Sunday, December 23, 2012

That's What He Came For

I decided to post what I wrote last Christmas, because I felt it appropriate again this year. It has me thinking, there was so much sadness last year around Christmas, and then again this year as well; what if that is no coincidence? He did, after all, come in the dark of night to be the light of this World. May you be reminded this Christmas, if you feel like you are surrounded by darkness; that's what he came for.

Posted 12/16/2011:

I've been recently feeling overwhelmed with prayer requests. Not that the thought of praying for all these people leaves me overwhelmed, I've just been feeling bogged down by all the needs, sadness, worry & stress going on around me. A few mornings ago I knelt down to pray and started just lifting names up to the Lord, one by one. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I thought "Father, what an awful time of year to have such BIG prayers. It's Christmas time, a time for fun & fellowship & Joy & celebrating YOU!" And then he responded...

"That's what I came here for."

If you're feeling sad, anxious, lonely, mourning, or hopeless this season, please know one thing- that's the reason he came here. He didn't come so we could have candy canes & Santa Clause & fudge & gingerbread houses. He didn't come with a promise of a life filled with joy. He came to break your chains, to have a relationship with you, so he could walk beside you in your sadness, carry your heavy burdens, take away your worries, and give us hope. If your head can't find joy in any of the celebrations this seasons, I pray your heart can rejoice in knowing that our Saviour loved you enough to leave the glories of Heaven for this sin-filled earth for you- and he is still reaching down for you this Christmas season.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
Luke 1:68-75

Friday, December 14, 2012

Whom Shall I Fear?

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

I own 3 kindergartners. After I heard the news about the school shooting in Connecticut I spent most of my day in a teary fog. Trying to make sense of something I know we will never be able to make sense of this side of Heaven. How could someone do that to children, to the babies in the school?

It's obvious that if even grown-ups are questioning this situation, a child would as well. So how do we answer them? As parents we sometimes teach our children that we will always keep them safe, that God will protect them, we want them to believe that. We want to believe that. But I'm reminded of a conversation I had with my sister just a few weeks ago. She is no stranger to tragedy, and she called to discuss this very topic; how can I tell my kids that God will protect them when (God forbid) that may not be the case?

So, what do you tell your kids? Whether or not you choose to talk about this tragedy directly with your kids, it's a good reminder to be speaking truth into their little hearts. And the truth is that even though we should still continue to pray and ask God’s protection on our family, bad things may happen. But the bigger truth is we don't have to worry because we know that no matter what happens to us here on Earth, we get to go to Heaven someday, and nobody can take that away from us. That is our victory. That is why we don't worry or fear, because our eternity is secure. Truth. So hold your babies tighter tonight, leave the fingerprints on the door, read them an extra bedtime story, and pray like crazy for this nation, and the people affected by this tragedy.

Hey mama...
I don't know you, but I'm praying for you. I'm crying for you. My heart breaks for you. I feel as though God has one specific mama on my heart, and I don't even know your name but I'm sending up prayers for you. I will keep praying for you, mama, as you begin to pick up the pieces. Time will not ever completely heal this wound but I'm praying you will at least have the strength to carry on. I'll be praying for you over the next few days as you bury your kindergartener. I'll be praying for you on Christmas day as you watch his presents sit without being unwrapped. I'll be praying for you throughout the year as life around you moves on, but time in your world seems to be standing still. I'll be praying for you, mama. Praying that God makes himself known to you in a big way, praying you feel his presence constantly with you, praying he gives you little pieces of reassurance that your little boy his safe in his arms. He is big enough to carry your anger, your sadness, your questions, I pray you lift those to Him. God Bless you, sweet mama.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Treasure Chest

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:34

The boys have started getting pretty nasty to one another lately, and in our efforts to find a creative way to deal with this problem, we have recently started a new rewards program around here. Each boy has a clear plastic cup with a line on it, and every time they exhibit good behavior they get to put a marble in their cup. On the contrary, every time they are mean to a fellow triplet they must take one of their hard earned marbles and put it in said triplet's cup. When they have earned enough marbles (or been victimized to the point of having a cup full of marbles) they will be rewarded (or consolated for being picked on) with an ice cream cone or some small treat.

So tonight before bed I asked one little boy (whom had not one marble to speak of in his cup) if he would pick books up for me. The tired, worn out, and stubborn little 5 year old that he was immediately told me 'No, I didn't make that mess!". "Okay fine I replied, although, had you picked that mess up nicely like I had asked, I was going to give you a marble." Oh, that little boy fell apart, begged me to give him another chance to earn that marble. "Please, please PLEASE I'll do it! Please let me have a marble!"

To which I responded "No, I wanted you to help with those books because you love me and you want to be helpful and obedient to me. NOT because you only want a marble."

And then it occurred to me how similar this was to what God wants from us, and I had a wonderful opportunity to share with them why they should serve God. Not because he can do stuff for us (and he does!) or give us things (we've got tons!) but because he loves us. He knows what is best for us, and daily obedience to God puts us align with his will, and being in God's will is the only way to live a truley satisfied and content life.

And then I had to do my own faith-check. What were my prayers lately? Did I, despite the fact that our bank account said otherwise; feel rich? Rich with God's love, God's grace, his forgiveness, his mercy, his presence, his fruit... rich with things that can truley satisfy ones soul? Was my treasure in this home, or was my treasure buried my chest; where you abide in my heart and soul?

So this Christmas season, as we as a culture are wrapped up in buying and spending and wanting and needing, take a moment to ask yourself; Why do you serve God? Do you seek him for what he can do for you, change for you, fix for you, or give you? Or do you just seek Him because he is worthy, because he loves you, because you long to know more of Him? What do your prayers sound like; are you asking for more things or asking for more of Him? He desires to change YOU, not your situation. He desires to give you more of Himself, not more 'stuff'. The treasure he wants to gives you is eternal; He is our treasure, my undeserved treasure.

