A Much Needed Pep Talk

I’m reading a book, Curious Faith, by Logan Wolfram. You can order here on Amazon; but I offered to do book review and received it in the mail a few months ago.

As I was reading, this portion popped out at me and I just parked there for a few minutes. I wanted to share it with you.

You aren’t what you do. Your profession isn’t who you are. You aren’t defined by your roles; career woman, wife, mom, sister, brother, husband, etc. Those are gifts you have, and they are purposes that you fulfill. But, they don’t define the core of your being. You aren’t the sum of your mistakes, or the messed up identity you once wore like an albatross around your neck. Your identity is simple. It’s clear. Your identity (I highlighted this part in the book.) is purely who God says you are. Beautiful, redeemed, renamed, engraved on the hands of Christ where you will never be forgotten.

Let’s just all breath a collective sigh of relief, okay? In our busyness, in our failure to see ourselves how God sees us, when we listen to the lies Satan feeds us instead of the truth Christ offers us, we have forgotten how truly precious we are to God. At least I forget.

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Your failed business doesn’t define you. Your mistakes as a parent don’t define you. Your broken marriage or your marriage that is breaking doesn’t define you. Your weight or beauty doesn’t define you.

Your thriving business doesn’t define you. The success of your kids or where they go to college doesn’t define you.  Your life that is bursting with friends and your busy social calendar doesn’t define you. Your beautiful home that everyone ooh’s and aah’s over doesn’t define you.

This isn’t us.  It’s not what we do. It’s who we are at the core. And who we are at the core is who God made us to be. WE are so “beautifully ad wonderfully made” that he died on the cross for our sins so we didn’t have to. He wants, desires, yearns to have a personal relationship with each one of us.

I so often forget that who I am as  a person isn’t defined by how well my children behave, how put together I look or how others view me. I was so grateful for this reminder. And so I want to pass the reminder on to you.

Take this simple truth today where ever you are at in your life.

Hear this: God Loves You!

He loves who you are at the core. That may be battered and bruised and messy; but he loves you. All of you. All of me.

Take the lies we feed to ourselves “that we don’t measure up” and replace them with the truth “that we are more than enough because He says so.”

 

 

 

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When Life Gets Muddled and Murky

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I stare at the pile of shoes in my closet. My nice, big, full of potential, but horribly unorganized closet. I had abandoned my shoe organizer some time ago. I was determined to just keep my shoes in nice neat rows on the floor of my closet.

There were two things I didn’t take into consideration when I made this grand organizing plan. One, I have a little mischievous sprite who likes to hide in my closet and mess things up a bit; and two, I’m kind of lazy about putting my clothes away. There’s clothes hanging on the end of my bed, the back of the chair, the bathroom doorknob and of course, there’s the pile of shoes in said closet.

I’ve stared at that pile many many times and thought, “I should really clean that up.” I mean, it would take all of two seconds. I don’t have that many shoes.

My eyes would then be distracted by my unmade bed, the pile of single socks waiting for their long lost partners on my dresser and the myriad of other things that needed to be dealt with.

The pile of shoes stay on the floor untouched.

It had been a long day.

I had spent a good portion of my day with my dad and mom in the ER. My mom’s health has not been the best lately. And this had been her second visit to the hospital in the last two weeks. Now, in the late afternoon, she was doing better and resting at home. We would go back the next day for tests to be done to try to figure out what had sent her there early that morning.

Again, it had just been a long day.

When I picked up my kiddos and finally made it home, all I could see as I walked through the door were the 39 things around the house that needed to be done. Unfinished projects, crumbs on the counter, puppy prints on the hardwoood and unfolded laundry in the baskets. I immediately started to clean up.

Because when I’m frustrated or upset, I either start cleaning or decluttering something.

When I don’t know what to do; I just feel the need to do something

I didn’t know which task to start on first. They all seemed important and completely unimportant at the same time.

Cleaning my counters and sweeping my floor made me feel a little better.

Soon it was time to make dinner and give baths. The Hubs got ready to go to work.

Life just seems to have a way, doesn’t it? It seems to just tick along as it always has. Like nothing has changed. Even though things are definitely not as they have always been.

Things are different. I can feel it. It’s like everything is just a bit muddled and murky and….. off. I see the pile of shoes and I’m reminded of all the little messes around me. Life is just messy sometimes. Ok, a lot of the time.

