Monday, April 30, 2012

Enduring or Enjoying?

I enjoy my children – truly, I do.  My girls are two of my best friends. 

I’m supposed to be the mom, but there are so many times where I feel as if I’M the one learning the lessons instead of teaching them!  I also can’t even fathom my life without the laughter and smiles that my children bring into it.

I do enjoy my children.  I always have.  I enjoy doing their hair, tucking them into bed, buying them clothes, and taking them to and from school. Call me crazy – but I even enjoy it when they are home and they have NO school!

I think children can sense how we feel about them, whether or not we say it out loud.  I think they internally understand more than we could possibly realize.

So, of course it bothers me when I see parents who don’t seem to enjoy their children at all.  They pawn them off on friends or neighbors, seem to resent any kind of function in which they should attend; or act as though their children shouldn’t even open their mouths to speak or utter a question.

We can all nod our heads in agreement, if we feel we are not this kind of a mom.  But I’m sure each one of us has groaned when “junior” continues to express curiosity and asks us another countless question.  I’m sure each one of us, have gotten irritated when our children interrupt our plans, adult conversations, or projects.  If we are really going to be truthful, how many of us have felt like we are being held back from opportunities, fun activities, or other such “pulls” from life… simply because we need to stay home with the kids?

I’ve always been afraid that something would happen to me and my girls would grow up without a mom.   So I don’t resent it when I need to stay home with them.  I’m thankful because I get to instill values in them, share with them, love on them, and watch them grow up.  And that’s exactly what I wanted to stick around for!

Being a mom is a joy. It’s not something that we should merely endure.  We are missing out on so many precious moments and blessings if we choose to merely endure our children until they grow up.

I pray that you can see the gift that God has given your life… wrapped up in the package of your children.  Let them show you just how fun it can be, to be their mom.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Heading to Washington DC

I am so excited. I am headed to Washington DC for a week with my oldest daughter and her history class.

I have never been to our nation's capitol.  And I am so excited to take a look at our Christian heritage and be able to see in person how God started our country with christian values and faith.

We plan on seeing lots of fun things both in DC, and in neighboring Virginia and Philadelphia. We plan on visiting Gettysburg,  Jamestown Settlement, Monticello, the National Archives, the Supreme Court and Library of Congress, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Mount Vernon (insert breath here because there's more!), Williamsburg, the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Newseum, the Smithsonian, Iwo Jima, the Marine Corps Museum, Arlington National Cemetary, the Capitol, Ford's Theater and a few more!

My grandpa's name is included in the registry for the World War 2 Memorial. I found his record online before we left.

Praying for good health and good weather. And just good memories with my daughter, although I know I won't be by her side every second as she has friends and classmates she will want to be hanging out with.

I'm very thankful to be going on this experience.

As always, I'm not leaving you empty handed. I have some posts scheduled to go out while I'm gone. Let me know you kept visiting while I was away - won't you?

Hugs, my friends.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's The "Fun" That Fuels Us

We all are gifted in different ways. Some of us can sing flawlessly while others are very good at teaching. Some of us are naturally athletic and yet others can instinctively draw or create.

It’s what makes us unique.

Hopefully, we know what God has gifted us with. Usually, the things we are good at, we enjoy. They are fun for us. A lot of times those very gifts turn into careers. Someone who is good at drawing may illustrate books or become an architect or designer. Someone who can sing may turn that into a professional recording career or teach music lessons. It varies. But somehow, our gifts usually end up becoming an integral part of our lives.

The older we become, I think there is a danger in forgetting what we truly enjoy about what we do. We can become so focused on being “excellent” that we forget what used to be “fun.”  The singer may become so focused on getting all the notes right that they fail to ever use their voice to sing fun songs to children or to hum around the house. The teacher may get stuck in lesson plans and routine and forget how to create and brainstorm new things. The athlete may become focused on times and distances along with weight and health and forget the joy that comes with getting to do something that energizes them.

It happens to all of us.

