Friday, August 30, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Worship

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

photo courtesy of

Today's prompt: worship


There is an innate characteristic in each of us that craves worship.  Our nature needs it.  Each tiny molecule, knit together and formed by an eternal God, reflecting His glory and his stamp.  Part of His creation, placed apart, separate.  Made to love and be loved.

Sometimes when I look up at the night sky, at the Milky Way and the millions and wonders spun into motion, I am simply in awe.  I feel tiny.  The every day problems of my life don't seem so important or overwhelming anymore, and I'm encompassed with gratitude that I have a Father who cares about every detail.  It's more than I can comprehend, and yet it brings me to my knees.

And the following Sunday when I enter the place where I gather with others who are filled with the same Spirit, I lift my hands and close my eyes and keep hearing the same word pulsating in my head over and over.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Thank you for loving me.  For hearing me.  For giving me the life I never deserved.  For making the ultimate sacrifice and becoming my shame when You were perfect.

I will never stop worshipping You for it all.  Forever my heart will sing your praise.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Whatever is Lovely

I've just had one those weeks.  Those weeks when you have so much on your plate and you don't know how you're going to get it all done, but don't see any way of removing anything from the packed schedule.  The school orientation, the soccer practices, and the emotions which spin around the major milestone of my oldest child starting kindergarten.  And after being awoken in the middle of the night and dealing with insomnia afterward, my emotions are definitely running higher than usual.

On such days and weeks, it is so easy to focus on the negative.  My sleep deprived brain wants nothing more than to take little words spoken out of context, get defensive over anything and everything, and say the first thing that pops into my head, no matter how sarcastic or insensitive it sounds.  A loud squeal from my toddler or bickering heard from the other room grates on my nerves to the point where I think I might explode.

Even if we allocate our time wisely, we all go through those times in life when we feel overwhelmed.  Especially when there are school aged children in the house and classes are starting again. Fall is just around the corner.  Gone are the lazy days of summer even though sometimes taking a nap sounds like a little piece of heaven.

When I have days and weeks like this, sometimes even months, it helps me to stop, even just for a few minutes, and reflect on all the beautiful things God has blessed me with.  I have two delightful and healthy boys who all of my family and friends love and adore.  I have a hard working husband who is full of integrity, faith in God, and commitment to his family.  I have a roof over my head and options of what to eat and wear each day.  I have a wonderful and caring church family and a place to grow spiritually.  I have some amazing friends.  And best of all, I can come before my gracious, infinite God in prayer to ask for the strength I lack, which He willingly gives.

It isn't always easy to focus on these things.  Our nature fights against it and we are surrounded by miserable people who want nothing more to make us as unhappy as they are.  But when I focus my mind on the good, when I fill it with God's word and meditate on the beauty and the grace that is present in so many ways, the benefits are more numerous than the clouds in the sky.

"...Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."

Philippians 4:8

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Last

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's prompt:  Last


We live in an ever-changing world.  Many things do not last.  Yesterday's technology is today's garbage, text messages and tweets often precede face to face conversation, and a game of candy crush saga is more important to some than engaging with the people surrounding them.  Often, I feel as though I'm simply trying to grasp on to something that is just out of my reach.  To taste the real.

One of my greatest desires for my sons is to raise them with a faith that will last.  A love for God which will stand the test of time.  Despite all the questions, the hardships, the days when they just don't want to get out of bed in the morning and they wonder why they took that job, they days when it seems easier just to blend with the crowd than make a stand for what they know is honorable, true and worthy.

I want them to come to me openly with their questions and to understand that it's okay not to have all the answers.  That it's okay to ask God about the uncertainties that are deep in their heart and that on this side of eternity, we will never be completely and wholly fulfilled.

But God, in all his infinite goodness and unending love, he is answer that will last when everything else comes to an end.  When nature shifts in the shadows and the seasons change from one to the next, He remains unchanged, forever.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Letting Go

I am a worrier.  During periods of my life when there are a lot of changes taking place, I often have nights of little to no sleep.  My mind races.  I go through thousands of different scenarios in my head of things that could happen.  Things that could go wrong.  The "what ifs."  My thoughts will go into the future, outside of the grace of God, constantly wondering instead of just trusting.  Spending time in an endless wheel of stress that does nothing except add more gray hairs to my head.  Because that's exactly what worrying accomplishes.  Nothing.

When we worry, we're basically telling God that He's not big enough to handle our problems.  To take care of us.  That somehow he's unaware of what's going on in our lives.

Over the past few years, I have become much better at letting go.  God has put me in situations where I had no choice.  With moving.  With finding a home.  With finances.  With making new friends.  I had to surrender and simply say, "God, you've got this.  I am counting on you."  It is still a constant battle, but I'm learning each day.