Help me check my motives in everything that I do. Help me instill in my children that you are more than enough. We don't deserve the salvation you died to give us, let a lone all these earthly possessions you bless us with. Thank you for the opportunity to teach my children about how much you love us. Help me set an example to them of a mother that wants nothing more than just to seek your face and know your heart. Help me be so satisfied with only you that nothing or no matter what is going on around me, I am always content. My cup runneth over.
In Jesus name,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Be in the school, not of the school

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19

I have recently have a 'public school' revelation. And because almost every Christian mother I've talked to about homeschooling has either 1. wanted to home schooling, 2. felt guilty for not homeschool or 3.opted for private christian school to keep their kids out of public school; I thought at least one other mom could find encouragement in this.

To be quiet honest, two weeks into Kindergarten my husband and I were both ready to pull our kids out of public schools and home school. It seemed that their teachers got the only good 7 hours out of their short days; when they came home they were cranky and tired and there was little we could do but just make it to their 7pm bedtime. They also came home having learned several new songs, curse words, sayings, you name it. I had done my best up until now to monitor what they watched and listened to, and it seemed in less than 2 weeks it was all erased. But we stuck it out. I have a feeling I'm going to get several "You should homeschool!" remarks just from fellow home-schooling sisters and because most everyone knows the pros of homeschooling, I thought I would share a few of the reasons we decided to keep our kids in public schools.

I hate to say it, but money is the biggest issue. As of now, 6 of the 7 days out of the week I have to do some sort of 'work', either babysitting in my home or cleaning jobs outside of the home. I have an immense amount of respect for the amount of time it takes to homeschool your children, and it wouldn't be possible for me to work and teach my children (effectively), nor can we afford for me to quit working. On top of that, I would want to compensate with music lessons, computer/technology classes, gymnastics, sports... we just couldn't afford to pay for our children to do all these things that they get to do in school for free if I wasn't working.

I'm also not sure I have the patience. The end. No, but really- I worry that in my attempt to raise them in a Christian atmosphere I would be doing just the opposite. I am afraid I might be too grumpy and irritable with them and I wouldn't want to give God a bad rap with my kids. I would rather let the teacher do the 'dirty' work and then enjoy and do fun things in the time I get with my kids.

And the last reason I want to share is that every single Christian teacher I know that works or has worked in public schools has also opted to send their kids to public schools. Can't be that bad, right?

Okay, so now you know why we decided to stick it out. And now I'm going to tell you why I'm glad we did. Since my children came home telling us about all the naughty things their 'friends' do or say at school, the only defense I can offer my kids to keep them from following those bad examples is this: "You are different than those kids. You are set a part. You are a Jesus boy. You know better. Be in the {school} but not of the {school}. Over and over again, every morning and again at night I remind them how special they are. They are chosen. They are different. They are held to higher stands. Over and over, truth after truth after truth.

And then it hit me... That's the real perk of public home school! You see, had I chosen to keep my kids home or send them to a school where they were surrounded by other Christians I might not fight as hard, I might not remind them as often. But I have to, because they are out there everyday. So for every bad word they hear I try to replace it with 10 'truths'. I'm so blessed by this, I love getting to pray with my kids everyday before school, I love that they get to see for themselves what it means to actually be different and set apart and they get to live it everyday.

Now please don't hear me wrong. I'm not in anyway trying to start a debate here. I know there are pros and cons to both sides of the fence; trust me I've weighed them both heavily. I'm just simply stating that for those of us that have decided to send our Godly children to an un-Godly school, there is comfort. And no matter where or how your children learn; having a mother and father that not only talk the talk but walk the walk both in and out of the home is the most important thing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength

I am fully confident in my inability as a mother, because I am fully confident in the ability of my God. And I am fully aware of my need for His strength to make it through my days. I ask, no beg, for that strength a lot. Strength in the form of energy, or patience, or wisdom. Lord, I need your strength. But since the birth of my 5th baby He has been showing me that I sort of had this whole 'gimme strength' thing backwards...

Somewhere in those first two weeks at home with 4 children who were stuck in the heat and boredom of Summer and a brand new baby that made her presence very known those first few weeks, the Lord gave me the verse "The Joy of the Lord is my Strength" Nehamiah 8:10. I can't remember where or when I actually read it, but when I came upon it, it was as if I was reading it for the first time. The joy of the Lord if my strength. Click. So many times I have prayed and prayed for strength, thinking if I had more strength then I could be joyful. And all along I had it backwards! That was it, the secret to His strength which I was so desperate for as I adjusted to life as a mother of 5 and tried to clear the air of that 'new baby fog' I was living in was to be Joyful.

And then several months later He gave me another piece to this marvelous puzzle. While we were singing our Praise Songs at church one Sunday I noticed the lyrics I was singing read "It's my Joy to Honor You". Stop right there! Lord, is that where my Joy comes from? Honoring you? Being Obedient to you? Well then no wonder I'm not always feeling so joyful. So many times I choose what I want to do over what I know I am called to do. To be completely honest I had let my prayer life slip away and I wasn't even being obedient in my call to spend quiet time with Him. I choose my flesh over my spirit more than I care to admit, and I wonder why I often feel so puny in my joy department. The rest of the World may think that being obedient feels like a prison sentence, but the Child of God knows that there is no better feeling, no greater Joy, than living constantly in the presence of God. And that means seeking Him in all things and following him with your whole heart. That is Joy.

And then I remember a sermon preached a year or so ago about how we as human fleshly beings need God's strength to do everything. We even need His strength to pray. We need his strength in us to do anything that is pleasing to God. We need his strength to be obedient to Him. For in our own flesh we can do nothing but, "I can do all things through He who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13.

