Monday, December 15, 2014

Redeeming our Children's Story

I've missed blogging- but God has been speaking to me and this is the first time in months I have felt moved to blog. Hope something here speaks to you!

God has a story that He wrote before time for each of our children. HIS story is full of LIFE, GRACE, HEALING, VICTORY, REDEMPTION, FREEDOM AND SALVATION.

Satan also has a story that he tries to weave into our children's lives. His story is full of DEATH, CONDEMNATION, BONDAGE, SHAME AND FEAR.

STORIES ARE MADE UP OF WORDS. WORDS ARE POWERFUL. JESUS IS THE WORD MADE FLESH. OUR TONGUES HAVE POWER TO HURT OR TO HEAL.

AS MOTHERS, WE ARE CALLED TO SPEAK WORDS OF LIFE TO AND ABOUT OUR CHILDREN AND WE CAN LITERALLY CHANGE THEIR LIVES THROUGH OUR WORDS.

I love to write. I love stories and I love the story of REDEMPTION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.
I love Mama's and I love to hear their stories and how God is working and moving and redeeming THROUGH THEIR CHILDREN AND THROUGH MOTHERING.

Mama's love their children SOMETHING FIERCE AND MIGHTY and as Mama's we get to play a huge role in the stories of our children's lives.

Sometimes those stories are breathtaking, sometimes those stories are agonizing. Scene after scene, with blood, sweat and tears, mothers in partnership with their Creator guide the stories of their children.

I wanted to share a little story about my son Lincoln. It is a snapshot of where I am with this little/big guy. I want to keep writing and speaking about my boys. I want my words to matter and to impact change for sons.

My thoughts on Lincoln....



Lincoln is my tender-hearted ninja boy. He is able to comprehend things way beyond his years. He never stops moving and everyone who meets him loves him. At school, he knows everybody and he shines the light of Christ even at his young age. His teacher told us that he was a really good example to his friend who gets in trouble quite often. He told me last night that he wants his friend to see Jesus in his heart so he was going to keep showing him the right way to behave.
 

Lincoln struggles with patience and sharing just like any 6 year old. He at times, loves TV and Video Games more than I want him too, so he fights me when I give him limits. He wants everything to be fair and again, just like any 6 year old, does not understand that life is not always fair and that we have to think of others first. So he gets angry when his little brother gets more than him. He is emotional and can say some mean words when he does not get his way. He has thrown things in anger and yelled.


But he always comes back around...The other morning I made him change his clothes and he told me he did not love me. 10 minutes later, he ran up the stairs and tackled me with a hug and told me he was sorry.

The other day, I was listening to Francesca Battistelli's song- Write Your Story. And he told me later that he really liked it. I explained to him that God wants to write His story on our hearts. He said, "that's cool Mommy".
 

Sometimes I get so frustrated with his rebellious nature towards me, but then I remember that God is writing His story on Lincoln's heart and I just pray that I get out of the way and let Him do it while also teaching and guiding him as best as I can.

I am thankful that I get to be part of the story of Lincoln's life. I want to speak words of life over my son and daily tell him that He is God's, that God is for Him, that God has a plan for him and that God is making him to be the mighty man of God he is called to be.

Lincoln's naturally extroverted nature drives me crazy sometimes. I like to be quiet and have alone time and he is always in my face. I like order and he is completely a mess with his toys, clothes, etc... Sometimes I feel like our personalities are so opposite and my irritation with this can lead to some ugly words on my part. I try to remember that as iron sharpens iron, that God is using even this little boy to help me die to self.

I love his imagination and quirkiness. Today he wore a Rudolph nose to school and I bought him antlers yesterday and he wore those as well. He told me that he likes to cheer people up by making them laugh.
That's my boy. Thank you God for Lincoln.




Yes, Satan has a story he wants to write on our children's hearts, but WE MAMA WARRIORS, we can't, we won't let him. We will be mighty in battle and we will SPEAK THE WORDS OF TRUTH to our children and we will READ THEM THE BIBLE and we will ENCOURAGE THEM DAILY and we will TEACH THEM REPENTANCE THROUGH MANY "I'M SORRY'S" and we will REDEEM OUR CHILDREN'S STORY.



We won't let their stories carry over traces of our sin and our generational struggles, we won't let Satan convince them of lies, we will speak truth and we won't let the world tell them how to live and what's important and why we are here. We will speak redemption and we will see God write His story on our children's hearts. WE ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF REDEMPTION MAMA'S. Every day we can choose this. We will fail. We will struggle. But we won't give up.

I want to speak over my son all day, everyday, on my tired days, on my frustrated days-

Lincoln- You are Beloved, you are Chosen, you are Precious, you have a God who loves you, who is waiting to Save you, Redeem you and Free you. He has an AMAZING plan for your life, A BIG PLAN, A MIGHTY PLAN, A NINJA-WORTHY PLAN, where you will FIGHT FOR GOOD and you will be part of something AWESOME and INCREDIBLE.

Love you all!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Love Letters from God

This may seem strange- but because words are where I find my healing and peace, sometimes I think about what I would like to "hear" God say to me. I relish in compliments and verbal praise is my love language. So the other day in the quiet I closed my eyes and asked God to speak to me and tell me what He thought of me and this is what I heard in my heart...

