Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Love Yourself



"Jesus would love for us to see ourselves as a package deal of unique qualities."
Parenting a 3 year old is good for the soul folks. I tell you. Especially if you are also parenting tween/teens. 3 year old people tell you that you are fabulous. That you are pretty. That you are loved. They are genuinely excited to see you. You know, even at 1 AM.
Each morning when I dress the Peanut she runs to the full length mirror in my master bath and proclaims "I look AWESOME."
How many of us wake up and look in the mirror and proclaim we look awesome? That we are awesome?
In the wake of the self-esteem generation, we spend a lot of time praising our kids for the values we think are important. For being hard workers. For putting forth effort. For having good character. Praising actions. I'm hoping that helps them internalize them. I'm hoping that helps them weather bumpy times. I don't just tell them I think they are beautiful (you have a great smile when you are helping out a friend) - I tell them why. I don't just tell them I think they are smart - I point out specifics (you pushed through and read that whole chapter even though it was hard).
Because the thing is. It's hard to love YOURSELF.
It's interesting to me - at 3 years old, you think you are fabulous. At 12 and 14, I'm finding there is some realistic balancing - beginning to notice strengths versus weaknesses, their unique quirks or traits. In my 20s and 30s, I was so hard on myself. And in your 40's - I think I may be returning to my 3 year old self. Slowly. VERY slowly. Beware, at the rate I'm going, by my 70s I'm going to be the old lady with no filter 
As mom people, I think we are naturally our own toughest critics. We lay in bed at night replaying those moments, those conversations when we should have said or done something different. We are occasionally bit by the green eyed monster and rethink our pony tail and yoga pants. We alternate dusting off and hiding the bathroom scale.
39 And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ Matthew 22:39
See that verse ASSUMES you love YOURSELF.
I think many of us are out there trying to love others but we've neglected the very core of that verse. Love YOURSELF.
Having a poor self image HINDERS what He has planned for us.
Mama Warriors as you wake this morning, and muddle through your cup of caffeine, I encourage you to love YOURSELF. Acknowledge that you are perfectly and wonderfully made. You are not defined by the number on the scale, the bad hair day moments, the fashion challenges. You are defined by HIM. IN HIM. Our focus has to be following Him. And to hold His commandments, we have to begin by loving ourselves. Just as we tell our kids how awesome they are, we have to embrace our own awesomeness.
The children sing "Jesus loves the little children" - that's all of them. You too. Me too. We should walk around embracing the idea that we are worthy of love. Just the way we are. And think of how much more you can love others when you begin with a full well?


Waiting

"God please let me experience the goodness of your glory."
I occasionally am in the right frame of mind to find God just a wee bit funny. A good sense of humor He has (that sounds yoda-sh?).
The Peanut has slept even less than usual the last two nights. She woke this morning (I use the term "woke" very loosely). She asked me what today is and I told her "Sunday."
"Mama - it's MY church day."
You see a few days a week we drop the big kids off at the church for a variety of things - youth functions, academic classes, etc. Sunday is "MY church day" - she knows it's the day that her class meets.
I did NOT feel like going today. The big kids always go so I knew there would be some sort of taxi duty needed. Peanut was insistent - "Mama - It's MY church day." Cue mom guilt, and quick mom shower and I hauled us to church.
By the time Xman and I made to the sanctuary, we had to be seated by the usher. And guess where the two available seats were? You got it - right up front. You know -where you feel like the preacher is talking to you? Directly.
He opened service today with a time of prayer - asking us to just be still for a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to be with us. I did. I repeated the same prayer I've been praying for a while now - I need to HEAR Him speak to me. I know I shouldn't. But I do. I need to hear words about healing. I'd like an email, snail mail, sky writing - something. I desperately prayed that He would speak to me.
Cue sense of humor - today's message was on being patient. WAITING.
Seriously? I pray for words of wisdom and there they are. Be patient. Wait. I heard them loud and clear (remember, I'm on row two today). He spoke to them to ME. I know it.
Because I asked. You have not, because you ask not.
It doesn't say in the Bible, you get what you want. (That's a good song though right, you can't always get what you want.....) It does say, you have not because you ask not.
The preacher talked today about the difficulty of God's timing. How His timing is not our timing. And really, that's the crux of my problem right? There's no date on my google calendar marked for when the madness will really be gone. No calendar alert for all the other big things I'm praying about. For me. And for you.
But He reminded me this morning- you don't move until you hear the Holy Spirit. Because, if you move first -it's your will. And we want His will. Or, some days, we want to want His will (just keeping it real).
When we wait on His timing, sometimes He forces us to become dependent upon Him.
The other nugget I almost missed this morning (anytime I can see the interpreter, I will confess, I have a hard time paying attention - she's down right fascinating) is this:
"The whole of Christian life is becoming what God already declared you to be."
While we wait, He's still moving. And if we aren't careful, we will be so busy waiting on this one thing that we will miss it. We will miss the journey.
Mama Warriors, as you prepare for another busy week (aren't they all lately?) - don't miss the journey. I know it's cliche for mama folks to say "it goes by so fast" but it does. And I know it's impossible to truly enjoy and soak up every moment, but I do think we should try. Give ourselves grace for the moments we don't, but our goal shouldn't be to survive the day while we wait for a season to pass. It should be to SAVOR the days before the season passes to quickly.
Don't be so busy doing right with your kids that you miss the journey of enjoying them. He's moving in the waiting. You just have to look.