So there it is. My sweet Savior has taught this weary mama a big lesson in such a gentle way over the past few months. I need his strength to even come close being the Mother that I am called to be to these 5 children he entrusted me with. And If I want that strength, I need His Joy. And If I want that Joy, I need to be Obedient to Him. And in order to be Obedient, I need his strength. Are you still following me in this circle? You see, what it all boils down to is that when you feel so weak and weary as us mamas often do, instead of asking for God's strength to get through your situation, ask for his strength to simply Honor him and be obedient to Him {trust, seek, listen and follow Him}. Which, as a Child of God, should bring us Joy in knowing that we are pleasing the one we Love, the one that loves us, which in turns brings strength to continue our obedience in following Him. Hallelujah.

Dear Lord,
I'm asking for your strength today. Not in the form of energy or patience but in the form of obedience to you. Help me honor you with this day, Lord. Give me the strength to seek you, to obey you, to speak with you, to hear you, to walk with you, and to follow you all day long. I want to have a heart that is full of Joy simply for knowing that I have pleased you today. For if I do nothing but strive to honor you, the rest will follow. In Jesus name,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Will they ever 'Get it'?!

My trio starts kindergarten tomorrow. I'm half excited and half broken-hearted and completely shocked that this day is here. And on top of that, my baby boy turns 2 on Saturday, and my 3 month old had decided she no longer prefers or requires to be swaddled. Everyone is growing up so stinkin' fast. And I feel frantic. Before I know it our school supply list will shift from glue sticks to graphing calculators and I will be wondering where on earth the time has gone. I know one thing; it only makes me that much more zealous to instill in my children a deep longing and love for the God who created and delights in them. I pray, no I beg God to capture their hearts. I worry that every time I fail as a mother it turns their hearts farther away from God. And I pray that somehow despite my shortcomings, God will poor His mercy on me and make beautiful fruit grow from this weary woman’s labor.

I'm reminded of the time at dinner when one of my 5 year olds, Sam, was being particularly disobedient that day and giving his poor mama a very hard time. Finally, after he had once again been disrespectful he was 'excused' from the dinner table up to his room. Charlie could tell how distraught I was and he looked at me and said "are you going to cry again?" I had to laugh through my teary eyes. He didn't get it. Not yet, but someday (maybe not until he has children of his own) he will understand how much I loved them, and how broken hearted I was at his brother's poor choices that day. Oh lord, you know my heart. You know I don't desire my children to be smart or successful or popular. But Dear Lord, above all things, I pray they 'get it'.

I pray they understand when they choose to be disobedient it literally breaks my heart, as it does yours as well. I also pray they come to know your sweet forgiveness.

I pray they come to understand how God is my strength and through all the times when a house full of rambunctious boys would have done most people in, their mama was a Saint and never once lost her temper. And I pray they forgive me for all those times when I did.

I pray they come to understand why mama turns up the radio, in the middle of all the chaos, and lift her hands in worship.

I pray they understand what I am doing when I can't do anything else but just lie down, face flat into the carpet and find rest. Not sleep, not a break, just finding rest and strength in you.

I pray they hear the lies of Satan and remember to take those lies to you, letting your truth wash over them like the waves of an ocean, slowly washing those them away wave by wave.

I pray they understand that while bad things may happen to them, you are still good, and I pray that they find the ability to turn life’s trials into a powerful testimony of your goodness.

And I pray they come to understand and cherish the importance of being different than everyone else. That they realize that they are special and chosen and they are to be a bold and brave light in this world.

I pray they come to understand, as much as your earthly bodies can, how much you love them. How sweet and perfectly and lavishly you love them. And I pray with all my heart and soul that they love you too.

Thank you for these first 5 years of mothering. I have learned so much and I pray that my successes outweigh the mistakes. I know one thing; I could not make it through one day without you. Thank you for being with me every step of this journey. From the NICU to the college campus you were, you will be, you are there. I have learned more about your mercy and Grace and love in the past 5 years than I ever would had I not become a mother. I cherish these children you have entrusted me with. I pray I find ways to glorify you in my mothering every single day.
In Jesus Name,
Oh, one more thing; thank you for making them so stinkin' cute and funny and entertaining. Nicely done.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WWJB {Where would Jesus Be?}

I was recently re-reading the story from Luke chapter 2 when Jesus was a child and he wandered away from his parents. They searched for 3 days and when they finally found him they were so very upset, but his response struck a chord with me this time around.

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49

Mary and Joseph had been searching for Jesus for 3 whole days. As a mother I can imagine she searched everywhere she could think a little 12 year old mind might wander, looking for fun, looking for adventure, or anything that might spark the excitement of a little boy. Oh the trouble a little boy would be expected to get into when left to his own devices. I can imagine that even though she knew she was raising God's son, the temple is the last place she expected to find her little boy in a world full of temptation.

But I can't shake Jesus' response out of my head "Where else would you expect me to be?" He was saying, 'I am after all, THE son of God. Where else would I go but in my Father's house? In my Father's presence? There's no where else I'd rather be!'

That's my new standard. We live in a world full of excuses. It's high on stress and low on expectations, and motherhood is no exception. Society tells us it's okay to snap at our kids, lose our temper or get angry, as long as the good out weighs the bad. It's to be expected, right? After all, there is so much stress on today's mom with busy agenda's and jobs and husbands and sports, it's no wonder we bend until we break. Even though the world knows I am a Christian, I can't always react like a Christian, right? I am only human after all. And that's why Christianity is losing so much of it's power these days, because not only does the world not expect more out of us, but most of the time we don't even expect more out of ourselves. But God doesn't grade my heart on a curve. He doesn't compare me to the world around me, he compares me to God's own heart. For I abide in him, and he in me (John 15:4). Jesus is my standard. When the whold world tells me that not only is it okay, but it's to be expected to react to ________(insert stressful person or sitaution here)__________ in a less than Godly way, I want Jesus to be my standard. I want the world to wonder how I could react out of love in a hateful situation, and I want to be able to say "What else would you expect of me? Where else would you find my heart but in the presence of God? He is living in me and I in Him, I am a Jesus girl afterall".

