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.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Motherhood: 9 Tips on Intentionally Being With Your Kids Each Day

Rather you are a working mom or a stay at home mom, no doubt your schedule is busy, and your to do list is never complete. As a mom we are expected to wear lots of different hats! For me there have been times when I have been so wrapped up in my to do list- laundry, cleaning, dinner, bath time, other activities and functions- that I get to the end of the day and realize although I was with my kids ALL day, I wasn't REALLY WITH THEM. I hadn't taken the time to be with them. Sure, I filled a sippy cup in between tasks, I hurried them to nap time so that I could accomplish a few more things, but I hadn't been intentional in my time with them.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a mom who is really with my kids each day. I am still learning, but here are a few tips I have found very helpful in order to keep the balance in my household while still having intentional time with my children.

#1 Have an approximate schedule for the day.
As moms, we all know that a lot of time schedules get thrown out the window, so I am not saying have every minute of your day scheduled. But, have an idea in your head of what you would like to see your day look like. For example, I know that around 7:00 I’m going to spend about 45 minutes getting drinks and breakfast, watching cartoons, and giving my babies morning cuddles; around 10:00 I’m going to spend a few minutes doing an activity with my kids followed by a snack; around 11:00 I’m going to work with my kids to get the play area picked up before lunch…. Etc. There are days when a teething baby throws the whole routine off, and that’s fine, but in general this has been great for our routine.

#2 Have intentional conversations with your kids throughout the day (even the ones that can’t really talk).
I have been intentional about this one. I choose not to just shrug off my 3 year old who could talk non-stop all day long, instead I ask her questions. At the beginning of the day it may go something like this: How did you sleep? Did you have any dreams? What do you want to do today? Did you have fun yesterday? What did you do? At the end of the day it may look like this: Did you have a good day? What was your favorite part of today? Why?

If she has a story to tell, I ask for details. I engage her. I want her to know I’m listening.

#3 Enlist them in helping with whatever you are doing.
This is something you can start doing with your kids when they are still very young. Have them help you pick up the living room. As they get older let them help you unload the dishwasher, wash dishes, sweep the floor, make lunch, etc. Sometime it does feel like extra work to have them alongside of you, but it keeps them occupied, teaches them the importance of helping, and allows them to feel like a part of your day.

#5 Take intentional breaks throughout the day to do specific activities with your kids.
After I have completed one task and am ready to move onto the next I often times stop and intentionally do something with my kids. Maybe it’s going outside to swing, blow bubbles, create with sidewalk chalk? Maybe, it’s reading some books, having a tea party, building a block tower, or doing a craft?
They really feel special when you stop and focus solely on them for a few minutes.

#6 Put your phone away for a while.
I have had to learn throughout the day to put my cell phone on silent and put it up, especially during those times of focused activity with my kids. Simple idea, but such a big impact.

#7 Set a timer for different activities throughout the day.
This is useful both for your own personal to do list AND for your activity time with your kids. In order to keep a good balance throughout the day I find setting a timer for things SO helpful. I’ll clean for 30 minutes, and then spend an intentional 30 minutes with my kids. Do laundry for 15 minutes, then stop and spend 10 minutes reading a book to my kids. This will look different for every mom, but has allowed me to take control of my time without feeling extra stress.

#8 Have intentional eye contact time with your kids each day.
With little ones, tickle time is a great way to look them right in the eyes, tell them you love them, laugh with them a little, and then you both feel better moving on to whatever is next in your day. With older children this will look different but intentionally having “eye to eye” time each day does something to show your children your unconditional love.

#9 Have a day all about them.
Every once in a while it is great to throw the to do list out and just BE with your kids ALL DAY LONG. Don’t worry about the pile of dishes or laundry, just intentionally be with them. They will surely appreciate it!

I hope you find these ideas helpful! What intentional parenting tips would you add to the list?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday: What's All the Fuss About?

Today is Good Friday, a day that I’m sure hundreds of others are writing about. This is the day that we remember the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made by dying upon the cross, and ultimately taking our punishment so that we can be saved, freed, redeemed.

There are many things I could write about regarding this day, but if I could only tell you one detail, this is what I would want you to know: He died for you.

Yes….YOU. If you are reading this, He died for you. It really does not matter if you have chosen to believe or not to, if you have chosen to accept His sacrifice or not, He still died for you.

