If it is your first time visiting, you might want to start here for a little background on why I started this journey.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Out of Shape

Have you ever started working out after not working out for a long time? Like when I decided to walk 3.6 miles 5 months after having a baby, and (oh by the way) I haven't stepped foot in a gym since before Tucker was born 9 years ago. If you have experienced this, you know what I am talking about. You wake up the next day and you are barely able to walk, let alone sit down on the toilet. Muscles have to be worked to stay conditioned. Once a year (or a decade) isn't going to cut it.

On Sunday I was reminded of this. It has been a busy season of babies and serving and serving with babies. I have not been able to make it to church as often as I would have liked because I have been happily holding babies and whispering in their ears about Jesus in the nursery. This Sunday I was super excited to attend the church service.

As the praise worship washed over me and my hands started the ascent towards the ceiling, it felt as though I had just taken a breath of air after holding my breath for much too long. After a few songs with my hands raised in my favorite posture for worship, I felt the ache in my shoulders and arms. "I am out of shape." I thought briefly. And God whispered, "It's because you haven't been doing this very often." I used to get very defensive with God when He would say something like that to me. "But I...have been busy, have 4 kids, I do it in my heart but not always with my hands raised God, so that's why." But somewhere in the last year I just started being more real and straight up with Him. "Yep. You are so right. It's been too long."  The thought hasn't left me since then.

Anything that is worth anything takes focus, effort, and intention. It is certainly possible and often easy to forget to worship God. My former excuses above are just the beginning of the list I could give you, and I'm sure anyone reading this could help me add some more. But. But, what if we stopped making the excuses when we are gently reminded by God to worship Him? What if, instead, we immediately praise? What if we intentionally carve out space, whether it's an hour or five minutes or one song? The results would be life changing. This quote from my Bible study referring to (Revelation 7:9-12) hit the nail right on the head:
"Because man was made to worship and glorify God, how might this glimpse of worship reshape your thinking so you begin to realize that worship is connected to flourishing as a person?"
God made us to worship Him. We are not fulfilled in Him if we are not making that the center of our life. It is so easy to go about our days and go from a Sunday to a Sunday without spending time in focused worship. We are so quick to fill our days with things that will never be as significant as this.

This is not meant to condemn anyone, because if it was, I would be the first. But like God reminded me, don't let this be something to feel guilty about, let it be the spark to spur you closer to your Creator. I don't know about you, but I never feel more peace, love, joy, gentleness, and goodness as I do when I am worshiping the One who gave me life not once through my birth, but twice by sending down His son. This is a no lose situation people! I would love to be held accountable to daily worship. If you feel the same way, reach out to me and let's do it together.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Scales From My Eyes

Hello old friend. It has been too long. 

God started whispering to me a few months ago. Write. Change. I heard it. Yet, I knew I needed to hear some other things before I knew what to write and how to change. Perhaps it would help if I chronicled how I got to where I am.

It's hard to pinpoint where it started. For those of you who have read since the beginning, my life had become remarkably similar to my first post. Angry mommy, mean wife, grudge holding matriarch of the family. This lovely behavior was only inflicted on my husband and children, the people who are closest to me. But I couldn't see it. I saw myself as the loving mother, caring wife, all around caregiver. That's when God removed the scales from my eyes.

I have always found that phrase so interesting. It originates in the story of Saul becoming Paul. God blinded him physically to alert him of his spiritual blindness. When he was visited by Ananias, a servant of the Lord, God removed the scales from his eyes and Paul could once again clearly see physically, and now spiritually. When we are in sin, we don't often recognize this. If we did recognize it, then we would be required to change. The Holy Spirit is so good to alert in us the need to repent and turn from our sin. But the problem comes when we are blind to the sin, as Paul was blind to the fact that he was wrong about Jesus. Charles Spurgeon gave an amazing sermon on this. He expounds on the fact that it is possible to be going after something with all your might, but to be going after the wrong thing. To be blind to the sin in your endeavour. To have scales over your eyes and to be unable to see that you have the incorrect focus. This is what my life has looked like for... I am not even sure how long. I have been unaware that my words were like daggers to the hearts of my most cherished people. My actions were slowly turning them against me. I saw that, I saw them being unkind to me, becoming distant from me, disobeying and yelling and screaming at me. But I was completely unable to see my part in it, unable to see the damage I was unleashing on them.

God is so good to not allow me to go further in my sin. Just as God used Ananias to remove the scales from Paul's eyes, God used my husband to remove mine. After three very difficult, painful conversations unlike any in my life, the scales fell off. Or maybe were ripped off. I went from being so self righteous in every decision I made, every word I said - no matter how hurtful or sinful - to being sorrowful and pained at the sight I now saw. The realization of the hurt I had caused, the tears I had induced, the havvock I had orchestrated. All the issues I attributed to everyone else had a root in my treatment of my family. It hurt so badly, so painfully. It ached in my body and I was so full of regret. If I didn't have the loving embrace of Jesus at that moment, I don't know how I could have moved forward. He comforted me and reminded me that I can change and that He will show me the way.