Help me remember that you have higher standards for me than the rest of the world. When life gets stressful, people get hateful, or times get tough, and my flesh fights to react, help me remember who I am. I am you; that 12 year old little boy that nobody expected to find in the temple. Nobody would have been surprised or stunned had you been off having fun with other boys your age, you were only a child and I'm sure there was temptation all around you, but there you were- in your father's house all along. Give me strength, grace, compassion and love and make the whold world wonder where it came from so I can point to you, and show them a heart thats hidden in her father's presence.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Story Hunt

Something about the Easter Bunny is not sitting well with me this year. As a Christian, Easter is about as good as it gets, it's what it's all about. Victory. It's the promise we have, the hope we have, it's what we live for and what we die for. Victory. They tried to crucify and bury our savior but they could not keep him in the grave. Victory. And somehow, adding a big giant Easter bunny into that precious story just doesn't jive with me, and I don't want Easter to be just another Holiday full of fairy tales and candy and presents and toys. So this year my husband and I have decided that we weren't going to to the 'Easter Bunny basket this year', and since the boys have already had 3 egg hunts we don't' really feel the need to do another Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday afternoon. BUT, I still wanted to find a way to make Easter special & fun all while remembering and teaching them what Easter is about... So I decided to do an Easter story scavenger Hunt! I'm so excited to do this with the boys, and at the end they will get an Easter gift from their Daddy and me to celebrate.

Below you will find the story & clues I came up with in case you choose to use this idea as well. You will probably have to change some of the clues to fit your home & children, but this is a great start. I decided to post this as a blog not to push our convictions and decisions on you, but just as an idea of something you might want to add to the Easter traditions you already do, or in our case replace the old! However you choose to celebrate, I pray that you have a blessed Easter season and remember that there is ALWAYS victory with Jesus!

1.Matthew 26:14-16 The high priest wanted to arrest Jesus, but they didn’t know where to find him. So Judas asked “what will you give me if I tell you where Jesus is? So they counted out 30 silver coins to give him. And from that time on Judas watched for the right time to hand Jesus over to him.”

Your first clue is hiding in the place where you keep your money…

2. Matthew 26: 17-30. Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. During the meal he told his disciples that he was about to be arrested. The disciples were sad but he assured him it was all a part of God’s plan. He took bread and broke it, and gave it to his disciples to eat saying ‘this is my body’ and gave them wine to drink saying ‘this is my blood which I pour out to forgive your sins”

The next clue is hiding at the place where we eat our meals….

3. Matthew 26:31 Roosters are known for crowing every morning to wake people up when the night is over. Jesus tells peter that before the rooster crows in the next morning, Peter will lie about knowing Jesus 3 times. Peter doesn’t believe him but Jesus says “What I am about to tell you is true, it will happen this very night. Before the rooster crows, you will say three times you don’t know me”

What wakes daddy up every morning? Look there and you will find your next clue…

4. Matthew 26:36-46 Jesus knows what is about to happen, so He goes into the garden and asks his disciples to stay awake with him while he prays, but he finds them sleeping instead. He tells them “couldn’t you stay awake for even an hour? Watch and pray. Then you don’t fall into sin when you are tempted. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Again he left them, and again he found them sleeping. And even a third time he left them and came back and found them sleeping! He said “are you STILL sleeping and resting? Look! The hour is near. I am about to be handed over to sinners. Get up! Let us go!”

New babies sleep a lot too… go to where your new baby will sleep and there you will find your next clue...

5. Matthew 26:47 Then Judas arrived with the high priest, and kissed Jesus, which was the sign of who to arrest. Jesus didn’t argue or fight when they arrested him, even though he had done nothing wrong.

Where do you go when you get in trouble? Look there and you will find your next clue…

6. Matthew 26:65 Jesus was taken in front of the high priest, who was in charge. The high priest did not like Jesus, so he tore his clothes.

Where do you put your dirty clothes? Look there and you will find your next clue…

7.Matthew 26:67 Then they spit on Jesus, slapped his face, they beat him and spat on him. They treated Jesus very badly and hurt him very badly.

Where do we keep our band aids and things for our cuts and scrapes? Look there and you will find your next clue…

8. Matthew 27:11-26
Jesus was taken in front of Pilot, who was a ruler at that time. They wanted to crucify Jesus but Pilot knew Jesus had done nothing wrong. Still, the people instisted. Pilot washed his hands with water to signify that he wanted to wash the guilt away from crucifying Jesus, and he gave Jesus over to the soldiers to cruficy.

Your next clue is hiding in the place where you go each night to wash yourselves clean…

9. Matthew 27:33 Before they nailed him to a cross they mixed wine with bitter spices and gave it to Jesus to drink…

Your next clue is hiding in the place where you keep your drinks…

10. Matthew 27:35 Then they nailed him to the cross for all to see.

Your next clue is hiding in the place where Daddy keeps his nails & tools…

11. Matthew 27:35 They divided up Jesus’s clothes by casting lots, sort of like rolling dice, to see who got to keep his clothes. They thought it was a game even though it was very sad.

Your next clue is hiding where we keep our games.

12. Matthew 27: 45-55 For that whole day, until 3:00, the whole land was covered in darkness. At 3:00 Jesus cried out in a loud voice “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani? Which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He cried out again, and then he breathed his last breath. At that moment the temple curtain was raised in 2 from top to bottom. Jesus mother and several other women that he followed Jesus were there, watching as Jesus died.

Mommy tries to follow Jesus too, by reading her Bible and spending time in prayer. Where does mommy keep her bible? There you will find your next clue.