In a week, I will be facing another major change in which I have no control.  My oldest son will be starting kindergarten.  It will be a major transition and I know it will take the entire family some time to adjust.  And although each day I pray for the Lord to protect Jaden and ease him into this new phase of his life, I can feel the nagging of worry in the back of my head threatening to take over.

How tired is he going to be after being in school for nearly eight hours?  Will he eat at lunch or piddle around like he often does?  Will he adjust to the structure of having almost his entire day on schedule?  And then there's the big one…will the teachers and staff remember his tree nut and peanut allergy?

Yes, my son has food allergies.  We carry an Epi-pen everywhere.  But that is another blog post for another day.

I have to admit, it will be a breath of fresh air to not have to listen to the constant bickering and whining between my two sons.  To not have to play the mediator the entire day.  But I sure am going to miss my sweet boy as he enters this new phase.

God, help me to remember that you love my son more than I do.  You know the number of hairs on his head and knit him together in my womb.  He is yours and you will take care of him, each step of the way.

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6:27

Friday, August 16, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Small

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's prompt:  Small


Sometimes the steps I take seem small.  I wonder if I've somehow lost direction, or where I'm even going.  I ask myself if anyone notices.  Each decision in the every day job of mothering, however tedious.  Whether to correct my child or let him figure it out on his own.  Whether to let that snarky comment ruin my day.  Recognizing that sometimes a hug is all a boy needs.

In the shower is the water beats down my back, I pray.  I'm reminded of the connectedness.  How each decision, however minuscule it may seem, affects the greater whole.  Each stride, a stitch in this great canvas which is my life, and even though I don't see the beauty of it all now, God sees.  He is the beginning and the end.  He is outside of the confines of time.  Eternal.

When my prayers seem tiny, I remember they go before an infinite God.  How He takes faith the size of a mustard seed and uses it to move mountains.  When my goal seems distant, I remember the Spirit who is working through me.  When I forget why I continue to press forward, I remember the person who spoke to the lonely woman at the well.  Who took notice when no one else would.  Who healed the blind man who'd waited for years for a miracle he thought would never come.

This is my prize.  My end.  To take one small step each day, little by little, to become more like the One who humbled himself for a person so underserving, me.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Things I Don't Post on Facebook

I have entered uncharted waters with my boys, and they are very turbulent at times.  These are the moments I don't share on Facebook.  Facebook is my place for sharing the "highlights" of my sons' lives.  The fuzzy, cuddly, Hallmark moments, such as this picture of the two of them reading together.  I live for these moments, and there are a lot of them.  But then I leave the room for two seconds to go pee or change out of my PJs and hear nothing but yelling and whining as soon as I am absent.  

My youngest hit his older brother over the head with a light saber a few hours after this photo was taken.  He also has a new habit of pulling Jaden's hair. 

My oldest recently started telling us "no" when he doesn't want to do something we ask him to do.  He also has begun making faces, rolling his eyes, and crossing his arms across his chest to show his anger toward our response.

These are issues we are working through and trying to learn the best ways to handle each situation as it comes.  Time-outs and taking away privileges are punishments we already enforce, and they are usually effective.  But I also need to do a better job of managing my children's time, especially my five-year-old.  And by that I don't mean micro-managing every second so that they can't enjoy being kids.  I simply mean setting boundaries.

I am currently working on a list of daily chores for my five-year-old.  Many of the ones I've come up with are things he already does, so it's more about organization for me and coming up with a system.  Some of the tasks include feeding the dogs, helping with laundry, picking up toys, etc.  Some of the chores will just be part of living in this home.  Others, he will receive a small allowance each week which will be divided into three separate jars: Give, Save, and Spend.  I will keep everyone up-to-date on how these ideas progress.  Putting things in writing is my way of keeping myself accountable. 

My point is this.  My kids are not perfect.  They are far from it.  As Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  My job as a parent is to train them up in the way they should go.  To not check out mentally and start a game of Words with Friends create a new board on Pinterest when I don't feel like dealing with the turmoil.  To address the issues which come up on a daily basis and to discipline when needed.  To explain the reason for punishment in a way my child can understand and to listen when he has an earnest question.  To give positive reinforcement when appropriate.

There have been tears, and I know there will be more to come.  But no one ever said being a parent was easy and if they did I'd like to know what planet they came from.  

God gave me these precious gifts and entrusted them to me.  I know that without His strength, I will fail.  But with His help and guidance, I can advance through this unmapped area of mothering.  

