Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Courage

Courage is where I am in my faith.

I have better learned how to discern God's voice in my life; to feel His gentle nudge and interpret what He writes on my heart.  I believe that He gives me - just like everyone else - talents and gifts. I believe He uses the desires of my heart and these gifts to lead me in His direction.

I can sit and think that these thoughts are lovely, yet be scared to actually follow Him.

I admire the courage that I see in others: courage to retire, leave all things comfortable and move near your daughter; courage to take a new job that requires your family to move; courage to quit a job that doesn't feel right; courage to teach Sunday School when it is out of your comfort zone; courage to take time for yourself and develop whatever your craft is in the midst of all the busyness; courage to carry on despite pain and hardships; courage to dream big; courage to know when to pull back and when to push forward; courage to be a good wife and mother....

So, in my life, I pray for courage.  I pray that I will be brave enough follow His voice.  I pray for courage to believe that God sees me as enough, exactly as I am.  I pray to know that God can use my life to point others to His love, peace and hope that He so freely gives.

When I saw this piece of art, I was moved.  It spoke to me of this courage. Courage to follow my heart. Courage to follow Jesus.

I will never be too old to remind myself that life takes courage. I surprised myself and bought the art for our bedroom. (Our DIY Bathroom/Bedroom remodel is almost done!)

What lovely words to look at each day.
 
As a side note - I found out my blog post on, "A Morning Prayer" was featured on Beautiful Ashes.  I am always a little amazed when another blogger chooses to feature one of my posts.  Grateful.
 

Friday, October 3, 2014

A morning prayer...

Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV):
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him."

My sister gave me a great piece of advice.  She told me that each morning, she lays in bed and prays to see her day, and specifically the people in her day, through God's eyes. 

When I take her advice and ask God to help me see people and situations through His love, grace, kindness...though Him, it completely transforms my ordinary day.

When my kids pour milk into their cereal by themselves and more milk ends up on the counter than in their bowl, I can see a conspiracy by my boys to make me clean up one more thing.  When I look at the situation through God's eyes, I am glad my boys tried to do something by themselves.  (And really, doesn't it take me about 1/2 a second to wipe up the spill or remind them to?)

When I can't find my cell phone or car keys, I get so frustrated that I am - once again - wasting my time looking for something.  When I look at it through God's eyes, I am grateful I have a car to have keys to and cell phone to look for.

When I get cut off in the line to drop my kids off at school, I see the person as rude.  When I look at her through God's eyes, I see a busy mother who maybe had a tough morning and is just trying to get everyone where they need to be on time.

When I feel sad to drop my four-year-old off at daycare, I can look at it with gratitude for his amazing daycare that he loves and a part-time job that I love.

Like all high school teachers, my students can present a million challenges in a day to me.  When I see my job through God's eyes, I see how important a teacher is.  I am reminded how grateful I am to my sons' teachers who have taught my boys and encouraged them in different ways than I was able to as their mother.  I can play that role in my own students' lives. It is important for me to be consistent as their teacher, but above all be kind, affirming and encouraging to their delicate souls that are not so tough as teenagers often act.

When my eye doctor is moody and rude through the whole appointment, I leave thinking how unprofessional she was.  When I look at her through God's eyes, I am reminded that I don't know her full story.  (I later found out she was fighting terminal cancer.)

When I stand in my kitchen and ask myself - once again - why my family always wants a meal; I can feel tired of the monotony.  When I see through God's eyes, I am grateful that I live in a country with an abundance of food that we can afford.  (And that He so kindly blessed me with a husband who is happily our weekend cook.)

When I look at people through God's eyes, I treat people kinder.  Instead of reacting to people with the emotions I feel in the moment, I can pause and readjust my focus.

But the funny thing is that the blessings that I intend to fall on others, lands heavier on me.