13. Matthew 27:57-61 Then they went and buried Jesus’s body in a tomb, and covered the entrance with a big rock, and guards stood watch to make sure nobody would take Jesus’s body.

Your next clue is hiding in the place where you like to dig in the rocks!

14. Mathew 28 On the third day Mary and several others went to the tomb, but they found it empty! Jesus had fulfilled his promise and his body was no longer in the grave… he had risen again, just like he said he would. When you have Jesus in your heart your body may die but your spirit (your heart) never will. When your time here on earth is over you will go up to heaven and live there in that perfect place forever and ever!

You are Jesus boys too, and can get to know Jesus by reading your bible and praying. Now look in the place where you keep YOUR Bibles to find your Easter surprise!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Livin' on a Prayer

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Romans 8:34

God has given me a heart for mamas. Seriously, I love mamas. Most people think that having triplets I have no pity on other mother's and their stresses, but I do- I get it. Motherhood is overwhelming and stressful no matter if you have one child or 5- you just learn to grow with it, go with it, survive and thrive on this planet motherhood. I love to pray for mamas, cook meals for new mamas, and swap 'you wouldn't believe my day!' stories with other mamas. Over the past 5 years I have come to realize how much in need of encouragement we are, how we need to support one another, stop juding and criticizing and be open to everyones different styles and ways of mothering. And most importantly, we need to lift one another up in prayer. On those really defeated days, when I'm most in need of prayer, I'm always reminded that I'm not alone,I'm not the only mom in need of prayer. I wouldn't trade my defeated, overhwelming days for anything in the world because those are the days I spend the most time in prayer, both for myself and other mothers. Often I feel better just by shifting the focus off myself and praying for other moms that might need encouragement that day as well.

I've had several really stressful weeks the past few weeks, and last week I was feeling exceptionally overhwelemed. I desperately wanted prayer. And to top it off, I had that old friend-sin 'worry' nagging at the back of my mind, causing me to stress and feel anxious about something I have little control over. I had already asked several of my other 'sister friends' to pray for me, but that didn't seem like enough. I know there are several times I promise to pray for somebody and I forget, and I wanted these prayers bad, I needed to know someone was praying for me.

And then I rememered reading a post on facebook several months back and that was something along the lines of Jesus sitting at the right hand throne of God and he prays for you. That thought filled my head all day long- He prays for me!

So friend, if you're feeling desperate and in need of prayer, please reach out. But we are all human- there is only ONE person you can ask for prayer that will not fail you. Jesus will pray for you. You don't even have to know how or what to ask him to pray, he prays for you. He already knows your stress and worry ans anxiety, and he is waiting on you to lift your burden to him. He prays for you. I can't get that out of my head. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ and there is power in their prayers, but who better to have in your corner praying for you than Jesus himeslf, sitting there right beside our maker? Oh I hope that blesses you as much as it blesses me. How foolish we can be to hang on to our worries when He is up there just waiting for us to acknolwedge that He is in control. He is on our side. Cast ALL your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7.

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.
John 17:9

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Find a Penny

Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:39

Have you ever taken a moment to just sit & really reflect on how much God loves you? It's easy to say that we grasp this concept, we've been singing "Jesus Loves Me" since we were in the church nursery, but do you really get it? Do you have a peaceful understanding deep down in your soul that no matter who you are, what you've done or what you don't do, God loves you? And when is the last time you sat and just thought about that? That the God who knows the deepest, darkest parts of your heart, your ugliest thoughts & your entire past- He is head over heels in love with you?

I've been doing a little Bible Study by Beth Moore called "Loving Well" and how we are called to love others not in our own strength, but out of the abundance of lavish, unconditional, unstoppable, overflowing of God's love that he pours on me. I love that thought; I am a princess who is lavishly, unconditionally spoiled by my father, the KING. He does not love me out of an unstable, inconstistant, ever-changing emotional love, the way our flesh loves others. He doesn't even love us to get anything in return. He loves us because that is who He is. God is love. And as a child of his who has accepted & acknowledged that rich overflowing of God's love I am to love others with that God-love that is just dripping & overflowing from me. Period. No exceptions, no excuses. God loves me because of who He is, not because of who I am. In light of that, I am called to love others not because of who they are, but because of who I am, a child of God.

It's one thing to sit and pray and talk 'at' God, but take a moment to just sit & meditate on how much you are loved. How constant, peacefully, completely,abundantly & lavishly you are loved. Go ahead, lay down while you are doing it so you really feel like you are resting in the love of your father, you know- the way a cat lies down & soaks up the sunshine. See if it doesn't make a difference in your day and in the way that you love others.

I have several friends who have this "God thing" going on. They have a certain 'sign' from God, and when they see these 'signs' or reminders, it's their own personal "I love You" or 'I'm here" from God. I thought this sounded wonderfully romantic, so I asked God to give me a 'thing' that was just for me and Him. The very next day I started finding pennies everywhere. I think I counted 5 in one day. It wasn't until I was 3 pennies into it that I realized God had given me my
'thing', and the words Find a penny pick it up, and all day long you'll feel God's love popped into my head. I have continued to find several more pennies over the days that have followed, and now my boys will bring me pennies they find and tell me "Here mom I found this, it is for you from Jesus!" What a wonderful, fun reminder that I am loved and he is always present, no matter if I 'feel' those truths or not. What an awesome thought that the God who created the universe will take time to be so personal & intimate with me.

Thank you for being more patient with me, the mess that I am, than I am with others. Help me to remember they deserve the same patience and love from me that you so extravagantly give to me. Thank you Lord, for taking the time to be personal and to answer little prayers, for being willing to remind me daily how big, how deep, how wide & how constant your love is for me, I want to get lost in that love with you, Lord. Thank you for reminding me at just the right moments in your own special way that my heart is spoken for.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

5 Rules for a Happy Valentine's Day

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

I love this Holiday. Love, love, love it. What a great way to remember what being a Christian is all about; LOVE! Loving God, loving ourselves, and loving one another! I realize however, that many people find this holiday depressing, disappointing, or just plain silly. So, I've come up with 5 rules on how to find joy in this day!