For you, the one who thinks this God thing is a bunch of bunk, He died for you.

For you, the one who walked away from the “religious” scene long ago, never to return, He died for you
For you, the one who feels distant from God today, He died for you.

For the one who is the first to say “God Bless America” or believe that Heaven is where you’ll be spending eternity, but this whole personal relationship/Jesus Christ thing isn't really you, He died for you.

For the one who feels like they have sinned too many times, or messed up too badly, He died for you.

And, to you, the one who thinks the Bible, the story of this day is nothing but a dreamt up fairy tale, He died for you too.

Today, whoever you are, it doesn’t matter, HE DIED FOR YOU.

He gave His life in place of yours. All you have to do is accept that and know that it’s enough. You don’t have to be the best, or follow all the rules, or know the Bible frontward and backward. He meets you right where you’re at. He gave His life for you. He loves you. And, ultimately, He died for you!

Romans 3:22-24 “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Holding My Tongue: The Three Words That Slipped Out

I’m almost embarrassed to tell you this story. Really, I don’t want to. But, God continues to bring it back to my mind as an important lesson so I suppose I will share it with you.

It had been a long day, dealing with needy babies, cooking and cleaning, and working on getting the house and yard ready for summer time. I was tired. I hadn't had the time to spend with my Lord that day, which always affects my heart and therefore my attitude negatively. So, I have about a million excuses for my actions, but none of them make it OK.

As I was working alongside my husband outside, I started a discussion. It was on a topic that I knew was a hot button for us. We have had the same argument MANY times. We both are aware that we 100% disagree on this topic. And, yet, I still for some strange reason feel that maybe if I bring the topic up enough times, or discuss it with enough passion or conviction I will change his mind. Anyways, as the discussion ensued it began, AS ALWAYS, to get heated. As I spoke with what I thought was sound reasoning, my husband continued to laugh me off and disagree.
So, there I was, annoyed, frustrated, tired, upset…. And that’s when it happened… Just like that I felt the words coming up like verbal vomit that I could not stop… “I hate you” with an added “right now” at the end to take a little bit of the permanent sting off. Yikes. As soon as I said it I felt remorse. I felt conviction. I knew I was in the wrong. But, as we learn in elementary school, just like squirting out the tube of toothpaste, those words could not be taken back.

I spent some time alone and asked the Lord to work on my heart. And, as always, He did. I apologized to my husband for saying those words and made a great argument for why they were absolutely not true but just seemed to slip out in the heat of the moment. He forgave me, like he always does. And, just like that we moved on with life.

A day or two went by and I thought my lesson regarding this mistake was over, but God was not done teaching me. Riley (my 2 year old daughter) and I had been playing, but it was time to pick up the living room and get ready for nap time. This really isn't a favorite part of the day for Riley and she insisted that instead of picking up we should have a tea party. A tea party sounded pretty good to me but I knew I needed to stick to my guns and have her help me pick up. And there it was again…. “Mom, I hate you”….She said it. My 2 year old just said that she hates me. Where could she have possibly heard that?!? O yeah, I remember....She heard it from me.

Ug, my heart dropped in my chest. I knew at that moment that I also had to apologize to my child for using that 3 word phrase. So, I did. And, I also shared with her why it was not OK.

I learned a REALLY important lesson that day. Someone is listening to what I say, even if I don’t realize it. What I say, what I do- it matters. It has an effect on others. As a mom, there are always little ears listening, but in general, even if you aren't a mom, know that your words have an impact on people.

Today, be aware of what you are saying. Speak life. Speak hope. Speak joy to others. If you find yourself in my shoes, allow God to work on your heart. Don’t be too prideful to say that you’re sorry. And then, give thanks for a God who never stops forgiving!

Ephesians 4:29 “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.”

Daniel 9:9 “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.”

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Motherhood: When It Feels Like Surely There Is More For Me

Again, I am going to be REALLY honest with you. There have been times in my life, even recently, that I thought surely this isn’t it? Surely the Lord has more for me to do- bigger things, world changing things?!? Things that will really make a difference?! Surely, there is more for me…

I know God has gifted me with individual passions, talents, and abilities that are specific to me, just as He has you. And, as I dream about the future, I dream BIG dreams. I dream about all that the Lord has in store for me. And, I get excited, but then I think to myself that most of the BIG things will just have to wait. You see, in this stage of my life I am too busy doing the things that seem little, building a home, giving life to babies, raising up children, teaching them, and bathing them, and feeding them, and loving them….