Dearest baby-girl,

I saw you this morning- rubbing your eyes and dragging yourself out of bed, knowing that little mouths needed to be fed, husband's clothing needed to be ironed and that a request from precious little boys for sausage and strawberries was awaiting...

I saw you skip your shower because you knew that deodorant and perfume would suffice, and that that extra 15 minutes would mean time to empty the dishwasher and write notes for lunches.

I saw you push yourself to thank me for every little detail of the morning, so that you could find joy. I heard you asking for forgiveness for the extra chocolate you munched on last night, after feeling stressed. I wanted to remind you that although that chocolate is sweet that my Word is sweeter and I am waiting for you to let me hold you in those moments.

I saw you beam with pride as your 6 year old picked out a very handsome outfit and then laugh with giddiness and you saw the crazy-looking shoes he picked out and you did not have the heart to tell him because his eyes shown with pride and self-sufficiency.  

I saw how your two year old chose to sit and "help" you put on your make-up instead of watching cartoons with his big brother and eating breakfast and I hope you framed that moment in your heart as a reminder of how much your little guys love just being with you. I was proud of you for letting him put blush on your cheeks and powder on your face, even when he went a tad "overboard".

I saw how you grabbed your boys as they attempted to rush out the door to say a prayer. I know it hurt your feelings when the older one pulled away before you were finished but don't quit my daughter, these moments are game-changers for their days and set the tone and invite me into their days.

I saw how you threw the dirty dishes in the sink, and frustratingly mashed at the ants that will not give it up on your counter. Remember- this too shall pass. I saw you look at the unfinished projects and feel discouraged but wanted to remind you that you are also a work in progress and that I will help you complete what is necessary TODAY. And that those projects are not essential, that those PEOPLE, your people, ARE essential.

I saw you rushed home to get to the Dollar Store to get Halloween decorations because you knew that little boys would be excitedly ripping open the fun and splattering it all over the house in crazy mixed-up fashion and giddy fun.

I saw how you once again lingered over them sleeping and loved them fiercely.

Daughter of mine- I SEE you and I LOVE you and I am HERE. Connect with me and PRACTICE THE PRESENCE OF GOD in all of these moments and you will see our intimacy increase and grow and I know this is your desire. I have more love letters for you whenever you want to hear them.  

Love,
God

Monday, October 13, 2014

He is Jealous for Me




Today my face is twitching. Like for real, I am afraid someone will think I am a chipmunk when I talk to them, munching on an acorn:) It is WEIRD. It is stress and it is from lack of time with God. I am sure of it. My weekend was great- time with hubby, sleepover for my 6 year old, baseball, church and some good downtime by myself. I even watched a movie! But, something is wrong as I start this week.

It started yesterday after the baseball game and we had some time before church (we go to church at night). And I started panicking thinking about the week starting. I went into psycho-Mama-gotta-get-it-all-done mode. Laundry was being folded like I was on SPEED. I was picking up, de-cluttering, folding, hanging up, running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Side-note: my husband is off today and offered to help me with all of this- but I took it upon myself to get it all done because I am a bit of a control freak and want it done Sunday night (that is whole 'nother blog issue).

I went to church, enjoyed the service, but when it was time to sleep, I felt anxious and overwhelmed. Why?

I had not taken my Sabbath with the Lord.

I planned, I prepped, I organized, I loved, I laughed, I had fun, I supported and I connected with my family- we had a great weekend-but I did not sit with my Father...He was there waiting for me, but I ignored Him for what I thought HAD TO GET DONE.

And although I went to church, meant the words when I sang and prayed over my boys and with my husband before bed, I missed out on my time with God. 

And the words from a song I sang at church rang loudly in my heart this morning- "He is Jealous for Me..." and my stress started to melt away. I knew I had to take a 15 minute break from work and write this blog post. God was speaking to me and I hope He speaks to you too...

My God longs to be with me and my spirit longs to be with Him. When I am operating in my flesh, I bank my peace on temporary things; my house being clean, my laundry being done, my groceries bought, etc.. And even when those things are DONE (for the most part), I can still be in that pit of overwhelming anxiety- because I have soul anemia- I am spiritually bankrupt and I am empty.

Thank you God for reminding me that I need to spend time with you. When I get to the end of myself, He is there and He is faithful and He is waiting.

Listen to the words of this song and breathe deep. He loves you. He is jealous for you. His love is like a hurricane, you are a tree, bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.

How GREAT ARE HIS AFFECTIONS FOR YOU. OH HOW HE LOVES YOU sweet Mama.

How He Loves Us- David Crowder Band

"How He Loves"(originally by John Mark McMillan)

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don't have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way...

He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us...
Oh, how He loves us...
Oh, how He loves us.




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What I Think God has to Say to Working Moms

Of course I don't pretend to know what God thinks, but I do know what His Word says about His love for us and I feel compelled to share what I have felt Him saying to me...you see- God has been wooing me this year, in a way like never before- loving on me and speaking to me and encouraging me and He wants to do the same for you.