I am kinder to myself.  I am the type of person that thinks everything is my fault.  Even when it doesn't make sense. (The other night we were at my oldest son's football game and his trophy was stepped on and broke.  My instant thought was that I should have gone over and asked if he needed me to hold anything.  What??? I didn't know his coach had given him his trophy at the beginning of the game and that my son would set it by his water bottle.  I expect myself to always know when my son might have something I need to hold for him?  Crazy thoughts.)  Learning to extend grace to myself is a beautiful thing.

Looking at my day through God's eyes settles my heart. I am happier when I don't let the little frustrations of daily life bother me so much.

At the end of the day I can more freely say, "It is well with my soul."

Lord, each morning help me to look at people through your eyes.  Not the face that we often put on but as people dealing with individual challenges who need each other's grace and understanding.  Help me freely give the grace and compassion to others that you give to me.

Throughout life's monotonies and daily frustrations, Let my soul always deeply feel your sustaining hand in my life and your consistent peace that hope in you provides.

When I have a hard time seeing through your eyes, help me to know that faith is a journey and help me feel that beautiful fresh start that every morning brings.

No matter what, may it be well with my soul.
This is one of my favorite pictures of the first time my boys played in and experienced the ocean.
 A magical moment.
 
 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mother/Son Photo Ideas

Of all the inventions that people have come up with, I do not see why we haven't invented something to freeze time.  Or even just bottle up moments so we can walk back into them and visit them anytime we want.  My babies grow too fast and it really bothers me.  My heart breaks a little bit each time one of my boys turns a year older.

So, my inexpensive therapy???

I have tried to come out from behind the camera and be in pictures with my sons more. 
 The camera is the closest invention we have come up with that captures a moment. 

I will take it...well, until someone comes up with something better.

I have been playing with Photoshop and different ways to edit.  Here is what I came up with.

Grateful to link to these blogs and Christian Mommy Blogger.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

To Follow

Once a Month - August
 
I didn't want to give this month.  We are remodeling our leaky bathroom and it has gotten expensive, so my heart was just not into our family commitment to serve the Lord through giving and serving others more. (If you want to read about why we started this giving/serving more journey, click here.) 

We were at church and there was a call to help buy school supplies for those in need.  My heart tugged but my head stood firm in skipping giving this month.  I had just bought my own kids school supplies and I didn't want to buy more for someone else.

Later that day, my younger two sons and I were at the store. When we walked by the school supplies, God whispered to my heart for us to buy them.

I have made a commitment to try and listen to God's voice in my heart and actually follow.  Wouldn't it be so cool to really live a life that honors God?  To actually hear Him, feel Him and follow Him?  That is what I am trying to do and I find the promises of joy that He talks about in scripture erupt in my life like firecrackers.  Promises such as:

 "Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Phillipians 3:8, NLT)

"I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will
overflow!" (John 15:11, NLT)

So when I felt God's nudging in the store, I decided to move.  I let my middle son pick out all the school supplies.  (Partly in hopes that he would remember our family giving and serving mission - if you missed that post click here.)

But sometimes, God works in funny ways.

Later that evening I was surprised by a huge blessing. 

My neighbor asked if I wanted to go through and take any of her work clothes she was donating.  I needed to buy some more work clothes but I hadn't had time to shop by myself and after paying so much this month for our much needed bathroom remodel, I didn't want to spend the money on myself.  But here she was giving me three cute dresses and a bunch of nice shirts.  I didn't have to spend any of my time or money on some new work clothes.

God provided me something that I needed.

It reminded me of the saying, "What goes around comes around." 
Or Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you." 

I felt so humbled.  I have heard many sermons on the blessings you receive when you give, but for some reason, I have a hard time fully believing them.  Yet the timing in this situation was awful coincidental for me to deny that God blessed me.

God, you are so kind to me.  Help me to continue to hear your voice; let it move my soul and help me to be bold enough to follow you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

photography

Some of my favorite things about these wonderful people:
1.  I get to call them family.
2.  Every year, they trust me to take their family photos.
3.  They are always up for any of the photo ideas I have seen floating around Pinterest, even if they turn out dumb and don't make the final cut.

