Friday, August 31, 2012

Some Things You Never Forget

I like how even though my girls are in junior high and high school, when I stand in the back of a room or event; I STILL find myself swaying as if I’m holding and rocking them to calm them. Just like when they were babies.

I like how when I’m in a store and I hear a little one call out “Mom!” I turn my head. Even if I know my children are at home, school, or somewhere else.  The “mama” in me is always ready to answer a little one hollering for their mom.

I like how I open doors for parents with strollers or car seats. Because I know how heavy and bulky it is to maneuver those things.

I like how I always try to smile at a mom who is trying to eloquently calm her child or baby in public. I smile with an understanding look on my face – somehow trying to get the message across to her that I understand and it’s okay that your child is not acting perfectly right at this moment.

Yes. Mothering becomes a part of you. Always. Some things you forget. When I watched my grandson when he was a baby, I had to remember how much formula to mix with water. When I mentor other young mamas, I have to strain to remember at what age my children did such and such. You forget.

But some things you never forget. Some things just become a part of you, once you have a baby. The things like the sway of rocking a baby or how to hold them and get them to burp. They become instinctive.

And I like that. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I like that “knowing.” That feeling of being able to connect with someone else (mom OR child!)  I like that part of me that immediately softens and does what God created it to do….mother.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In Denial

Sometimes we are in denial about things. Things we don’t want to acknowledge or confront. Especially when those “things” pertain to us or someone we love dearly.  We just don’t want to think that “thing” can be true. After all, it wasn’t part of the life plan or dream.

Yet being in denial only hurts us in the long run. It hinders growth and having a healthy relationship with others. It hurts our ability to be able to live life with true joy, abandon, and love.

It’s almost as if we are crippling ourselves on purpose instead of admitting truth.

I don’t like to think that certain truths are a part of my life story…but they are. And the more I can admit that and embrace them, even if they are ugly, the more I can turn those things into strengths or ministries to others.

When I simply get adamant that something is not true about myself, or a loved one, I stop time. I stop growing. I stop moving forward as a person, and I stop living. I cut off the life giving, flourishing part that God can breathe into me. My life and love is stunted.

I admire people who can admit –even if it’s painful – that they need help or that they have issues. I admire people who can reach up and out to climb through those hard things. They know how to navigate rough waters because they want to learn, grow, and become better and stronger.

I hope I can be like that. I hope that instead of being stubborn, I can listen to others when they try to lovingly point things out to me or I can admit when something needs attention in order for me to continue flourishing in life as an individual.

I don’t want to live my life in denial.

It takes a great deal of courage to overcome issues in our lives. Whether they pertain to unhealthy relationships, emotional issues, or physical ones…. Life can be just as full if not fuller by simply reaching out for help. 

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s something to be proud of. For many don’t have the courage to reach out and get better at all.  And a life wasted – is no life at all.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Do You Have Just a Moment?

I’ve been busy lately. A lot has been going on and I’ve been feeling a little dry spiritually.

I’ve been reading my Bible every morning – but still – something has been somewhat lacking.  I haven’t had a lot of time to sit still and even though I’ve been reading my Bible, I’ve been hustling to get it done so that I can get on with my day.

The other day I had some time to just sit and dig into some thoughts, views, and wisdom from God.

I started to feel my heart soften and the Holy Spirit move within me.

It was then that I got it.

God just wanted my full attention. Even if only for a few minutes.

When it happened – when I felt that spark come alive within me again (the spark I adore and love so dearly) – I smiled. And I said, “Hi, Lord.” For I knew – it was my God getting through to me. Asking me to just stop and ignore everything else for a moment and focus on Him.

Sometimes that’s all He wants. Just a moment of our attention. Of our hearts. With no distractions.

Just Him – and us.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

You Are Not Just One of Many

I have some blogs that I like to visit. I return because they feed me somehow. They inspire me, give me ideas, make me smile, or help me feel like I’m not alone in the things I’m feeling and going through.