I hope you will hear His heart for you as you read this:

My daughter,
I see you...

I see you at 5:30am when you are struggling to get out of bed and get your family ready for the day.
I see you packing lunches and prepping breakfast and dinner and thinking about your sweet children upstairs still asleep, hoping that you are doing the right thing by working.

I see you and the care you take packing backpacks and leaving notes in lunches because you are hoping that note will feel like a gigantic hug from a Mama who misses her kiddos during the day.

I see you at work, looking at pictures on your desk, on your phone and laughing to yourself at the latest antics of your little boy.

I see you picking up your kids, that first hour being tense- you wishing everything could just go perfectly, and them transitioning and feeling out of sorts and you wanting to get homework done, dinner made and when you snap at the boys, I see you feeling like a failure.

I see you stopping and hugging them, putting down the burnt dinner and pulling out the cereal and playing Leggo's in your work clothes and I want to say- "Atta girl! You know what's most important!"

I see you staring at them while they sleep, loving them so fiercely and deeply.

I see you at church on Sunday, staring at the bulletin and seeing that you can't make the Mama bible studies because they are during the day and how you don't want to go to an evening study anyways because every night belongs to those babies.

I see you staring at piles of laundry and wanting to cry.

I see you feeling alone a lot and wanting more connections.

I see you wanting to enjoy each moment with your kids but also needing friends and some time for yourself.

I see your sacrifice.

I see you and I want you to know that I am proud of you.

As proud of you as you are when your 6 year old hits a home run, or when your 3 year old starts to dress himself.

I am proud of your hard work, the details you put into your homemaking, and the ways in which you try to live for me in the workplace.

I am proud of you for watching your finances and budgeting and looking for ways to save money so that one day you can reduce your hours.

I am proud of you for working late some nights so that you can attend a field trip or earn extra money for school shopping.

I am proud of you not for what you DO though, but for YOUR HEART behind your actions.

I want you to know, to REALLY KNOW, that I have created these children with YOU in mind. YOU are EXACTLY what they need!

Never put yourself down for what you can/cannot do for these babies, but remember that I will fill in the gaps with my Holy Spirit and I will find people to help you when you cannot be there.

Your job is to HELP THEM SEE THE RELATIONSHIP THAT YOU AND I HAVE AS BEING MOST IMPORTANT.

Your job is to let them WATCH YOU depend on me, so that they can see that:

THEIR MAMA LOVES JESUS

THEIR MAMA NEEDS JESUS and that-

JESUS IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL TO THEIR MAMA.

And when they look back, they will remember how much  YOU LOVED ME and LOVED THEM in every crazy, quiet, frustrating, and joyful moment.

They will remember the prayers before leaving the house, the bible stories in the car, the lessons on forgiveness after a frustrating conversation, the Jesus Love Me's being sung over their sleepy bodies as they drift off at night...

They will see these things and they will want to know me more and that is all that matters dear Working Mama-Daughter of the King-Precious Child of Mine.

(side-note: God's love letter to Stay at Home Moms is much the same as above and remember- ALL MOMS ARE WORKING MOMS- this blog is for ALL MOMS, but it does specifically speak to the Christian Mom who works outside the home and is maybe struggling with this identity...)

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Holy Moments of Mothering- A Letter to My Sons

Lincoln and Ben,

Every night when all is quiet, I tip toe into your room and stare at you sleeping. You are both sprawled on Lincoln's bed, stuffed animals all around... Benji- you are holding "blankie" and Lincoln- you are lying diagonal on the bed, my little contortionist. You breathe softly and I feel my heart well up in my throat. Every.Night. You take my breathe away. I look at you and I see features of myself and your Daddy and I am IN.AWE. that somehow we created such beauty.



In those quiet moments, I sometimes drop to my knees and I close my eyes to pray. My heart aches for things I should have said or should have said differently. I think about how you wanted me to lay down just for "five more minutes" and I was irritated and I think about how funny you were wrestling each other and how angry I was when you were irritated with each other and I think how much did MY irritation breed YOUR irritation and I am HUMBLED and FLAT OUT SCARED and FLAT OUR DESPERATE FOR GOD'S GRACE.

I thank God for your sweaty heads, laying in a comfy bed, in a warm house, sheltered from the storm outside and I think about the storm inside and how the Enemy is always pounding on our home, trying to soak us to the core with His lies and empty promises.




And I think about whether I should have turned off the TV and spent more time playing with you instead of trying to escape for a minute on my phone...and I remember that even Mama's need a time out and that I don't have to be perfect.


I remember how I read you the story of Moses and how God made water come from the rock and how we need to look to Jesus and not to the World and you said, "Mommy I have no idea what you are talking about, can I please watch Ninja Turtles now" but how you stopped playing Leggo's and leaned closer when I read from the Bible and how I just hold on to the promise that God is co-parenting with me and that the Holy Spirit is moving even when I think I am totally losing your attention. And I remember how Benji thanked Jesus for dying on the cross last night at bedtime and I remember that as long as I am speaking the truth, you are hearing it.

I remember to let God do the watering and growing...

I think about how you laughed when your Daddy read to you and how you jumped into His arms and I think about how God longs for us to do the same with Him because He is our Daddy.




