Monthly Archives: November 2012

We are not Islands

There’s something indescribable about following God. I started this blog a little over a year ago without much of a clue why except that I felt God urging me to do it. I was even more clueless about all that went into blogging. (I’m extra thankful for women like Amy & Ashley who have either shared tutorials or personally taken time to get me out whatever technical bind I found myself scratching my head over.)

As I continued to learn and read more about what makes a “successful” blogger, I began feeling extremely overwhelmed. My audience was not growing by leaps and bounds. My eyes continued to cross every time I attempted to understand the analytics jargon I kept reading about. All I knew was that by the standards repeated in the articles I was reading, I was not succeeding, and I went through a long period of being extremely discouraged.

But there were the few who were still reading. Patiently accepting me for who I was when I had yet to learn about niches or true success in blogging. The ones who would leave comments filled with encouragement or like my link on Facebook. While several of these women were my real-life friends already, there were even a few more who grew to become my friends because they chose to invest in whatever it was I was trying to figure out through writing.

It was somewhere around the time I found peace with letting go of statistics and SEO building (which gives me a headache to try and fully comprehend to this day) that God started speaking to me again about a new direction He wanted me to go in my writing. Blogging helped me see friendship in a fresh light. It helped me visualize what quality friends look like in a world that is all about networking and connecting without the commitment of relationship.

And the vision was born to write a book on a topic over which I have contemplated a great deal over the years.

Friendship.

What is it? Why is it so hard? Why do I sometimes find myself lonely despite the wonderful relationships with which I’m blessed?

I began outlining and writing, writing, and writing some more. The next thing I knew, I realized that I had a viable eBook in the works. So I started researching all that went into making it happen. I’d be lying if I told you the to-do list didn’t overwhelm me. There was no way on earth I could do this on my own. It may be called self-publishing, but that term is misleading.

It requires a strong network of friends to make it happen. I needed friends who would listen to me sort out the ideas. I needed friends who had the experience in writing and publishing to offer advice and perspective. I needed friends who would step out on a limb and edit the words that didn’t quite say things the way I intended for them to sound. I needed friends to know what I was doing so I would have accountability to not stop even when it would have been far easier to give up long ago.

As I called my cousin one night close to the end of the process to get some advice, I said that I wished I could help him at least a little bit after all of the ways he’s helped me as I’ve fumbled my way through blogging and writing. His response, “None of us are islands, Kel. We all need help.”

How true his words are! No one is self-made, self-published, or self-satisfied. Obviously we need God, but we need the people He’s placed in our lives as well.

Today I say thank you to the friends who have not allowed me to be a vacant island that is dormant, but for loving me enough to push me beyond my comfort levels and dream big.

Only 8 more days until this small symbol of God’s desire for friendships becomes a reality!

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.

When Life Gives You Little Things, Embrace Them

Tears well up more readily for me these days. I know it’s in large part because the hormones of motherhood are swelling just as much as my abdomen on this home stretch of pregnancy.

Yet some of the tenderness, joy, and emotion that washes over me in recent days comes from a deeper source. It resonates with me in various people and circumstances I observe and my eyes become misty, my heart overflowing with gratitude to the Giver of blessings.

It’s usually in the little things that I find the pictures of God’s grace raining down on me. As I’ve mentioned before, I was not satisfied with where I stood in my heart of hearts when it came to gratitude during last Thanksgiving’s season. The little things were there, and I remember appreciating them, but the dark times and struggles that my family and I were working through kept overwhelming me. It’s not that life is easy and flawless now, but I do believe that the little things seem brighter because the darker times are still fresh enough for me to remember where we have been. Gratitude comes more naturally because I can testify that God faithfully saw us through our trials.

My little things this week or so have included:

Our own wacky version of Candy Land on one of the nights Daddy was working.

Celebrating the life of this daughter that wasn’t even on my radar a year ago with precious family and friends.

My mom’s delicious and special Thanksgiving pies.

That incredible gift of being able to watch grandparents and grandchildren love and enjoy each other, wishing you could freeze those special little moments to make them last forever.

That rare occurrence when a certain three year old who’s not much for cuddling when he’s sleeping falls asleep on my arm just a few minutes after adamantly proclaiming he was not at all tired.

Not literally pictured yet forever etched in my memory are the other things that emulate God alive and working in my life and those around me.

  • Late night talks about faith, theology, and parenting with my husband.
  • The elderly man who feebly went into the water during baptism yet came out visibly energized, raising his hand in joy and gratitude to praise the One who made his old life new and complete. Sin has been defeated and God is alive and powerful!
  • The contractions and movements that remind me a life is continuing to prepare itself for entry into this world and my family.
  • Listening to my son proclaim God’s Word as we work on his memory verses.

Yes, God has been faithful through some difficult growing experiences over the course of the last year. I love Him far more than I did a year ago, and it’s because of His faithfulness when we couldn’t figure out left from right, right from wrong, and healthy from unhealthy. It’s because of the little glimpses of purpose and joy He brings in the midst of long days. It’s because of so much more than I could begin to list, but He deserves to be acknowledged for even these few ways He’s made Himself known in my life.