I’m a lurker most of the time. Not that I intend to be. I just don’t believe in leaving a comment unless I really have something to say. I don’t like to waste my words. So from time to time, I will leave a comment on these blogs I visit. And I tend to wonder if they really remember me. If they know “me” out of the many other comments they get. After all, some of these blogs I enjoy are what you’d call “popular” blogs. They are well-loved by many other women. And rightly so.

The neat thing about blogging is that you start to feel like you really know someone. They share their heart and photos and you bond with them, in a way. So it can be important to think they are hearing you when you leave a comment. Sometimes I feel that way – that my heart has been heard. Sometimes, I do not. Sometimes I feel like I’m just one of many voices that will not be remembered.

I want you to know that I hear you when you leave a comment for me on my blog. You are not just one of “many.” I try so hard to pay attention. I read your name. I visit your blog if you have one, and I digest what you say to me. For you are important and you are valued. I know that if you take a moment to write something, that it’s something your heart needed to say.

I try to do that because everyone wants to know they have been heard. Everyone wants to feel like they are special.

Please know that your heart and your feelings matter to me. Even if I am unable to reply specifically to you,; your thoughts, your words, and your heart were held by mine with great care.

You will never be just “one” of many to me. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sibling Prayer Time

One morning a couple of years ago, I was driving my two girls to school. Occasionally, I will pray with them before they start their school day. I don’t do this as consistently as I’d like, but often enough.  On this day, I don’t know what it was, but as I was driving, the thought just occurred to me to have them pray instead of me. I mean, they know what it’s like. They each can understand a little bit better about friendship issues, frustrations over school work and teachers, as well as battles they go through in hearing swear words or other dirty language and actions. So I asked them to pray for each other.

At first my girls were like, “What?” They were taken aback. I explained to them why and told them that I wanted them to pray for each other. They sputtered slightly, but without too much of a fight, they did.

It blessed my heart to hear them pray for one another. In fact, it blessed me so much that I’ve decided I need to do this more often. It reminds them that they are on the same side. When siblings can often fight and bicker, it’s good to be reminded that they go through some of the same struggles in life. I want to reinforce the fact that they have a strong bond with one another and that they can be allies.  I also think that by the mere fact in having them do the praying sometimes instead of merely me doing it, that they are having to take their faith into their own hands.

A lot of times as a parent, we can hold our children’s faith in our hands and assume they crave a walk with God as strongly as we do. But we don’t give them the tools to implement it for themselves. When I have them do the praying, they are speaking to God instead of me speaking to God for them. They have to relate to Him one on one.  Even if at first it’s done dutifully, I pray that at some point it will be something that comes naturally and is turned to easily in their life.

I have told my family time and time again that we are a team. We need to be there for each other and be a safe haven for one another against the rest of the world. I hope that by having them pray for each other is just one other way of reinforcing the love and support that we need to give each other and I hope that they will learn to grab hold of that tool and use it many times in the future – whether I ask them to or not.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Unshakeable Peace

When I go through certain transitions in life, there is one thing that seems to help me hold my ground. One thing that despite the odds against me, the stresses that mount, or the fear that can creep in….one thing that sits underneath it all.

Inner peace.

I have an inner peace because I know that God has all my circumstances in His hands. I know that He loves me and He will take care of me.

Sometimes people tell me, “You don’t understand,” or “If you were in my position…” but I’ve been in many positions. And the only times I don’t feel a peace deep down inside is when I know I’m going against God’s will for my life. When I know I’m not listening to what He wants me to do.

Those are the only times.

I understand in certain situations that things look grave. I understand that things are not optimum or that sacrifices will need to be made.  But I just have this unshakeable peace that somehow, God will get me through it.

I can’t imagine going through hard things in life and not having that. Not having hope. I can’t fathom how out-of-control you would feel at times or how discouraged!

Yes, I’ve been frustrated and I’ve been discouraged. But usually those times happen when I take my eyes off of God and put them on myself and my own plans and visions. Usually they happen when my own pride and agenda get in the way.

