Thursday, November 13, 2014

They're Watching...

Blog?  What's a blog?  Seriously, is anyone doing that anymore?  Well, clearly not me as it has been approximately 2 years since writing….anything.  In a world of acronyms, tweets, hashtags, etc I honestly wonder if I'm even capable of forming an intelligible, well thought out, complete sentence anymore.  Hmmm…..shall I try?

I've been a stay at home mom for almost 6 years.  How in the world did that happen?  I have stayed at home precisely one year longer than I taught school.  I probably wouldn't want my child in "my" classroom if I ever go back.  Can you say, starting over????  Well, let's not get carried away with that thought….go back to work….ha!  With my adorable mess of a two year old still sleeping soundly in her bed at 8:30 this morning, I think I can assuredly say, "I'm good." =)

No, but seriously, maybe that is the exact reason I have found myself sitting here, thinking, writing, today.  For a lot of years I wasn't good.  For a lot of years I was searching for something, struggling with contentment.  I think I may have even started a blog….(LOL).  Six years in and I can finally say that God is bringing me to that place of finally "getting it," finally having those "awe…." moments.  (That's great isn't it….now that my older two are in school? Oh well, here's hoping we do it right with the third child!)

What is my purpose?  Oh how I hear new stay at home moms say that so often.  They feel….like they should feel.  Overwhelmed with the daily ins and outs of cleaning, laundry, wiping noses, wiping bottoms, cleaning, teaching, preparing 3 meals a day, did I say cleaning (one thing I know for sure…my house stayed a lot cleaner when no one is in it all day), but the area that is the hardest, the one no one really prepares you for, the lack of influence.  And that's a two way street, especially for a teacher.  The gaping whole that is left when you do not have classrooms of young minds to shape and mold, when you do not get to see, TANGIBLY, the growth of those children right in front of your face, and even worst, when you are not being influenced by anyone anymore….to be better, work harder, be given TANGIBLE feedback on how you are doing.  It's tough, on so many levels, that it leaves us wondering what God's purpose for our lives are in simply staying at home and being a mom.

The other day I was driving in the car with my two year old daughter.  Can I say….I LOVE driving in the car, preferably without kids, but let's be honest how often does that happen?  We have fun in the car.  We dance, we shake it, we sing, we become silly creatures in that beautiful mini van I said I would never own.  But the one thing I do, especially by myself, is pray and praise.  The other day I was in the car listening to these lyrics:
"So hold on tight, your ship is going down
In the storms of life, I won't let you drown.
It'll be alright if you can just hold on,
So just hold on
Rescue has come."
I was raising my hand and just singing and praising God because it was speaking so directly to my heart in that moment (another post for another day).  And then there it was……my daughter, raising her hands.

They're watching!  In every thing we do, they are watching!  Our influence is greater than we could ever imagine, and it is right in front of us.  It has nothing to do with how hard we work, or how good of a job we do, or how many random people we may make some tiny imprint on……it's about how we love our children and how we love God.  That THAT is enough.  That THAT is what's important. And I'm confident that if nothing else…..that THAT is our purpose.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Lessons Learned Through Our Children

If I could paint a picture of this week it would be one of confusion, frustration, sadness, and tears.  To say it has been a tough few days is a bit of an understatement. My oldest child, technically able to start Kindergarten although he doesn't turn 5 until next week, has started Kindgarten Readiness.  It is program offered for those late birthday kids who can have a more relaxed, stress free learning experience while still getting adjusted to big school.  I knew it would be a challenge, as anything new usually is for my Baker, but I never dreamed it would have been like this.  After a week of school we have experienced sleepless nights, not eating well, crying hysterically begging not to go, irrational anxiety and fears...just to name a few.  It's one thing to see your child struggle, but when you see it completely affecting every area of his life and not know what to do but hold on tight and just keep loving him....it is a very helpless feeling as a mother.

After one of the toughest mornings of dropping him off, I came home and tried to get ready for the day....and I just....couldn't.  I felt so worn down. So I simply sat on the edge of the tub, began praying for my child, and just cried to the Lord (sobbed could be a better term). "Lord, I know that this is the best thing for him, but it is killing me watching him struggle so.  It is literally tearing out my heart to watch his heart hurt so badly......"

