Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Word to Bring Change

I’ve tried New Year’s Resolutions. They’re not really for me.

Rather than make me feel excited about the 12 months ahead of me, I feel imprisoned and obligated to follow the rules I’ve set for myself. I also have enough free spirit in me to balk at jumping on band wagons for the sake of being a part of what’s popular. It’s just how I’m wired.

One band wagon that has worked for me in the past, however, is the One Word movement in blogging. I can organize the areas I want to improve under the umbrella of a theme. As it turns out, I love themes. I’ll also be the first to admit that some band wagons are worth joining if they can benefit my life and those lives around me.

I truly believe God gave me a word for the coming year because it came without me laboring over it. I immediately felt challenged in areas that need improvement while feeling encouraged to embrace this season and all that has transpired to get me here.

God challenged my heart to take on the word IDENTIFY in 2013.Identify

I want to identify my purpose in this season of life.
I want to identify who I am by telling my story in a variety of ways.
I want to identify how Christ has changed me so that He can be glorified.
I want to identify with others…even when it means stepping out of my comfort zone.
I want to identify more people who are searching for His love & show them Jesus.
I want to identify areas in my life where I need to grow. (How’s that for a sneaky way I can trick myself into setting goals while sticking with my theme?)

I am looking forward to learning to identify characteristics of myself that I need to accept this year. I’m also ready to tackle some weaknesses that need identified and tossed out of my habits and being.

I’d love to hear if you chose One Word for 2013 and what it is! Be sure to let me know.

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.

 

 

Why Gifts are Important

Perishable

The frenzy began as soon as the last gift was unwrapped on Christmas morning.

Must. get. rid. of. junk.

The conundrum of which old toys need to go in order to make room for new ones is not a new one for many parents. It’s a problem that brings all sorts of conflicting emotions with it. Exposing feelings of guilt in some and piety in others.

This year, I found myself working through some guilt and frustration as I began the massive clean-up.

How does this happen? 

I started by asking myself the question, but the more distraught I felt, the question grew heavenward.

No sooner had I asked than the quiet answers began.

Because it’s human nature to collect the perishable. Remember my reminder in Matthew 6:19-24?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

How often I let the corruptible accumulate in my heart – the worries of motherhood, the fear of displeasing others, the desire for things I only want rather than need. Then along comes the dissatisfaction from the clutter taking over inside me. Overwhelming amounts of garbage pile up in a heart that was once clean and free, and I have no room to bring in the beautiful, eternal gifts that God bestows upon me.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s another reason that He blesses me with gifts that I don’t deserve – because otherwise I won’t get rid of the perishable clutter that I’ve allowed to accumulate.

So as I let go of the old and take in the new items we received this Christmas, I find myself thankful for gifts with a new reason. Not only are new things refreshing, they help me see how much like trash the unnecessary things in my life have become.

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 5 for Friday

This week has been such a great one! I’m beyond grateful for the wonderful people God has placed in my life who make me feel loved and special.

Saturday morning, I woke up to find these on my dining room table.

For my birthday, my husband arranged for my parents to babysit so we could have a whole day together. We went out to lunch, then he spoiled me with some new candles and a few other little things I’d been wanting. We came home, watched “A Christmas Story” and then had a fabulous evening with my BFF & her husband. We stayed up way too late playing card games like we did in the pre-kid days. Getting up the next day was rough!

Sunday was a special time as well because my little man got to perform in his first choir performance at church. All of the kids did such a great job! I have a lot of great memories doing this as a kid, and it’s pretty special to watch my little one have just as much fun.

Another definite highlight of the week was getting to spend some time with a couple of my former students. We met the first day of their freshman year of high school, and six years later, they’re all grown up and even more beautiful inside and out than they were way back then.

This month has been a busy one for Tanner. He’s been gone more than he’s been home this month, and as grateful as we are for the overtime, we miss him around here! Wednesday was one of the first days we were all home together without much of an agenda, so we took the opportunity to go check out some of the local Christmas decor. I haven’t been able to get a really clear pic of Dash in front of a Christmas tree this year, so I tried once again to get a good shot. He put his whole heart into saying “Cheese!” So much so that he couldn’t muster the extra strength to keep his eyes open while doing it. I love it!