God truly does give us a “peace that surpasses understanding.” It’s there for our taking if we would only access it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In An Instant

I’m always amazed at how we try to control life. We make our plans, set our agendas, and go about setting our schedules when life is made up of so much that cannot be controlled.

I can try to be informed, plan for the “what if’s,” or be prepared but when it really comes down to it – I’m usually not. I’m usually swept off my feet and amazed at how quickly life can change in a moment.

In one moment, a tornado can ruin a town. It can change the course of your life with one car accident or doctor appointment. Your priorities shift with one accident in the garage.

We can’t plan for most of life. No matter how hard we try. We are at its mercy. The burns, the cuts, the rollovers – they happen so quickly. And the effects are so long-lasting.

In an instant – everything can change. All of our plans, dreams, and wishes. All of our priorities. With every breath we take, we are survivors.

We think we are so big. So powerful and in control. When in reality, we are so small. So weak. So powerless. 

I think we sometimes get a clue. We sometimes realize. When the hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornados roll in. We understand – but for a moment. When the virus spreads, we realize how blessed we all are – to simply escape.

I’m in awe at how big my God is. And how much He can love little ‘ol me. I forget. I forget and think I’m bigger than I am, sometimes. But I’m not so big after all. And He still loves me.

Everything can change in an instant though. I’m so glad that in “that instant” I’m not alone. My God’s there with me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Knowing What It Feels Like

It was the third day of school for my 9th grade daughter.

It was lunchtime.

She had gotten her lunch and was going to sit down with her friends when she noticed a brand new girl sitting by herself.

It would have been so easy to sit down in her normal spot. Her comfort zone. But she didn’t.

She went over, all by herself, and sat by this new girl.

Then another one of her friends followed suit and joined them. And another. And another.

My daughter said that she knows what it’s like to be in a room with people hoping that someone will come and be your friend. Usually they don’t. They stick in their comfortable social circles. And the out-of-place or new person stays on the fringes. Watching. Waiting.

I was so proud of her as she recounted this story to me with not an ounce of conceit. I was proud that she was a leader that day and that she showed her friends how to give and welcome someone new. I was also thinking about how that girl would go home that night. How her parents would probably say,  “How did your first day of school go? Did you make any new friends?” And she would say, “This one girl came up to me and sat by me in lunch and then her friends joined us too.”

What a neat thing to have my daughter known for to someone for the first time.

Giving. Sharing. Welcoming. Embracing. Compassion.

How many times have we been the new person? And we have sat by ourselves watching everyone else laugh and share conversation together – just wishing that we would be invited to join in? And how many of us have been that other person…..staying in their comfortable little cliché? Not willing to ruin the atmosphere because we like things the way they are?

Someone is ALWAYS on the fringe. Someone is ALWAYS wanting to join in.  We just don’t always notice.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

If Only We Could

Do you ever think about what you’d do if you could see tomorrow? If you were to know what would happen in your life or with your loved ones tomorrow, next week, next year?

If only we could see.

If only we could see that it would be the last time to hug someone. The last time to see their smile, smell their unique smell.

What if we could see how that one choice dramatically altered our future forever? What if we could see how we’d look, think…be?

Those are big questions. For we just can’t. We can’t take every moment of our life and make it the most meaningful, well-thought out, and special moment we could imagine. We can’t play it all out with perfection.

If only we could.

For there are so many moments in life we take for granted. So many people.

So many regrets we hold dear to our hearts. So many wishes.

I’m just wondering if maybe we weren’t meant to get it all right. That maybe it was always intended that we grow reflective and see things in clearer perspective in hindsight.  We wouldn’t grow otherwise. We wouldn’t learn. We wouldn’t love deeper. We wouldn’t cherish.

Life is always going to have super painful moments and memories. It’s always going to call at us and beckon us to be stronger, wiser and better. Just like it will always remind us of those times that make us wince with longing and regret.