As the Lord has been working on my heart over the last months I have continually prayed “Lord lead me, lead me to do things that are BIG, things that clearly I have not done on my own, things that cause me to need you in such a way that I couldn’t possibly do them without you.” And, I have also continually asked Him to show me what those things might be….

And then, one day as I sat still before Him singing the lyrics to a popular song, “Spirit, lead me where my faith is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me, take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…” It hit me. Like a ton of bricks. It’s been right in front of my nose all along.

You see, the “little” things that I am doing right now, in this stage of life and motherhood, well, they are NOT so little. The task of motherhood that the Lord has placed before me each and every day, IT IS a BIG thing. It is the thing that requires me to be on my knees daily crying out to the Lord for help. It IS the thing that He has called me to do, gifted me to do. It is the task that I could not possibly complete on my own each day without the help of my Heavenly Father. It is really the BIGGEST thing I could ever possibly do! I am raising little people. PEOPLE. I have the opportunity to be an instrument in molding their lives, in teaching them, in showing them Christ’s love. I want to change people’s lives… well, HELLO, I have little people right here in my home who I have the opportunity to be a life changer to every single day! They are people who will grow up. Who I am to them now and what I teach them now will affect the rest of their lives!

Today, I remember that what I am doing has purpose. It is definitely NOT little. It is real. It has eternal value. It is important. And, it is REALLY REALLY BIG.

Yes, I continue to dream about other things that the Lord may be calling me to do, now or in the future as my children grow. And, I think that is important too! But, at the end of the day, I know I am already living out His BIG purpose each day, as I call upon Him to help me be the mom I am supposed to be.

Psalm 127:3 “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.”

Proverbs 6:20-23: "My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Putting Up the Guardrails: 3 Tips to Start Setting Boundaries in Your Marriage

Jonathan and I on our wedding day.
Although I am very passionate about the topic of marriage, I have strongly hesitated to write anything about it, mostly because I don’t feel qualified. I (and I’m sure my husband) will tell you on any given day I fail MANY times in the wife category. I’m working on it.

I realize that in the scheme of life, I’m really just a newlywed. I’m aware that compared to many married couples we have faced very little as a couple. We still have lots of life left to face, lots of ups and downs, lots of trials and joys to experience together. So, for a while now I have chosen to refrain from writing. However, as I sit and watch marriage and families fall apart all around me, I am compelled to write.

Please know that if you are divorced, if you for some reason have had a marriage that did not work, this is not intended to condemn you. BUT if you are married, this is for you.

It is really easy to slowly slip into habits or behaviors that eventually destroy our marital relationships. These things do not generally happen overnight, but it’s a slow fade from one thing to the next. This is why it is SO important to set up boundaries and safeguard your marriage. No, these things will not make your marriage a “walk in the park” and yes, some of them will sound extreme, BUT these tips will be great guardrails for you to protect your marriage from harmful habits.

 #1 Create Social Media Boundaries
As a married woman, there are very rare occasions in which I should ever find myself having a conversation via text or facebook message with someone of the opposite sex. Extreme, right?! I believe that anything that is private and easily hidden can be one of those areas that slowly fade into something it was not intended to be. Yes, there will be exceptions to this rule on RARE occasions, but for the most part this is just off limits.

#2 Create “alone” Boundaries
As a married person, there are also boundaries that should be set up regarding who you allow yourself to be alone with. Again, this may sound extreme but my rule is that there is never really any reason why I need to be alone with someone of the opposite sex- not to go out to lunch, not a car ride together, not even a hang out session with an old friend. If I have male friends that I would like to hang out with, my husband should be included. It’s no longer “him” and “I”, it’s “we” and this should be carried into our relationships with others.

#3 Create Verbal Boundaries
This is one I learned from my parents and I find it to be SO necessary. There are certain words in your marriage that should absolutely be off limits. For example the word “divorce”… we don’t say it. NEVER. We never say this word. Why? Because I have seen many friends start out using the word “divorce” or “separation” as a meaningless threat, but it eventually turns into the real deal. Using these words creates a lack of trust and you can seemingly destroy your marriage just by throwing these words around.

