Monthly Archives: April 2012

Let’s Hear it for Motherhood

A while back, I felt this pull to put the focus of most posts for May on motherhood. Motherhood has shaped each of us, whether you’re a mom or not, whether you have a close relationship with your mama or miss her terribly because she’s already gone home. Whatever mother figure you did or did not have growing up helped shape your view of the world.

I realize that someone who happens up on this post is going to feel a sadness in her heart because she yearns to be a part of the “mommy club.” I want you to know that while I don’t know your exact pain or circumstance, my heart feels for you deeply. I didn’t have a wait that lasted for years upon years, but my journey to motherhood didn’t come without some pain, and it’s because of you, dear friend, that I hesitated on more than one occasion in my plans to pursue this topic on the blog. Can I ask you to check back in on Wednesday? A dear friend will be sharing her story, and I really believe it will bless your heart. Also know that I am praying for you, that God will reveal His peace to you in the midst of your sorrow.

Whether you are a mother or not, motherhood deserves to be celebrated. It’s a gift that should not be taken for granted, so I hope to be able to honor moms (especially mine) through the posts that make up this month of motherhood.

I also want to address another group of women that have their own set of struggles. You are a mother, and it’s because of this that you are aware of the challenges, joys, heartache, and love you never before experienced until you first found out about that child(ren) was going to be snuggled in your arms soon. You’ve encountered “mom brain” and “mommy guilt” and can’t figure out how to overcome either one. You feel like you have absolutely no privacy while feeling equally isolated simultaneously. Your child’s needs overwhelm you and make you feel like you’re the only one out there with this problem. You are a mom, and this role will never end no matter how old you child is.

Please join me and my friends over the next few weeks as we look at the joys, the lessons, the hardships, the hilarious stories, and the craziness that is motherhood. I’m so incredibly excited to have the opportunity to share some of the stories that make up the lives of women I love and respect so much. Whether you feel like an average (in a not-so-pleasant-way) mom or a mom who’s life is an exception to everyone you know (and quite possibly everyone on the planet), you will be touched by these women’s words.

Do not miss a post! There might even be a giveaway or two along the way. Be sure to check out how you can read each post below.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Community

I wasn’t planning in participating in Five Minute Friday today. As much as I love it, it didn’t go with the theme of the week on the blog, and I just didn’t feel like writing anything. But then I saw today’s word, and I felt the need to write about it. Here you go! My raw honest recap of the thoughts in my head from this week. (And maybe I kept writing after the five minutes was up. I guess this makes me a rule breaker now.) 🙂

 

 

 

Community

Photo Credit

Those lies in my head kept fighting their way to the front this week. I knew who they were and what they were up to, so I fought hard.

“I am not alone! I am not unloved! I am not completely insane…only a little bit.”

These thoughts keep coming back to me for so many reasons, both known and unknown. Right now I know why. It’s because I want to take a stand against the norms of society when it comes to connecting with others.

I no longer want to settle when it comes to friendships. I want them to be more than superficial conversations and “Oh, I know we’re all just too busy to work at this thing called catching up.”

We are created for more. For communion with one another. And as I sat at home with a quiet phone and an imaginative almost 3 year old this week, I observed our needs and tendencies to fight against yet wish so strongly for this difficult thing called community.

I saw it in the way that my son wanted me right by his side playing trains and digging dirt.

I saw it in the way that I all but counted down the hours until my husband got home from work so I could just talk to another adult already.

I saw it in the way I talked myself out of calling someone just to say hi because I didn’t want to bother them.

I saw it in the way I all but word vomited, nope I pretty much reached the word vomit level by the end of the week, when I conversed with any other unsuspecting soul who just wanted to say hi or catch up on small talk.

I saw it in the caring eyes of the friends who took time to meet up with me in the midst of our busy lives.

I saw it through the eyes of a stranger who came and joined the conversation with my friend and I at Starbucks. She, too, hungers for community. For an audience. For someone to hear her story and ooh and awe over her child’s pictures.

We are created for community. God Himself gave Eve to Adam when he saw the sorrow that came with aloneness. He wanted life to be filled with more than the stresses of our jobs and obligations. He wanted living pictures of what our relationship with Him is to resemble, so He gave us each other.