That began the process to this moment. The moment where I start over and try to figure this out. "This" being how to be a different person. How to be the person God wants me to be. He removed the scales and now, in His infinite goodness, He will show me the way. I have to trust Him for each step. I don't get to see the whole path, I just get to see the next step, which is the hardest part for someone who has tried to be in control of everything and everyone for so long.

The first step was apologizing to my kids and my husband. I told my kids that God and I had a conversation and I realized I wasn't being a very nice mommy and that I was sorry for that. I told them if it was okay with them, I wanted to start fresh and try my hardest to be the best mommy I could be. Before I could even finish the sentence, Sadie hugged me and said, "Oh Mama, it's okay!" and Tucker said he forgave me, and Ava gave me a smile. God was so good to remind me that children are resilient, that He can protect their hearts from my mistakes, and that it is never too late to change when you recognize that you've done wrong. Jimmy has also been forgiving, but also continues to remind me if I start to slip back into who I was before. Although that is not always fun (or is never fun), it is always necessary and I thank him for that. He is my partner in life, given to me by God to become more holy through situations like this (even when it hurts).

The next step is getting back to writing. This is where God speaks more clearly to me then anywhere else. This is where I insist on quiet, so I can hear Him best, where I dig into His Holy word to discover the gems of knowledge He has so sweetly blessed us with. This is where I can process through what He is saying to me, so I can learn and grow. This is where I can have accountability and confession. Maybe this is where I can tell you what God tells me and we can grow together. This is where I can document the changes that He has made in me, so if I slip up or forget I can go back and say, "Lord, I am a mess and you are so good to me and I don't deserve the grace I have been given through your son." 

This is the place, The place it started, the place I grew, the place I want to change in again. God's timing never ceases to amaze me. At the beginning of a new year, I have a fresh chance to be the person I want to be, the person God made me to be, the person I am destined to be through God's will and plan.

Lord, thank You for not giving up on me. Thank You for removing the scales from my eyes and allowing me to see myself for who I really was. Please don't ever let me go back to being that person. Change my heart to be like Yours. Let my words bring life and not destruction. Let me be hyper aware of every word, every look, every decision and how that affects my family. Let me be more like you every day of my life. Thank you for second (and third and fourth and infinite) chances. You are too good to me and I don't deserve it.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What Do I Do With This Child?

Where do I even start... My 4 year old is insane. Ok... Probably not, but sometimes I really do wonder. She is prone to have wild tantrums that turn her into an animal like creature whose rage cycle can only be shutdown by isolation from people and until she fills her yelling/screaming/kicking quota. I wish I was kidding or exaggerating, but it happens. And I am frustrated. I think I am the most frustrated because after trying everything under the sun I thought I had found a solution. We worked on a goal of not having tantrums all day, and if she made it through the day she got a sticker on her "Happy Chart." For six days straight she made her goal everyday and I felt like we had finally found something that's works. But in the last 24 hours she has had two. And they have been worse then ever. It's like she saved up all her crazy juice and now spewed it all over us.

"God, what do I do with this child?"

Now I sit with my Bible, looking through passages that I have underlined before, searching for an answer. I turn to my trusty Fruit of the Spirit for comfort, but God draws me right below it.

"Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith." (Galatians 6:1-5, 9, 10 NLT) (underlines mine)

This. This is exactly what I needed. I'm sure Paul had adults in mind when he wrote this, but the way it relates to a parent and child is spot on. Boy, did I need this one,

"if another believer is overcome by some sin,"- When Ava is struggling with her emotions and self control, she is overcome (if you could witness how overcome she was, you wouldn't believe your eyes). And we as parents sometimes are overcome while they are overcome. We are overcome with anger at the behavior, resentment that you have to deal with situation again, and fear that they are always going to be like this. I pray everyday that this phase will pass. Quickly.

"should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path."-The out of control behavior caused by refusing to listen to someone who wants to help you is a sin I would like to help her learn to give to Jesus while she is a child making child size mistakes in my home rather then making adult size mistakes that have lasting consequences later. How can I help her with that? By matching her anger with more anger? Or "gently and humbly" helping her back to the path of peace. And sanity. For both of us.

What I have learned so far in my parenting journey is this: every tantrum, every sassy answer, every lie, every screaming no!, is an opportunity. It's an opportunity for me to show my kids Jesus' love, care, and forgiveness. He loves us when we sin against Him, even though we don't deserve it. He cares enough to gently help us back onto the right path through gentle correction and discipline. And He forgives us. Every. Single. Time. Every time. When we don't deserve it. Ever. But He does anyway. And that is my goal, to show my children Jesus through me. I will make mistakes, and I pray they will forgive me. But I will try. And because God knew we would get frustrated, just like I am today, He gave us this verse.