These are just a few boundaries that I have found extremely helpful in my marriage, but in different relationships there may be many different “safeguards” that should be set in place. Consider what boundaries need to be set up in your marriage and take the initiative to start the conversation with your spouse! You never know, it could just save your marriage!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Motherhood: Taking Off the Mask

I have been guilty of wearing it on many occasions. It’s so easy to keep it on when out and about, when answering those “how’s everything going” questions. You know….the mask.

As a young mom I quickly learned about this mask that tends to be worn during motherhood. Although, I have to admit I don’t fully understand it. Somewhere in the midst of trying to stay positive and not putting our dirty laundry out for the world to see we as moms lose something. 

We accidently take our good intentions too far and we lose the honesty, the rawness of motherhood. We stop being REAL.

Can I just say that as a new young mom, there are times I desperately needed someone to be real with me. When I saw you, fellow mom in the grocery store, I needed you to put aside the “everything’s great, motherhood is so beautiful” line and say the REAL thing, the “motherhood IS great, but I’m SO beyond exhausted and I would give ANYTHING for 5 minutes to myself” truth. When I saw you veteran mom at church, I needed you to put away the “I have it all together” show and let some of the “I’m just as disorganized and imperfect as you” realness shine through. When I came to that play date at your house, friend, I needed you to forget about the perfectly clean house, perfectly healthy meals, perfectly well behaved children act and I needed to see a little more of the scattered undone laundry, and “yes, my kids had McDonalds for lunch too”  honesty.

I understand that as moms we are all striving to be organized, and healthy, and somewhat put together. I understand and appreciate the fact that we are all working to be the best mom, wife, employee, friend we can possibly be. BUT, sometimes, I NEEDED to see the flaws, the fall downs, the imperfection (and I have to believe I am not the only one who has ever needed to see this). Not so that I could think less of you, or think more highly of myself as a mom, but because I needed to know that I was not alone…That I am still not alone.

So moms, this is a cry out to you. And really, people in general this is a cry out to you, a cry to put the mask up on the shelf; a cry for you to PLEASE at the risk of someone thinking less of you, BE REAL… Be positive. Be an encouragement. BUT, also be honest. It’s ok for other’s to see the imperfections, in fact, I’ve found they actually like you MORE when they see, that just like them, you have struggles too. You never know who just desperately needs to see that they are not alone, that you, just like them have struggles, have shortcomings, and do not have it all together.  

…AND no, I do not have a Scripture basis that says “Moms, thou shalt be real” J. BUT, I do believe Scripture calls us to do life together and to be bearers of each other’s burdens, which is impossible without being real…

Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Friday, April 4, 2014

Life: When it Storms

We have now entered that time of year, thunderstorms and rain will be a regular part of life for the next couple months here in the Midwest. I personally am not a fan of the dark dreary days that generally accompany this rainy season. The rain and storminess itself feels like a downer to me as I anxiously anticipate my favorite time of year, summer.

As I thought about this I thought about the fact that in a lot of cases rain is referred to as not such a good thing. Phrases like “when it rains it pours” are usually used in reference to bad situations happening one right after the other. Sometimes we talk about a “stormy season” in life. Overall the metaphor of “rain” or a “storm” is often negative.

However, even as one who is not a fan of the rainy days I have watched in amazement as right before my eyes the brown grass has quickly turned green, the trees that appeared dead are surely starting to bud. I have even watched spring flowers pop up and bloom in a matter of days as we have steadily received the rain.

This is a lot like what happens in life. Sometimes the “rainy seasons” of our lives our filled with heart ache, betrayal, trials, and discouragement. I personally have experienced what felt like storms in my life after the loss of a loved one, or at times when I was betrayed by friends. I have felt like the rain was pouring when met with financial strains, when struggling emotionally, and when physically ill.

But, one thing was true after all of these different storms in my life. I came out of the other side with growth. The Lord worked during those times to spring up new life inside of me, to make me stronger. Much like the grass and trees, that as the storm rages they begin to grow again and at the end of the stormy time they come out healthier, more beautiful, and they continue to grow.