I ask for forgiveness for my selfish moments and I inhale grace and exhale praise and I don't want to leave your room.





In the stillness I feel love and peace overflowing and thankfully that feeling is stronger than the regrets and the sorrows of the day.


I remember how you, my boys are "eternity with skin on" and how everyday I am blessed to witness real, life evidence of God's beauty in your giggles and in your strong wills, in your peace and in your fight for independence. There is God there, you are growing and longing for guidance even when you resist it. Just.Like.Your.Mama. at times...

I stand on the promises I have learned and I try to BELIEVE in these moments that the LOVE OF GOD MY FATHER is like this, BUT EVEN BIGGER. And if this Mama can love so much that it hurts and heals and burns and frees all at once that MY GOD SURELY LOVES ME SOMETHING MIGHTY. And I thank God for the mighty moments of mothering.

You, my sons, are my sweet taste of Heaven on Earth. I will never forget these moments and how HOLY IS THIS GROUND, on the floor, next to your toys, and wrappers, and diapers and dirt. I remember that the holiest of moments can happen, even among the DIRT of our lives...when we CHOOSE TO LOOK TO YOU.

I LOVE YOU,

Mommy




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When You Think Working Outside the Home is Second Best


It's funny how when I started this blog- I thought it would be all about being a working mom and then I started writing and it just became about me and what God was teaching and showing me that I felt called to share. 
That said- I wanted to share a bit about my journey as a CWM...

I was sitting with a dear friend at Panera about a year ago...she work full-time outside the home just like me. I always noticed that although she has struggles and challenges, that she appeared peaceful and confident about her role as a CWM. We were talking about various things and we had a pause in the conversation and I said to her,

"You know what? I really have not yet come to believe in my head/heart that working FT outside the home is just as good, worthy, or even on the same level, as being a stay at home Mom. I really look at myself and think I am somehow on Plan B. and not living God's best for me."


She looked at me and said something I will never forget,

"She said, 'Liz, I am a mother. I work full-time outside the home. The ground is level at the foot of the cross for myself, for the stay-at-home Mama, for all of us."

And she said it with such confidence and peace and I let it sink in. I let it sink in for months (in fact she doesn't even know that I thought about it for so long), and finally I have come to believe it and know it and live it.

Does this mean that I think working outside the home is always best for us and our kids? Absolutely not-I think it is a very personal decision that only a woman and her husband can make.

I believe that many choices we make in life (not just about work) can be wrong and influenced by our sinful nature.



But at the end of the day- there is nothing in the Bible that says that it is a sin for a women to work outside the home. No where. So if you are concerned, know that it is not sinful, and ask God to show you this truth. If you feel this is second best, that somehow you are hurting your children, neglecting them or not providing for them the way you think is best, pray, pray and pray some more for clarification. Observe them, think about how your time is spent when you are with them. Think about changes you can make, ways to be more intentional and if there is room for flexibility.

At the end of the day, as Moms, our job is to follow the Bible and we are to answer to God about our life.

So, what does the Bible say about being a Mom and what should our lives look like when we are living out GOD'S BEST:


·         Moms are to wear strength and dignity, we are to open our mouths with wisdom and teach kindness, we are to look well to the ways of our household and not be idle Proverbs 31:25-30. 
·         We are to remember that our children are a heritage from the Lord and a reward Psalm 127:3.
·         We are to train up our child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it  Proverbs 22:6.
·         We are to have a sincere faith 2 Timothy 1:5.
·         We are not to provoke our children to anger but discipline them and teach them in the instruction of the Lord Ephesians 6:4.
·         We are to teach our children diligently and talk about the Lord when we are at home, when we are walking, when we lie down and when we rise Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
·         We are to love our children, to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind and submissive to our husbands Titus 2:1-15.
·         We are to teach our children and great will be their peace Isaiah 54:13 and this teaching should be like a graceful garland and pendant around their necks Proverbs 1:8-9.
·         We are to tell our children about what we have seen God do and not forget. We are to make them known to our children. We are to tell them the things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We should not hide them from our children, but tell them about the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done Deuteronomy 4:9, Psalm 78:3-7.
·         We are to choose who we will serve and declare that as for our home, we will serve the Lord Joshua 24:15.

Now, I will say sweet Mama, if working outside the home has made doing the above impossible or extremely challenging, than maybe an honest look at your situation is warranted. But if not, keep pressing on and be intentional in your mothering. And remember that the ground is level at the foot of the cross- your worth as a mother is not tied into your working status, it is tied into Christ and who He says you are.

Much love!








Friday, September 12, 2014

I Love My Life-Tell Me Why You Love Yours


Today I want to state why my life is GOOD, why my life is FULL and why I am BLESSED. I am very self-relective and I spend a great deal of time focusing on my weaknesses, the things I am lacking, the things that worry me, etc... I wanted to use this week's blogging time to state why I LOVE MY LIFE...

I HAVE A HUSBAND WHO: WORKS HARD FOR OUR FAMILY AND GOES TO COLLEGE AT THE SAME TIME, IS DEDICATED TO  PROVIDING, IS AN EXAMPLE TO ME OF HOW DEDICATED MY GOD IS TO PROVIDING FOR ME AND IS MY HERO.
 