If we can only remember the fun! It’s the fun that fuels us. The fun that restores and energizes, the fun that often gives us the very perspective we need! True joy comes with true loves. Yet we often squelch it in the quest to elevate ourselves and boost our pride.

It doesn’t really matter how many people think we are great.
  Because that never lasts. What matters is that we are living a life that brings us happiness and are using the gifts that God naturally gave us.

If you’ve lost the joy in some of your natural talents and abilities…be intentional this week about rediscovering them. Dance for the fun of dancing. Sing for the fun of singing. Draw for the fun of drawing. Forget being serious for a minute or two and add the fun back into what you are doing.

That’s when everything truly lines up and feels perfect.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When The Praises Stop

I was praising God for a prayer request He’d answered for me. It was a big one in my mind. Of course I’ve had many big ones. But this was one of those ones that threatened my safe haven at home.

God not only answered my deep plea; He answered swiftly.

I was praising Him. I praised Him for days. Every time I faced what “used” to be this threat and again saw how it had been removed – I praised Him.

As I was still in the moments immediately following this great praise, I was bringing yet another request before God. One that I was confident He would answer because I felt He’d told me He would. But as I was praying for this new request and thinking about the old request that had gotten answered – a thought came to me.  “Why do we stop praising God?” When do the praises stop and why?

I know that God has answered many of my prayers over the years. I know that I have thanked Him (for not nearly enough of them) and tried to honor Him when I knew He’d intervened on my behalf. But at some point, I stopped.

I moved on.

Now as I sit here thinking, I have wishes in my heart. Wishes that we’d never stop feeling the feelings of praise and elation after God answers our hearts. I wish we’d always remember that feeling of love and care when we know God has swept down and personally addressed us.

I hate that we forget so easily!

Sometimes, I think we should look back in our lives and remember. Remember to thank God for those things He’s done for us in the past. Remember that He IS there with us. Watching. Loving. Working.

Not every one of our prayers will get answered in the way we desire. Some won’t get answered at all. But I KNOW that those have to be in our best interests. And I KNOW that the ones my God HAS answered have been huge blessings and victories in my life.

I don’t want my praises of thanks to stop when God answers one of my prayer requests. He’s earned them.

I pray that each time I recognize God’s hand in my life, that I will praise Him longer. Stronger. Louder.

I just don’t want to forget that He loves me and shows me. In mighty ways.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Keep Dreaming

The older I get, the more I find that I’m contemplative, introspective, and thoughtful about my life. Life has gone by at the speed of light (they said it would) and I see it continuing to fly by as I watch my children growing faster than I’d prefer.

I’ve seen some of my dreams and wishes pan out – like getting to road trip across the U.S. or getting married and having babies. I’ve seen some fall by the wayside as well.

My life is in a constant sense of shifting and adjusting these days; it seems. With each passing year, the changing seasons of my kids means it’s also a changing season for me. My role is changing and as it is, I find that I’m in a state of transition.

More recently, I’ve been finding myself looking forward more than I’ve been looking back. I’ve been digging deep inside of me to see just what it is that I want for the rest of my life. What do I want to do and be? Who am I all about? What kind of life do I want for myself as my children continue to be more and more independent?

I’m learning that I need something to look forward to. Something to get excited about and hope for.  If I find that some dreams are not working out or are not possible at this stage of my life – then I look for new ones. For there is always something to dream about!

My grandpa didn’t start carving wood until he was well into retirement. And he made the most gorgeous sculptures. I have one of a moose that is very dear to me and when people come over they are amazed that my grandfather carved it.  The thing is – the fact that he didn’t learn something until late in life and that he became so good at it; is a great example and reminder for me. I can always find a new interest or discover something new I really enjoy. I can continue to dream, hope, and  make goals for my life.

It’s okay that not everything in my life pans out. Some things just aren’t meant to be. Other things come back around and find their way into our hearts and lives at a different time and season that is more perfect than the one we would have chosen years prior. But some things come into our lives at just the right time. If we allow our hearts to remain open, we will learn new things, embrace new loves, and find new joys that we never would have envisioned or planned on all on our own.