Sweet, sweet friend who is reading this post, I need you to hear me. Never settle for loneliness. Call me, email me, communicate with me in whatever way you can when you feel overwhelmed with the pressures of your life. We are not meant to do life alone. I will not think you weak or high maintenance. I have just been in that dark place filled with lies yet again, and as I take one determinedly labored step at a time out of it, I feel the passion to not let a single soul get to that place again without knowing it is optional to go there. You have someone even when you don’t feel like you do.

I am humbled and grateful in ways I can’t begin to describe to each friend who has both knowingly and unknowingly helped me through this lapse of sanity that has made me feel the awkward exception to all that is good and true. Your prayers, your listening ears – they have helped me, and I want to help you in whatever way I can as well.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Marriage is about Unraveling {Guest Post}

I know you will find joy in reading today’s post! My friend Ashley is kind enough to share a little about what she’s learned about the delicate art of patching up the rough times in marriage. May you be encouraged! I also highly recommend you check out her blog, Little Pieces of Ordinary.

Photo Credit

My husband and I welcomed our third baby in five years this last October. We’ll be married seven years in July and we have a four year old, a three year old, and now a five month old baby.  Marriage, it has seasons and rhythms like tides and my Tim and I, we’re finally learning how to keep our footing in these wild waves of baby’s first year.

Right after Isaac, our youngest, was born, we’d meet each other coming and going and find ourselves splitting to make it all happen, him with two, me with baby or vice versa. And we didn’t sit down and talk with each other but rather talked at each other on our way out the door.

Could you bring the sippy cups?
We need to pack an extra pull-up.

Will you feed Isaac his rice cereal?
Abby wants to read a book.
Isaac needs a bottle.
Did you start the dishwasher?

Which kid do you want to put to bed?
Did you visit ________?
Did you remember Abby has ballet tonight?
We need toilet paper soon.
Could you stop by the store for…”
 
And on and on.  This is our life right now.
We’ve been pretty good at scheduling dates up until Isaac was born. But a nursing baby makes dating difficult, and sometimes it’s just easier to drift on the outgoing tide.

Until we find ourselves fighting in the bedroom late on a Thursday night. And I look at him and I want him desperately to tell me that he’ll be there always, that he’s not giving up, that I’m still precious to him and he still loves me.

But he doesn’t say those things. Instead he looks exasperated.
And he is exasperated because he doesn’t know what I want him to say.
And I don’t want to tell him; I just want him to know what I need to hear.
The sun went down and the moon came up with our anger still kindling.

The next day I texted him:

Me: Do you feel like we are unraveling a little bit?

Tim: Yes. But … Don’t freak out about that. Marriage is a constant process of unraveling and binding up.

I knew he was right. It’s not a shock to unravel. Marriage is hard and our hearts will drift away on the tides of life without efforts to anchor them in the storms.  The question is not “Will we ever unravel?” but “What will we do after?”

Touch can be love in action to physically declare your intentions to never let go of that man. Long hug at the bathroom door, arm around his shoulder during church, head and back rubs, holding hands in the car are all ways to stitch up those necessary splits when there are more needs than time to nurture togetherness.

Date nights are a vital way to remind each other: this is the beginning.  In the beginning it was only us and we hold it all together. Our kids, the branches of our little family tree, but we are the trunk and if we let the wind blow us, rock the cradle of our union, they fall too.

There will be seasons when marriage is mediocre.  On one hand, we acknowledge it: marriage is the unraveling and the binding back up. On the other hand, we refuse to allow the unraveling to continue through passivity.  We choose to bind back together, no matter what it takes.

A believer and a dreamer. A pastor’s wife and a mama to three. A little creative and a little messy. Imperfection guaranteed. By the grace of God, I am who I am and His grace to me has not been without effect. Ashley blogs over at Little Pieces of Ordinary. A place where she shares how God reveals His grace to her through the everyday occurrences of life.

 

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Giveaway of Warrior Prayers

A while back, I shared about a resource that I was very interested in learning more about, the eBook, Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most. This book is written specifically for mothers of boys, and this mother of a boy is so excited to sit down and read it in its entirety very soon, and I plan to start one week from today, May 1st, when The MOB Society hosts the 21 Days to Pray for Sons Challenge.