Today I thank God for the different storms I have faced because I know that He used those times to continue growing me into the woman of God He desires for me to be. It doesn't mean the storms in life will be easy, it just means after the storm has passed we can look back and thank God for how he shaped and grew us during that time.

Romans 5:3-4 “…But we also glory in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Worst in Me

Recently my family and I were out for Sunday lunch. As it came time to order the pizza, nobody had made a decision on how much we needed, or what kind we wanted. So, my sister Rebecca and I started to try and figure it out and we soon found ourselves in a little argument, a heated discussion; let’s just say our voices were raised higher than they ever should be in an eating establishment and I think our waitress was a little scared.

Those of you who know my sister and I know that a little head butting is not necessarily an uncommon occurrence. We are both strong willed. We both have different view points on a number of things. And, worst of all, we both think that we are right, even about a silly pizza order.

As the discussion ended I quickly turned to my husband, shifting the blame from myself to my sister and maybe looking for a little bit of understanding from him, I said, “I don’t know what it is about my siblings, but they ALWAYS bring out the worst in me.” He quickly and calmly looked at me and responded, “It’s not your siblings that are the problem, the problem is that the worst is in you.” …. “The worst is in you”….

Ouch….That really wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But, the more I thought about it the more true it seemed.
Often times in our society we choose to put the blame for our life, for our decisions, for our sin onto someone else. Quite honestly, it’s just easier that way. If I don’t have to take responsibility for my hateful attitude and unnecessary remarks I can move on quickly without any remorse.

But the truth is it IS my responsibility. The sin in my life is no one’s fault but my own. And, friend, I know you don’t really want to hear it, but the sin in your life is also no one’s fault but your own.

The sad truth is that “the worst” is in each of us. But, that’s not the entire story. The beautiful part of this story is that though “the worst” is in each of us, and though God sees our heart and therefore sees “the worst” in us, He still loves us. He still forgives us. Thank God for His unwavering mercy and love that never fails us, even when “the worst” comes out.

Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Monday, March 31, 2014

Motherhood: Choosing to Cherish

I am a pretty real person when it comes to what I write. So, I often write about the challenges, the struggles of mommy hood; the things that make this journey so difficult that we as moms have no other choice but to look to God for our strength, for our help, for our joy. But, what about the good stuff. The things about mommy hood that are so beautiful and so amazing they point us directly to our Creator. After all, these things are a very real part of the journey as well.

What about those moments, that make us stop directly in our tracks and give thanks for the good. 
My daughter Riley's 1st birthday
Those moments when you sit awake at 3 am, exhausted, rocking a newborn, only to glance down and see the smile wash over their face and suddenly a smile washes over yours as well….

The times when sweet baby snuggles are like a comfort to your soul, and there is nowhere else you would rather be…

That day when your baby says “momma” for the first time and you remember how joyful this journey can be…

The sound of little giggles that fill your home and at the same time fill your heart…

The first time they roll, and crawl, and stand, and then the highly anticipated very first step when you realize that the little life you are shaping is growing up right before your eyes…

That moment when you see that they actually understand something you have been working to teach them…
You watch as they live out kindness and love to those around them…

That tight squeeze around the neck and “mommy, I love you” whisper that seems to wash away the weight of the world…
My son Jase, starting to stand by himself for the fist time
There is beauty, friends. There is joy. There is something SO amazing about this journey. I cannot help but stop, right in my tracks, in the midst of my busy day, and say,”Lord, thank you.” I am amazed by the presence of the Lord on this journey, as He has allowed me to teach, to love, to raise these beautiful children that are ultimately His. They are His Creation.

Today, I encourage you to look for the moments, the moments that bring joy, the ones that fill your heart and then overflow as a smile upon your face, those motherhood moments that you will cherish forever. And, as you cherish the moments, cherish the Creator who gave them to you. Stand in amazement, not just of your beautiful babies, but of the God who created them in your womb, the one who gave them the ability to say that first word, the health to take that first step.

Live in those moments today, find joy, and give thanks.

Psalm 118:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever.”

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dancing Around the Dirt Pile: A Lesson in Obedience

Today as I hurriedly tried to straighten my home before we had company I grabbed the broom and began to sweep the floor. In our home the majority of the flooring is hardwood, so sweeping with a broom seems to be the best way to go.

