Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Mom and God's Intimate Care

I came home from work the other day to find that my Mom had ventured into the abyss of my bedroom and vacuumed. First of all, my Mom and I are very close and she is one person that I usually don't mind- "seeing my mess", but let me tell you, every Tuesday and Thursday before she comes to my house, I CLOSE our bedroom door is a disaster. We have clothes everywhere, the kids like to sit on our bed and watch cartoons and yeah, they snack ON our bed, so we have popsicle wrappers, and we have bowls with crusted cereal and we have toys and books and little boy underwear and we have ALOT of dirt built-up on that carpet.

My problem with vacuuming upstairs it that:
1. the vacuum is heavy and I don't feel like dragging it up the stairs
(lame- but true)
2. I hate picking up clothes and hanging them up when I know they will be on the floor again in a few hours (my husband and I both struggle with this- doesn't it just seem like the step from clothes off to on the hanger is just PAINFUL, or is it just me?)...and obviously you can't vacuum a floor covered in clothes! :)
3. it is just not a priority

So when I came bedroom floor was not only vacuumed but scrubbed clean. And I thought about how so often, I feel the least amount of peace in that room (um, maybe because it is MESS, huh?) and when I walked into my bedroom, I took a deep breathe, I wanted to lay down on that nicely made bed, I looked at my clothes all neatly hung up and I felt like a little load was taken off...So what does this have to do with God? I will get back to that...

So- my Mom is AMAZING.

She watches my boys two days/week for me and she is always prepared. She brings them new activities, new foods to try out...She brings them my old books and reads them to my boys and I find out at bedtime that my son knows all about "Busy Town" and "Raggedy Anne and Andy" and it melts my heart...
Mom with the boys...
Mom and Benjamin

Mom and Lincoln

She takes my three year old to story time, she finds interesting local events to take him too...

Happy boy at storytime!

Everyday after school she has freshly popped (on the stove) popcorn ready in bowls for them.

And yes, my boys never wear shirts:)

She lets my boys be silly and then sends me pictures like this one- at work to show me how blessed I am!
Playing in the rain!

And this amazing woman- FOLDS my laundry and SCRUBS my carpet. For a working Mom, these kinds of things are just bountiful graces at the end of a long day at work...

And then she exceeded my expectations even entering the "dungeon" of my bedroom...
My Mom is such an example to me of a servant and of Christ.

God uses her to remind me that He cares about every detail of my life. He shows up in the small details (taking care of things that unnerve me, or meeting an unexpected need, or with an unexpected 30 minutes at the end of the day to sit alone and relax). And in every detail, He is showing me His love for me. My love language is acts of service. God knows that. There are certain things that need to be done and when someone does them for me, my heart overflows with love.

Grace is what I felt when I walked into my bedroom- grace is like that feeling of plopping down on a beautifully made bed that you did not make and walking on soft, clean carpet that you did not clean, after a long day of work...

Grace...will always be my favorite topic to blog about because it is the only thing in my life that I don't have to DO anything to RECEIVE. It is, by definition- unmerited favor...My Mom shows me this- all the time...

Happy (Almost) Mother's Day to my gracious and amazing Mama and thank you God for caring about all of the details in my life and in your grace, meeting my needs above and beyond all I could ever expect or imagine.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Be Kind to Yourself

It happened this week...I woke up with a migraine (never had one before) and felt pains in my chest. I took off work and did some serious time with the Lord. I asked for prayer from my #1 girls and I talked with my husband. I waited and prayed and I got the message that I had been hearing for months but not LISTENING to-

"You are getting ahead of me again Liz, you don't have to solve all of the problems in your life, stop, you need to trust me, just do what you can do and let me take care of the rest."

And then...I had to send out the e-mails I had been dreading- "I am so sorry for being three months behind on sending out the membership renewals. I have bitten off more than I can chew." "I am so sorry but I cannot take on that project this summer, please take my name off of the list of providers." "I'm sorry but I cannot continue pursuing this self-employment venture, it is just not the right time."

And I waited...I waited for words of disappointment, I waited for some tongue-lashing and some frustrations...but...they did not come (WHY did I think THEY WOULD?!)...because I am still learning about GRACE, because sometimes I believe the lie that I need to have it "all-together"...because I am still learning that God's grace is enough and that there are still people out there who are willing to offer ME grace even when my own choices have caused them a set-back...