1. Don't expect anything from your 'Valentine'.

"If I have the gifts of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and knoweldge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, it benefits me nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2

I realized early on in my marriage that my husband is not a romantic. Over the years I've also come to terms with the fact that he's also not a mind reader, and if I don't want to be disappointed I simply need to lay my desires out on the table, and then still not expect those desire to be fully met. If he does, wonderful. If he doesn't, then at least I can find his effort to be cute. At first it was a bit disappointing, especially when I heard all these fabulous stories about romantic & creative gifts, and I was given the same generic cards-candy-flower for every holiday. But then I realized that that's just who he was. He wasn't doing it because he didn't love me as much as those romantic guys, he just doesn't even know how to express his love like that. But he does express his love to me everyday in his sense of humor, his security, his loyalty, his love, his patience, and his support of me. And those are the traits that will help you make it through the really, really trying times in your marriage anyways.

2. Accept the fact that he's only doing it because it's Valentine's Day.

"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth."
1 John 3:18

I've heard many times that people don't like the idea of Valentine's day because they don't think that their love should be limited to expression only one day a year. Good for you, go ahead and surprise your lover with flowers & candy & sweet nothings on some random Tuesday for no reason at all. For all the rest of us, what's wrong with a reminder? Quite frankly, I need the reminder too. Our days get so busy & routine that it's nice to have a day to remind ourselves how much we love one another.

3. It's not just for romance.

"Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." 1 John 4:20

I once read an article on another Mom blog about how Valentine's day has become so kid-centered. This mother was banning all things 'kid' related from the Holiday in order to solely focus on the romantic love she shared with her husband. I get it; you shouldn't be so focused on your children that you spend all your time, effort, & energy into making their day corny & sweet. But who says Valentine's Day has to be a romantic holiday? As a Christian, I've come to realize that it's not so much a Holiday between me and my husband, as it is a holiday re-evaluate the way that I'm loving everyone around me. I love spending the day doing all things corny & heart shaped, and talking about God's love with my children, how we can show love to other's, how much I love them, how much God loves them, how much I love God, how much God wants us to love others. And then I love putting those kids to bed early to have a quiet special dinner with my husband. What a perfect Holiday to remember the most important part of being a Christian!

4. Propose to Jesus

" He answered:'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

Okay, okay, this one sounds really corny I know. But over and over again I have heard the same advice on having a successful relationship; 'invite Christ to be in the center of your marriage'. So true. But to me this sort of implies a joint decision between husband and wife. But what about those times when you don't feel like your husband is responding like a 'Christian'? I mean, I married a human. He married one too. We're going to disappoint each other, we're not always going to have a loving, Godly reaction to one another. I've learned in those times that putting Christ in the center of my marriage is not a decision my husband and I have to make together, but instead it is a personal decision that God expects of me. No matter what others are doing around me I must remember that my heart is spoken for, it is bound to God. I have to trust that God will work on my husbands heart in our marriage, and I need to keep my focus on my relationship with God. I need to know that my marriage with Christ is the one that will leave me satisfied and that no other relationship will ever feel complete if I can't first be satisfied with having only Jesus. I can't expect my spouse or family or friends to fulfill those deep desires that God intended for Him and Him only to fill. Don't get me wrong, he desires us to be in a marriage that is a loving union between two people so that they can best support, encourage & help one another grow & serve Him. But, that starts with me having a heart that is head over heels in love with God.

6. Celebrate all year long.

"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." 1 John 13:35

Love is the most important commandment he gives us. It's in the Bible over a dozen times. Love God, love one another. Valentine's Day should only be a reminder of how we are to act all year long.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Weighting on God

We have survived the first month of 2012 already, where did January go? Better question; how are you doing on your New Year's resolutions?

As I posted a while back, my one and only New Year's resolution is to allow more of God and less of me, in any and every area of my life, and that includes my health. Every single New Year's, for as long as I can remember, my New Year's resolution has been to lose weight. I'm crying for my Middle school self as I type that, because I have had a life-long struggle with my weight. I was a chubby little girl who thinned out enough to fit in as I got older, but I have been on a 30lb roller coaster since high school that left me feeling so very defeated.

And then, almost one year ago I began a food journey with God. My women's Bible study group began a study called "Made to Crave" by Lysa Terkeurst. This is a must-read for anybody that has ever struggled with food. I went into the study somewhat reluctantly. I didn't really think I had 'issues' that surrounded my weight, meaning there wasn't any deep-rooted sadness or hole I was trying to fill. I simply LOVED food, ate too much of it, and it showed a little. I married a man that loves food as much as I do, which is a dangerous combination. I remember the first time we saw a commercial for the mini blizzard and we both looked at each other at the same time and said "Well THAT is stupid! Who in the world wants a smaller Blizzard?!" I was a self-admitted foodie, but I didn't really feel the need to do a Bible study about it, but I loved the group of women so I signed up.

