Monday, July 3, 2017

Photography

We were praying for a good friend for one of our sons. Because God is good, He brought this mother, daughter and son into our lives. And because God is really good, he didn't just give my son a good friend, but me one as well. This sweet family has quickly become some of our favorite people. So taking their family photos - way fun. I had to share...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day to three of my heroes: my husband, dad, and father-in-law. Thank you for loving us all so well! And thank you – from the bottom of my heart – for helping me with the wrestling situation. I appreciate that when I ask you to help me tame them, this is what you do… You're the best. The boys adore you. And so do I! 
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Monday, May 29, 2017

Beautifully Exhausted

I felt totally spent. Have you been there too?

I woke up tired because the night before, I’d partied like it was 1999…

Doing laundry.

I executed my brilliant idea of putting the clothes through the machines then mass piling them in a tangled heap on my bed to fold and hang later. The original laundry mountain happened two days before. I’d already moved Mt. Everest to the floor once, deemed it invisible and in complete denial climbed into bed. So last night, I had to face my demons. And truth: Fairy Godmothers are NOT real. They don’t clean your home and magic wand together a pretty dress - that you’ll need to iron yourself. (Also to be noted: I like to recycle this lesson. More fun not to learn it the first time.) So I overslept and sacrificed my early morning refueling, alone time. I packed my kids’ lunches, addressed boxes to be mailed, dropped my kids off at school only to realize my oldest son was supposed to have arrived early and I forgot. (Ugh.) Then, after working all day, I picked up my three boys from school, ran to the bank, then to the store…and so on. You get it. You’ve been there, too.

At the last errand of my forever day, I waited at the gym for my son to finish basketball. I opened social media and saw a quote posted by a friend:
"There is something so holy in that moment when you fall into bed after serving your family, after working to support your family... just totally spent, poured out for others. What I like to call 'beautifully exhausted.' You have unselfishly fulfilled your God-given role and calling for that day, as your act of worship toward the One who created the uniquely gifted you. In that moment when you close your eyes, 'beautifully exhausted,' know that God sees you as altogether, wonderfully, entirely and only beautiful." (Author Unknown)

Fresh air blew through my mind as I soaked in the encouragement.

Finally, my son emerged his basketball tucked under one arm, swinging his water bottle with the other. We headed home to the bedtime routine. With the last tuck-in, stillness fell over our home

Which meant I finally had a chance to hang out alone with my husband. To unpack my thoughts, watch mindless television or read from the pile of books I’m always half way through. (I don’t even get how people can just choose one, different stories for different moods. Oh the bliss!) And it was so close… This gift was within reach… almost to my fingertips…until….

Our kindergartner shakily called for me, “Mom, what do you do when you can’t get bad thoughts out of your head?” My sweet boy was convinced a crocodile was going to crawl into his bed and eat him. “Son, we don’t live near crocodiles.” Fearful eyes looked back at me. We peered out the window at the snowy tundra, but I still couldn’t convince him even if a lone crocodile made it north, it would freeze. So we snapped on the light and pulled out some books. I snuggled him close and read. And read. With each turn of the page, we pushed his scary thoughts further away. Then I kissed his sleepy head, tucked the soft covers around him, and whispered a prayer for fear to leave my precious boy alone.

My evening me-time slipped through my fingers. Finally, I crawled into bed on my very last fumes. Completely exhausted.

But…

…BEAUTIFULLY exhausted.

PS - I wrote this post in the winter, but with all the end-of-the-school-year busyness and two weeks still to go - I'm right back in this spot again.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A New Beginning Always Starts With An End

On mother’s day, I saw this post from a sweet friend and it moved me. With her permission, I'm sharing it with you:
“Amara was just a few months old in this pic, little chub. 20 years old - I was thinking my life was over for having a baby. That makes me laugh just typing it - she ended up being the best thing to ever happen to us! Jordan and I had no idea the ride we were in for, but it's been a good one! God puts us through experiences and challenges for good reason. It's funny - now almost 8 years later, I can't imagine my life without my Lil’ Mama. She's my purpose, my why, and the best friend I never knew I needed! It also makes me appreciate my mom even more...” (Then she goes on to wish everyone a happy mother's day…)
Nicolle just turned 20 when she found out she was pregnant. She felt a loss of freedom, life-style, being in the same season as her friends, and feelings of "approval." It was an end she didn't want. And yet – her daughter as she put it, “gave her the greatest job in the world and didn’t even know it.”

Funny how we can cling so tightly to the past, not realizing blessings beyond our wildest imagination are just around the corner.

Honor the past, enjoy the memories, be grateful for the experiences - but then, look forward.

If things never ended, we’d never get these kind of wonderful new beginnings.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

You are a mom.

You give every day. You put others needs before your own. You love deeply. You teach. You referee. You mentor. You are creative, resourceful and strong. You freely give grace. There is no one else in y
our family’s life like you. Your importance is unique. Your influence impactful. You are a safe place. Your hugs heal. Your words encourage. Your support nurtures confidence. Your wisdom gives guidance. The impact your love has on your family is immeasurable. You shape the next generation and little by little, help change the world. 

Today…no matter what stage of motherhood you are in (small children to adult children), I hope you know how loved and cherished and important you are. Today…I hope you soak in the celebration of YOU.

Because, moms are a gift. And moms make the world a better place.

Happy Mother’s Day!
PS - If you want a fun pic with your kids today, grab the flowers you got for mother's day, or from your yard...or even dandelions would look cute...and take a similar shot. 