These are the words I received from several different people-
"Be kind to yourself."

This is what I received from an e-mail that touched my heart so much:

"I'm so grateful for your time and effort! We both know it's such a juggle and a striving for balance for us to be a mom, a wife, maintain employment and volunteer. Family always comes first as far as I'm concerned. Love those boys of yours and then "do the rest." I hate to tell you, but you're NOT getting fired!!! ;-) You're a valuable piece to this puzzle. I'm looking forward to working with you for as long as we both can muster it! ;-)"

The message: I am valuable even when I am failing...
(what?... GRACE...!!!) 
And then I repented- Lord, you are so gracious to me! You have never given me a reason not to trust you. Forgive me for taking on so much- I give it back to you and I am taking a new step forward in trusting you and deepening my dependence on you..."
And this is what the Lord said to me- "I've been waiting for you child. Climb up on my lap and let me hold you for awhile. You are chasing after too much, I am here, no need to chase, no need to run, the only thing you need to do is let me hold you and then when you have received what I have to give, you can jump off and run along and keep serving me and loving your family and I am here, let me take care of you!"

There is a war out there for our souls...and sometimes we let the Enemy speak too much into our lives...Amen?

I had to remember who my Enemy is and what He does. He steals, kills and destroys. 
BUT... the battles in my life belong to God and He will fight for me, I need only to be STILL.

2 Chronicles 20:15
He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.'"
Exodus 14:14The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Be Kind and Be Still- The Lord is fighting for you!

Lots of love,

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

For My Mamas who Need Hope

She said- "In the depth of darkness- we need light. We need hope."
I had a reader send this to me...her cry for a post that would give her some hope-
I really admire her transparency and rawness-

"Anything for us less than perfect moms out there struggling? Some one take up the cause and write something for the overwhelmed mom, the mom with depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder... the moms battling chemical dependence or in struggles just to get by...Can you make one for the mom struggling to keep her head above water through divorce, mental illness, unemployment, struggling with doubt, self worth.... in the depths of darkness-we need light. We need hope."

We. Need. Hope.- Yes.We.Do,...and if in some way my posts ever sound like I even had a lick of anything "all-together or perfect"...

 I need to ensure you that this Mama is far, far, far from all of those things...
I just have an all-together perfect Savior...

Those three words (we need hope) are where it is at for me-most days-
I just need something to hold on to for hope.

I love Hebrews 6:19...
"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil."

I am very visual and I love the Vision of an Anchor-
...many days-
I can feel like I am on some rough waves
I cannot get myself still
I cannot find peace
I don't feel safe
I don't feel protected
I don't feel grounded

But- I can choose to cling, run to, abide, set my heart and mind and many times just fall at the feet of Christ and I can find Hope that ANCHORS my soul...not always, sometimes it takes awhile, sometimes I even need my sisters in Christ to pick me up and put me at His feet because I stubbornly am still trying to do things in my own way...

Amazing words- HOPE and ANCHOR...

H- Holding
O- Onto
P- Purpose
E- Eternal

A-  Abiding in the One who is Able
N-  Needing and Never Leaving
C-  Choosing to Cling and stay Close
H-  Hoping in Him who is Home
O-  Opening my Overwhelming to his Omnipresence
R-  Remaining Rooted

I don't know you
I don't know what your life is like from sun-up to sun-down.
I don't know the burdens you carry...but I love your heart, your authenticity, your willingness to be raw and real.
And I am glad that this space felt safe for you to do just that. Transparency is where to start...

I wish you could come to my house-with all of it's repairs needed to be done, and sit at my sticky (due to popsicle wrappers constantly being left on the table- that always have that little bit of goo left in the bottom...but- I digress...), messy table (sure to include Legos, probably little boy underwear, bills and many marker stains...)

...with my dog probably barking because he has to be crated when I have company because he will knock people over with kisses... running around and yelling- "Mooooommy!", overflowing laundry basket on the couch, dryer full with hamper NEXT to it FULL and the clutter of my crazy life all crammed into my sweet little home that never (I mean NEVER) is clean...

...and I would tell you that simply that you are... not good company- I would have a sign that read MESSES WELCOME, NO PERFECT PEOPLE HERE...