The first session in, I was hooked. I felt like God had brought that study to our church just for me. I realized that night that God wanted 100% of me, and that included my food. You see, 90% of the time I made healthy choices, ate healthy foods, and exercised. But 10% of the time I was out of control. I couldn't stop at just one brownie, or two, or even three. I rarely kept sweets in the house because I would literally eat half the pan, and then throw the other half away just to stop myself. Most of you probably never would have guessed by looking at me that I struggled with food, probably because I was able to exercise enough to keep a healthy weight. But I knew deep down that I was just one injury away from weighing 200 lbs. I knew that if anything ever prevented me from running 6 miles a day my secret would be out. And yes, I am embarrassed to say that, but it's where I was at. And that's the 10% of me that God so desperately wanted. Not because He wanted me to be thin & beautiful and healthy (although he does desire us to be healthy), but mainly because He didn't want me to be controlled by anything other than Him, and he certainly didn't want me to feel defeated about anything. One of my favorite verses I learned during the study is one that I still keep in my kitchen today:

"Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food." Romans 14:20

Now I know, this is taken somewhat out of context. In the text they are referring to respecting other's convictions & not causing one another to sin. But still, I can't help but feel like God gave that verse to me. He doesn't want food to be a stumbling block for us, period. He doesn't want anything to be a stumbling block. He made me perfect & beautiful and that's the way He saw me, and he wanted me to feel that way as well.

There was a study guide that we completed along with reading Lysa's book, and many of the questions asked things like how I felt about my weight, or about my ability to control my eating, or how I felt after I over-ate. I went back and re-read the Study guide after I completed it and I couldn't believe the words I chose. They were things like "out of control, guilty, defeated, fat, ugly..." Wow. Those are most definitely not the way that Jesus wants us to feel. You see, he not only offers us victory from death (Heaven) but he offers us victory from our flesh. He wants us to taste victory before we get to heaven, victory from our earthly desires & sins, and for me that means victory from food.

Many of you are reading this and thinking "I don't get it, how is food so bad? God gave us food, isn't food good?" Yes, of course it is. But remember, God never intended our food to be over-processed, deep fried & sugar coated, and those kinds of food choices are nothing short of addictive & deadly. And, as Lysa points out, anything is a sin if you love it more than God, and this girl loved her food. It may not be food for you- it might be shopping, clothing, sex, drugs, alcohol, anything that has the ability to consume or control you. But for me, and I think a lot of women, it's food. Still not convinced that food can be a big deal to God? Consider this; self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit, and time and time again in the Bible he calls us to be self-controlled and submissive to the Holy Spirit. "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert." (1 Peter 5:7-8)

We started the bible study right before Easter, during the Lent season, and I have always loved the idea of fasting from something during Lent to prepare your heart for the resurrection of our King. During this study I gave up 2 things; sweets & my scale. Now, you're probably thinking- your scale? Nice one, that must have been really easy for you. But for me, it was the ultimate act of submission to God. It was me showing him that my weight was not important. What was important was that I found a way to co-exist with food peacefully; by using His power to overcome my temptations & make healthy food choices. You see, I'm a numbers girl, no matter how my pants fit or feel, if the number on the scale doesn't say what I want it to say, I'm not happy. And I weighed myself at least 3 times a day, anytime I was in the bathroom I stepped on the scale. So for me, it was huge to give that up. And you know what? Not being able to 'control' myself by seeing that number several times a day actually caused me to lose weight. I lost 13 lbs. throughout the 6 or 8 week study. But what I gained was a sense of control. I learned that even though I wasn't bigger than that pan of brownies, God was. I learned that it was a sin to over-eat the way I wanted to, and that I needed to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me in making healthier choices. Many times I still want to eat a handful of crackers (okay, maybe 2 handfuls) for a snack but I remember that anytime you feel prompted by the Holy spirit about anything and you don't listen, it's a sin. It was like I could see God reaching down at me with an apple saying 'Look what I made! Eat this- not that! I made this, this beautiful perfect apple for you!" That sounds corny, but it's the way I look at healthy 'whole' foods now; it's food the way God intended for us to eat it, because it's what's best for us. And He always wants what's best for us. And I want to give my best to Him. I want to treat my body as a a temple, I want my kitchen to be my sanctuary to God.

I'm not going to go into the details of the book because I strongly urge you to read it for yourself. And I realize this is an extremely odd time in my life to be blogging about my weight, as I sit here 6 months pregnant and watching my weight climb a little every week. But for me, it's perfect timing. Through recent events in my life my eyes have been opened even more to the hopelessness & desperation that surrounds me in this world. I felt Jesus saying "step it up sister! Be a light, walk the walk!" It was just the encouragement that I needed. How could I be so bold as to confess to know a God that is bigger than addictions, drugs, alcohol & depression, but wasn't big enough to help me put down that bag of Peanut Butter M&M's? He is, and he has called me to be a Jesus girl that can stand up & prove it. And personally, I am watching my body change & get bigger and have absolutely no control over it. I can't even exercise the way I want because my doctor has me on low-impact only for medical reasons. And I have to embrace it. To realize that the number on the scale is NOT what is important. It's about not being controlled by food, period. Whether that means I gain 20 lbs or 40lbs this pregnancy, as long as I can look in the mirror and see a woman who is at peace with food, then I win. As long as I don't feel the need to weigh myself 10 times a day, and obsess about my size, then I win. As long as I don't feel controlled by food and overwhelmed with temptation from it, I win. "

So, here I am one year into my food-journey with God. I wish I could say I've officially stepped off the roller coaster and walked victoriously for the past year, but there is a reason it took me an entire year to write this blog. Because I've failed, I've fallen, I've struggled with temptation & still do. And I've realized I probably always will. It's not like drugs or alcohol, I can't just leave food at the grocery store and walk away, and no matter how many times I pray for him to take away my sweet tooth- it's still there. Food is everywhere. But I'm learning that everyday is a new day. Everyday is a new opportunity to show my love for God by my surrender with food. And I may not be exactly where I want to be in this journey with food, but I'm so much closer than where I started. . My pastor said something a few months back that I've kept with me always, as a reminder to never stop fighting for my victory with food "Sometimes we don't have the victory because we aren't willing to fight the battle." So many times we feel powerless because we don't want to fight for our victory. We want God to just defeat our giants & hand the victory to us. But he would much rather give us His power, and fight through us. Let him be your strength. I pray that if you are reading this in the middle of your own struggle with food & weight, that you make the decision to allow Jesus to guide you on your journey. I pray that you realize that you were made for more than a life long struggle with food, and you serve a God who cares about every aspect of your life and desires you to know that vicotry is sweeter than any chocolate covered lie.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Promise Land