As I swept, a pile began to form, mainly composed of dirt that had been tracked in throughout the day, along with the food crumbs and trash my babies have dropped. There is never anything special about the dirt pile. Sure, once in a while my daughter Riley who is 2 will happen upon a small treasure in the pile but overall it’s a pile of dirt and trash. However, as I observed my daughter there was just something about the pile that she could not seem to resist.
This is not a new occurrence. It happens EVERY single time that I sweep the floor. I start out by observing. As the dust pile begins to form, it never fails that miss Riley will begin to get closer and closer. I stop, look her in the eyes, and give the warning that she’s heard a hundred time before, “do NOT step in my dirt pile, UNDERSTAND?” The warning has grown more stern and serious over time. She usually steps away at first, but then it happens. She steps a little closer, and a little closer. Inch by inch she’s making her way nearer to the pile of dirt. Soon, she’s dancing in circles and her circles are now around the pile. Eventually, she can’t help it, she gets TOO close and scatters the pile of dirt all over the floor again.

Sometimes this is an occurrence that takes place multiple times on the same day. I’ll sweep up the mess again, and then slowly but surely she will inch her way closer, gracefully dancing around the dirt pile, getting as close as she can without dipping her tiny toes in the dirt. But, before long, she has done it again, she slipped, she got too close, maybe in the midst of her twirl she fell directly into the pile. And there’s the dirt. AGAIN. Scattered all over the floor.

Obviously, as a parent I have to discipline her for her disobedience and her normal response is “I’m sorry mom, I didn’t mean to- I wasn’t trying to step in the dirt pile.” As I watch her, I understand her response. It is true. She was not trying to actually step in the dirt pile. What she was doing however was trying to get as close as possible to the dirt pile without actually stepping in it.

How often do I do the same thing? Maybe I am not blatantly and purposefully walking in disobedience to my heavenly Father, but I surely am trying to get as close as possible to that pile of sin without stepping in it. And, just as in the story of my little Riley, eventually I too will lose my balance and fall face first into the mess that I was trying to tip toe around.

As I have warned my Riley, my Father has usually given me a warning as well, but there is something about that particular sin that is just calling me….

As it is frustrating for me to watch Riley fall in the dirt over and over again, I’m sure my heavenly Father looks down wishing I would have just listened the first time. It would have saved me from a dirty mess.
But, just as I clean up her mess again, brush off her knees and give her another warning, the Father so graciously does the same to me each time I fall.

The moral of the story- #1 Don’t get so close. If there is a sin in your life that seems to draw you in, keep your distance! Our human nature will always want to get as close as possible, but that will always lead to falling down.
Moral #2- If you’ve already fallen down, don’t worry, the Lord is right there ready to help brush you off, and give you another chance. Thank God for His amazing grace! Now, remind yourself the moral #1 again J.

2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth, pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace…”

Monday, March 24, 2014

Motherhood: For Those Days

You know those days? The ones that are too long, come with too little rest, and too much responsibility? The days when your weary heart feels like it can do no more, even in the beauty of motherhood.

Today, I know those days exist. Why is that? Well, my dear friend, I am in the midst of one. One of those days where I have wiped many snotty noses; I have cleaned up toys, and dirt, and baby spit up; I have changed diapers and wiped up spills; I have given medicine, kissed booboos, taken temperatures, and rocked crying babies; I have made bottles, and lunches, and snacks; I have battled a stubborn toddler, and I have held and cuddled with that same toddler as she just needed mom; I have played with play dough, read books, started movies, colored pictures, and anything else that these sweet babies may need.

Today, my friend is one of those days. One of those days that I’m sure you too have experienced if you have ever been a mom or caretaker of littles. As I sit here trying to catch a few minutes to myself, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a hot mess today. It’s one of those days where everyone is still in their PJ’s from the night before come bed time. One of those long days. I have not showered, brushed my hair, or my teeth for that matter. My house is not clean and my to do list is not done.

Today is exhausting. It is long. Days like today are just TOO much….