And that's when a memory came back into my mind.  Over a year ago, in that same bathroom, in that same place, having one of those days that just made doing the smallest task of getting ready feel too much to bare, I sat and sobbed to the Lord.  My heart was hurting. I was sad, confused, uniquely broken.  As I began to remember this...and quickly push the thought aside as I try to do these days....it is almost as if I felt the Lord whispering...."Don't you see now how I felt during that time of your life?  I knew it was best for you, but it broke me...tore my heart out.... to see you hurting. And all I could do was love you through it."

To know the depths of my own heart for my sweet child....and to know that God could possibly love me not only just as much but more....is almost unfathomable.  To think that He was up in heaven crying for me because He couldn't bare to see my own hurting was a concept I never would have believed or even been able to grasp until it became so real and so personal within my own life.

Does it make this time easier? No. Does it make me stronger? Probably not. But it humbles me in a way I have never been humbled before. It draws me to His presence and helps me find rest. It makes Him more real and smaller....in a good way....than I have ever perceived Him before. And it helps me "come to Him" in moments, days, weeks such as these.
"Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of earth’s sorrows, into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee."


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Redemption Swaddled in Pink!

Lets start with the selfish.
As far back as I can remember the only thing I have ever wanted to be is a mother.  Not just any mother....a mother to little girls.  Oh how I love little girls.  I love their dresses, playing with their hair, how loving they are.  When I taught school, there was just something about having a classroom full of girls.  They were calm, they wanted to learn, they were always willing to help, they loved their teacher.  Even when I went to college and learned to really appreciate my mother, I dreamed of having that same close relationship with my own daughter one day.  And what have I been blessed with (yes, they are still huge, amazing blessings in their own right).....BOYS!  Two beautiful, silly, wild boys.  To say that my head has been spinning for the past 4 years is an understatement.
For anyone that follows my life or my blog, there is no hiding that the past couple of years have definitely been my hardest:  two young children, staying at home for first time, marital stress, heck, martial problems, heart break, building a house, life.  Sure, over the years I have prayed.....and prayed.....and prayed.....but if I'm being honest, maybe it was just to hold on to a small piece of God.  Was I ever really listening?  Was I really even wanting Him to respond?  While the past season of my life has brought with it a flood of different emotions, problems, and grown-up situations to deal with.....it has also brought with it a HUGE helping of grace!
Bring on the GRACE....
A child is a blessing.  I've always believed that.  As much as I've struggled at times over the years with not having a girl, I have felt very honored and special to have been given boys.  There comes great responsibility with each and every child, but my heart grieves the lack of real men in this world anymore.  They seem very few and far between.  I believe the Lord has truly entrusted, not one but two, boys to be brought up as Godly men from us.  What a huge blessing that is.  No pressure!  But oh how my heart has prayed for a little girl.  We found out in January of this year that we were expecting our third child.  It was one that we sat down and prayed for before ever being conceived.  It was one I was not expecting so quickly, especially after the road we have walked down.  It truly has felt like a gift of GRACE!  I'm sharing this story because it is one I want to shout from the rooftops.  It's one I wish the whole world could know, and yet one I want to hold tightly in my heart and never let go of.
Ultrasound day....
Nervous does not begin to encompass what I was feeling the day we went in for our ultrasound.  Tears poured down my cheeks on my way to the doctor as I talked about it with my husband.  Did it really matter....boy or girl....it had to be either, right? =)  But for me it meant so much more.  There was a chance I could have found out a few weeks earlier.  I had gotten all excited and then it didn't happen. I was so discouraged I wanted to pay to go to an ultrasound place and find out early.  Somewhere in my heart, however, I just felt like the Lord was telling me to be patient.  So I was!  And it was hard!  It wasn't until a few days before the ultrasound that I realized the time of year it fell in, down to the week. See, boy or girl, it didn't really matter.  God had blessed us with a baby and there was no denying his hand in that, but did He really care enough to plan each little detail so intricately?  Remember all that praying I said I had been doing....a year and a half's worth???  I've just been wanting to feel God tangibly in my life.  I've been struggling with the realness of His hands directly in our lives and, while I believe He loves us as much as he says....actually FEELING that love.  If it was a boy....then it would have been a beautiful, bouncing, crazy boy that I would have loved with every ounce of my being.  But having a little girl is the deepest desire of my heart and the one thing that I cannot give myself.  In my heart...it could only come from God.  Did He love really love me that much, that deeply, after all my mistakes, after all these up and down years?  Did I deserve that gift?  That was wherein the fear lie and the tears sprung from!
"It's a girl!"  The poor ultrasound lady didn't know what that statement was going to bring forth from me.  I cried on her, my doctor, and pretty much half of the day sharing our joy with friends and family!  I have been overwhelmed by not only God's grace, but His love.  That he is the same God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He has never left my side or turned away.  He has never NOT been there, NOT loved me, NOT been reaching out to me.
Maybe it didn't take having a girl to "confirm" those things....but it took this special gift for them to be undeniably, tangibly true in my life.  None of us are perfect......and maybe its the mistakes we make along the way that not only grow our own faith and relationship with Him....but pave the way to making us better, stronger people for our children's sakes.  Either way this child is pretty darn special!!!  I can't wait to see where God takes this family along our journey!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hope