"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up."(Galatians 6:9 NLT)

He gives me what I need. Every single time I ask for it. And even when I don't.

Thank you Lord for never giving up on me, even when I deserve that. Please give me the same unrelenting love and commitment to my children, even when they don't deserve it. You are so good to us. Amen


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

If God Had Not Been With Me...

I don't know about you, but I thrive when in the structured accountability of group Bible studies. I love studying the scriptures and meditating on every living word. But without the deadline of Tuesday morning, somehow I don't accomplish as much as I would like. I am currently in two Bible studies (And a small group. And a MOPS group. I think I am addicted.) One of the studies is Beth Moore's "Stepping Up" which thoroughly studies the Pslams of ascent.

Today I read Psalm 124, and it was probably the first time I laid eyes upon this tiny chapter. The very first line changed my outlook forever. "If God had not been on our side..." Sweet, funny, anointed Beth went on to ask us where we might have been if God had not rescued us from where we were. As often in Mrs. Moore's studies, I was stopped in my tracks, crying my eyes out, thanking Jesus for the unending, undeserved love that God has for me. My mind immediately went to the moment I reinvited Him into my life after straying away. I was a 20 year old mom of an 18 month old, married for just over a year and fighting with my husband almost daily. I was stubborn, prideful, unforgiving and selfish. I was also hurt and frustrated. I was convinced that I was always right, he was always wrong, and no one could persuade me otherwise. Basically, I thought he was a burden to live with, but really I was the monster in the house.

Beth's question said, "What might have happened with your life "if the LORD had not been on (your) side?" With tears in my eyes I wrote: divorced, single mom, partier, selfish.

As I did my study in the car during a chilly evening at baseball practice, I looked up at my son practicing and I thought about the life I would have had if God hadn't have intervened when He did,. Or worse, if I wouldn't have listened to Him . I would only have Tucker, I would probably be working all the time to support myself, I probably wouldn't have been watching him at practice, for all I know I wouldn't have been able to afford to put him baseball. I would have been bitter, angry, lonely, selfish, and empty. The thought of this alternate life, a life that was very near happening for real 6 years ago, still at this moment brings me to tears in humility and thankfulness.  Left to myself, I would have been in that place. Thanks to God, my creator and rescuer, I am blessed with a life I dreamed about.  I can't let the thought go. The amazing grace of God to save me from myself, forgive me for my choices, and redeem me to I life I never deserved. Unbelievable. Thank you LORD.

I never wanted to forget this moment, this thought of "if God had not been with me." I had to chronicle it in the story that is my life.

  This is my story, what is yours? Where would you be if he hadn't rescued you from yourself or your situation? Take a moment to meditate and then thank Him in humble praise!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Day Has Arrived

The day finally came. I always knew this day would come. The day my kid understood math, science, and human anatomy enough to put two and two together.

"Mommy, you got married in January 2006 and I was born in July 2006. How did that happen?"

I didn't know what to say, after all I had only had 7 1/2 years to think about it. Luckily, because of other siblings around I told him I wouldn't be able to explain until bedtime. And you would have thought I would have used that time to think about it, but I didn't really. The second I stepped in the door the question came at me again.

I took a deep breath and started to explain.

"Before daddy and I got married, we weren't listening to what Jesus wanted us to do. We made some bad choices and we had sex before we got married. I was pregnant with you when I got married to your dad. Daddy and I knew we wanted to get married before we found out we were pregnant and we were going to get married anyway because we love each other very much. Mommy and daddy made a bad choice, but God used it for good. Do you know how? He used you to save my life. He used you to bring me back to Him. And that's one of the reasons why I love Jesus so much, because He uses our bad choices to bring us to Him. And I love you, and Daddy, and Jesus, so much."

With tears in my eyes I looked at this boy, this little boy who did save my life. He changed me from a selfish, young girl set on being uncontrolled...to a mom who would do anything for her family. And the best thing for my family was to go to church. And by going to church I fell back in love with Jesus and in love with His plan for my life. And by watching my husband be an amazing dad, he made me fall even more in love with him, which led to more happiness and more babies.

And as uncomortable as this could have been, it wasnt. Because this time, God gave me the words to say (Thanks God, because I could have really screwed this up). I wanted our son to know that we weren't perfect before we had him and we aren't perfect now. No one is perfect except for Jesus. I wanted him to know that people make mistakes, and Jesus redeems our mistakes and uses them for good. Because that lesson will teach him more then him thinking he has perfect parents.