I would love it if my fellow boy moms would join me in this challenge. Thanks to the generous women over at The MOB Society, I have the opportunity to make it that much easier for one more mom out there. How, you ask? A while back when I first mentioned the book on my blog, The MOB Society gave me a copy of the book to give away to one of my readers.

Would you like to have your own copy of this book? Please be sure to enter! Your boy can be still forming inside the womb, all grown up, or anywhere in between for you to participate!

Side Note One: I’m sorry to all moms of girls only! I promise I’m not trying to leave you out. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the 31 Days to Pray for Your Daughters Challenge!

Side Note Two: I also realize that not all of my readers are mothers for various reasons. Please know that I am grateful for your patience with me when I focus on these motherhood topics. You are the best for supporting me, and I appreciate you so very much!

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Marriage Starts with Goodbye

Marriage is about making it through the seasons of life with the person to whom you’ve committed to faithfully have and hold, love and cherish. This year my husband and I will celebrate our sixth anniversary, and in this relatively short time, we have endured some crazy seasons.

Today starts a new one as Tanner begins a new job. You should know that I’m actually writing this post at the end of his last day with the one place that has remained a constant throughout our marriage. We are both a bit emotional about it in this moment because we are still in the difficult stage of saying goodbye and letting go of the familiar. We’ve been here before, however.

In fact, that’s how marriage starts – with saying goodbye to our solitary lives to begin the sweet yet painful process of becoming one new unit. It sounds dreamy when we’re little girls, and especially after we have those pretty engagement rings on our fingers, but when the day comes to vow our faithfulness and life-long commitment to the man who stole our hearts, we begin a process that will continue throughout the rest of our lives.

  • Saying goodbye to personal preferences in order to find compromise that will make it possible for those two separate people who chose to wed to actually become one.
  • Saying goodbye to well-laid plans when those unexpected health issues arise and take over your vacation budget or ability to do the things you thought were incredibly important to you.
  • Saying goodbye to the comfortable routine you establish with just the two of you if God chooses to bring children into your family.
  • Saying goodbye to jobs or relationships that you thought were permanent, only to have each other.

Yes, saying goodbye is difficult every single time we do it, but as sad as we feel when we’re facing another goodbye, each time draws us closer because we know we will have each other once the last remnant of our old normal is behind us.

It is then that we can give each other a hug and turn towards the promises of hello together. The unknown threatens to intimidate, but we can join hands and pray with confidence that God will make us stronger through the new challenges.

We can begin to develop our new plan of action and freely dream new dreams, for with the sadness that inevitably accompanies each goodbye comes a sweetly fresh vision.

We find more opportunities to communicate because we can now reflect on what we learned from the past goodbyes and then applaud each other for coming out of the experience stronger.  No longer is there a need to hold back in sharing what we want for our future because we are seeing its potential from the other’s perspective.

The seasons of marriage are unpredictable, but three things are always true of each one. It starts with a hello, that often brings with it excitement, but then it becomes a challenging time of waiting as we live through it, and then it ends with a bittersweet goodbye. I can guarantee nothing else about anyone’s season of marriage but that you are somewhere in one of these stages and that you have no idea how it will actually turn out.

Let me encourage you, no matter where you are in your current stage of life with your spouse, hold onto hope while holding onto each other. Where you are now may be making you feel like a lonely exception or mundanely mediocre, but do not lose heart. This season can make your marriage stronger – make you stronger – if you choose to face it with your spouse.

I’m looking forward to focusing on marriage this week on the blog. Be sure to head back later when I am honored to share an encouraging story from a sweet friend on learning to make marriage a priority when it seems nigh impossible.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Easy Asian Beef Noodle Recipe

I don’t know about you, but one of the ways that I can easily slip into a rut of feeling less-than-exceptional is coming up with new dinner ideas. When a busy day comes, and I add picky eaters to the mix, I am always happy to find a go-to meal that is easy, actually contains vegetables, and most importantly is yummy!

I was so excited to find this recipe for an Asian Beef Noodle Bowl over at Meal Plan Girls‘ website. It has seven ingredients, most of which I almost always have on hand. Want to try it yourself? You can find Jen and Ashley’s recipe here. I have tweaked it a little to better suit our family’s tastes, so feel free to check out my variation below as well.

Ingredients:
8 oz. linguine (or spaghetti…whatever you have on hand)

3 c. broccoli florets (I use frozen)

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 lb. beef steak, cut into bite-sized pieces (I am going to use chicken instead sometime for something different.)

