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!








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, June 27, 2014

Girlfriends- oh how I need you!

 This year I have really come to the realization that I NEED some girlfriends. Like REALLY need some girlfriends. Like I cannot DEAL without some girlfriends. And that is a big deal for this introverted gal who gets a stomach ache whenever she had to go to a party of any sort:)

I need you ladies! I really, really do!

I need you to GIVE ME PERSPECTIVE

I need you to GIVE ME A GOOD LAUGH

I need you to SIT IN MY HOUSE and NOT LOOK DOWN ON ME when you see all of my unfinished projects and dirty floors

I need you to NOT JUDGE ME when you see me yell at my kids like a fool

I need you to HUG ME when my pain is too much

I need you to REMIND ME OF WHO I AM IN HIM, when all I see is the ugly

I need you to TELL ME I LOOK NICE in my new shoes and when I get my hair done

I need you to PLAY WITH MY KIDS while I clean up my house before guests from out of town arrive

I need you to TELL ME NOT TO QUIT when my struggles with my man feel overwhelming

MOSTLY I need you to SHINE  LIGHT ON MY GOOD AND HELP ME FIGHT MY BAD

I NEED YOU...



So I took a risk and started a group with some ladies from church- which we decided to call- "God, Girls and Gab". We have a FB group and we meet up weekly or bi-weekly and we just "BE". We don't do anything too structured- we chat, we complain, we laugh, and we just be ourselves-that is the main point- and we bring our kiddos so we are not missing out on our time with them...

That first night at Chick Fil-Et...I felt nervous and unsure- we all chatted and no one said anything about our group's purpose yet- we just ate and talked about random stuff- then I felt it- that tugging in my heart to be brave and real and transparent and I looked up and said- "So ladies, the reason I wanted to start this group is because... I need some friends."  I waited-...surely someone will look at my funny or change the subject or maybe just brush it off- but that is not what happened- we all agreed that we needed some good girlfriends and we agreed to be there for each other-sweet and simple. No major expectations, no set meetings, just that we would be there and that we would make an effort to meet up often.

We are just getting to know each other but already I feel different- I feel like I can fight my battles a bit braver and with a bit more confidence, I feel freer because I know that when those moments come when I cannot DEAL- I HAVE LISTENING, ACCEPTING AND NON-JUDGEMENTAL EARS...

And I feel HOPE because my ladies are ALWAYS POINTING ME BACK to the only TRUE source of HOPE- my God...

Maybe you need some girlfriends like me? Can I encourage you to reach out? They are there and you will never be the same! 



I love you ladies!
Liz


 





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stop Thinking You Have to Balance it All


As a Mom, we are always hearing talk about "balance"- how can we balance it all? Husbands, kids, friends, ministry, physical and mental health, relationship with God, etc...THEN- we add on WORK and we REALLY feel like we are in need of some kind of magical answer for how we are to balance our lives.

People write articles upon articles about this topic and I have come to the conclusion that it really is not about balancing all of these things- we are not jugglers and we cannot keep a million balls up in the air without dropping some. In fact-multitasking is stressful and not healthy for us- it is true-

There’s a term for this rapid shifting between one task to another, and it’s called switchtasking, according to management expert Dave Crenshaw, on his website davecrenshaw.com. And there’s a high cost to switchtasking over time: “You have deeply engrained habits that cause stress and anxiety and dropped responsibilities and a myriad of productivity & focus problems,” states Crenshaw. “It’s little wonder so many people complain of increasingly short attention spans!”


There was a time when I was experiencing severe anxiety and depression. I wasn't sleeping well and I could not focus on anything. I had a mentor who broke it down for me pretty simply and I have kept this with me for a very long time-she said to me- "Liz, you need to think, speak and act based upon what you know is true."

I definitely don't have a straight forward answer for you on how to balance it all-certainly there are times when you have to cut things out of your life, you have to reevaluate your responsibilities, making sure your priorities are lined up with how you spend your time- you have to ask for help-you have to "say NO".

But to actually balance things- I really don't think you can- but I DO think you can BE a BALANCED person in the midst of all that is in your life by how you think, speak and act.