And then, in the midst of my exhausted sigh and short “dear Lord, help me” prayer, I remember. I remember the truth. I remember that this day cannot possibly be too much. This is the day that the Lord has given me. This is the home that the Lord has given me. He has given me these beautiful babies and He has gifted me with the task of nurturing them, teaching them, taking care of them, and yes some days that means wiping poopy butts, and snotty noses. The Lord has given me this day and before it even started He knew what this day would entail. He knew that I would be needed for what feels like every. SINGLE. Moment. of this day. He knew that I would feel tired and worn. He knew that at some point in this day I would feel like a failure, like I haven’t done enough or accomplished enough. My Lord knew that I am weak, that this day might be hard, and that I might even feel like it has been WAY too much. But, He also knew that HE would be my strength to make it through this day. That He could bear my burdens if I would only give them to Him. He has been right here with me, waiting…Just waiting patiently for me to remember the truth: that He is God and I am not; that in my weakness, His power is perfect. And, that above all else, on those days that seem too hard, too long, too much, I can find the rest, the sufficiency, the renewal, the ENOUGH to make it through if I only come before my Savior and rest in His presence.

Thank you Lord for your truth about this day.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Beauty You Need To Hear Today

You. Yes, you, the one quickly scrolling through statuses and newsfeeds; the one who for some reason or another chose to open up this blog and quickly scroll through the words to see what you could find today. You are beautiful.
Yes, you. The young lady with a twinkle in your eye and dreams in your heart, you are beautiful. In your world beauty is often defined by the way you fix your hair, the makeup that you wear, or those cute clothes you may or may not be wearing. Either way, you are beautiful.
To the mom of littles, with tired eyes and spit up stained pjs, you probably don’t feel it. You probably feel worn and ragged. You maybe haven’t heard it today, or this week, or for months, but today I will tell you the truth, you are beautiful. You maybe haven’t dolled yourself up or fixed your hair in what seems like an eternity, but trust me my friend, you ARE beautiful.
And you, the middle aged woman whose house is growing emptier by the day. You have lived life. You have experienced heart ache and disappointments. You may look back and remember the younger days when you truly felt beautiful. You see beauty in others. You tell your daughters and the young ladies you know how beautiful they are. But, today, let me tell you,  you are beautiful.
Finally, to the woman who is “old” in the eyes of the world. Your skin may be wrinkly and your body is marred with the marks of a life well lived; a life of work, and love, and joy, and heartache and selflessness. As you look in the mirror today, you may not see it, but just as it has always been, you are still beautiful.
You are beautiful not because your hair falls just right, or your clothes fit a certain way. In fact, by the world’s standards you may or may not be beautiful. Your nose might be too big, your hair too plain, your face too wrinkly. You might be too tall or too short, too thin, or too “fat”.  You probably will never live up to the beauty standard that our society had set. But, you ARE beautiful.
You are beautiful because the Lord says so. Your Father in Heaven looks at you and sees beauty. In fact, before anyone else had even thought of you, He had. He took the time to design you. He knit together your unformed body, one intricate piece at a time. He made you with that nose, those freckles, and that plain hair. In fact, He even knows how many of those hairs are on your head.
More than that, He thinks you’re precious. He knows your heart. He rejoices over you. Why? Because you are His daughter, His wonderful Creation, and you my dear ARE beautiful!

“For your created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Motherhood: The Journey of Dying to Self