When I think back to that day of being 18, unmarried, and pregnant, I could have never in a million years imagined I would have this beautiful life with so much grace, peace and love. God is so good to me, even though I never ever deserve it. Thank you God.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What To Do When You're Tired, Frustrated, and Selfish

Do you ever start reading the Bible and come across a passage that you can´t believe is in there. You read it several times through just to make sure you read what you thought you read? Well if you haven´t, go ahead and read Matthew 14:1-12. And then you can send me emails saying, ¨What the what?¨ and I can try to explain it the way my Bible study leader did today.

Thankfully, that was not the end of the story. Matthew tells us of the horrific end to John the Baptist and then ends it in only the way Jesus could. He tells us, ¨Now when Jesus heard {about the beheading of John the Baptist}, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.¨ Matthew 14:13{inserted from prior verses for clarity}

Jesus just found out that John the Baptist-the proclaimer of the Messiah, the chosen prophet, and-oh yeah-Jesus´ cousin-had been beheaded by an evil ruler and his even more evil wife. That is enough to make a person sick, sad, and looking for solitude.

But don´t forget, the people of the area are starting to catch on that this man is like no other man. He is healing sickness, bringing new life, preforming miracles-and they have no idea what He is going to do in the near future to confirm His identity as the son of God. They want a piece of this man. They want His presence. They want His healing touch.

So what does He do? He had every right to send them away. After all, He was morning His cousin and friend. He was tired from a long journey. And He was being mobbed left and right and he was just in sight of rest.

What does He do? ¨When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.¨v. 14. He had compassion and healed them.

When I read this today, it struck me. It struck me like no other time I have ever read this. Jesus was tired. Probably more tired then I have ever been. Yet...He saw them. He interacted with them, He healed them, He loved on them, He gave them what they were looking for.

And as I contemplated this...as God often does, He made it relevant to my life. When I am exhausted, scared, frustrated, mourning, or just plain selfish, and my kids need me...I can choose to respond as Jesus did. They don´t see tiredness, inner feelings, or the thoughts going on in my head. They see their mom. You could be their favorite person in the whole world and all they want is a little bit of your time, a portion of your attention, they just want to be loved on.

And this is not just for parents of young children. This is about that person who needs you, who likes spending time with you, the person you might not even realize looks to your for inspiration and joy. They are in your homes, at your jobs, in your churches, in your neighborhoods. Whoever and whenever it is that someone needs you and you feel like you have nothing left to give, remember... Jesus and His compassion for us when He was searching for rest in a desolate place.

When we are in the middle of these feelings of inadequacy, under preparedness for a task at hand, mental exhaustion, or whatever it may be, it is easy to dismiss or distract. But the joy, the beautiful joy that comes from giving that child or that person the last ounce you have with a happy heart and genuine intention, that joy could be just what you needed to get out of that emotion cycle and finish your day renewed.

Jesus came to this earth to have the full human experience so He could better comfort us when we are down and celebrate with us when we feel joy. He knows how you feel and He shows us the perfect example of how to respond.

In the same way He had compassion on the people that day over 2000 years ago, He has compassion for us. When we need Him, He will be there. Every. Time. Lean on Him, let him refresh your soul so you can be that person for someone who might not know Him yet.

Thank you Father for sending your son as the perfect example. It is impossible to be perfect like Him, and that is not what you ask for. You look at our hearts and our desires to strive to be like Him and glorify you. Please give me the energy and inclination to respond to my children, husband, family, friends, and neighbors as Jesus has responded to us all along. Thank you for giving us your word which is relevant and timeless. You are awesome. AMEN!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Heart Change in 2014

Happy New Year! This joyous moment when all things are new, fresh, and all things are possible. 
I´m going to lose those 15 lbs! 
I am going to read my Bible every day! 
I am going to- 
And before you can finish that sentence you are back on the couch, searching through Pinterest, pinning recipes for Reese´s in between Oreo´s dipped in chocolate. (And I´m bot going to lie, those things are delicious.) 

This year I remembered all the resolutions I have failed on in the past and decided not to make any resolutions. Several days later my lovely friend summed up the reasoning in the perfect way, she wrote:

Her words were exactly what God had put on my heart, my brain was just not able to formulate it in such a perfect way. Behavior modification is not a lasting plan. Jesus coming in and doing heart surgery, that´s a lasting plan. 

What has God put on your heart for 2014? Is it more of Him? Less of the world? More family time? Less electronics? More nature? Less couch?

Whatever it is, whatever you keep hearing God whisper in your ear...Just Do It.

Do the things that God is putting on your heart. Because friend, they are there for a reason. There are things God wants you to experience and learn and grow from. There are things, that if you just open your eyes and pay attention, He will blow your mind with.

Things that once seemed mundane or difficult or impossible or scary can now seem exciting and easy and doable and amazing.

But the only way you will experience these wonders is by doing it. 
So take Nike´s advice and Just Do It.

You won´t regret it.

What has God put on your heart, I want to know!