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."  
Proverbs 22:6

Friday, August 9, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Lonely

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's prompt: Lonely


I know that girl.  The lonely girl.  I have been her.  For a long time, I walked in those worn out, dingy slippers with the impressions of the feet molded into the soles, up and down the hallway for what seemed an eternity.  A vapor slipping in and out of hours which became days, not even knowing what day of the week it was and too tired to care.  They say that babies grow up fast, that the days pass by in the blink of an eye.   But in those first few months of motherhood, the minutes seemed to tick by with an unfathomable slowness.

How many minutes until the next nap, how many minutes until the next feeding, how many hours until he gets home.  How many until he leaves again.

It wasn't that I expected it to be easy.  But nothing prepared me for how invisible I would feel.  As though everyone looked at my baby but seeming saw straight through me.  How a new town could go from being incredibly exciting to incredibly bleak in the course of a week. 

One day, I simply decided to show up.  First I opened a book, then I found solace in a song.  I realized something.  I had a choice.  To dare myself to reach out to everyone around me.  To be visible means to offer yourself to another person, in friendship, in caring, in sharing the ups and downs of each day, on day at a time.  There will be those moments of solitude.  Sometimes the loneliness may last for a season.  But the if I open my eyes and look around me, the relationships I form can last forever.


Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blood, Water, and other Adages

Sometimes I wonder where sayings come from.  As an English major,  the origin of different words, figures of speech and the like always fascinates me.  There's an old saying I've heard a lot lately, and I have to be honest.  I really dislike it.  We've all heard it at some point, I'm sure.  "Blood runs thicker than water."

Okay, the commonly understood meaning is that relationships with family go deeper, are stronger than those with friends.  In all honesty, I have not always found this to be the case in my own life.  Envy is an emotion I try at great lengths to avoid, but I have to say I envy those who have close relationships with their extended family, cousins, second cousins, and third.  I used to see these family members once a year.  Now I'm lucky if I see them in a decade.  It saddens me, but geographical distance makes it hard to maintain a close-knit connection.  This is one of the reasons I am grateful for social media.  Although I do not see these relatives often, I feel as though I am part of their lives because I can send them a message, view their pictures, and be aware of what's going on in their lives.  I know that the bond will always be there, no matter how many years pass.  So in this way, I get it.

In a literal sense, I've always found the "Blood is thicker..." saying odd because, well, yes, blood does technically "run" thicker than water but it makes me imagine someone who has water running through their veins, which makes absolutely no sense.  So, recently I decided to research where the phrasing originated, and what I found was surprising.

The adage as we use it now comes from an old German proverb, however the original meaning more than likely has been lost.  An older, Jewish version states:

"The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb." 

Now this conveys something else entirely.  My interpretation is that my relationship with God precedes my relationship with my family.  

I understand the bonds of family.  Believe me, I do.  My parents have displayed their devotion to me in more ways than I can count, and when I look at my own children, they are literally little pieces of me running around outside my body.  My oldest son recently visited my parents, who live over five hundred miles away, for a week.  I felt as though part of my heart was missing. 

There is nothing they could do that would make me not love them, and I understand God's love more fully as a result of being a mom.

However… after moving cross country twice and living a great distance away from my immediate family for several years, I have discovered something:  Your friends become your family.  

It takes time.  Boy, does it ever.  Building trust with another person is not something which can be done overnight.  But the women I've studied God's word with, who've shared the trials and joyous moments of mothering with me, the family who was so close to us after our first big move that my oldest son began referring to them as "Aunt" and "Uncle"….  well, these people are my family.  These bonds go deep.  They go deep because they are eternal.  These people will join me with my Heavenly Father one day. 

 I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty amazing.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Story

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's prompt:  story


My story is still being written, and that is the beauty of it.  It is eternal.  Every day the sun comes up over the horizon, inviting me to show love to those around me.  To make an influence for good in the lives of those God placed in my life.  To invite in the Creator of all things to work and move through me.  Each day when the sun rises I can make a choice not to let the negative voices overcome my will to make a positive impact.  To let the words which come out of mouth lift others up instead of planting a seed of acidity.

Some days, my candle burns so bright I feel as though I could set the whole world aflame.  Other days it is a tiny ember, snuffed almost to oblivion by the failures and tiredness and monotony of the day.  But then there are those who come into my life with an unexpected hug, and word of encouragement, an encompassing smile, and my tiny ember is given some air.  It is fanned by those around me.  Little by little it becomes brighter.

My story is beautiful because it is intertwined with those around me who make it bigger, brighter, more lovely.  My family.  My friends.  Everyone I come in contact with who reaches out their hand and says, "Keep going.  Finish the race. You may have stumbled but you are not alone."


Five Minute Friday