In the past year or so I have been evolving my parenting approach. As I've confessed in earlier blogs I so desperately wanted to be the mom that said 'Jump!' and my kids instantly responded 'Yes, ma'am! How high?!" No whining, complaining, screaming or arguing, just instant obedience. Bliss. But my kids are not so fond of 'instant obedience' and (my strong-willed children especially) tested this mama to the max. I was frazzled, frustrated & defeated in my parenting. So I switched gears and tried a more loving & gentle approach to parenting (aside from those times when they are directly disobeying or being disrespectful to me or another grown up, we rarely spank anymore). They do get sent to their room a lot or get toys or privileges taken away, but let's just say I've lowered my expectations without lowering my standards (they are 3 rowdy 5 year olds after all). I still discipline and guide & speak truth & love into them about how we are to act & treat people, I just sort of allow them a little more wiggle room for their well, wiggles & antics for the sake of my sanity. In essence, I've just come to terms with the fact that it may be better for me to 'under discipline' while keeping my cool & showing them love & patience than to 'over discipline' out of anger & my temper.

And guess what? The bewildering thing is that their behaviors haven't really changed one bit. Not on stinkin' bit. You would think that we would have this great revelation in their behavior - especially since a whole year has passed & they have gotten a whole year older & more mature, right?!. Wrong. I feel like I've had more of those "My kids just earned me a BIG ol' jewel on my crown in Heaven today!" days than ever before recently.

And so I've found myself questioning my parenting yet again. I confessed to my sister recently that "I must just not be good at this whole effective discipline thing".

And then just a few days ago I found myself reading the book of Joshua during my quiet time. If you've never read it, you should. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Bible, Moses had led the Israelites out of slavery from the Egyptians & He was supposed to lead them into their Promise Land. However, even after God had done miraculous things in helping them escape (parting of the Red Sea, providing Manna in the dessert for them to eat every day), They still grumbled & complained & questioned God saying it would be better to be back in slavery than wandering around in the dessert. So, what does God do? He tells them that they will never be allowed to set foot in the Promise Land, but they will die in the desert and their children will inherit the land.
Fast forward 40 years when Moses dies, and God chooses Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promise Land (Jericho). Problem is, it's occupied already. God tells the Israelites to march around the walls of the city of Jericho, and on the 7th day they were to sound their trumpets, shout & yell & the walls would collapse and the Israelites would be able to claim Jericho as their city, their Promise Land flowing with milk & honey.

Cool story, right? It didn't really occurred to me that this might apply to motherhood until my neighbor asked me to print out a worksheet she needed for her home schooling since her printer was broken, and what do you suppose their lesson was about? You guessed it- Joshua. I thought maybe God was trying to speak to me through this story so I went back & read it again.

I realized God was calling me to march around my Promise Land. His tactics might not make sense, my efforts my not be fruitful the first, or second, or even the third time around, but keep marching. It's okay to feel like I don't really know what I'm doing, just keep marching, keep doing those tings that I do know how to do, doing what I am called to do. Keep modeling the fruits of the spirit he equips us with- love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness & self control. Do not be discouraged. Do not be dismayed. Do not look to the right or the left, do not question God, grumble or complain. I realized that while my children's behavior & attitude hasn't really changed, mine has. And that's the only behavior I can really control anyways. All I can do is model what a heart that loves Jesus looks like, and pray like crazy that God will capture their hearts as well, and give them hearts that long to please him and serve him as well.

And so there it is, that is my Promise Land. A deliverance from God in my motherhood. Deliverence from defeat, deliverence from anger, deliverance from inadequate feelings, deliverance from my kids ability to determine my behavior. So keep marching on mama's! Keep loving, praying, & teaching our children to seek his face. Keep looking to him for guidance and direction when you feel discouraged. Have faith that He knows what he's doing, even when we do not, and that He will finish what he has started.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

It's that time of year again. Time to re-evaluate our lives and make that list of all the new things we are going to change, accomplish, or achieve in this new year. In years past I've made my list, and as I grew older I realized my list pretty much looked the same from year to year. Why? Because my resolutions were going unresolved. After a few months they were forgotten or given up on and I became happy in my complacency. In fact, looking back I don't remember a single resolution that I actually accomplished. And then before I knew it, I would find myself at the end of another year with the same 'wish list' as in the past, and resolve to try even harder in the new year. I know I'm not alone here.

So last year, I quit with the list making. I quit trying to change myself or my life. I had but one resolution: A little less me, a little more God.

That's it. And it will forever be my New Year's resolution, because no matter how much closer to Him I get this year, he will never be done growing me, changing me, molding me, teaching me. There will always be room for more God, and being that I'm human I'm sure I will always need to work on less of me. That's the beauty of it. He'll never quit working on me, until I get to Heaven someday. And the more control you give Him, the more things fall into place. Everything just naturally gets better when God is in control because let’s face it; he knows what he is doing, and I don’t. I don’t have to worry about doing it on my own. Just surrender to his will, and He will make the improvements.

So God, this year (just the same as last year) YOU are my resolution. I want to seek you more, to know you more, to give you more of myself and allow YOU to choose what areas of my life you want to change, and trust that you will give me the power & strength to improve. I know I can't really change anything about myself on my own anyways. I give you control of my whole life. No matter it be my marriage, my friendships, my mothering, my physical well-being, finances, & even my prayer time- none of those areas can be better unless YOU are in control of them, and you are the one making the changes.
Please continue to grow me, mold, me, & change me in the year 2012.
In Your Precious Name,