I HAVE TWO BEAUTIFUL BOYS WHO: CHALLENGE ME DAILY, SHOWER ME WITH KISSES AND HUGS, MAKE MY LAUGH, AND KEEP ME ON MY KNEES.
 
I HAVE DAILY STRUGGLES THAT REMIND ME THAT: I NEED GOD,GOD IS BIG, THAT IT IS ALL ABOUT GRACE AND THAT I CAN LEARN AND GROW DESPITE MY STRUGGLES.

I HAVE NEW THINGS HAPPENING EVERY WEEK WHERE I SEE GOD WORKING: NEW FRIENDSHIPS, OPPORTUNITIES TO WRITE AND EXPRESS MYSELF, NEW WAYS OF THINKING, NEW LESSONS LEARNED. I AM NOT STAGNANT
(I COULD NOT ALWAYS SAY THAT).

I AM FULFILLING GOD'S PURPOSE BECAUSE HE IS WORKING IN ME.
 LAST-BUT NOT LEAST:
I HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE LOVE EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.
TO INVEST IN THIS LIFE GOD HAS GIVEN ME...

 
Just keeping it simple this week, speaking truth, encouraging my soul and now....
 
Your turn- tell me why you love your life!
Write it down for yourself, tell someone and make it known.
You are blessed, loved and your life is GOOD.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

No more shame

I was thinking about shame last night as I went to bed and started this blog entry and after I published it, realized it was not finished...I needed to back up a bit and share some things...




This past Sunday one of our Pastors spoke about Kingdom Ground and how we need to have "soil" in our hearts that is prepared to hear God and know God more. He talked about the Parable of the Sower- Mark 4:1-20. http://biblehub.com/niv/mark/4.htm. And he talked about the soil where there are shallow roots. He talked about the Word being planted on rocky places- the person receives the Word with joy and then struggles because there are no roots.

He talked about how we need to dig up our soil and throw out those rocks so that we can plant the Word and so that it can GROW. I thought about this and realized that SHAME was one of those rocks that at times prevents the roots of God's word from growing deeper in my heart. SHAME is something that sneaks up on us and if we believe it, it can go down deep and block our intimacy with God.

I am so thankful for this message how God spoke to me and now my response.

Shame makes us feel ugly in every way possible.
It isolates us and it paralyses us.

It is also a lie- a filthy lie straight from the pit of hell. It steals our identity in Christ- who already died for whatever we are feeling ashamed of. It leads us to unbelief, to not trusting God, and we cannot go there anymore.

Shame taunts us...it ridicules us...it entraps us...and we need to be DONE with it.

I came across this quote and it BLEW ME AWAY...It literally stopped me in my tracks and covered me in a sense of glorious brave acceptance.


I am showing up to my life UNASHAMED and I AM TRUSTING MY GOD because HE IS A GOD TO BE TRUSTED.

And I get it- you've been hurt, people have broken your trust and it can be so hard to let God in, to let Him close, but His grace is the antidote to your shame.

GRAVE COVERS AND ERASES ALL SHAME.

God is saying this to you my sister-
 
"You are my gem. You are my jewel. You shine with my light because you bravely reveal your cracks.  You are never to be ashamed of your life, your past or your present mistakes and struggles because I am in it. You can move on and walk in confident assurance of who you are IN ME."

And He reminded me of one of my favorite verses:
 
Psalm 34:5- "Those who look to the Lord are RADIANT, their faces are never covered with shame. "

YOU, DEAR SISTER, ARE RADIANT IN CHRIST JESUS!

I don't know if this speaks to anyone, but it burned in my heart and I had to share.
 
So no more shame ladies- in the trenches of Mommy guilt, overflowing piles of laundry, impatience, whining, hurt feelings and overwhelming days, moments where we feel regrets from the past, where we think we are not good enough to approach God- we can be RADIANT as we look to Him.
 
PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION...

Show Up For Your Life.

Don't Be Ashamed.

Be Radiant.

Be Revolutionary.
 
Walk in the Truth of Who You are In Him.

Click on the link below for an amazing song about showing up for your life and seeing the Glory of God shining in it!
 
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Owning my Reactions

So- yeah- I feel like this-lately- like people are making me act a certain way-like my reactions are someone else's issue-I really am struggling with this girls...

... God is as always dealing with me on this...thank God He keeps teaching me even when I am not always the best student...

...SO lately-I REALLY feel squeezed tight by those around me and the things that they do/don't do...things that hurt, things that are just straight up insensitive and I have been asking God to help me determine how I should be dealing with this and He has been revealing a hard truth to me-

...maybe it can be helpful for you as well-but as with anything I share- take what you need from it and leave the rest...

Here it is:

...God is revealing to me that while yes, nicer people who do what I think is best and right ARE easier for me to glide along life with and YES sometimes people are wrong in their actions towards us and of course we don't have to put up with certain things...but...

...regardless- my reactions reveal...what is already.in. me...yes-I said that right- people don't create the yuck in me- they REVEAL it.
And it is time for me to take a good look in the mirror and see what is really in there.  