Today started as it usually does on a school day:  boys wrestling in my room, tv on, me in front of the mirror trying to put myself together as best I can for a tired mommy who overslept, scrounging to get out the door....not on time....but acceptably late.  For just the slightest moment, looking at my own growing belly in the mirror, my mind began wandering to a sweet friend of mine, a friend who has been struggling to get pregnant for quite a while now.  I began to pray for her and her heart, for strength, for faith, for peace in the waiting, for continued hope.

HOPE.

The last conversation I had with her felt withdrawn, empty.  I asked if we, our study, could continue to pray for baby and she brushed by it with a quick response, "You can, but I'm not.  I'm over it."

HOPE.

Hope is the easiest thing in the world, and yet sometimes, the most difficult.  Through a trying few years, prayers that still linger unanswered, continually watching her friends become mommies again and again, her heart draining of the ability to feel anything......I could see that hope slipping away.  I think of how difficult circumstances can change us, how deep heartache can literally feel as though we have been torn a part from the inside out.

And then I think about my kids.  Even the smallest bump or bruise sends them running to Mommy's arms.  I can't tell you how many times daily that my youngest runs up to me in tears, asks me to kiss his boo boo, and then stops crying and goes back to what he's doing.  Just the knowing that Mommy is there and cares that he is hurt, even in the smallest way, makes everything better.

Isn't it true with God?  From our smallest to our biggest hurt.....don't we just want Him to know and feel He is with us?  I think when we find ourselves in situations where we are running to Him and can't find Him....that's when our world begins to crash, our hearts become a little more empty, and our faith a little smaller.  I have walked in my friend's shoes.  I have run in circles crying out for the Lord.....just to "kiss" my pain and let Him hold me in His arms.  I've had to wait on answers that still haven't come full circle.  I've had to keep moving forward, even when some days I wanted only to sit and be still.  But somewhere I have to believe that God is there, He is listening.  I have to have HOPE that no matter what we walk through, He's waiting on the other side and there is a purpose beyond what we can even comprehend.  Because if we lose HOPE.....then what do we have to hold on to?  What do we have to believe in?

So I will continue to pray for my friend....for her deepest desires to be met, for God to hold her in His arms and be a presence in her life during this time, and that her HOPE will not be faltered in the waiting.  And then.....I'll pray this exact same prayer for many others, including myself.  Our "longings," our "wilderness," our "heartaches," may look different than another's....but within those moments, aren't we all just really searching for the same thing?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Not Home Yet

I love to laugh. I love to make people laugh. I love to be silly and play games. I love my friends. I love deep conversations and investing in other people. I love giving and helping others. I love my kids and find joy in their smiles, laughs, hugs. I enjoy life. And some days, every part of me hurts.
December 21, 2010

Well over a year ago these were the words and emotions that overflowed so easily from me.  As I sat on my back porch today looking up at the sky I thought to myself how different of a place I am in now. It feels like a lifetime ago, yet I can so easily close my eyes and remember what that "lifetime" felt like.