Friday, September 12, 2014

One of my best realizations about parenting...

Do you ever get frustrated with parenting?  Then you let someone make you feel even worse?

I had recorded a television show that boasted a new revolutionary way to parent.  How could I not be intrigued by this promotion? 

There are some things I have been trying to teach my boys for years and sometimes it seems to be working and other times I think I need a new trick up my sleeve.

I flipped on the television in hopes of finding a new trick.

Instead I found a feeling of inadequacy. 

I assume the show was trying to empower moms, but it didn't me. They host and author of the book raved about the success of this new way of parenting and sold it with such enthusiasm and authority, it made me feel like I was doing it all wrong.  The problem is, I wasn't really sure what they are preaching.  It was vague and seemed to be more in theory.  The message I heard was that if my kids still work on some areas of their life, then I am not doing this parenting thing right.  Well...of course my kids need work in some areas of their life. (Really, don't we all need to work on something?)

The show left me feeling empty and discouraged.   And defensive. 

So, to make myself feel better, I went straight be being judgmental.  The host, though seemingly brilliant, didn't have children. I was done listening to her. And the author of the book, I am pretty sure she has had only one daughter.  I am going to give her the tougher parenting job award for the preteen and teenager years, but has she ever hung out with my boys who always seem to be in a state of motion?  The definition of kinetic energy at its best.  When they are bored they always revert to wrestling each other to the ground.  It doesn't matter where we are at: a friends house, the check out line, the church foyer...thankfully we worship a God of grace.  These judgmental thoughts weren't getting me anywhere. (I am pretty sure this is why being judgmental is not recommended.)

So, I moved on to whining to my close friends about it.  (Thank you to those that listened to my crazy babble on this topic.)

Thankfully, whining to my friends actually did work.  One of my good friends replied, "Sometimes what parents see as weakness in our children, can actually be strengths."

My heart stilled as I focused on what she was saying.

My friend elaborated with this example:

"Children that we might wish shared their emotions more or are more outwardly empathetic to others....well, we need first responders that don't carry their emotions on their sleeve and can calmly assess a crisis situation and be healing hands for the hurt."

My racing brain expanded on her example:

A overdramatic and whiney child might turn in to a wonderful, charismatic teacher that can capture her students' attention and inspire them to be great learners.

That child that hates to lose and let's everyone know in a less than desirable fashion might lead a company into great success, blessing all his employees and their families.

The strong willed kids that are challenging to parent might use that strong will not to give up when others do.  He might be the one to invent, discover or cure diseases.

What we parents sometimes view as our children's weaknesses are not always weaknesses. 

My friend's thoughts made me think of this scripture:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9, ESV)
"For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:10, ESV)

In this reminder that God has a plan for my boys' lives, my mothering heart found peace.

I still feel like I need some new and fresh parenting ideas, so I am reading two parenting books. But, I am reading them with a renewed confidence that God is working on my kids in ways that I sometimes don't always understand and that no parenting book has all the answers.

Thank goodness for good friends who talk me out of crazy-mother-land.  (How come crazy-mother-land is a comfortable place to reside sometimes?  All of us moms hanging out with our irrational fears and expectations...that is a different blog post....)

And thank goodness for a God that uses my friends to calm my heart and remind me that ultimately my hope is in God's powerful presence in our lives and His ability to guide and take care of these little people in my life who I love more than words could ever fully express.
 
Thank you to these blogs & Christian Mommy Blogger for letting me link up!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Two things made my day today...

1.  I just found out my blog was featured on Equipping Godly Women. 
You can check out the post here.  I was so surprised! 
And then, as if that wasn't enough to make my day... 
 
 
 
2.  My middle son opened the car door for me after his football practice tonight. 
THE CAR DOOR! (Surprised again.)
 
I am going to bed with a happy and grateful heart tonight.