The Bible has the answers for it all-Christian Working Mama's-think about these things:
        
What are your expectations for yourself, your work and your family based on?  The world? the workforce? the media? or the Word of God?       
John 8:32 ESV     
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

What are you thinking about?
Philippians 4:8 ESV    
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

What are you seeking? more income? to please everyone around you? to stay "safe" and away from risk? to stay comfortable?
Matthew 6:33-34 ESV         
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

How are you treating yourself? Are you truly taking care of yourself? Are you resting? Are you eating? Are you allowing yourself some downtime?
Mark 6:31 ESV         
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

How do you start your day?
Mark 1:35 ESV          
"And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed."

Lastly- look at these four areas of your life and identify where you are lacking- THEN- make a simple action step for how your will address these issues- YOU CAN DO IT!

Physical: Proper Rest, Nutrition, Activity (Work, Exercise and Recreation)
Psychological: Mental (Truthful), Emotional (Loving)
Relational: Family (spouse, children), Friends (including church), and Co-Workers.
Spiritual: Trusting and obeying God, knowing Christ and making Him known.

LASTLY- I ALWAYS GO BACK TO GRACE-YOU WILL DEFINITELY MESS IT UP MAMA-YOU WILL DROP THE BALL-YOU WILL BURN THE DINNER-YOUR WILL GET IMPATIENT WITH YOUR KIDS... BUT-
 I love you ladies and am praying for you not to find balance but to BE BALANCED in how you think, speak and act!!!



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Your Story Matters

I love stories- I have always been a reader and love to get lost in a good book. I find myself connecting with the characters, laughing with them, learning from them, and engaging with them.

But-these characters, unless based on a true story, are not real people. I can't call them on the phone or send them a text message. I learn from them and am blessed by the message I receive, but the real connection of course, can only come from real people-real stories.

Your story matters-why? Because every detail works together to create a beautiful tapestry, a masterpiece that tells a story that no one else  can tell- it is uniquely yours and yours alone. Your story- if it is anything like mine, has some dark places-some places that you would like to hide from the world. It has some amazing places- where your felt joy and love in ways you never felt possible. It has some narrow places where you felt life squeezing right out of you and it has some wide places where you experienced freedom and adventure...

I spend a lot of my time at work listening to stories. Persons with disabilities-with chronic conditions that I cannot even imagine having to deal with on a daily basis-they tell me a story and everyday on my way to work I ask God to show me where He is in their story and how I can help them move closer to Him with my work in career counseling. Out of all of the parts of my job that I love the most- it is the listening to the story. And I am blessed by their story...it needs to be told.

Is there any better feeling than when someone truly LISTENS to your story. When you are allowed to tell it-from beginning to the present time- hiding nothing, sparing no details and there is someone who sits with you and LISTENS. And is there nothing better than when you HEAR a story that reminds you that you are not alone? That someone else has walked a similar road and MADE IT. That someone else has experienced tragedy, or heartache, or devastation akin to your own and they are not only still standing, but they are THRIVING.

All I want to say to you today, Christian Working Mama is that YOUR story matters, it matters to me because I need to hear it, it matters to the body of Christ and your story reveals something about God that no one else's can.

Our God is UNBELIEVABLY creative in how he tells HIS STORY OF REDEMPTION through the stories of his children.

SISTER- YOUR STORY MATTERS!

I have a new friend who bravely shares her story in her newly developed blog. I want to honor her by putting a link on this post. Visit her blog and encourage her. She is a brave storyteller and we are ALL blessed that she decided to share her story with the world.:
Blended and Blessed- Evonne Prince

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Grace-Filled Home- two things I have learned to do


At any moment in my home we can be having a grace-filled or a yuck-filled moment. I call "yuck" any feeling, word or action that stems from our sin; typically things such as resentment,  bitterness, selfishness, pride, etc...examples- mean words, snapping at my kids,

I am blessed to say that in my home we have many grace-filled moments and typically the yuck is followed by grace...eventually...and to be completely honest- my husband is usually the one to bend before me...

Some people may find that shocking- me-the social worker/Ms. Helping Professional. But in the moments of our conflict- guess what? My pride usually outlasts his and he is usually the first to grab me, hold me and say, "I'm sorry babe." There have been SO many moments- after a heated discussion, where I am sulking a bit and walking around mad and my man has looked at me and said two words- "Come here." Then-I melt, I fall into his arms and all is well again.