...and last but not least I would tell you that in your Mess, there is A MESSAGE.

Your life has a message that someone needs to hear.
Your story has details that only you can portray to the world to bring healing and truth.
We have an amazingly creative Creator who is an expert in brokenness and messy Mamas who feel lost and alone...

At this point in time, you might want to LEAVE my crazy house (ha!) due to the craziness, but I would offer you coffee and chocolate, send the kids and the dog outside and we would chat some more.

Hopefully- I would be able to encourage you just how others have encouraged me-

By giving you that knowing look when you describe your struggles.
By tearing up when you begin to share your pain.
By laughing at your crazy mess in life because laughter is good medicine. By helping you (because we are able to comfort those with the comfort we have received-2 Corinthians 1:3-7)...and this Mama has been comforted by the only Source-Jesus Christ MANY times in my own pits of distress and struggle.
By telling you that all of it, ALL OF IT, is not in vain, and that He can take your story, your mess, your struggle and bring a message for the world to do two things- that He will work it all out for YOUR GOOD and for HIS GLORY.

Sweet sister, I can look through your list of brokenness and identify with many of them; depression, alcohol abuse, doubting, is real for many of us...

For now- I just want to say thank you for your transparency because God is going to use your brokenness and turn it into something beautiful...I don't know what, I don't know how, but all I know is that He has done it for me and He can do it for qualifications needed, just neediness needed:) Neediness for Jesus. That is all that is needed.

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less than Jesus Blood and Righteousness...I have nothing else to put my hope on...

Lots of love to you sweet friend!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Confidence in Our Calling

I recently had a mama comment on one of my blog posts and I heard her...she was wanting to see more articles from Christian Working Moms who are confident and secure as a working mom and a Jesus girl.

Part of growing is being challenged. I hear what she is saying- it can get discouraging when all you read about is CWM's who miss their kids all day long, feel guilty about working or somehow feel like their lot in life is harder than other Moms. I hope I did not communicate that, but if I did, that's okay too- I write from where I am and my experience- I am not by any means an expert on this topic, it is just close to my heart. I ask God to use my words and I welcome comments that challenge them so that I can be sure to be well-balanced in my perspective. I want to encourage but I also want to BE encouraged and this comment encouraged me to think about things a bit differently.

My feelings, struggles and thoughts are mine and they are real but I am challenged by this sweet mama who wants to read more about a confident Christian Working Mama- who feels secure and peaceful in her calling and bold to be who she is and feels close to the Lord through this time. I need to read more about this woman as well and I need to maybe even embrace that I AM that woman, and walk in that confidence.

So hear goes-My name is Liz and I am a Vocational Evaluator. I work with people with disabilities and I absolutely love what I do. I help people find their skills, strengths and needs through assessment and counseling. I work in Vocational Rehabilitation and am very passionate about what I do. People with disabilities are image-bearers and God does not make mistakes and I get to advocate for and fight for these amazing people to find a place to contribute in this world and I am humbled by it. Everyone I work with wants to work and be useful- my clients never complain about working, they crave it and many of us can learn from them...

I never planned on going to graduate school and never thought I would be working FT. I always pictured myself as a stay at home Mom- but the truth is that I LOVE to work- I love to learn-I love the structure of work and I love the rewards that I gain mentally and emotionally as I serve my clients and grow as a professional.

I will say with confidence (and I might have to say it several times until it takes a hold of that part of me that doubts!), that I feel called by God to be a full-time working Mom outside the home-although PT is ideal! I am using the unique skills God has designed me with and I am able to help support my family. We have a lovely, little home that is ours that fits our needs right now with two growing little boys, we have cars that run and we have our needs met and we can give to others and serve. I know that my livelihood is a gift from God and not a curse. Maybe my self-doubts and struggles come from Christian culture- but I'm willing to address that head on by saying that the Gospel trumps culture any day. And the Gospel is ALL GRACE, ALL THE TIME, FOR EVERYONE. 

I can say with confidence that working outside the home as a Mom with children has propelled me to cling to Christ in an amazing way as I have grown in my prayer-life and in my trust in Him. Additionally-allowing others to care for my children has forced this introverted Mama to lean on the body of Christ more and to enjoy how God uses others to love on and teach my children. I know at the end of the day I am their mother but I love the village God has given me and believe that my children are all the better because of the many types of care and influence they have in their life.