Yesterday was COLD! As in 40+ mile and hour winds mixed with snow and other frozen precipitation. I made it a point to not go outside because, um, brrrr! It was a perfect day to spend some time saying yes to Dash while getting some work done in the kitchen. I’m trying to get as many freezer meals as possible done before the baby comes. We both tried a new activity as well – making cinnamon ornaments! Needless to say, the house smelled wonderful all day long.

Heading into the excitement of Christmas next weekend, I smile thinking back on our week before Jesus’ birthday. Simple is good and people make life rich, I tell you!

Linking up with From My Grey Desk today.

Now it’s your turn! What are some of the highlights from your week?

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 Letter to my Babies About Tragedy

My Sweet Children,

Today was a tragic day in the history of this country. As I took in the news, I felt a baby moving in my womb, trying to get comfortable with only 6 weeks or so left before breathing her first breath in this sinful world. When my eyes moved from the TV, trying to comprehend the horror I was watching unfold, a three-year-old little boy chattered innocently to me about dinosaurs and robots running around our living room. Neither one of you have a clue, nor do you need to as of today, about the news that has sickened the hearts of every parent around the world.

Ry, as you continued to smile and play, you paused for a second at the anguish I could not mask on my face as I asked you to come give me a hug because I was feeling sad. Your hug was sweet, heart-felt, and brief, but I’ve savored it and many more just like it all day.

I don’t cherish the reality that you both will someday be faced with tragic news that will rattle your very core. I don’t know what it will be or when it will happen, but as sure as God’s Word is always true, bad things will happen in this life.

Here are a few things that I pray you will remember as your daddy and I do our best to instill them into your hearts over the years.

Find comfort in the honest answers of God’s Word.

My dad always reminded me of these verses from Ecclesiastes when I became troubled over a number of different things in my growing up years. While they don’t make me feel warm and fuzzy, they help me maintain perspective as I begin processing my grief and frustration.

What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.
~Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

When you’re hurting, it’s easy to believe that this is the worst the world has ever been. Not so. Sin has been evil from its beginning, and the actions of a heart that has chosen to follow sin’s path have done things we can’t even comprehend, starting back at the Garden of Eden and continuing on today.

It takes time to work through all of the emotions and thoughts that come with bad news. That is okay! My prayer is that you always come up with the conclusion that blaming will never bring lasting peace.

Blaming is the easy thing to do. You will hear those around you blame people, things, illness, God, and all other manner of things. The fact is, a sinful heart is the culprit.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ~Jeremiah 17:9

Before you  smugly blame others for their sinful hearts’ choices with whatever tragic circumstance is haunting you, remember that it could just as easily be any of us. None of us are above falling, and Jesus died to forgive even the most stomach-churning sin you can imagine. In fact, He also states in His Word that there is no hierarchy of sins. They all separate us from Him.

Does justice need to be sought? Absolutely, but only in a just way.

This may seem obvious to most, but let’s not forget to be thankful for people like your daddy. When traumatic and dangerous circumstances arise, there are thousands of men and women across this country who have trained carefully to prepare themselves for being on the front lines of saving the lives of others. I pray we never let the fact that we can walk into a fire station and view it as Daddy’s place of work downplay the importance of the roles of rescue workers in our community. Police officers, military, fire fighters, paramedics, nurses, and doctors walk into circumstances that can be both dangerous to them and scarring for them personally – all for the express purpose of helping others. Let’s always treat them with the respect they deserve, even when they’re accomplishing their everyday tasks.

Lastly, I urge you to look to God and His Word for comfort and answers. They may come immediately, or it may take a while for you to find the response you need to find peace in your heart. In either case, don’t stop looking there. There’s nothing wrong with leaning on other people either, but ultimately Jesus is the only one who can give you the peace that passes all understanding.