This post is for him because his words of grace, forgiveness and his steady and consistent commitment to this is what gives our marriage the life that it needs to survive and thrive.

These are some lessons I have/am/will always be learning that I wanted to share:

1. With God's help-I have the power and the choice to turn yuck-filled moments into grace-filled moments:

Most of the time, the yuck from my hubby and my kids has nothing to do with me and vice-versa (they/I may be having a bad day/they feel rushed,  are tired, or are frustrated with something).

Frequently my response to their yuck-can turn the tide in that moment. I can choose to be a Thermostat, not a Thermometer: I don't have to absorb the yuck (thermometer), instead I can choose to change the temperature of the moment by offering grace (thermostat).

Some simple examples:
-"I'm sorry you are so frustrated. Can I help?"
-"I get really mad when things like that happen too."
-"Are you hungry? Can I fix you something?"


2. I can just be quiet for awhile... I can hold my tongue when I want to lash out-before I respond, I can step away and wait. For me- I try to wait a day if it is something that I know I will have a HUGE response to that I know may not be welcomed very nicely and then I will see if I still want to say the same thing. Sometimes I wait until the kids are in bed, sometimes I wait until after I finish a task, etc... I put up a boundary for my anger, frustration, etc.. so that I can
wait on God and talk it out with Him first. NOT EASY- but LIFE SAVING for my marriage!

Honestly- I find that typically by the next day, something good has happened to soften that moment and I can either approach it in a better way or leave it alone.

So-two things-short and sweet for having a Grace-Filled Home;

Be a Thermostat-not a Thermometer and Be Quiet

I would love to hear from you about how this principle works for you! Try it out and share with me!


 






Sunday, June 1, 2014

Living at the Pace of Grace: Tip #3- Be Selfish

What helps you breathe? What gives you life? What revitalizes you?

When there is turbulence on an airplane and the oxygen masks fall down- what are the instructions? Put on your own oxygen mask first SO THAT you can help others...

Keep that in the back of your mind...

So YES- to live at the Pace of Grace- you HAVE to be selfish!  WHAT? Yes- I said it- BE SELFISH. Okay- so NOT in the meany-pants, I am gonna get my way and do what I want kind of selfish- no, no, no...

I mean in the:

...tonight I am gonna take an extra long shower and use pretty smelling body wash and shave and paint my toenails cuz I feel grimy and I want to feel beautiful- kind of way...

...this afternoon I am gonna read my new favorite book and lovingly ignore (yes-sometimes it really is OKAY to do this) my kids (who by the way- are better at playing by themselves than I think)-kind of way...

...before I leave work I am gonna text my babysitter and tell her I need 30 more minutes till pick up today so I can go to Starbucks, grab my Tall White Mocha and regroup before starting my evening- kind of way...

...tonight my kids will play on the crazy play structure at McDonald's after work so that I can cry to my girlfriend about my struggles at home kind of way...

...I am going to enlist my kiddos to do more chores and to help me more vs. play-time because it makes me less nutso and you know what? it is good for them too-kind of way...

...tonight I am going to leave the laundry, the dishes and the toys on the floor and cuddle up with my Man and tomorrow we will eat out (or use paper plates) and I will just use the broom to sweep enough toys out of my way for a walkway- kind of way...

Simple things, YET they make a difference in how we Christian Working Mamas THRIVE or just SURVIVE our day-to-day lives...

Tomorrow we start a new week- be sure to be selfish this week- even just 10 minutes of doing what you need, what makes you feel energized and just simple taking care of you- shows your people that sometimes you really do need to put on that oxygen mask first before helping them with their needs...

We Mama's love to give and give and being a Mama is the best GIFT in the whole world to us and some days we CAN'T put on that oxygen mask first and thankfully the Holy Spirit breathes a fresh breathe of spiritual life into our beings; however... we need to take care of ourselves because we are PRECIOUS to the Lord...


Saturday, May 3, 2014

HOW to live at the Pace of Grace- Tip #2- Be the Clay

Be open to allowing God to shape and mold you to be who He has called you to be...in each moment as a busy working Mama...