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Your Struggle, God's Response {a Tale of Hope}

You know how outside elements – hail, debris or small rocks – have bounced off the windshield of your car with no damage a thousand times before? But then, for whatever the reason, perhaps the size of the debris, angle it hits, or speed you’re driving, one tiny pebble pounds into your windshield and starts a spider web of cracks.

Have you also had moments in your life like that? A difficult relationship, a tricky situation, an illness, expectations that blew up in your face… You’ve weathered similar storms before, but this time’s different. This situation, it’s the pebble that started splitting your windshield in wild directions.

You can’t shake it off; you can’t move forward. You’re stuck in a deep valley.

It’s frustrating, because you want to be a person of great faith, like Elijah, an Old Testament prophet. When Israel’s rulers had turned to Baal worship and killed God’s prophets, Elijah walked into this toxic situation and challenged the Baal prophets to a Who’s-God-Will-Supernaturally-Set-Their-Altar-On-Fire Contest. Baal ignored his praying, dancing, cutting themselves prophets. Yet when Elijah prayed, flames consume his sacrifice. Then Elijah prayed for the drought plaguing the land to end – and the sky broke open (I Kings 18). Elijah was certain the One True God would prevail, and he was right.

That confidence, that faith – I want it.

Yet, if you read on we see a different side of Elijah (I Kings 19). Israel's rulers weren't exactly happy about this display of glory. Elijah received a vengeful message that the queen was going to have him killed.

After this big magnificent faith building moment - that confident Elijah - he ran. He ran like Forrest Gump. Then sat down, deep in the wilderness and prayed he might die.

See that last threat – one he’d received before and weathered – it was the rock that flew up and formed the first crack in his windshield.

So what did God do with this man who was fearful, anxious, depressed and wanting to die? Surely God told him what we tell ourselves: Shake it off, be stronger and move forward.

Yet that’s not what God did…

Instead, He had him sleep and eat. Then God gave him a break from the situation and from making decisions; He had Elijah travel forty days to Horeb, the Mountain of God. He gave Elijah the gift of mindless purpose, time to think and process his experience as he walked.

Then once Elijah reached his destination, God finally asked him what’s wrong. Elijah poured out his frustrations and God responded:

“‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (I Kings 19:11-12, NIV) 
God’s voice was in the whisper. And that’s where God revealed to Elijah his next steps.

God didn’t expect Elijah to snap out of it. He didn’t criticize Elijah for his lack of faith, his deep sorrow and depression, his fear and his reaction of running away. Instead, he had him take care of his body, remove himself from the situation, and take time to heal. Then, God reminded Elijah that His voice is heard in the quiet.

Elijah was STILL a man of great faith despite the cracks in his life. You can be strong and feel weak. You can be a woman of faith and go through dark periods. You can still be a healthy person, yet be in the winter season of your life. It’s okay to not be okay.

Sometimes, God calls us to rest.

Stop trying to make decisions. Stop trying to figure out why. Stop with the “What ifs?” Stop the noise.

Just rest.

God uses lots of different ways to heal us. Like Elijah, God healed different parts of his cracks through different ways, taking care of his body, time, and encouragement. For you it might be counseling, friends, inspirational books, doctors/medication…

But, for Elijah - and for us - what tied all the healing together was going back to the source.

Stepping away.

Resting.

And making space for God to speak from the quiet corners of your heart.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

To Moms of Babies

To all you moms of babies out there who love this stage…

I understand you. I love the baby stage, too: the cooing and smiles, the rocking and nursing, the little legs dangling from your hip. We hold our babies and heaven feels near. Baby people wish this feeling on everyone. Sad? Hold a baby. Stressed out? Rock a baby. Babies for everyone. Then, we look at our own children and will them not to grow. Please fit in the curve of our arms forever.

Yet…

Our babies grow anyway.

Listen, though. In that same room in which I used to rock a little one, I now tuck my ten-year-old son into bed. The other night, as I turned to leave his room, he asked, “Will you hang out with me longer?”

“Yes…. Of course…. What’s on your mind?”

(Seconds passed.)

My son: “Let’s just talk.”

“Okay. What should we talk about?”

“Science.” He hesitated before continuing. “How many different types of sharks can you name?”

So we chatted about the tiny pygmy shark and long-tailed thrasher shark. As our words spun and we floated through topics, I had a moment with my son. His face lit up when a new thought struck him. His creativity emerged when he described a game he made up. He gave himself over to goofiness as we discussed the merits of Crocs and socks. (We like soft, warm cotton around our feet before they go into the plastic, so forget the fashion masses - we declared ourselves Crocs-with-socks people.) His mouth twisted in concern as he talked about something that was bothering him.

When he was a baby he wanted me to stay in his room because that’s what babies do - they want their mamas. But now, he can get lost in Nerf Guns and basketball and Legos and friends. So, when he asks me to stay, it’s because he has something to say. Then I get to glimpse into his heart and experience what he chooses to talk about, a foreshadowing of the kind of man he might one day be. And there's all kinds of magic in watching our children unearth who they are.

As our conversation slowed and his eyes became heavy, I paused.

I let the moment - this gift in my day - sink in.

Then, I slipped out of the room with a happy heart.

Young mamas, your babies will grow and there is some sadness in that. But then… you will get THESE KIND OF MOMENTS. And there is so much wonderful in THIS.

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Post written over a year ago, but published now.