Yes I struggle and have days where I feel like it is too hard, but I have no doubt that if I were a stay at home Mom, that I would have those same hard days and those same doubts and struggles because they are not a result of my situation, they are from within where I struggle to trust God at times and where I lack confidence and want to be "seen" as a good Mom...

But I want to respond to my commenter by taking a step in the direction of walking in the confidence of my calling both as a Mom and in the workplace. God Bless you sister.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Mom Code- We Belong to Each Other

Last night I went to Chick Fil-Et's family night, hubby had a meeting and I literally got my kids from the babysitters, went to the dry cleaners and crumbled into Chick Fil-Et. It was HEAVENLY and so full of opportunities to connect with other Moms. I saw at least three obviously working Moms, still dressed in their business attire.
One with three kiddos and one pregnant Mom with her little girl. We all gave each other those "knowing" looks.

One of them could not find a place to sit, so I invited her to sit with me. At first she declined and looked at me a bit strange but later on in the play area she listened intently as I spoke about church stuff with an old friend I ran into. How God was working in my life and although she was texting away, she paused and was watching me. On the way to the bathroom, she looked up and smiled and said, "Now it's ice cream time. Gotta love Chick Fil-Et!" Just a small moment- but sweet.

When we first got there, my son was discouraged because he never once got "the VIP pass" in school no matter how good he was and then he said he did not want to do that "stupid" T-shirt drawing (Chick Fil-Et was offering T-shirts made from your kids drawings for FREE/ how cool is that?) because he was "no good at art" (okay my heart breaking in two). And then after nuggets, ice cream and playing, he decided to try and another Mom admired my son's Minecraft artwork and showed her son and my son beamed with pride.

My three year old needed help in the play area and the older one helped him and was SUCH the proud big brother.

We left happy, full and encouraged. My crumbled state of being was now back in tact.

Then there was today... work was fine, came home, fell asleep- let my kids watch TV for an hour and a half so I could sleep, I NEEDED this sleep. It has been two nights of weird sleeping for everyone and I had a 10 hour work day on Tuesday and I was fried, I mean like "chicken-fried"...

I completely forgot to take my kid to baseball practice! Freaked out, threw everyone in the car, my 3 year old crying, my 7 years old crying, no one liked me at this moment. They were perfectly content to watch TV. I've been to this field many times, but for the life of me I could NOT remember how to get there. We drove around and around that neighborhood for like 15 minutes. My kids were like- "Seriously Mom, what is up with you?"

Finally got there and realized we left my kids baseball mitt at home as well as the ball for my 3 year old's T- ball that he entertains himself with while big brother plays ball. My failures were displayed for all the team and parents to see, by the way- hubby is the coach (way to go coaches wife!) as I arrived 20 minutes late my kid also being the ONLY kid in shorts and a T-shirt on a freezing cold day because I was rushing him to get dressed.
But then...sweet breathe of grace-- immediately a Mom I did not know yet sent her older son to the car to get an extra mitt,  and then someone had a ball for my son to play T-ball with and all the Mom's looked at me like they just KNEW and they laughed with me and were just AMAZING.  Moms ROCK. They just get each other and so KNOW how those days are and it is awesome.

I went to the park with my 3 year old and found myself pushing four children, three not my own on the swings and just delighting in their silliness, sweetness and fun- shouts of- "push me next!", "this is so awesome", "I love to go high!", "My dog likes eating ice" (random- but so cute)...etc... Their Moms waved thank you from across the parking lot. No need for words- just smiles and waves.

Moms out there- you ROCK. We know each other without even knowing each other, if that makes any sense? We have a common bond and I love you. I love how you fight through bad days to take care of your babies, I love how you see other Moms and immediately take their crying newborn and tell them to go ahead and eat first, I love how you are so tired ad irritable and yet you push up your work sleeves and sit down to trace your kids hands on a T-shirt, all the while they are wiping greasy chicken hands on your black work pants. I love how you take a deep breathe and smell their hair and kiss their cheeks and remember how precious these moments are.

That is all...good moments for me this week- thank you to all those Moms out there- you know who you are!