God reminded me the other day of something that really stuck with me in the past-

I heard a speaker once who had a bottle of water with dirt in it...she said- "If you look at the bottle straight on- you can't see the dirt; however- when you SHAKE the bottle...you SEE the dirt. You see what is ALREADY INSIDE of the bottle. But if you do not shake the bottle, the dirt is still in there, it is STILL DIRTY, correct?"

When we are shaken by others actions, inactions, words, etc...what comes out of us, is-what is already IN US. It is our sin. And it is OURS ALONE to deal with.

NOW-I don't like this so much-I mean, I have a right to get mad at times, don't I? Um...yes- anger is okay- if it does not lead to sin...


I'm gonna be honest with you ladies-I REALLY did not like what God was trying to teach me at first (Have I already mentioned this?ha!); however- the more I chewed on it and applied it to my own life- the more I grew to appreciate it. In some ways- it has begun setting me free from some things...and I love it when God uses hard stuff to un-cage me a bit...

You can't change something about yourself if you are always blaming someone else for what you are doing. It's not possible. You just can't. And you know what happens when you do- resentment, anger, bitterness and your DIRT just gets DIRTIER. And you know what else you do when you blame- you give away your power to LET GOD CHANGE YOU... 

Well- there it is...

My lesson I want to share and pass on to all my Mamas out there who are reacting up a storm to their nutty kiddos who do things that make absolutely no sense and to their hubbies who, well....we don't need to be specific, but we all know that Men and Women have to lean crazy hard on Jesus in order to get along and love each other.

I think our reactions can be amazing teachers when we choose to own them and learn from them...a lesson I will always be learning, progress-not perfection, always.

Just two key lessons I have learned from owning my reactions- I hope that in some way they help:

1. They clue me in to my need for Jesus.  Some days-things are smooth- everyone seems to be doing alright and life feels fairly breezy-I may skip my time with God, and kind of slack a bit on my focus-but then, someone irks me and it happens AGAIN- I get ugly and I remember how MUCH I need Jesus to keep me straight. I need Him to help me be better than that old stuff, that old girl-I need Him to help me walk as the new creation I am in Him.

2. They remind me of some issues I have from my past that need to be dealt with. Sometimes it is trust issues, maybe I am angry about something, and you know what? It is all good because I can't deny these things- the past teaches me and I can let God redeem the past as I work through the present. I can learn from these issues and overcome. My reactions can be kind of like a spotlight on something that I have not yet handed over to God. And I CAN change, with God's help.

One last thought- when faced with your reactions- don't beat yourself up about them. You are human, you are a sinner and you have a Savior who is right here with you to help you grow.

You will never reach perfection, but you will grow and change and blossom and shine with His amazingly bright and brilliant light- the more you lay down of yourself and the more you depend on Him.

I love you ladies and I hope that something I have shared encourages you and challenges you all at the same time.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Building Cathedrals- YOU ARE NOT INVISIBLE

I have not blogged in sometime now. I have been waiting for a message and this week- it came.  A dear friend of mine shared about her struggles with feeling unappreciated. I could feel the pain in her words. I began to tear up because I recognized myself in her pain. As a Mom and Wife, we ALL go through this, sometimes on a daily (minute by minute) basis. Motherhood can feel like a very lonely place and we need and want to KNOW in our depths that someone SEES and APPRECIATES us- it is a need we all have.
 
 I was able to share about her struggles on an on-line group and I got a TON of responses that I sent to my friend and she was so blessed. One of the ladies sent a link to this story and I shared it with my friend who told me later that she read it through tears.
 
I can't think of anything better to share on my blog than this story- about
my dear friend and how other sisters in Christ around the country reminded her that she is not invisible...that God sees her...that her work as a Mother and as a Wife is as profound, as majestic, as HUGE as the building of an amazing cathedral...
 
 Read Below...
The Invisible Woman by: Nicole Johnson
 
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
I'm invisible.
The invisible Mom.
 
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.' I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!
 
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'   In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
No one can say who built the great cathedrals -
we have no record of their names.
These builders gave their whole lives-
for a work they would never see finished.
They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
 
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied...
 
'Because God sees.'
 
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.
You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'
 
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
 
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.' As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

This story is an excerpt from Nicole's Book The Invisible Woman: A Special Story for Mothers
 
Check out Nicole Johnson from Women of Faith doing her version of the Invisible Woman.
 
Love you ladies! You are not invisible.
 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The TRUTH Principle: Practical Tool for Getting Through the Grumpies- Book Giveaway!!

Friday was a bit of a rough day...I felt like I was juggling too much and I felt ineffective at work. My clients problems overwhelmed me, I was lied to and I felt frustrated. 

My husband called and we basically need a new car by MONDAY so we can go on our vacation. My shirt has been too tight all day and I hate my belly. I didn't have time to put make up on this morning, I have a butter stain on my jeans and I HATE stains.

I just feel like WHINING. What is UP with me today? I have a lot of moments like this, sometimes multiple times a day and I really need to GET A GRIP. My focus is so much on myself and I am just feeling stuck.