I recently read in one of my studies that 'every kind of season and weather you experience has had to pass through God's fingers before coming into contact with you.'  On one hand that is such a refreshing blessing.  It provides a glimpse of hope that we are truly not the one in control of our lives.  It reassures that He knows the deepest inner workings of who we are, what our hearts long for, why we choose what we do.  His eyes are on our paths before we ever take that first step.  On the other hand that is such a hard concept for me to grasp.  In those moments, in those 'seasons,' it can feel very lonely.  Even after they have passed you can find yourself questioning where God was, why He set that particular path in front of you, or, as my mom always says....why He allows you to travel some of the roads you have taken, especially if the end result is heartache. The study goes on to say that, "It's all been divinely designed to surround you with the conditions that allow your unique gifts and abilities to reach maximum potential.  To grow.  To yield.  To produce."

Divinely designed.  Do I agree with that statement?  Do I believe it?  Yes, I think that I truly do, or at least I really want to.  I'm just not sure that I can say that I've come full circle with it yet.  While the past year has brought many moments of growth, at times, much joy, undeserved blessing, abundant chances to strive to be better for not only myself but others, I'm just not sure I'm "yielding" or "producing" anything.  I still often find myself on that back porch praying, questioning, yearning to know and understand.  


The only thing that gives me hope is that I'm not HOME yet.  We were created for something much bigger than ourselves.....that all the steps we take, whether right or wrong, whether joyful or painful.....are divinely intertwind so that we can find our way back to Him.  It's those days when I find myself looking inward that my outside begins to crumble.  That's when the clouds begin rolling into my "view."  That's when I start looking back rather than forward.  And.......that's when I have to remind myself of this all over again!

Building 429 - Where I Belong (Official Music Video) from building-429 on GodTube.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just A Random Wednesday

Wow. It has been a long time since I have written a post. I would love to have many reasons (excuses) for that, but the truth is....I just haven't. I talk...a lot. And the past few months left me realizing that I have talked my way in circles with God for so long now that I have put Him in a bubble that seems to fit my way of thinking/believing/maybe even hoping. So I finally stopped talking, stopped writing, and just started listening. The past few months have been ones filled with prayers, anticipation, anxiety (in a sense), but really just living, loving, listening......not trying to pick God a part or place Him into a mold I created.....or from another perspective....trying to understand Him and why He doesn't fit into, well, any mold. I've just been sitting back....and letting Him speak and change my heart.....and He has been!

Today, however, is a day I want to capture in my memory and hold on to it. Today is a day that God helped me declutter the "planks" in my eyes that keep me from seeing Him and just allowed me to delight in, not only His sunshine, but also His blessings. I have started a Wednesday morning bible study. It is one that I have put off attending for....gulp.....years. It is one that is not easy to get out the door to attend. But for the past few weeks it is one that I see uplifting my heart and spirit. Not only am I in a group with women of random backgrounds and ages, but one with a group who come together each week and share intimately about their lives and marriages. Our study is on investing in our marriages and loving our spouses as God intended.....and while biblically we "know" this information....getting to physically share this walk with other women is very comforting and therapeutic. And all the while I get to engage myself with coffee and conversation, my sweet babies are in a wonderful class getting filled with bible stories! So this is how my morning started. I then met some friends at the park for lunch and play. What really hit me today was being reminded what a gift staying home with my children has been.....because I'll be the first to admit, some days calling it a "gift" is difficult.

If anyone is a stay at home mom....I'm sure I would get a big AMEN when stating that it is T-O-U-G-H in so many ways. And I'll just say....when I went back to work it wasn't easy either. So working Mamas....I'm not leaving you out. But there was sort of an outlet at work that I don't get at home.....privacy in the bathroom (can I get an AMEN), adult interaction, time to just step out of the home....away from laundry, mess, cooking, etc. It's always there when you come back, yes, but it is not staring you straight in the face all day every day. Being a stay at home mom has felt like a big sacrifice to me.....FOR YEARS. Not to mention financially. When I say sacrifice.....we mean sacrifice. This boutique shopping, designer jean wearing, social, trendy girl......has been none of these things for 3+ years. It means planning my grocery lists to a T, not being able to take trips often if ever, date nights are few and far between, cars are paid for....YEA....but our newest one is 8 years old, eating out other than a quick/cheap place is rare, and if we need new clothes....well, we settle with one or two things a month and stock up as we can. It is a sacrifice that does not come easy to me. It is uncomfortable. It is unfamiliar to me. It's one the world attacks me with daily.

