner we adults began to exchange conversation as well. “Do you live in this area?” The man politely asked. I answered his simple question and then said, “what about you guys?” He responded and followed up his answer with “I’m the pastor of thus and such church here in town.” I replied telling him that I knew of the church he was talking about and mentioned that my dad too is a pastor.

“So, what denomination are you?” he asked. This question seemed to rub me the wrong way but I politely responded anyways…And then it happened…. With the next question from his lips I suddenly felt like I had been smacked in the face with a “churchy” 2X4. To be honest, I was almost appalled. I wasn’t even quite sure how to respond.

He didn’t ask me about my relationship with Christ. He didn’t ask me if I personally attended church. He didn’t even ask me what I believe. He said, “So, what type of baptism do you guys believe in, do you pour? Sprinkle? Or do you guys believe in submersion?”…….. In my head I was thinking “REALLY!?!? What the heck difference does that make?”….. Instead I smiled and simply said, “You know it really doesn’t matter to us. Some of us have preferences, but at the end of the day the only thing we care about is that someone’s life has been changes for and because of Jesus Christ.”……

That day I left the park with turmoil in my heart. I was SO annoyed, and I wasn’t even sure why. And then, I remembered….I remembered why those simple questions would bother me so deeply.  I was SO annoyed because I have been around “churchy” people my entire life. I have been around people who cared more about me wearing the proper church attire Sunday morning than they cared about what was going on in my heart. I have been around people who were passionate about the type of baptism that must be practiced and the denominational title that must be shown, but seemed to lack passion about the things that REALLY matter. I’ve experienced people who cared more about my “churchy” face that I put on to show up Sunday morning than the real life stuff that was happening in me the rest of the week. People who could talk about traditions, and religion, and the church carpet color all stinkin’ day….. And you know what, when eternity comes NONE OF THAT STUFF MATTERS.

In my heart I was so thankful he had asked that question to ME, a pastor’s kid who is walking with the Lord and does have a positive view of the church. I thought, what if he had asked that question to someone who already had a negative view of the church and it’s “churchy” people? What if he would have asked that question to someone who didn’t even know Jesus Christ for themselves?

Here’s the thing. Many of the “churchy” people I have interacted with, I know their intentions were good. That pastor at the park, I KNOW his heart was in the right place. WHY? Because he, his wife, and kids continued to interact with us throughout the day. They were joyful and kind. They helped me lift my kiddo into the swing. They let my kids pet their dog. It was obvious they loved people. Their hearts were good. They love the Lord.

AND you know what, I’m sure I’m guilty of doing the same type of thing a time or two.
SO, this message is for me, and this message is for you. It’s not a message to stop talking about the Gospel, or to stop being passionate about the church. But this is the message:

Stop going out into the world and asking “churchy” questions! STOP asking questions that have NO affect on the eternity of that person’s soul. STOP asking them things that are meaningless, and empty, and “religious”. STOP! I’m sincerely begging you. Because I as a believer and part of the church was really turned off to the church by those seemingly religious questions, and I have to believe the same would be true for those who aren’t a part of the church, who don’t know Jesus Christ.

Go out into the world and love people, get to know them, ask them what they believe in, and share with them what you believe! Share with them the love of Jesus Christ todayJ, not the method of church baptism that you prefer….

John 14:6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Motherhood: Putting On The Oxygen Mask

Likely you’ve heard the speech that is given aboard every air plane that ever takes off. Your flight attendant in the midst of giving directions about turning off electronics, bathroom locations, and emergency exits throws in the following:

In case there is a loss in cabin pressure, yellow oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling compartment located above you. To secure, pull the mask towards you, secure the elastic strap to your head, and fasten it so it covers your mouth and nose. Breath normally. Even if the bag does not inflate, please keep in mind that oxygen is flowing. Please make sure to secure your own mask before assisting others

That final little sentence is the one that relates all too well to motherhood. “…MAKE SURE to secure your own [oxygen] mask before assisting others.” In other words, if you try to help everyone else before you take care of yourself you’re probably going to pass out and be useless anyways, SO breathe your oxygen first so that you can be the help to others that you need to be.

How often do we as moms forget to stop and put on our own oxygen mask? How often do we forget to stop and breathe for ourselves?

I don’t know if it’s the idea that we are afraid to ask for help, we feel like we don’t deserve it, or we fear becoming the opposite type of mom who never has time for her kids because she is always taking care of herself, but it needs to stop. Just like we as humans desperately need oxygen, we as moms also desperately need something. We need to fill ourselves. We need time to be refreshed. We need that opportunity to stop and breathe in the oxygen.

The truth is many of us are running on empty. We give and give, and help and help, and work, and work, and on it goes. But, eventually we run out of oxygen, and rather than truly being a help, truly being the mom that we desire to be, we eventually start to suffocate!

So, today I challenge you as a mom to start filling yourself first, so that you can truly be the blessing and help to others that you desire to be.