This morning before I even got out of bed, my Bible fell open to Psalm 34. While I loved the words I read, I didn’t understand why I needed to meditate on them on this quiet day at home. After hearing the news this afternoon, my troubled heart remembered what I’d read, and I stood in wonder at how specifically God speaks to our needs, often times before we even realize what He is doing.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
                 ~Psalm 34:1-8

My heart is still heavy over the day’s events, but know that even as I’m working through the list I just presented above for myself, I’m praying that you take it to heart in your own life when you’re old enough to have to deal with news that will sadden you. I love you with all of my heart, and today as well as every other day, I pray that you each choose Jesus as the answer to all of your problems. He will never, ever leave you or forsake you. So please do your best to “Trust in the LORD with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Love,
Mama

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.

What I’ve Learned from Mary

How much did Mary’s heart sink when she first read the Caesar’s decree? Who in their right mind would expect a woman as far along as she was in her pregnancy to travel such a distance? Not only would the donkey ride aggravate her weary body and aching joints, but it would almost certainly encourage the contractions to keep on coming.

So much for putting her feet up and drinking lots of water. Goodbye plans for putting the finishing touches on the sweet little nursery and last few little outfits she had been stitching with love.

She continued to feel the overwhelming privilege and weight of knowing she had been chosen by God to carry His very Son. His only Son. The least should could do to worship her child and her King was to give Him a proper welcome into the world. He was the Messiah, after all, and the pure white baby garments and blankets that she’d labored over were going to be perfect.

And so it was with raw emotions, swollen body, and apprehension that Mary allowed Joseph to help her mount that donkey to obey the emperor’s decree. In her heart, she convinced herself that she would be back in time to give this baby, the Christ child, the proper greeting into the world that He deserved – with loving family there to encourage her through birth and to rejoice as Jesus uttered His first cry as a man.

Instead, the contractions hit harder and more frequently as they entered into Bethlehem. Oh, where was her mother when she needed a soothing hand and comforting word? As the miles between her and home increased with the intensity of her labor, she let go of the hopes she’d had of welcoming the Savior of the world with her family by her side. Instead she urged Joseph to find a bed where she could complete her delivery. Yes, it would be more humble than what she’d imagined, but at least it would be a nice clean place with fresh sheets to wrap around her precious babe.

The panic must have threatened to take over as she agonizingly clutched onto that old, sweaty donkey who had bore her weight on this journey while Joseph met one rejection after another as he frantically attempted to find a room. When they were at last offered a cave filled with hay, manure, and animals, the tears that were taking over from the pain of labor also might have been inspired by acknowledging how imperfect this birthday was going to be for her truly perfect baby.

None of it was as she’d dreamed.

None of it was as she’d planned.

None of it seemed fair.

Her LORD deserved so much more. How she wished she’d brought along one sweet baby blanket just in case!

Instead she had nothing to offer but to push through the last difficult hours of labor with a flustered and inexperienced husband serving as her coach, midwife, and comfort. And the nearby bray of that stubborn old donkey who had carried her to the city spoken of in prophecies.

Mary learned to truly let go of her own view of perfect that night as she nestled her baby in the grimy hay after wrapping him in burial cloth. She saw beauty in God’s plan for humble, genuine praise when awestruck shepherds came to worship.

She took all of the events of Jesus’ entrance into the world and “pondered them in her heart,” undoubtedly amazed at how perfect imperfect timing, surroundings, and circumstances can be when God is the orchestrator.

This Christmas God has given me a precious gift as I, like Mary, spend this bright and beautiful season great with child. I’m awestruck at how perfect God’s timing has been in all of the events leading up to my last few weeks of carrying this baby that He has brought into my life to bring humble praise to Him. Not much about this pregnancy has gone according to what I envisioned when I considered having another child, but I have learned that all of it is part of His divine plan to bring Him glory and grow my faith. This is why I ponder in my heart these days and reconsider what perfection looks like.

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.

What Do You Do?

The question came up recently. Only this time it was uttered from little lips. Innocent ones who are figuring out the world and how it works.