You dread and at the same time don’t actually think you’ll get the call that wakes you up with your dad on the other line saying, “We think your mom had a heart attack.”

When you’re young, you don’t think of your parents getting old or getting sick. You definitely don’t see the roles reversing. They take you to the doctors for check-ups and shots. Now, you take them.

It’s  natural and unnatural at the same time. I’m in nurture mode all the time. I have two small children who still call for me in the middle of the night when they have a nightmare or reach for me when they’ve fallen off their bike. It comes just naturally to me to help my mom out of her hospital bed as it does to pick up a sleeping little boy out of his car seat. And yet, when it sinks in that my parents aren’t rechargeable robots that just keep going, that this is the beginning of that role reversal of parent and child you always hear about, you  almost don’t believe it’s happening.

That’s why I feel a bit muddled and off center, a little  empty and sad. Things are not as they once were and they aren’t going back either. I hold my two little blond ones close and I know that the piles of shoes and the crumbs aren’t nearly as important and as the hugs and the talks. I’m thankful for my little envelope of family that centers me when I feel so off kilter.

Most of all I’m thankful for a God who’s sovereign. When the path is crooked and the way is unclear I know that He knows what lies ahead. He loves me; he loves my mom; he loves you. He cares when I’m sad and when I feel unsure. He comforts me just by being Him…. loving, ever faithful, compassionate, and good.

Life is ever changing; but He is never changing. What a relief that is for an anxious heart!

When I fix my focus on who He is; what lies around me seems a little less murky, a bit less messy and the road ahead begins to clear.

 

Rainy Days, Roses and Reminders

It’s been raining a ton here in NorCal. After our drought that never seemed to end, I’m very thankful for the rain. It does produce a little bit of cabin fever, though, for everyone-me, kids, the dog! I finally ventured out to the swamp, aka my backyard and noticed my rosebush. I realized I should probably prune it. It was January that you prune your rose bushes, right? I have rose bushes in the front yard that needed tending as well.

I thought about this post I wrote back when we first moved into the house we live in now. We moved into a home with several rosebushes. I knew absolutely nothing about caring for roses. The post is about pruning real rosebushes and God doing some pruning in my life.

I laughed as I reread the post because I could have written this very same post yesterday. Friends, life is hard right now. God is doing some pruning in my life and it is painful. I needed to read this, my own words. Maybe you do, too. Maybe life is just really tough right now and it hurts. Maybe God is doing a great work, though it’s uncomfortable.

I do know this. A pruned plant looks kind of ugly after you take your shears to it; but come spring it blooms and it’s beautiful.

She Did A Real Hack Job!

Originally posted on April 28, 2013 on my previous blog, Sock Monkey Tales.

Let me start off by saying…….A green thumb I am not. My dad can attest to the fact that I can kill just about anything……and have! Let’s not even talk about the two beautiful Japanese Maples I killed a few years ago simply becaue I never watered them. Horrid, I know.

Really it’s not hard. Dirt. Plant. Water. Sun. Nature takes care of most of it. Plants don’t water themselves, though.

When we moved into our house almost a year ago we were pleasantly surprised by all the mature plants and flowers it had. It also had not been taken care of in three years so it was a bit jungly. I was immediately happy to see eight rosebushes in my front yard. Only a few had blooms. Half of them were a pretty good size and the other half were pretty sad looking.

I enjoyed the blooms that summer and watered them occasionally. Fall and winter came and everything died.

“Oh well,” I thought. The roses were nice while they lasted. We were debating on just pulling them out and doing something else in that space.

Then something very unexpected happened. My neighbor from two doors down, Sheila, who I hadn’t met before, walked up to me one day as I was getting Henry out of the car. She just came out and said, “Can I prune your roses for you?”

I wanted to hug her. Yes! I knew I needed to do something with them; but just didn’t know what.

She got her tools and pruned away.

I learned something about pruning roses. I had been doing it all wrong. I hadn’t pruned back nearly enough. As she cut and snipped away, I was surprised at how much she was cutting off. She went on to tell me that you should really prune your rosebushes back in January and if we had, she would have cut back even more!

A few weeks ago, I noticed several blooms on 4 of my bushes. Not just 3 or 4. A lot. Recently, the bush with the most buds, began to bloom. I have bright pink roses coming in. They are gorgeous and ridiculously huge!