Linking Up With:

 

 

 

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.

Choosing to do it Anyway

As I embark on the fourth Christmas season as a mother, I can see progress. Of course in my son, but also in me. In the beginning, I believed I should be the mom whose kid did every creative project known to man, so I’d have my one year old attempting to make hand print crafts for every holiday.

It turns out he was not that into making his hand prints look like actual hand prints. He’d rather slather the paint all over the paper or ball up his hand or outright refuse to stick his hand in the paint.

I finally accepted that I would not have a hand print calendar with adorable designs for each month of the year. I gave in to letting him mix the colors into the muddy color that forms when every color in the box of paint is mixed together. I didn’t give him lines to color in or outside of, I just gave him a blank piece of paper and let him find joy in creating.

Over these three and a half years together, I have finally stopped hyperventilating when the crafts I prepared are inevitably pushed aside. I actually see his work as something beautiful even if it’s nothing like the vision I had in my head. I can see joy in his earnest little face as he creates his own art. I see progress in his development as he experiments on each occasion with something he refused to do the last time.

Today he painted a hand print Christmas tree on a plate during a play date. I looked at that hand print, and while it technically resembled a frog more than an evergreen, I honestly found it adorable. The progress that both of us have made in this area is great, and I love the peace that accompanies the knowledge that we don’t need to attain perfection because we’re both growing.

I was struck with a realization while I helped my little guy display his newly-completed Christmas plate. I need to work to apply this principle to every aspect of my life – including this tricky world of writing and blogging.

I definitely struggle with finding a balance in the world of blogging.

  • I still don’t “get” the Twitter hype.
  • I forget to link up to other blogs all of the time.
  • I don’t do something blogging related (or even think about blogging-related things) every day.
  • I can’t seem to nail down an exact niche.
  • I don’t have a growing following because I don’t work at it like I should.

I’ve read the “how to” articles on overcoming each of these things, but in the end, I’m just like the one-year-old version of my son attempting to make a distinct hand print with paint. It looks like a goopy mess. Inevitably, I give up on one or all of my problem areas.

Sometimes it’s good to step back from something to allow time for maturing, but giving up altogether is not the answer.

That’s why this mama is giving herself an assignment that does not feel comfortable even though it’s right.

I’m going to keep doing it anyway. It will not miraculously stop looking sloppy overnight. The questions and internal struggles will not go away. My hand prints will continue to look misshapen  at times, shaky at best. But how can I take a stand for my Jesus or leave a legacy for my babies if I don’t choose to purposefully put my hand down and leave a mark?

That’s why even if it’s for an audience of One, I will not stop making hand prints in this place until He tells me otherwise.

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.

 

High Five for Friday

I decided to try something new today. A couple of my friends have been doing it on their blogs, and today it seems to fit with what God has been showing me this week. It’s called High Five for Friday, and I will be linking up with From My Grey Desk. This week I’ve felt compelled again and again to praise and thank God for the big and little things He’s doing in my life. Here are just five of them.

1. My man passed another big test and only has 3 more to go. This probationary year for my fire fighter has been full and overflowing with training, state exams, and random surprise classes. (Like the Saturday class he has in 2 weeks that he just found out about last night…oh and raises his remaining test numbers up to 3.) Through it all, God has been faithful and made Himself known in the entire process. There’s a fantastic kind of peace that comes with knowing you are where God wants you to be while watching Him provide for each need. On a related note, another highlight of the week was when my ever-moving Dash took time to pray for Daddy at the time we knew he was starting his test.

2. God renewed my understanding of worship through thanksgiving. A year ago I was not okay with where I was in the gratitude department. I could not figure out why on earth I couldn’t get my heart behind it no matter how much I prayed and tried to make it happen. It was just this week that I realized what a dark place I was in at that point. I was in an intense spiritual battle, and now that I’m through it, I thank God for bringing me out the better for it. I also believe more now than ever that it is crucial to look for the good in all situations and strive for gratitude even when it doesn’t come naturally.

3. Jumping in leaves. I know I shared this picture earlier this week, but it was one of my absolute favorite memories of this week!

4. Feeling the tiniest bit caught up on housework. There are lots of reasons I’ve felt behind in the homemaker department lately. While they’re all valid, it still drives me crazy when I get to a point where I can’t see order anywhere in my home. I was talking to Tanner yesterday about how good God has been about giving me breaks from writing the book when I need them most, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. I have reached a point where I needed help from others to finish things up with the book, and that requires waiting. At different points earlier on in the writing process, I’d get antsy and feel like I was losing out on valuable time when I had to wait. By now, I appreciate the waiting periods so much because it keeps me sane and reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing. Also, it has allowed me to accomplish those tasks that have been piling up (literally).