So often I "think" I want my life to be smooth, easy, organized and the way I think it should be. In this perfect world-everything is comfortable, everything is easy and orderly...

Funny how, when I am "MAKING" this happen, by insisting on my way, pushing my schedule and plans onto others, and being rigid with things...there is an anxiety and fear that pulsates beneath the surface and eventually it explodes...I implode...

But, when I stop, take a deep breathe and just move throughout my day with God beside me, I am still in my spirit, and when the rough waters come, I let them shape me by looking to God, depending on God and allowing God to mold me through the situation.

And...I have PEACE.  As a working Mama my life is pretty scheduled, and that can be all fine and good and we all need order, BUT- I can't let my desire to have control, for things to turn out the way I want/think they should be, to supersede what God wants to do and I need to allow God to mold me.

SO another way to live at the Pace of Grace, is to do enough planning to live an orderly life, but to let God mold and shape you through the surprises, changes in routine, the forced pauses in the middle of trying to accomplish something on the to-do list, and the unexpected frustrations and challenges.

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

Monday, April 28, 2014

HOW to live at the Pace of Grace: Tip #1-Speak Life to Yourself

So...what does it actually LOOK like to live at the Pace of Grace as a working Mommy?...  


So I spend a lot of time in my car. I have some days where I drive an hour to get to work. I have found that those drives can be such a gift to me. I am always tempted to rehash in my mind the negatives...I snapped at Aaron, I rushed Lincoln, I left the cereal bowls on the table, I forgot to take a shower (yeah this seriously happens to me!)...but God has shown me the power of just speaking LIFE to myself. This is one simple way to live at the Pace of Grace:)


So try it out, today...in.the.car. on your way to work (or at home if you work from home!)-


Speak LIFE to yourself-what do I mean? I KNOW this sounds cheesy, but trust me it works! I mean- out loud while you are driving to work speak truth to your heart.


For example- I might say... (and a hint- you can always bob your head while you are talking and people next to you will just think you are singing along to the radio! ha!) "Liz, you are a child of the Most High God. You are loved. You are precious. You are more than a conqueror. God will never give you more than you can handle. You are walking in His will. You are a wonderful Mom, loving wife and hard worker. You make mistakes but God's grace covers you. Be confident today. Be strong. ") 


Some days it takes a little longer than others for my spirit to calm down and my heart to smile, but it works, it always does...and it is simple and if there is anything this Mama needs it is something simple I can do to walk in peace and joy throughout my day:)


That is all for now- try it out and tell me how it went!


Liz

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Grace


The Pace of Grace

Have you ever been told to, "Pace yourself"?  Why do we have to pace ourselves? Because if we don't, we get overexerted, we can't go on, we get STRESSED. We move too fast, we get ahead of ourselves...and something I am learning...we can also get ahead of God...

I have recently started recognizing signs in my body when I am moving at an unnecessary "hurried" pace... I get anxious, my stomach hurts, my heart races, I also start to physically move faster, I  rush around...

I can also recognize the signs by paying attention to how I react with people that I love- I snap at them, I rush them, I push them to keep up with me and what I want, I don't really LISTEN to them, I jump to conclusions and you can guess how that ends? In a lot of YUCK, especially for my precious family who deserves so much better...

I also recognize that I am moving at a hurried pace when there are signs of carelessness all around me, there is a lack of care for important details because I am hurrying to get things done and get to the NEXT thing...

So, this is bugging me and God and I have been talking about this...

I know I need to make a change...and God gave me an amazing TRUTH that He has been teaching me ever since and that TRUTH is that He has called me to live at the PACE of GRACE...

I can relate to the following-

"I love the biblical metaphor of walking with God. Yet I find myself running a lot. The danger is that I run ahead, not letting God set the pace. Sometimes the tempo can be fast, sometimes slow, demanding much patience. The important thing is that I am learning to move with God."
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-pace-of-grace-35171/#LCb7JBBadrOb18wQ.99

Let's start with some simple definitions...

What is pace? Pace is the rate of activity, progress, growth, performance, the tempo...

