Less of More

I was in the middle of making my list when the baby woke up… my first thought was “Bah, so obnoxious- I just want to finish this.”

No, no, NO! If my people start to feel more like a burden than a blessing IM DOING IT ALL WRONG.

2018- this year I just want less.

less fast … more slow

less rush … more savor

less heavy … more light

less noise … more quiet

less complication … more simplicity

less aimless … more intentional

less time management … more margin

less chaos … more peace

less to-do lists … more people-to-connect-with lists

less world … more God

less structure … more creativity

less condemnation … more grace

less hustle … more rest

less force … more delight

less worry … more prayer

less now … more patience

less consumption … more generous giving

less escape … more presence

less stuff … more experience

less indifference … more passion

less pride … more vulnerability

less quick meals … more slow-cooked and dinner table lingering

less grind … more restoration

less accomplishments … more connection

less taking for granted … more gratitude

less all over the place … more rooted

less legalism … more Jesus

less unmanageable … more livable

less band-aids … more healing

less dread … more contentment

less coffee … more sleep

less fear … more boldness

less flimsy … more grounded

less TV … more music

less expectations … more adaptability

less impulse … more wisdom

less irresponsible indulgence … more self control

less timidity … more bravery

less anxiousness … more serenity

less fragmented … more attached

less multi-tasking … more mindfulness

less frantic … more calm

less luke-warm … more fiery hot

less efficiency … more appreciation

less receiving … more serving

less distraction … more awake

less molded and manufactured … more dreams and ideas

less high-speed chase … more Sunday stroll

less control … more trust and faith

less exhausted … more refreshed

less obligations … more imagination

less rigid … more interruptible

less carnal pleasure … more spirit led joy

less all-day every-day … more sabbath

less numbing … more feeling deeply

less empty heart places … more living water

less depleted … more soul filling

less stiff and fixed … more accommodating

less my house is too messy … more imperfect hospitality

less too-busy … more devoted

less selfishness … more worship

less of more … more of less

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Peace&Joy

Today I am stressed and weary. This holiday season has had me constantly moving yet always behind. My focus is all blurry and the more I chase after the things of this world that feel so important, the more defeated I become. The more I hurry, the further behind I fall.

We are staying home for Christmas and I am praying for the precious days ahead. That my pace is intentionally simple and slow, that my thoughts are filled with gratitude, that my focus is properly adjusted, that my daily choices begin to align with my desired outcomes, and that my eyes become wide open- that I would renew my intense passion for the things that matter most- for Jesus, for these four treasured faces I have been given to live life with, for the sweet kids that come through my door day in and day out, for my close friends and family, and for my community, small and large.

I am praying for peace and joy. Not just the kind you paste on a card cause it sounds right- real peace, and real joy- the kind this world cannot provide, but that can be given by He who came to us as a baby- all human, yet all God.

I pray peace and joy over your lives as well. If you are weary and in need of rest, you’ll never find a better source than the Savior born on Christmas Day- physical rest, yes, but the more important soul rest- a heart at peace and filled with joy.

Merry Christmas friends and family! May your days ahead be merry and bright and filled with love!

Missing a Partner

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Harrison has 3 cavities.

I just feel icky about it.

“Do you help him brush his teeth?” No, I stopped that a while ago. “How often are you flossing his teeth?” Uhh let me think of the last time we did that… oh that’s right, never?!

Harrison has 3 cavities and I am having an awful afternoon feeling like it’s all my fault. {You’ve all been there. It can be rational or not, but sometimes when things go wrong, mothers take the full weight on their shoulders. It’s written in the job description.}

He had one filled this morning. There was lots of “Ow that hurts” through the laughing gas. It was torture for me to sit in that room watching it get done, especially knowing we have to march right back up those stairs next week and do it all over again. Right now he’s napping which he only does when he’s sick, and in spite of my constant reminding, he’s chewed his numb lip to where it’s all puffy and swollen.

And my mommy guilt radar is on fire. He’s in pain. He couldn’t eat lunch. He’s hungry. He’s overwhelmed. He had novacane and laughing gas today, which no matter how much they tell you that its “totally safe” still just doesn’t give you a great vibe, especially when you feel responsible. He spent his whole late morning/early afternoon watching TV. {This is usually enough to send my mommy guilt sky high.} His lip is crazy big, and I’m scared to see what it will look like when he wakes up.

And as I sat next to his bed, rubbing his head, singing softly, I just felt awful. I spent a few minutes trying to figure out exactly why I felt so bad. I mean, obliviously this is not a super situation, but it’s certainly not the end of the world, and just par for the course of motherhood. So why has it sent me into the land of “I JUST WANT TO GIVE UP!”

I’m missing a partner.

I’m missing the person I can text and vent to. Who understands me, who knows what to say to help me, and who is truly, deep within the trenches of parenthood with me.