Dreams make life worth living and they are all around us. Keep hoping, keep seeking, and keep dreaming.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Would You Like to Be MORE Than You Are?

How many of us go above and beyond the call of duty today? It doesn’t seem like a lot.

When I go into a store or a restaurant, it is very common to find someone doing just what they are required to do. Not very often do they do MORE than they are required to do. How do I know? Well, because it stands out when they do! When someone goes out of their way or makes extra efforts  - they stand out. They shine.

I was always taught to have integrity in all I do. To do my very best.  To me, my very best isn’t just the bare minimum to get by. No, it is often little touches that are above and beyond what is expected.

I’m trying to teach this trait to my children as well. Sometimes, when I ask them to clean up the kitchen or a room, I will ask them to look for something extra to do or to clean up something that they weren’t asked to clean up. I do this because I’m trying to teach them to LOOK for ways they can go above and beyond what is required of them. It is so easy for them to rush around and clean up what they’ve been told to, and then run from the room before I can check up on them. They want out of there! It’s another thing altogether to look for ways they can do “extra.”

I think it feels good to do extra things – simply because we can! It feels good to go out of your way to help someone in that unexpected way. For anyone can do what is required. But it takes someone with heart and soul to do MORE. To BE more.

Whether it’s our job, our role as a wife or mother, a volunteer opportunity we’ve undertaken, or even as a friend; there are ways we can look to shine. We can simply get by with the basics, or we can strive for ourstanding.

Which one is YOUR best way to be you?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sometimes We Just Need To Be Reminded

Life can sure beat us up sometimes. We can get a little battle-weary.

Someone once said that we are always in the midst of a battle, heading out of a battle, or heading into one. Phew! That’s not a lot of time outside of the fire!

It’s easy to see why we lose sight of who we are. It’s easy to see why at times, we feel a little lost. 

We just need to be reminded why we are here. Why we are in a fight in the first place.

We need to be reminded who we are to God. How deeply He loves and values us.

We need to be reminded how it feels to have hope and vision. How it feels to see God at work in our lives or the lives of those around us.

Sometimes that reminding comes straight from the Lord. But sometimes, it needs to come from us. We are here to help one another. Our words, our encouragement, support, and love go along way in the life of someone who feels beat up and battle-weary. 

Because we all forget at times. We all forget that we are God’s beloved.  And that puts us at great risk.

If you are bruised, battered, and feeling weak from a battle in your life today – be reminded. Be reminded that God loves you. He knows how you feel. He has not left your side even though you may feel so very alone.  He’s right there – working.

Trust Him.

And be reminded why you love Him so.

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Isn't the Life I Ordered

“This isn’t the life I ordered.” I bet that’s what the diabetic says. Or the mom of a child with disabilites. I bet the spouse who sits in their home reading a note from the one they loved who has gone to love someone else wonders where their happy-ever-after has gone.

We are misled in a way. We are taught that if we are good, honest, moral, and right that life will often be safe and comfortable. It won’t hurt.

Yet the person who answers the phone to hear their teenager was killed in a car crash knows they didn’t order that kind of a story. And the grandparent who is taking over guardianship of their grandkids because their child can’t be a parent in jail…they probably think – “this isn’t the life I ordered.”

I think it’s funny, in a way, how we think we can order our own lives. I mean – who gave us “boss-ship?” God orders our lives and He ordains our days. Satan does what he can in the meantime to trip and mess up our every step. And he does a good job of it.

Life is life. The good, the bad, the uphill and downhill. It has valleys and deserts. It has exhilarating joys and deep, deep pain. We can’t escape. We live, we breathe. We love and we hurt.

We can feel robbed about the things we didn’t order in our lives. Whatever those “things” may be. We’ve all been given something that wasn’t on the agenda. Or…we can make the most of our situations. We can look for the blessings, use the hurts to minister to others, or simply let the trial make us stronger and better.

I heard it said that if a tree doesn’t have wind, it won’t grow.  The same is true for our lives. If we don’t have adversity and hardship, we don’t grow. Our roots can’t get deeper or stronger.