I’ve become used to the generic responses of my peers. Braced myself for the usual, “Oh, you’re a stay-at-home mom. Good for you. Not many people can do that these days.” Willed myself to ignore the feelings of inferiority that threaten to take over when I meet doctors and women with masters degrees who are using them to change their world in the work force.

I’ve accepted my aging wardrobe. Have made peace with my house being cluttered by toys and things that aren’t actually toys only my son thinks they are so he spreads them out all over the place. I find a great sense of accomplishment in making my own laundry detergent and cleaning supplies. I don’t stress over the idea of living paycheck to paycheck while we pay off medical bills like I did in the beginning.

But when the question was posed to me out of pure, innocent curiosity by my precious three-year-old niece a while back, I was not prepared to answer. I didn’t expect the rush of emotions that came over me as I contemplated an answer that would help a child build a framework of understanding for this realm of motherhood.

As I sputtered for a second to come up with an answer, I felt the urge to somehow convey to her what a deep question she’d uttered, but for now a simple, “I take care of Ryan and help Uncle Tanner with whatever he needs done” will have to do. She will have many years to strengthen her understanding, to develop her own definition of what it is I do.

In the mean time, I couldn’t help but ask my son the other day what he thought my description entailed. It was a fun, light-hearted moment while his daddy was getting ready for work. His answer has made me smile and chuckle to myself as I continue to do whatever it is I do each day.

Me: “What is Daddy’s job?”
Ryan: “He works at the fire engine station.”
Me: “What is Mommy’s job?”
Ryan: “To help me pick up toys. And to feed Nemo.” (Our beta fish)

That response is great enough to keep me going on this path that I’ve chosen (and love). It has also helped me remember to feed the fish more regularly.

It’s the average, mundane events of every day that can make this job seem less-than glamorous to myself as well as those watching, trying to understand the complexities of motherhood. Today I’m finding encouragement in what Lisa-Jo said so profoundly in this post,

“You are mighty, because you are mother.”

And with that I’m off to feed that fish.

Glamor or no glamor, watching him imagine enriches my life every day. Truly.

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.

Where it all Began + eBook Giveaway!

In celebration of my eBook, Trend Breakers: Discovering and Choosing True Friendship in a Lonely World, launching this week, I’m sharing the intro from the book in today’s post.

I remember all that has transpired to get me to this point. The tears. The dark, lonely days. The superficial conversations as well as the thought-provoking ones. The pondering and analyzing when it would have been much better for me to be sleeping.

My journey to finding joy in friendship has spanned many years. It started as a little girl, wanting so badly to find my Diana, that kindred spirit I read about in Anne of Green Gables. The journey brought lots of tears through my teenage years as I pined to understand what I was doing wrong to still come up short of someone to call my best friend for life.

Surely adulthood would cure all of these woes, yet it didn’t. Oh, I found friends – true and sweet friends whom I still cherish – yet I couldn’t seem to find lasting peace in this area of my life. Distance, obligations, and personal struggles created barriers when I wanted communion.

So I began praying to learn what composes the essence of friendship and what God expects of me in this complicated, messy, sweet part of life. These pages contain what I am continuing to learn, for in all that I’ve discovered, one of the clearest lessons is that it is a process, ever changing with each season of life. No one ever arrives at a level titled “Master of Friendship.”

I invite you to do one radical thing with me: Make friendship a purposeful and necessary part of life.

In order for this to work properly, I have come to realize that this will only work if you make peace with Jesus. Don’t let the pursuit of friendship with others take precedence over developing an ever- growing relationship with Him. It’s just not going to work, and you’ll be shedding tears identical to the ones that have flowed down my face over the years.

Friendship starts with the Creator of relationships.

Want to finish reading? Be sure to enter to win a free copy of your own! I will be giving away 5 free copies of the book. I’d love for you to be one of the winners, so make sure you take a minute and enter the giveaway below! If you’d like to purchase your own copy, you can visit the My eBook tab on the blog and choose either the PDF or Kindle version now for sale. (Here’s a tip, launch day is this coming Thursday, December 6th, and there will be a sale going on at that time.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

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