I was a bit giddy when I saw that pink bloom; but when Sheila was hacking away at the bushes, I wasn’t so sure. It seemed like she was cutting way too much. There was almost nothing left.

I could not help but think that that is how God has been pruning in my life and how the refining process works in our life as Christians. If God just did a little snip here and a gentle cut there; there wouldn’t be much to show for it later. Oh, I’m sure we’d be blessed and could very well be happy; but we’d be missing out on so much more.

If Sheila had just snipped back my roses a little, as I had been doing, the rose bushes would still be alive; but there would be few or no blooms. Just a little shrubby plant, dying a little more each year. She hacked away at them, though. Now I have bushes overun with buds ready to burst open.

God’s been hacking away at me lately. He’s been asking me to step out in faith in a few areas of my life. In one area, especially, He has been asking me to have Huge faith! It’s been uncomfortable and I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. It’s making me seek Him more, though. It’s causing me to ask what God’s will is for my life right now, for my family. It’s requiring me to make some really hard choices. It’s causing me to turn down roads I never thought I’d venture down. I have been learning what it means to rest in Him because left to my own devices, well…… I’d just be freakingn out.

So, with each hack, with each uncomfortable stretch, He is in it. I know it’s for my good. I know that what is best for me is what He wants for me. I might feel, at times, like the rosebush that’s pruned back in January to almost nothing; but I know that pruning will produce amazing blooms and blessings in my life come spring.

Trust.

When you can’t see what’s around the corner.

It’s hard.

Though I have a good idea what my roses will look like by the end of spring, I have no idea what my life will look like when I step out in faith. Thankfully, as a family, we can step out in faith together. Change can be uncomfortable. (That is probably a huge understatement!) Yet the change will be as God has always intended. It’s never a surprise to Him.

My One Word Resolution:: 2016

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I gave up making resolutions awhile ago. I did this for a few reasons. First, I usually made too many and by the end of January I had already abandoned them. Second, I made the resolutions but not the steps to achieve them. Instead of eating the elephant in bite sized pieces, I tried to eat it all at once! Too overwhelming. Third, they were too superficial. Lose 15 pounds, organize my garage, read one book each month. These are fine and noble endeavors; but they aren’t resolutions that will impact all areas of my life this next year.

Instead, I asked God what He wants me to focus on this year, what area He wants me to grow in. I know that putting Him first in my New Year will make a difference in all areas of my life. I still strive for the other stuff….. losing weight, decluttering my home, etc. I call those goals and I try to work on those a little each month, tackling bite sized pieces of my elephant.

For awhile I’ve had this word rattling around in my brain……DWELL. I knew what God was telling me to focus on; I just wasn’t sure the word dwell was the right word to describe it.

The truth that I need to rest in God completely, to seek Him in my decision making, to find my joy and contentment in Him no matter what my circumstances, to leave worry at His feet, to love Him and know Him more – these were the desires and needs tugging at my heart.

So, I looked up the definition of dwell.

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Yup, this is it. This is my word. This is my heart’s desire.

Dwelling is where you live; it’s where you make your home; it’s your anchor; it’s where you find rest.  At His feet is where I want to remain and where I need to keep my attention directed.

When I first began to blog, it really was just a way to document my life and my family’s life.  As I continue to write, the reasons for writing in this space have changed a bit. I still want to document this life of mine; but I also want to encourage others. I want to encourage others to live their lives, whatever the circumstance, with purpose and joy. This means writing honestly and being vulnerable.

If you read Monday’s post Our Year in Review, you’d think my year just came up roses. It wasn’t like that, though. I did have many, many bright days in my year. But this year I probably cried the most than I ever have. Besides the summer Henry was born (And for any new readers out there, I’ll be sure to share that story sometime soon.), this has been one of my hardest years.

Besides some very challenging parenting moments (Not gonna lie here!) that have brought me to tears, our little family of 4 has been fine. There have been some real hardships in my extended family, though. There has been hurt, deep wounds, and some unexpected issues that have been hard to accept. Most of these stories are not mine to tell, yet. So I’ll leave it there.

I’ve had dear friends face great suffering. Sometimes, I’ve been able to be there for them. Sometimes, I just felt helpless.

There were days I just felt overwhelmed with sadness because everything seemed so broken.