This may not be the life we ordered but it’s the one that was given to us. It’s up to us to choose how to open that gift. For life IS a gift.

“For I surely know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm,  to give you a future with hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, April 14, 2012

When There's Nothing Left To Do But To Walk Faithfully With God

Trials. They come at us in different strengths and doses. For some of us, something that might seem like a fleeting nuisance to someone else becomes a huge challenge in our lives. We all have different weaknesses and buttons that satan loves to push. And push he does!

There have been seasons in my life when I feel like all I can do is keep going and breathing. In those times, I haven’t felt like I could offer much to anyone else and I certainly have struggled with my own emotions, doubts, and fears through it. For some trials just grip you and won’t loosen their strength for a while. 

I remember when I was going through one of those very seasons. I was praying with passion, calling upon scripture, and just doing things throughout my days to help me stay focused and not lose momentum in my Christian walk. It can be hard to do at times. When a spiritual battle comes calling and you are dealing with spiritual forces – our own strength is never nearly enough.

I was listening to a podcast (and at this time, I don’t even remember who it was) of a pastor and he said something that gave me just the right rope I needed to hold onto at that time.  He said that sometimes you just have to walk faithfully with God.

I may not be getting the answers I want at times in life.  I may be discouraged or frustrated by my circumstances, challenge, or situation. But it doesn’t matter. For there are times in life where God doesn’t offer me an explanation. He doesn’t give me a way out. He is God.  And in those times, I can ask Him all the “why’s,” “why not’s,” “how comes,” and “pleases” I want to – but His reasons are His alone. And in those times, I have to decide if I truly trust Him. If I truly love Him. If I truly believe He will deliver me. And if I do – then my option is to simply walk faithfully with my God.

You see, that is my option. To walk faithfully with God or to fight against Him.  And for me, there really is no option at all. I know that if I walk faithfully with God through that tough time, that a new season will come upon me at some point.  A fresh day. A fresh chance. And my faithfulness will be rewarded at that time because I obeyed, I trusted, and I was simply faithful.

It may not always be the answer we want to hear. Sometimes we just want clear deliverance. And I think it’s always okay to ask for that. But if we don’t get it; then our faith comes into question and we are forced to either exercise it or abandon it.  But if we choose the option of walking faithfully with God – HIS strength will guide us, encourage us, and walk with us along the journey.

You can count on that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Having the Courage to Let Your Children Fail

Probably one of the toughest things about being a parent is watching my children fail. I don’t like to see them make mistakes. In fact, I see it as my job to prepare and equip them enough to help prevent them from making mistakes. But in doing this, I sometimes forget they are human. They WILL mess up. They WILL make mistakes – whether I like it or not.

It can be so hard to stand by when you see one of these times coming in your child’s life. Whether they are young and still in your home, or an adult – it’s never easy to bite your tongue or not rush in to rescue them. But sometimes, it’s vital.

When we let our children fail, sometimes that is the only way they will grow. It may be the only thing that pushes them towards accountability and responsibility. If they forgot to do their homework or waited until the last minute to do a huge project, they need to learn from it. We can’t rush in and help them or they will just repeat the error again another time.

If they fail to pay their electric bill or waste their finances recklessly as a young adult, we can’t just front them cash all of the time for it only provides a temporary solution to their problem. It doesn’t help them handle the mistake in judgment they made, so it’s not repeated.

Love takes courage. Love does the tough things sometimes. And if we truly love our children, we have to do whatever it takes to help them be independent, reliable adults that are full of integrity, honesty, and respect.

When you love someone it’s natural to want to help them out in life. It’s instinctive to want to lavish blessings on them. But it’s not always in their best interests. Sometimes it just makes problems bigger or puts them off to be addressed at a later date.  Real love sees the big picture and focuses on it instead of just the here, now, and temporal.

It’s never easy to stand by and watch someone you love fail. In fact, it hurts. It’s painful. For when someone you love hurts, you hurt too. But having the courage to do that to help them become a better, wiser, and stronger person in the long run – is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give them.