Gotta get out and MOVE forward in my mind and heart. Praising God for all that I HAVE and all that I AM IN HIM and for the OPPORTUNITY to DO SOMETHING about what is bothering me, one piece at a time. 

But I also think this is MUCH EASIER SAID THAN DONE. My moods do NOT go away very easily. And then that makes me even MORE grumpy! 

But I learned something REALLY cool a few summers ago from Leslie Vernick. She spoke at a Women's Retreat I went to with my church. At first I can admit that it sounded like just another "Christian formula".  But I have come to LOVE this and it helps me tremendously in my grumpy moments.

It is called the TRUTH principle. In fact, Leslie wrote an entire book on this but she gave out bookmarks to us at the retreat so we could memorize it and begin to apply it in our grumpy moments. 

Here it is...

THE TRUTH PRINCIPLE

The TRUTH Principle is a process to help you grow closer to God.  When you are stuck, afraid, worried or frustrated, these 5 steps can be used as a road map to guide you through your place of trouble and into a place of greater trust in God.  

T = Troubles
R = Response
U = Underlying Idols
T = Truth
H = Heart’s Response   

STEP 1: TROUBLES   
Identify your problem. Write it down. Name it. See your problem in words on paper.
(Personally I have learned to do this in my head. It does not have to be a lengthy process, but if the issue is deep enough, it may need to be.)

STEP 2:  RESPONSE
Self-examination.   Take an inner and personal inventory of yourself.   What are you thinking, feeling in regards to your problem?   How are you behaving? Take a hard look what is going on in yourself and what is your personal response to your problem? Write these down.  See it in black and white.  

STEP 3:  UNDERLYING IDOLS
What is the underlying motivation to your problem?   What is the crux of the matter? What is the REAL, DEEP DOWN issue? (For example:  Do you want to be liked? Do you want praise and acknowledgment? Do you thrive on stress because it makes you feel worthy?  Do you want to be #1, top dog?  Do you want control?) 

THEN:  Ask yourself: What do you want?  (Do you want to be happy?  Stress free? Content? Safe?) Write these down.  Put words to your desires. 

STEP 4:  TRUTH
What is God’s truth for you? Ask:  Am I willing to surrender my desires (from Step 3) to God’s will for me? Ask: Am I willing to trust God? HOW:  Consciously choosing to surrender our hearts and wills to Him. 

STEP 5:  HEART’S RESPONSE
Taking all the work from Steps 1-4 (head) and working to release to God and accept His love for you (heart). As we move from head (our will, our desires) to heart (God’s will for us), God does not take away our desires….rather He transforms them and guides us toward being more aligned with Him. 

These steps are taken from:
THE TRUTH PRINCIPLE    
 By: Leslie Vernick
 WaterBrook Press  


Example from my day: Feeling ineffective at work.
Trouble: The trouble is that I do not feel like I have done my best today at work because my client's difficulties are overwhelming me.

Response: I feel discouraged and down on myself. I say things to myself like, "Geez Liz, you have a Master's Degree in this stuff, you should know the answers."

Underlying idol: My underlying idol is no doubt my pride and need to please. My desire to get it all right and my desire to FIX things.

Truth: God will and has always equipped me to do my job. I don't have to have all the answers but I have to be faithful in going to the One who does and to ask Him to guide me. My self-worth is not in my job but in who I am in Christ.

Response: My heart's response is to feel humility and peace knowing that God knows what my clients need and that He will continue to use me to help them in ways I never expect. My heart feels secure because I recall that my identity has nothing to do with my work performance, but with God's love for me.

ISN'T THIS AN AWESOME TOOL????

So- the fun stuff- I want to challenge you ladies to use the TRUTH principle sometime this week and to share about it on this blog. I will give away Leslie's book to one of you ladies and I am also planning on getting a link to the bookmark so everyone can print it out and keep it with them if interested. 

Love you ladies! Hope this little tool helps you in BIG ways, like it has for me!

Monday, July 14, 2014

No more Walls for this Girl- I am Ready to Build some Bridges


So...connection has always been hard for me. Not sure why-part of it is my introverted nature, part of it is straight up related to my own issues... Maybe it is my sin, maybe it is lessons learned from my past- doesn't matter- what I know is that God is showing me that there is much more for me. You see...there is a part of me that would rather build walls, instead of bridges. I let people in and I know God, my family, my friends love me but there are some tender places I have kept walled in. Walls are tricky- they feel safe, they trick me into thinking that my heart is protected from hurt, that somehow I am insulated against anything painful.
The problem is that these walls don't keep me safe and maybe they protect me from certain types of pain, but not all pain. These walls do something scary to me...
They shrink me down, they empty me out, they make me smaller.

But when I break them down it hurts- straight up- letting myself love and be loved HURTS something major and God and I are working this out because the hurt of being walled in is much more painful!

Now- don't get me wrong- boundaries are good and they are necessary- but for this season of my life- I need to do some demolition.
                                                                                                                                                                        Being on vacation- spending constant time with people always challenges me.