I think the key is to make the most of what we’ve got.  Not in a “I need to be perfect” kind of way – but in an “I want to embrace life” kind of way.  Yes, we will take people for granted. We will waste opportunities. We will make the wrong choices. But that’s life.  The key is what we learn from those times.

If only we COULD see into the future. We just might not enjoy today.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bubbly or Grumpy?

There are seasons in life where I realize in retrospect that I probably haven’t been that approachable. Maybe I was grumpy or irritable because of things I was personally going through.

I hate it when I look back on pictures or video and see a face that looks so serious!  I love it when I am seen with a smile and a twinkle in my eyes. For I love life and I love people.

I want to be seen, known, and remembered as someone who was warm and loving. Someone who enjoyed a good laugh and liked to have fun….yet someone who had a gentle and authentic heart.

As I get older, I think about the elderly more and how they are viewed. Even when you are shopping in a grocery store, it’s so obvious to tell if an older person has a warm, sweet soul or if they are crotchety and grumpy! It shows up in how they walk, how they talk, and all over their face.

Life can be grueling. It can be so tough and painful at times. Yet there is still so much to enjoy about it. So much good out there.  I don’t  ever want to turn into a grumpy person!

So sometimes it’s really good to step outside of my own shoes and see how others might view me. Am I approachable? Am I loveable? Do others view me as warm and inviting? Or do they have to walk on eggshells around me because they don’t want to “set me off?” Do I gripe easily? Do I get angry or take offense easily and make no bones about letting others know?

Do I radiate a bubbly personality or a grumpy one? These are things to think about. For I represent my Lord.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Things Change

Sometimes I lose sight of who I am. I identify with what I do.

For example, when I had my “Emphasis On Moms” website and ministry – I identified with being a writer and mentor for moms. It gave me a sense of significance outside of just being a homemaker. Yet being a homemaker also gave me a sense of significance. It was something I did. Something I KNEW. I felt comfortable in those roles.

When I decided to let go of my ministry -  it was really good for me. I was shedding a skin in a way. I loved that ministry, but I also wanted to know who I was apart from it. I didn’t want IT to become me. I was more. There was more inside of me to be explored and discovered.

As my girls have grown up and become more independent, I’ve also seen the beginning of more possibilities to explore what I want in life. As a parent, you are so used to doing things for the family that you often put aside your own wants and desires. But as they grow up, a new sense of freedom can enter your heart as you find out you can pamper yourself a little more often. It’s fun even though you also grieve the loss of having children who totally need and rely on you as well!

Life is about navigation. You navigate through different roles and seasons. Each one molds and shapes you, but there is also so much more potential that lives inside of us. We are more than one cause or one dream! If we allow one thing to totally become us then if that should ever be stripped away from us, we’d be exceptionally lost.  We need to remember who we are, what we think, how we feel, and where we want to head in life. 

We can’t lose sight of who God created us to be. We have natural instincts. Natural personality traits, character strengths, and drives that live in us for a reason.  We need to see that loss is a part of life. Loss of people we love, loss of hobbies and jobs that we identify with, and loss of seasonal roles.  Our roots and foundation need to go deeper than where we currently are in life – as much as we may love it.

I want to love what I do. I want to love where I’m at and the things God has placed in front of me. Who doesn’t? But I also want to always let something more live on inside of me – like a spark for a flame that can grow into something bigger, deeper, and more. For I know that as long as I’m here, God has a purpose in mind for me. And I can rise up to new challenges and things – wherever He wants to take me – the sky is the limit!

Shedding skin is not a bad thing. It’s a chance at something new and fun. It’s a way to get a new and fresh start. Embrace it and thank God for making you into such a diverse person.  Don’t lose sight of who you are. What has been may not be again, but what “will be” could be such a blessing….if you just give yourself a chance.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Minute By Minute

My girls were in a Christian school. Then we took them out and put them in public school for 3 years. Now they are back at a Christian school. No one decision that we made concerning their schooling was necessarily wrong – it seemed like the right direction at the time.