This life is one minute happy, the next sad. One minute delightful, the next devastating. It’s shifting sand. Where do I anchor myself when things make no sense and when your heart hurts? On the flipside, who do I give thanks to when I’m feeling blessed and so full of happiness I’m overflowing?

I anchor myself to the One Who Never Changes. That’s why my word is DWELL. God is my anchor, the constant to my unsteady, the One who knows the road before I even take a step. He can be my joy and peace on the brightest of days and my darkest of nights.

I love this verse:

2 Corinthians 12:9 …..”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power my rest upon me.

Life is not meant to be done alone.

Here are some things I’m resolving to do in 2016 to practice my word DWELL. Some of them are things I already do on a regular basis and some are areas I can be better in.

1. Try my darndest to spend time in God’s Word every day.

2. Read other things that point me to a heart of gratitude.  I’ll be reading and continuing to read 1,000 Gifts by Anne Voskamp and The Valley of Vision.

3. Surround myself with people who will encourage me. (I have a wonderful church family for this.)

4. Be an encourager to other people.

5. Memorize Scripture.

I’d love to hear your word for 2016 or maybe what your top resolution is. Leave a comment. I’d love to read it!

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Chasing Wisdom

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Not too long ago I read aloud one of my favorite children’s books, The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco (Favorite children’s author too, by the way). Funny thing was I was reading to adults.

Our book club had decided to share their favorite children’s book that month. This was in response to the fact that no one had finished that month’s book; but we all wanted to get together anyway. It turned out to be such a special time, sharing well known books we’d read to our little ones while discovering new and fantastic books to read in the future.

A few weeks ago in my morning devotions I read this, Proverbs 24:13,14  (13) Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. (14) Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

It got me thinking about The Bee Tree.

In The Bee Tree the grandfather tries to show his granddaughter what a  valuable treasure reading is after she expresses some frustration.  He takes her on an adventure where they chase bees to their bee tree full of honey. Most of the book is a whimsical traipse through the forest where they pick up a modge podge of characters who join in the chase.

When they do finally reach the Bee Tree, they “smoke out” the bees and lull them to sleep. Only then can they safely reach inside the tree and get the sweet, delicious honey.

By the end of the book, the granddaughter is taught that, just like she had to chase the bee to get the honey, she must chase down the words in a book and not give up in her reading. She must keep working at it and the rewards would be great.

I highly value reading and good books. Yet how much more should I

value getting wisdom and  chasing it down like a treasure?

I wish I could say that I read my Bible without fail, each day, 100% of the time.

I can’t.

On most days I do, though. It hasn’t always been this way. It’s just been in the last few years that I’ve finally developed a discipline of spending time in the Word.

This is not a pat on the back, mind you. Oh no!

I think I finally grasped the fact that I cannot do this life without God’s wisdom. I realized with great and humbling clarity that if my goal is to be a godly woman, wife, mother and friend, I have to spend time in God’s Word. I have to chase wisdom down. It won’t seep through me osmosis style just by going to church on Sundays.

If my desire is to be used by God, to reach others for Him, to raise my kids in the paths of righteousness, to find true contentment and purpose in my life, I must have a relationship with Him, a deep one. That first comes by spending time in His Word on a regular basis. It takes discipline; it takes effort; it takes sacrifice. Yet, the rewards are great. What a joy it is to spend time learning about who God is! It changes the filter on how I see life. It convicts me and grows me. I’ve begun to see answered prayers in my life because I’m taking time to communicate with Him.

This is not me being awesome.

This is not about me being a super Christian, oh no! This is Christ enabling me to do something I’ve struggled with for so many years. I pray that when I do miss days of quiet time ( because I do ) or I’m tempted to skip out on that time that He he will speak to my heart and remind me that I must chase wisdom. And doesn’t He speak to us? It’s really just about listening and obeying, right?

Yes, there are those days that I desire and I try to spend quiet time with God and it’s. just. not quiet. I’ve been up with a sick child all night. I’ve stayed up too late the night before and the snooze button wins. Henry decides to wake up at the crack of dawn. (He’s my early riser.) There goes my quiet time! You name it, life happens.

It’s not a one time sprint. It’s a growing journey that won’t end until I’m in Heaven with Him.

Boy, do I have so much more growing to do. Like the little girl chasing the adventure and pleasure found in the precious pages of a good book, though, I’m chasing the precious wisdom found in the greatest of books.

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