I have my parents. And I am so, so, so grateful. I am more blessed than 99% of single mothers. But they aren’t supposed to be in the trenches with me. They are supposed to be for things like Sunday dinners and babysitters for Saturday night date night. Not for helping me through every single one of the tough times of parenthood- from potty training to cavity fillings. I hate that I am a burden on them. They get a lot out of being able to live with Harrison and Ruben, but they certainly go way too far above and beyond around here. And they both just so happen to be out working at this moment. And when they get home, I don’t want to just immediately start unpacking my bag of awful emotions. I try {often unsuccessfully} to keep their role of parenting my children as peaceful and easy as possible.

I am missing a partner.

Someone who might come home with some flowers just to cheer me up. Or maybe even dinner, knowing I am too stressed out to cook. I miss the man who for a few years of my life was my very best friend in the whole wide world. We had created these children together, and we were both equally invested. He was someone I could throw some of this shoulder weight on to. Someone who should have also been more careful in taking care of Harrison’s teeth too. It’s too much weight to carry on my own.

I’ll give you one guess who I finally ended up turning to… You’re right, the big man upstairs. I turned to God in this moment because I felt like I literally had no one else to turn to. Not my proudest Christian moment.

But He gets me. He CREATED me. He understands my inner-workings far better than I do. I can vent to Him. And He knows what to say to help me. And my God, my beautiful Lord and Savior, is deep within the trenches of parenthood with me. He will always be a partner for me, whether I feel like I have an earthly one or not. I don’t have to carry this massive weight on my own, because I can throw my worries and cares onto him. I think we humans {myself very much included} have a hard time understanding “casting your cares” because it’s just too good to be true. How on earth can I just cast my care of the health of Harrison’s teeth onto God, and expect things to just magically get better? Only time will tell. But maybe God will help me to remember to physically help the boys brush and floss their teeth. New creative ideas, like a brushing chart so the boys take some of the responsibility on themselves. Prompt me to pray for the health of his teeth. Show me how to shift my focus on being thankful for dental insurance and dentists who know what they’re doing. Maybe just in a calm, quiet way he’ll help me see that even though yes, I could have been more proactive in caring for my sons teeth, this is not directly my fault, and now that I know better, I will do better.

He will shower me with grace.

And honestly, the best part about casting cares in times of deep, troubling emotion, is just being able to keep on breathing until the emotion surpasses. And when it surpasses, as it always does, I’m a little closer to God, I’m not worried about my problems, and I can just get up and do the next thing. Just keep on going.

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The Road to Contentment

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Oh friends.

I had a rough day yesterday. For no real exact reason, just a combination plate of all the crap I have going on in my life. I used them all as an excuse to act nasty. I ignored my kids. I literally forgot all about my sons speech. I was mean to my mom. I bailed on my friends. I didn’t spend even one minute with God.

And then the night ended with my four-year-old pooping in his pants for the first time in weeks right before bedtime.

Happy, happy, joy, joy. Where are you? Why does it seem like every day that one thing goes wrong, the whole day just topples over on itself and I lose my peace? And where do I find it?

I turned on my podcasts this morning, knowing I needed a word from God. I am desperate to make better choices today.

Can you guess what good old Joyce was preaching on? Contentment. The power of contentment.

Even when my life feels downright ugly I can still be content. Through the difficulty of raising children. Through the not so pleasant moments of living with my parents. Through the seemingly endless appointments I’ve been putting off forever that now are all condensed into these 3 weeks. Through the tears.

It’s a lesson I’ve been relearning for years now- and I’m guessing this won’t be the last time. It sure would be a heck of a lot easier if I would just live it out day to day rather than have to have such awful days to get me to come back around again.

I’m gonna call this blog series The Road to Contentment. There will be posts to follow. There’s so much awesome content I can’t even fit it into one post. A lot of it is adapted from my notes from Joyce’s sermon. Some of these thoughts are mine, some are hers. To hear her message find her Enjoying Everyday Life TV Podcast- The Power of Contentment pt 1 and pt 2.

To be content doesn’t mean there’s nothing else you want. It just means that you’re totally satisfied where you’re at right now on the way to where you’re going. Enjoy where you’re at while you’re waiting.

Isn’t it so true that we live our lives wanting the next best thing? Never being satisfied with our current situation. I am more guilty of this than probably any of you, so as Joyce says, I’m going to just preach to myself and if you all gain anything from it, so the better.

If I just had a husband to partner with, I could be happy. Because then I could have more babies. And my life could truly be fulfilled. I hate to even say that thats a lie because my flesh just screams back with excuse after excuse… Wanting to be married is a great goal, theres nothing wrong with wanting that. Having more children is truly a maternal instinct I can hardly control.

But the real truth is, turning my want of these things into a lustful desire, is robbing my current days of their joy. Every moment I spend thinking “I’ll be happy when…” is dangerous to my spirit.

I can find pure and true contentment in my current situation.

I will find pure and true contentment in my current situation.

I have to find peace in my life, whether I get all the things I want- or not.

Hello? I named a ministry/blog after this desire for heaven’s sake. I WILL find joy in the journey!

Things with God take longer than we thought they were going to. They’re a little bit harder than we thought they were going to be. But His timing is perfect and I must be willing to wait with joy.

 

 

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Unanswered Prayers

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Oh friends if you could know how hard I prayed for a marriage miracle.