The beginning of the journey-
 I find myself reminiscing more and more about my experience of giving life to my 2nd child as we quickly approach his first birthday. Jase is such a handsome, sweet, adventurous child and I could never be surer of the perfect fit he is in our little family. However, I’m embarrassed to say I have not always felt that way….
I have not shared with many people the emotions, feelings and experience leading up to and during the birth of my little Jase. Maybe this is because I was shameful. I would not want anyone to think poorly of me. Maybe it’s because at the time I did not know what to do with these emotions and feelings. Either way I think it is time I share. I share not to be a “downer” in your day or to discourage your from having more babiesJ. I share because I know I cannot possibly be the only one who has felt this way. I pray that my honesty and experience can be a blessing and encouragement to you.  
So, let me take you back to that day, April 12, 2013. The days and months leading up to that day had been pretty miserable ones. This second pregnancy greeted me with a lovely dose of nausea, vomiting, heart burn, and exhaustion throughout almost the entire 9 months! For those of you who have ever experience long term physical illness you will probably recognize that after a period of feeling miserable and not like yourself physically the devil will begin to attack you spiritually and emotionally as well. This happened. Needless to say by the week of my due date, I was done! I, like most women who are 9 months pregnant, was MISERABLE. Seriously. MISERABLE. I was not sleeping. I wasn’t enjoying eating. My body ached. And mostly I just wanted to cry. The days following up to the 12th along with everything else included very consistent contractions almost 24-7.
So, in one sense I was more than ready to get this monster of a baby out of my body! But, there was a part of me that didn’t feel ready AT ALL. Rather than being filled with joy and excitement that morning as we headed to the hospital, I found that my heart was filled with something else, something really ugly. Mainly, the big S… selfishness.
As we entered the hospital my heart and mind were filled with a lot of questions and concerns. All of my “what ifs” floated to the surface and merged in a mess of emotions. I was about to experience a life changing event. Somewhere between concern, anticipation, and discontentment I found myself with many deep rooted questions. “How will I do it?” I can barely take care of one child, how will I manage 2?” “I don’t think I have enough to give, what if I don’t?” “What if I don’t love him like I love my first baby?” “Who is going to help me?” “What in the world have I gotten myself into?” “Why did I do this?” AHHH!
I literally felt like screaming and crying. It was too late. I was having a baby today.
My nerves were completely shot and to be bluntly honest, my heart was heavy. I was grieving. Once again, I was grieving the loss of self that motherhood requires. I thought about what this life change meant for MY home, for MY family, for MY business, and mostly for MY self- MY dreams, MY desires, MY goals, MY time…
I was not really prepared for the events that transpired that day. Giving birth to a child is always a little scary, but this specific delivery met us with what in the blink of an eye became an emergency situation. One of those moments where you look back and realize that you literally could have lost your life. And the life of that precious baby.
Thankfully the Lord was watching over us and both Jase and I made it through the delivery. The hours that followed consisted of stitches, blood transfusions, and pain meds. As I laid exhausted, sore, and already weary of the uncomfortable hospital bed, my heart changed. Suddenly like the breath of life given by the warm springtime breeze, the Lord breathed something new in me. AMAZEMENT. I was amazed, stunned.
The old saying “Momma knows best” translated into what I felt about my Heavenly Father. All along He knew. As I held that tiny, handsome, miracle to my chest I felt joy. As I glanced at his intricately designed body, tiny fingers, tiny toes, I felt blessed. All of the doubt, fear, selfishness, and pain drifted away in the blink of any eye.
How great is my God, that when my heart is confused and my selfish desires are overtaking me, He knows what is best and he lavishes me with far more than I could ever deserve.
Of course the journey of dying to self does not end there. It only just begins. There are many days of motherhood where the ugly S word rears his head up and tries to take over, but that’s a story for another day….
I’m thankful today that God was working on me that day almost a year ago; and He continues to do so each day along this journey.

“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

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Monday, March 17, 2014

The Beginning

Have you ever just felt a burning desire to do something more? Something that is beyond your self? That passion deep inside your heart to really set the world on fire? To feed the hungry, to give homes to the orphans, to change millions of lives all in the name of Christ?!
Recently I have felt this passion rising up within me. It’s like a tidal wave just hit me in the face and suddenly I’m re-evaluating everything that I do in life. It’s a feeling that’s unexplainable; it’s beyond me. It’s not about me. It’s that feeling that He made me and even in all my imperfections He wants to use me.
The problem with this kind of set the world on fire passion is the “NOW WHAT?!” feeling that soon follows. And then, the “maybe you’re calling the wrong person” that soon creeps up as well. Where do I begin? This is the question I have been asking. These are the words I have spoke over and over again in my time of prayer- when? How? What? “Lord, I will do whatever it is you want me to do, but what is it?” These are the words that I find slipping out day after day as my heart feels like it is ready to explode with hope for the hopeless. And, over and over again I seem to hear a still small voice saying “write”. Write what? “just write”….hmmm, ok …. So here I am. This is my first act of obedience. Today I will begin to write.
As I begin to write my prayer is that I will be able to be an encouragement to you. That as you follow my blog I will be a source of hope, healing, and help, and that above all God would be glorified as I start to write.

What is the Lord calling you to do that maybe you have been ignoring? What does that still small voice say if you would just listen? I pray that God would give you that same passion deep in your heart to be a world changer today, and then you would listen to the “what’s next” and follow where He leads. 

Sarah Lango