But this year has been different- instead of hiding away and pulling back, I pressed into those walls and I knocked some down. I let myself laugh more, I let myself share more, I let myself forgive more, I let myself RISK. I am pretty excited because I think there is a lot inside of me that God is trying to set free. When I was a little girl I loved a movie called the Secret Garden. It has a detailed plot, but the jist of it is that in the end, this garden that has been locked for years is finally opened up by a little girl who has lost her parents and a crippled boy who lives in the same home as her. And the garden brings them all healing as they tend and grow it into what it was meant to be. The crippled boys father comes out and he reconnects with the boy after years of isolation and also becomes a surrogate father to the little girl. It is beautiful. I think God wants to do that with us-open up our hearts so that he can plant and prune and tend and grow something beautiful that will draw others in and ultimately draw others to Him.

It is time for some of us wall-dwellers to reach out and knock down not only our own walls but those of others who are in hiding. There are so many Moms out there who are walled in with laundry, messy marriages, past hurts, addictions, fears, rejection and we need to come along side them and help them in their own demolition. 
 
The only way is through Him- our Jesus, through His Word which changes us and makes us new and through community- the body of Christ. Love you ladies!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Sweet Breath of Summer


 
Just breathe dear sisters...in and out- that sweet breathe of rest- of grace wrapped up tightly-breathe in that fragrant bouquet of heaven- just breathe it in and breathe out praise and sweet relief.
 
Traveling this week to upstate New York has been giving me a much needed opportunity to breathe...and it truly has been all grace.

Yes it can be tough walking this faith-walk but you gotta check your baggage my sweets. This sweetness of true holy life can only come through putting down the old and breathing in the new. And your soul will delight in the riches of Christ.
 
The sin, the arguing,  the frustration,  the anxiety,  the big ole YUCK- it pollutes, it suffocates and sometimes it straight up chokes- making you want to just give it up. Like- "see ya later life- you suck"-and sometimes it feels like that for a very long time...
 
But...there it is-I promise it is coming- it always does- the wind of holy, sweet, delicious grace- it comes and it feels like that desperate gulp of air when coming to the surface after a long time under the water. We pant and we pant hard while His love fills us and then we rest.
 
And here is the kicker- we can always have this- it is our choice- and we can find it and breathe it in when we capture and frame those sweet grace-wrapped moments and we can inhale them in and what naturally comes out is worship and praise.
 
Here are some of my breaths fresh air this week-simple moments where the fun, the "light", the beauty, the sweetness of relationship, sweet rest of babes, and the joy of family :
 
Breath of fresh air- An old "favorite" being enjoyed by my boy:)

Breath of fresh air-The island- surrounded by water with life abundant.

Breath of fresh air-my sweet babe sleeping- love that peaceful look.
 
Breathe of fresh air- cousins having fun with sugary treats!
 
Breath of fresh air- the love of a Grandma

 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

You are BRAVE! With Giveaway for Brave Storytellers!


Lately I have been thinking non-stop about the concept of "being brave".

Maybe because in many ways it is foreign concept to me- to actually BELIEVE that I am brave-that is empowering and I think that we need to remind each other how brave we truly are.

Bravery is not something I would automatically say is "ME". I tend to shy away from risk-taking, I like to be "in the background"- but you know what?

I think that I am done with all of that! And I mean DONE.

We are BRAVE GIRLS ladies! We are WARRIOR MAMAS and we are DAUGHTERS OF THE KING.

No more hiding. No more sideline living...


You know I am a word nerd so I came up with this for you ladies-
We are:

Bold Women who face
Real battles and
Authentically live and
Victoriously overcome and
Embrace each day IN CHRIST

Each day we are mothering our babies- we are fighting battles for them-

we fight on our knees- we fight with difficult consequences-

we fight with strong silence as we watch them work through battles on their own-

we pick up, we nurture, we answer questions, we teach, we embrace, we kiss boo-boo's, we clean, we pick up, we clean some more-

But mostly-we FEEL, we HURT, we LOVE FIERCELY, we ARE WARRIOR MAMAS. And THIS IN AND OF ITSELF- MAKES US BRAVE! 

And we face hard times- we learn and we grow- we don't let our battles conquer us.

I remember days when I felt that I could not get out of bed- when post-partum depression and sleeplessness suffocated me and I felt like each second was an eternity-I never thought I would make it.

I remember as a college girl struggling with compulsive drinking and destructive relationships thinking that this was all that I had, that this was the best life had to offer.

I remember getting on an airplane to the Phillipines- feeling so unworthy of the title "Missionary"-leaving my newly engaged fiancé behind for five months to live my dream of serving the poor in a third world country.

I remember surviving-growing-learning-smiling-and overcoming.


As a Christian Working Mama- YOU ARE BRAVE.

You make decisions everyday that hurt but you ALWAYS, ALWAYS, know that your role as a Mom is the best gift in the entire world- so you keep going, you learn, you grow and you overcome.

Your story inspires me to be BRAVE. And we need each other's stories to keep going. Thank you for helping me to BE BRAVE!

One of the goals of my blog is to provide CONNECTION and ENCOURAGEMENT so I have a giveaway for a Brave Storyteller who shares just a few statements about why SHE IS BRAVE- similar to what I posted above with the statements that started I remember...
Share some of your "brave moments" and I will pick a winner and send her this beautiful necklace below!!!
Love you ladies!!!