So... how would I describe the tempo of my life? Honestly, it is all over the place! Why? ...

read below...

Susan Muto states..."...there is always the danger of wanting to 'push ourselves beyond the pace of grace.'"
Read more at:http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-pace-of-grace-35171/#LCb7JBBadrOb18wQ.99

Because I push myself BEYOND the PACE of GRACE...

THAT is why I feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious...

But listen to this...THIS is what happens when we move at the PACE of GRACE-

"But when I move at the pace of grace, the gifts of God that are given in the moment determine both what I am to do and the speed of doing them."
Read more at: http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-pace-of-grace 35171/#phgR6COZ1AWOCVr0.99
 
I LOVE this.

Our lives have a tempo, they have a rhythm, and that rhythm should be determined by the One who created us and it should be based on TRUTH, God's TRUTH.

I am learning that the pace of my life needs to be directed by the TRUTH of GRACE.

The simplest definition of grace I can find is "unmerited favor"...

There are many things that have set the pace for my life, how about you?

Overall for me, my pace is set by the things I have learned, by my life experiences...

Such as- I must achieve things, I need to get things done... I need to get ahead to avoid discomfort (which is so ironic because the discomfort often comes when I try to GET AHEAD of God)...

If you were to ask me to be specific about what has set the pace for the majority of my life, I guess I would say- having "fun", pleasing others, having comfort, achieving goals; mostly school and work related, trying to keep my emotions under control; specifically my dealings with depression and anxiety, and trying to live my life as a Christian as best as I can...etc...And these can all be GOOD things...

But to say that GRACE has set the PACE for my life, well, I definitely cannot say that it has. 

To say that resting in the truth of God's unmerited favor has SET THE PACE for my life? No way.

One thing is for SURE, God never intended for us to live at a hurried pace, a pace that was driven by anxiety, by fear, insecurity, by the need to control...to name a few.

Our pace is driven by something...so... may I suggest that our pace should be driven by...GRACE?

What is the PACE of GRACE?

So this is my simple definition...The PACE of GRACE is when in our hearts, in our minds, and in our souls, we are SETTLED in the perfect grace of God.

I love words. And a word that I LOVE is SETTLED, my definition of settled? When I am settled, I feel at peace with God, with myself and with my world.

Letting GRACE set the PACE will help me to feel SETTLED no matter what is happening to me.

So, my commitment now, especially when I start to feel the anxiety, the pressure, the nervousness creep in, I will remind myself that the pace of my life must be set by the truth of GRACE.

When I do this, I will slow down; mentally and even physically if I need to, I will take deep breaths and I will remember what God's word says:

2 Corinthians 12:10:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you..."

Sufficient- let me place the definition of this word into what God says in His Word,

"My grace is sufficient (adequate for the purpose, enough to meet a need, plentiful, and satisfactory)- for you..."

and I will also remember that:

2 Corinthians 9:8:

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."


Again, another good word-abound-again, let me place the definition of this word into what God says in His Word,


"And God is able to make all grace abound (to occur or exist in great quantities, to flourish, to thrive, to be rich or well supplied, to be filled, to be plentiful, to overflow, and to run over...) towards you..."


And guess what? We don't have to DO anything to receive this grace, remember, it is unmerited? But, we DO have to accept it, open our arms and embrace it and let it move us at His pace...His PACE of GRACE.


I have learned that when I move at the PACE of GRACE I gain four important things-

1. Peace: I am saved by grace, I am good, I am taken care of, I am right with God, guaranteed Heaven and loved beyond measure, God is in control.

2. Perspective: Simple- God is BIG, I am SMALL, and HE HAS GOT ME IN HIS HANDS. 

3. Purpose: To LOVE GOD and LOVE PEOPLE.

4. Patience: For MYSELF, for OTHERS, and with GOD as sometimes the best thing I can do is NOTHING, to wait, to be STILL.

Last thing...Walking at the Pace of Grace is not some abstract concept, but about walking with a real person, Jesus, He IS GRACE, he is the embodiment of GRACE and when we walk with him, we find REST... read below...

 "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly." Mt 11: 28 – 30 MSG

Free and light living? I’ll take that over my hurried pace, ANYDAY!

Liz