I would pray “I know you are healing my marriage”

Well… as my little Ruben would say- “Wah wah…”

Silence. Crickets. Tumbleweeds a rollin’.

“Hello, excuse me, God? Remember that little verse in Mark 11:24? ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’ Umm.. yea, well you see, I believed you. And now I’m disappointed. And actually disappointed is a very mild word for what I’m feeling, but seeing as I’m talking to the God of the universe, I’ll tone down my anger. I really, really, really wanted you to fix my marriage. Apparently you’ve helped people rise from the dead, cured leprosy, made blind men see… all I asked for was the ability to make progress in my marriage. Surely you could have performed a small miracle that would have changed the course and direction of our relationship. I wanted it for my kids, God. I thought maybe you would redeem them with a two parent household because they had nothing to do with the mistakes I made. Why do they have to suffer?”

Sigh. Another unanswered prayer.

I get it. It takes two to tango and God is not a manipulator. He doesn’t force- he allows for our free will. But couldn’t he have made an exception? Just this once?

Cliche logic will tell me, there’s something better out there for me. But it hurts now. And I don’t want to hurt this badly. I don’t really feel like delaying this gratification. Luckily I’ve already had an amazing lesson in unanswered prayers. It will truly help me to get through.

My sweet little Ruben. Remember how I told you all about the terror I felt when I found out I was pregnant with Harrison? Times that by 50 and that’s how I felt when I found out I was pregnant with Ruben. I had a 3 month old. My husband was on his way to Afghanistan. We hadn’t even been married a year. The marriage, really, was a sham. Not a world you bring a second child into.

In reality, Ruben is sort of an answered prayer, because I used to pray as a single women that I would never have trouble getting pregnant. Prayer. Answered. Apparently I’m fully fertile.

Crap. What were you thinking, God? How can we add another life to this mess?

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But just look at him. He’s amazing. Duh, obviously you never regret children. But it’s deeper than that. God knew that I needed that little boy. In so many more ways than I know how to say in words. God knew the burning desire and love I have deep in my heart for children. And as badly as I still want more kids, I can look at the two boys who are bestest friends and find a true satisfaction. I can end here, if I have to. Without Rue I don’t know if I could have put aside my desperate, selfish craving for another baby.

He also knew that Harrison needed a brother. I can’t imagine Harrison having to go through this alone. It’s been said one million times in our household “Thank God they have each other!” And its just so true. There’s not a person on this planet who would have said yes if they were asked if it was a good idea for me to be pregnant 2 months after giving birth. Just in general common sense, but also with any knowledge of the chaos my life was in.

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But God knew. And I am so, so, so thankful. What if he had listened to me then? “Please don’t let this be true God! Please don’t let me be pregnant.” But there was Ruben. Barely beginning to form in the womb saying “Wah, wah…. I’m coming, whether you like it or not! Oh, and by the way, I’m kind of a little s#$@. But you’ll love me anyway!”

Ok. I get it. I will look back on this divorce and be so thankful God didn’t listen to my cries for help. All I need to do is look at that little boy who no one in their right mind would have asked for, but who is the biggest blessing I can ever imagine.

“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”

 

 

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So… What’s a Ministry Anyway?

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To be honest… I don’t fully know.

I know that Jesus had a ministry.

And Joyce.

And I would say Lysa TerKeurst has one.

I feel like I have a gift of writing, and encouragement.

But that’s about it. That’s about all I have to bring to the table. No formal education, nothing really of importance.

Just me. Honest, transparent me. One of those people who feel like they’ve been called by God.

I have no idea what this means. It could start and end with this blog, or it can grow into a full on worldwide ministry. Time will tell. All I know is I am in a unstable place in my life right now. I need to find stability. I need to find my purpose, and at the same time I need to focus on something other than myself, my life, and the looming divorce on my horizon. Sounds easy enough, right? Luckily I’m not called for “easy”!

Here I am, God. Send me.

 

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The Pain

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The pain is so deep, so wide, so real, and so unforgiving.

“Say something, I’m giving up on you
And I am feeling so small.
It was over my head
I know nothing at all.

Say something, I’m giving up on you.
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you.
Anywhere I would’ve followed you.
Say something, I’m giving up on you.

And I will swallow my pride.
You’re the one that I love
And I’m saying goodbye.”

Life has to go on.

But I just want to push the pause button. Be in this bed. Tears in my eyes, wondering why I can’t just make this right.

Or scream at the top of my lungs that I’m hurting, and everyone should feel so incredibly sorry for me.

Why God is allowing this incredible pain?

Gut wrenching, physical pain. Mentally and emotionally exhausting pain.

But as the moment passes a bit, I remember the necessity of the pain. Who can separate themselves from spouse of 5+ years and not feel that pain deep in their soul?

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3–5

I would give up anything just to fix it.

Some things were not meant to be fixed. They were meant to be experienced, felt, broken, and gotten over.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2

Lord I need your grace. I need your heavenly grace to make it to the end of today. To know you work all things for my good. For the good of my children. For the good of all the lives I can touch.

Help me fill up my empty. To heal these wounds. Give me the strength to begin again.

“When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise”

 

 

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