2 tsp. oil

1/2 c. Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (AKA My favorite dressing ever!)

2 Tbsp. Teriyaki sauce

(If you cook Asian food as much as I do and you have some Hoisin sauce on hand, I throw in a tsp. or so of that as well when I’m making the sauce.)

Directions:
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
2. Add the vegetables in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Drain and place in a large bowl.
3. Heat oil in skillet.  Add meat; cook 4 minutes or until brown on all sides, stirring occasionally
4. Stir in dressing and Teriyaki sauce; cook 2 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the meat mixture to the pasta mix.

Voila! An easy and delicious dinner!

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Beautiful in God’s Time + Giveaway

My life is a series of stories that have taken a lot longer to conclude than I pictured when I they were just dreams.

I ended up taking the five-year plan to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree after changing my major three times and transferring colleges once.

I didn’t meet the love of my life until my last year of college, and while many of my friends were planning weddings, I found myself being the bridesmaid and waiting until just the right time to marry the man I love.

The road to motherhood has looked so much different from what I ever envisioned as a little girl lining up my dolls and playing mommy.

Feeling the call to ministry and marrying a man with a pastoral degree, I painted a picture in my mind of what our life together would look like, yet here we are never having been on staff at a church or some flourishing ministry.

Early on in this series of seasons of waiting, I asked God why. I questioned where I might have gone wrong, and convinced myself that I missed some important sign somewhere. But over time, I learned to stop talking so much about how things were supposed to be according to my list of expectations.

When rejections came instead of open doors, and all sources of man-made security began to disintegrate, I began to hear God speak. “I make everything beautiful in My time.

Oh, how beautiful my life is now! Because of God’s timing and not my own, I graduated with a degree that allowed me to have an incredible job where I had so many opportunities to grow as a person and see the need to depend on Jesus for strength.

While my husband didn’t meet my checklist of requirements in the way I’d pictured, he met every single one in a greater way and was so worth the wait. Also, now we can see so many benefits for waiting that extra year to get married.

I may not be chasing two kids around like I always pictured the 30-year-old version of myself doing when I was that little girl playing mommy, but I’ve learned to appreciate and treasure the one son that God has entrusted to my care for this season.

It turns out that what Tanner and I always pictured full-time ministry looking like for us has just been completely different and always changing. It turns out we will never arrive at one set position for the entirety of our lives, and it has taken a long, winding, sometimes sunny, sometimes dark road to discover this.

As we find ourselves coming out of several seasons of waiting, I stand in awe at how true Ecclesiastes 3:11 is to our life. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Waiting for the right time for the right job, right church, right family status has grown us. I will never understand all of the reasons for the directions God has led us, but I can look at where we are and say without hesitation, “God has made everything beautiful in its time.”

To punctuate this stage in our journey, I received the answer yet again, this time in my package to review from DaySpring. As I pulled out these coasters and vase from their Redeemed collection, I couldn’t help but smile at how freely God sends reminders of His presence in our seasons of waiting.

Although He has brought us out of the murky waiting for a while, I know that we will return. That’s why I will treasure these beautiful physical reminders of God’s presence when things are so confusing I can’t make sense of why. The word “BEAUTIFUL” etched onto one side of the vase will remind me to find that which is beautiful even in the midst of the dark times, and Ecclesiastes 3:11, which should become one of my theme verse for life, etched on the other side can spur memories of how God has produced beautiful things before; therefore, He will continue to faithfully do it for the rest of my life.

The verses on the coasters proclaim truths that I believe so much more deeply now that I’ve learned to accept what it means to be blessed by God, even in the waiting. I especially love the coaster that displays the hymn, “Blessed Assurance.” Oh, what a beautiful, blessed assurance I have because of my Redeemer!

Want to win your own “Beautiful” vase? DaySpring is allowing me to give one away to one of my readers. If you can’t see the giveaway box to enter, click “Continue Reading.” Note: In the event that you do win, you will be responsible for shipping costs (Approx. $6.45 for standard shipping.) Giveaway ends at 12:01 AM Saturday, April 21st.

If you are interested in purchasing an item from the beautiful Redeemed collection, go here.

Disclosure: DaySpring gave me these products in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

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