There are books and books on parenting. Some very good ones. But no one book can tell you the exact way you should go for your family. It seems like there is always a “different” scenario when it comes to your individual unit and so a “set” plan always needs to be tailored or filtered to fit where you are at, at any one point in time. 

I think parenting is in reality, more a “minute by minute” thing. Some days you are flying by the seat of your pants and other days you feel like you know where you are headed and what you are actually doing! It’s just something that you have to feel and pray your way through. You have to truly know the character, personality, and heart of your kids. You have to understand your own vision and “bent” in life based on how you were raised and where you came from, as well. It’s day to day – minute by minute.

Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for thinking you were headed one direction yesterday but then you changed your mind and are heading in a new direction today. Sometimes that happens. Family life is ever-changing, ever growing. It needs to be pliable and flexible.

When my child is sassing me or making choices I don’t agree with; I’m having to go minute by minute to decide how best to correct and guide. When I don’t know the best answer to a parenting dilemma, sometimes you just have to get creative, use your gut instincts, and go minute by minute.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

Prayer only takes a minute.

A hug only takes a minute.

Saying “I’m sorry” only takes a minute.

A tear can fall in a minute.  And trust can be broken irrevocably in a minute. 

Sometimes going minute by minute is all we can do and sometimes it’s the best way to go. For we can better see what is at-hand and in front of us and deal with it without trying to overwhelm overselves and think of everything all at once.

As long as you’re learning and growing – that’s what truly counts. You don’t want to repeat the same mistakes over and over again or stay rooted on unhealthy ground. You want to be moving forward – as a mom – and as a family.

Take a deep breath, do a lot of praying, and just take that step. One foot and one minute at a time. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wanting To Be Wanted

Everyone wants to be wanted. We all want to be chosen. Picked. Selected. Called. Invited. Asked. Even if we don’t want to be involved or go somewhere – we want to be wanted.

Just as we all want to be wanted….we’ve all felt like we weren’t wanted. 

Everyone was going to that amazing speaker or concert in town and you weren’t asked to be a part of the group.  Or a bunch of people went out to dinner and you weren’t invited.  The auditorium is getting full and some of your “friends” are saving seats…but not for you. Everyone is asked to “team up” and you seem to be odd man out.

We’ve all been there. All smelled our shirts and checked our breath to make sure we don’t stink.  We’ve all gone home and shed a tear or two – or tons.

I’ve lived life IN the group and outside of it. I’ve observed and I’ve partaken.  And one thing I’ve learned is that no one gets to a place where they always feel “safe.” Everyone is always seeking out more value, more love, more of being wanted. It seems to reaffirm that we are important. We are special. We are worth something!

I’ve learned far more from being outside of a “click” than I probably ever learned from being inside of one. And I’ve probably grown stronger and defined who I am and my sense of self esteem more outside of groups than in them. That doesn’t mean it’s fun to be excluded. It’s not. It simply means that God was sifting and shaping me into being better, stronger, wiser, and more complete.

I’m thankful for that work He’s done on me and in me. I’m thankful that I can see more clearly now. I can see what isn’t always said on someone’s face. I can feel someone’s heart easier by looking in their eyes and observing their body language. I can love more completely and not base it on image, status, or brands – but on heart and soul.

I think sometimes that satan tries to keep us out of the loop of things so that we will always feel “less than.” So that we will forget who we are in Christ. So that we will limit ourselves because we don’t feel worthy of the calling. And so often he is successful.

Other times, I think God allows us to be outside of the mix for our own well-being. So that we will lean on Him instead of others. So that we will seek Him more. And sometimes simply to protect us from bad influences or growing vainfully more in our own pride.

Everyone wants to be wanted.

No one really wants to show up alone.

But whether or not we are in one of those seasons in life right now, we need to trust in God that He will walk through it with us. That He will sit with us. He will eat with us. And He will invite us to be with Him.

For He always wants us.