5. Reaching the 30 week mark in this pregnancy.

My precious little girl is due to arrive in 10 short weeks! I’ve learned much from her little life already, and I can’t wait to hold her on the outside! She is a symbol of so many things for me – God’s faithfulness, His perfect timing, that I must die to myself, and overcome my fears because God is in control.

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.

A Call to Pray

Prayer is powerful.

That simple little sentence is something that is easy to say, yet it hardly begins to encompass the depth of its truth. God speaks of the power of prayer throughout His Word. He took time to teach His followers how to pray. He led by example multiple times during His years on earth. He includes story after story of how He listens to the prayers of those who love Him.

Keeping all of that in mind, I’d like to implore anyone who reads this post to lift up a sweet, unborn little boy named Caleb up in prayer. His mommy and daddy, Desiré and Matt, found out at his 19-week ultrasound that he has some serious heart problems and will require open-heart surgery immediately after being born in April.

You may already know Desiré. She blogs at When You Rise and has even been kind enough to share some great insights on ministering while being a mom here on this blog. (You can read them here and here.)

If you would like to find out more details about Caleb’s condition and want to be able to keep up to date with developments and prayer requests, be sure to like the Facebook page they’ve set up for him. I personally appreciate resources such as this Facebook page to make sure I keep such an important matter of prayer at the forefront of my mind. Plus, I find it a blessing to see community forming over something as amazing as prayer for a family in need of it.

So let’s pray for Caleb! God has a specific plan for his life, and I count it a privilege to have a part in it being fulfilled by praying for him. Join me?

 

Every Day Worship

Dear Father,

I’ve been a mess lately. I feel raw, emotional, unworthy, and unattractive. Instead of meditating on the beauty of a life growing inside me, I note the chubbiness of my cheeks, the balloon-like ankles if I’ve been on my feet for too long, and the ever-tightening fit of my wardrobe.

Somewhere in the emotional web of lies and confusion that comes with an over abundance of hormones when growing a baby, it becomes too simple to choose crying over frivolity and guilt in the place of grace.

Yet in all of that mess, You are ever-present. Loving me just the same as when I’m striving to honor You. Stroking my head and assuring me that You make everything beautiful – even this self-centered, fickle woman who can’t always see the truth being crowded out by estrogen – is a beautiful part of Your creation.

So today I gratefully accept the invitation You share throughout Your Word as well as through beautiful women such as Sara to worship You in my every day. You make everything beautiful in Your time. It says so in Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Today I choose to not be discouraged by the things I see as messes, big or small, and cling to your promise. In doing so I’m removing the tendency to revolt at my reflection, at the never-ending piles of dishes and laundry that reappear. I am acknowledging Your presence in my everyday, and Your desire and worth to be praised in all things. You deserve my adoration rather than witnessing my constant sighing.

So I give you praise for
The clothes in my dryer waiting to be folded
The dinner dish soaking in my sink
The junk mail that has piled far too high
The pants that seem to be getting more snug than appropriate
And the toilet needing scrubbed of little boy, bad aim stink.

All of these things are my everyday messes
I can’t conquer them without Your strength
They remind me that no matter how big the mayhem may seem
You’ve blessed me with more than I need
Our home, though small and not flawless,
Is filled with more love and toys than we all deserve.
So I bow before You now with a heart that is humbled
And say Thank You for blessing us with Your artistry.

With Love,

Your Daughter

One example of today’s everyday beauty – watching these cuties make a game out of jumping in a mess of leaves on the trampoline.

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.

Hope with a Generation

Moms worry.

We question why those sweet children of ours struggle with certain milestones. Did that cough coronate the reign of an illness in their sweet little bodies? Are we teaching them enough and in the most effective way? How about the nutrients they miss out on when they refuse to eat certain healthy foods?

Regardless of what composes the list that plagues your mommy mind, I’m confident one is there because it comes with the territory of motherhood.

One thing that has burdened my heart a great deal, especially in the last year or so, is the future world that my son and soon-to-arrive daughter will have to live in. It’s a mess out there with fewer and fewer glimpses of hope. Sin and lies are accepted as truth by the general public, and even find their way into the body of believers. The very of definition of truth is rejected.

As I’ve begun praying for our country like I never have before while pleading that God will strengthen my children to withstand the battles they will face, God has been speaking back to my heart.

Hope can come with a new generation.

He’s drawn me to one passage after the next in which one generation of God’s chosen people rejected Him, but the next embraced Him. (See 2 Kings 21-23 as just one example. Things were beyond grim with Manasseh and Amon, but God used a young king named Josiah to bring the nation to revival.)

Instead of assuming the worst for my children’s generation, I’m choosing to cling to the hope that they will choose God and change the world. Either road they have ahead of them will be difficult, and it is my responsibility to prepare them to be mighty warriors, but I am finding such comfort in accepting that the fighting for the kingdom they will have to do to see change will not be in vain. God has brought hope with a new generation many times before, and He can do it again.

Let’s pray together, mamas, for those little warriors who could very well be the chosen generation that will bring revival to our land!

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.