So......if you are actually still reading this.....to my point. Today I got in the car on this beautiful day and realized something.....staying at home has NOT just been a gift God has given me for the sake of my children. It is actually a gift He has given me as well. Not that, "Oh its a gift you get to stay at home and watch them grow up" line. Yes....that is the obvious gift. But what I've time and time again failed to see is what a blessing it has been to me in my friendships. What a joy it is for me to get to meet friends for a bible study or play date, not just for my children, but for ME. When my children are grown and in school.....and I most likely am back at work....will I remember this time and treasure the gift that God gave me, not only to invest in my children and watch them grow, but also to invest in my friendships and love with other people? What will life look like when I can't meet a friend at the park, pool, where ever and share life together like we do now? When we have to settle for phone calls or occasional girls nights?

So thank you Lord, not only for the sacrifice that can come with staying home and teaching me lessons through that, but the blessings you provide in doing so. I have an old school friend that always says, "You live the life. You stay home with your kids. You see your friends all the time. You are always doing things. You don't have to work (I think I must make that part look easier than it actually is)." But the truth is....she's right. Right now I'm living the only life I know how to....and it is a pretty good one. I'm very thankful.
"Right before you die, you'll realize this whole life was about loving people. And you watched too much television." -- Donald Miller

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Good and Perfect Gifts...

As I take a moment to stop and reflect on this day.....this day of thankfulness.....I begin to wonder what I have been thankful for in years past. It seems that each year brings with it a new set of joys, adventures, and even challenges. This particular season of life has left me more in a place of seeking, asking, questioning rather than thanking. A dear friend called me about a month ago and prefaced the conversation with, "I know this may feel a little uncomfortable, but I was just wondering if you would allow me to come to your home and pray for you tonight." What a sweet, sweet blessing this was to me. As we sat together that night I began talking....as I so easily do....about life, pondering the thought of my own direction. Had I made my own choices in this life, had I gotten myself to the point I am now, or has God really directed each step and intricately chosen each road for me to travel down? As tears fell from my eyes, she looked at me and reminded me of this very simple, yet so easily neglected, truth......EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT COMES FROM THE LORD! So as I think about today, and the many things I can consider blessings in my life, I focus more on that truth...the people, things, and moments that I know without question God had his hand in.

*My husband...for loving me more than I could even imagine, for seeing me in ways I still don't know how to see myself, for teaching me what true grace, faith, and hope look like.

*My boys...for their wonderfully wild personalities, their intoxicating laughs, their loving hearts.

*My mom...for always being my support, my teacher, and my friend. My desire for a little girl stems from the fact that I love her so much that I can't imagine not having "this" with my own daughter someday.

*My family...all of them!!!!

*My friends....oh my friends! I would not be who I am today without them....you know who you are!!!

*My 30th birthday...getting hurt so I could lay in bed all weekend and simply do nothing!!! God knew what I needed more than snowboarding! =)

*Haiti...God teaching me humility, how to love others better, and showing me that He has ALWAYS been there.

*My bible study girls! We've been a strong unit for 6 years now...and I can't imagine walking through this life without them.

*My CG....for the laughs, the tears, the "community," the love that I have for such special friends. Another group now 6 years strong!!!

*My beautiful new home.

*Ragnar....RUNS WITH A VAN....God teaching me so much about my own heart, my own limited strength, and faith.

*Sand angels, dance parties to Carter's Chord, movies under the stars, spontaneous trips to Chattanooga, cardboard box sledding, bread basket, sledding with my boys, The Brow, the boathouse, a river...

GOOD!

PERFECT!

THANKFUL!