This will look different for every person. For me, an essential act of taking care of myself first is spending some time with my Savior each day. He is the one who refreshes my heart. He is the one who gives me rest. And, He can continue to fill you throughout the day through other things that give you joy. For me, sometimes it’s as simple as a piece of chocolate and a good book while my kids are napping, maybe it’s a kid free night out with friends, maybe it’s a short stop as your favorite coffee shop, a workout, or even a trip to the grocery store by yourself.

Figure out what fills you, what gives you joy and refreshes your heart… and then breathe it in. Breathe it in on a regular basis, so that in turn you can give life, and joy, and refreshment to those around you!

Jeremiah 31:25 “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Journey:Holding on For Dear Life

My friend, Aren't you SO glad that the good Lord above is in control of this Journey that we are on? Aren't you thankful that through the ups and downs of this crazy thing called life, ultimately God’s plan is at work? Ultimately amidst the plans we make and the paths we take, His hand is up above us, working in us and through us.

Today, I am so beyond thankful that I can hold onto this truth. I am so beyond thankful that when my life does not seem to make sense, I can look above to my Father who already knows the whats and whens and whys. Today, when I begin to feel stress because my plans did not work as I thought they should, or would, I know that I can instead say “thank you Lord” because His plan is still at work and is always better than my own. And, when my heart is heavy from the weight of my unfulfilled expectations, or when I feel like I have been beat up or knocked down one too many times to possibly get up again, I lean on my Father because He is my strength and my helper.

The term “journey” is described as an act of traveling from one place to another. I suppose that is true of life, but I think we may be better to describe this life that we live as an epic roller coaster. I don’t know about you, but I happen to be a fan myself. The thrill. The excitement. The fear. The sick feeling in my stomach. The joy. The ups and downs. The shock. And then the relief. This is how I have found life to be many times.
I recently took a detour in the plans I had made for myself at this point in my life. What I thought was going to be, just wasn't. And in the midst of the prayer, and the decision making, and the “now what” it often felt like the up and down, and thrill, and fear, and joy, and excitement all at once.

But, here’s what I know, & as I wait, I remember, the Lord is in control. HE is the one who sees the BIG picture of my life when I only see a tiny glimpse. He is the one who understands how my life, my actions, my roller coaster ride not only affects me, but affects other’s around me. I take comfort in knowing that it’s OK for me to NOT know the “what next”, because my God knows. His plan is always the BEST plan.
So today, as you are coasting along through life and you meet an unexpected “turn you upside down” loop or a quick drop in the path that leaves your stomach in your throat, know that God has a plan. This journey is not your own. Let Him be in control and hang on for dear life (actually, just throw those hands on up in the air J). Enjoy the ride my friend!

Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guarding Your Heart: Why Should You?

Let me start out by saying, I understand. I KNOW! What I’m about to say is old fashioned in the least, possibly pre-historic. It’s a concept that is mostly unheard of in today’s society. I GET IT… It’s not easy doing the thing that NO ONE else seems to be doing.

I understand that to some this concept will sound ridiculous, extreme. That’s OK. But, will you allow me to share with you from my own experience? From my heart? From the truth that I have encountered?

When I was in middle school and high school I never really dated. My parents had rules that to most seemed pretty “strict” regarding the world of dating. If I remember correctly the rule was NO dating until you are at least 16 and at that point it was still very STONGLY discouraged. In a society where we encourage are children to have a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” in kindergarten and most kids start “dating” before they even know what dating is, this seemed a bit crazy. Of course I had the middle school boyfriend because they couldn’t really keep that from happening, but outside of school, my parents never went out of their way to allow us to hang out together, even when all the other parents were. At the time, it didn’t seem fair, BUT now as an adult, you know what? I’m THANKFUL. They were guarding my heart.

And then, I can remember when I started dating my first “real boyfriend”. I was 17 and getting ready to leave for college at the end of that summer. He was handsome, older, and more experienced. O, yeah, and now he happens to be my husband ;). He still teases me to this day about my twice a weak rule. When we first started dating, I told him that I was only able to see him twice a week. We joke about it now, but looking back, I’m glad I did that, you know why? I was guarding my heart.

As we got more serious in our relationship, we set boundaries. Boundaries that to most were unheard of, especially for 2 adult people who were “in love”. We made the choice to wait to have sex until we were married, and set other boundaries regarding physical contact. It was not the popular decision. It was not what most of the people around us were doing. In fact, a lot of our friends did not believe that we would actually follow through with our boundaries. BUT, looking back, I am so glad we set them. You know why? We were both guarding our hearts.

I know this is a concept that you don’t hear much about, but CAN I BEG YOU? I beg you to start now. Start guarding your heart. Don’t pour out your heart and all your secrets to some boy you just started talking to… Don’t spend all your time and energy trying to impress a boy that you barely know…. Know that it’s OK to not date, to NOT hold hands, to NOT kiss, and ultimately, to NOT have sex. The boundaries will look different for everyone. BUT what boundaries could you put in play to start guarding your heart today?

As I look around at my friends who made the choice not to guard their hearts, I see hurt. I watched them search for love, for acceptance, for their identity in a relationship. And, some of them never found it….

Ask the Lord to guide you as you set boundaries to guard your heart and allow HIM to be the keeper of your heart today!

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows the springs of life.”