Expect to Experience Him

"I ask God to help me live in expectation of experiencing Him; therefore I do."
I've been thinking a lot lately about prayer. I'm diligently praying a huge list of prayers every day, and I feel like they are all evaporating.
I realized that I stay in 9-1-1 prayer mode. I'm in it daily. Desperate pleas for help. Fix this. Change this. Restore this.
Turns out prayer doesn't work like a vending machine. God is not a vending machine. You can't put your problem in and expect the answer to quickly drop down, ready for you to embrace. Often, I bet you are like me, we put the problem in, and then stand there like a crazy person beating on the machine, crying out - "Why is nothing coming out?" I'm doing all the right things.
My devotion this morning compared our relationship with God not as a vending machine one, but rather like an old friend. When we tell an old friend our problem, they talk through it with us. They walk through the trial with us. They offer wisdom. Guidance. But a good friend just doesn't fix it for you.
You see I'm finding that I hover in this dangerous place where my prayers are becoming what I WANT from God, rather than asking God for more of himself.
9 “So here is what I say to you. Ask, and it will be given to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. 10 Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find. And the door will be opened to the one who knocks." Luke 11:9- 10
That's a deceiving read for many.
"But asking, seeking, and knocking aren't secret formulas for getting what we want FROM God; they're ways to get more OF God."
If healing doesn't come, if restoration doesn't come, if the chaos continues, His presence is enough. His purpose is enough.
I should be begging, pleading, asking, seeking and knocking for MORE of Him.
One of my many 9-1-1 prayers over the last few months is for the salvation of our Princess. In my desperate beating the vending machine days, I've realized that I've prayed for Him to draw her closer. I've prayed for her to accept Him and be brave enough to take that next step. But I've not prayed for her to EXPERIENCE Him.
And isn't that what it's truly going to take? Her being slowly drawn to Him. Her realizing that the little hurdles in her day, or the big hills, are reminders to draw nearer to Him.
Mama Warriors, I think we are all waiting on God for something. Maybe it's a tiny prayer, maybe it's a huge 9-1-1 prayer. We have to be cautious. We have to pray that even IF the vending machine never spits out our prayer answers, that He is enough. Even if healing or restoration or wisdom doesn't come - His presence is enough. His purpose is enough.
I challenge you today to live in expectation of experiencing Him. Expect Him to show up today. Expect it. And, you will experience Him.

Surrendered

"Great people do not do great things. God does great things through SURRENDERED people."
So it seems this high school thing is real. I went this morning to a "Transcript Meeting" to learn all about what the Princess needs to graduate from high school and get into college. I looked around at one point to all the moms frantically taking notes (for the record, I did write a few things down) and thought someone should say "Just take a deep breath."
As we walk these next 4 years with the Princess, I want us to be knowledgeable and prepared. I want to understand all the T's that need to be crossed, and the I's that need to be dotted. I want her to have OPTIONS. Education provides options and opportunities.
BUT I never want to loose sight of putting first prayerfully considering what God has in store for her. I want us to explore her strengths and weaknesses, her gifts and talents, her interests and aspirations.
"No unique purpose for your life will fill your soul. The only thing that will fulfill and settle your soul is God himself."
As we take these college prep classes, I don't want to be so focused on what she *might* choose 4 years from now that she misses how God can use her HERE and NOW. I want to leave room for shelving books at the library, for loving on preschoolers at church, for building relationships with friends and family.
1 Corinthians 2: 9 It is written that
“no eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and no human mind has known.” (Isaiah 64:4)
God has prepared these things for those who love him.
I think this area of high school is one where us parents have the opportunity to get a wee bit crazy. We compare what we see other families doing, classes their kids are taking, opportunities. We push our kids, or support decisions they make, that may not be in their best interest as a KID.
Comparison robs us of the joy of obedience.
What God has called me to do with each of my children may not be what God has called you to do. If I give my kids the impression that there is ANYTHING more important than knowing Him and following Him, I'm wrong.
Mama Warriors, THIS is where it gets real. Those of us with teenagers. This is when we really model how we stop in prayer before we make all these big decisions. Are Honors classes the right fit? Should we add an extra curricular? How is our time best spent? NOW is when we model how we go to Him in prayer and we WAIT for the spirit to move in us. We WAIT for answers.
We can't possibly know it all. Right now, my Princess wants to be a mental health therapist. Psychology and all things of the brain fascinate her. She reads scholarly articles for pleasure on those topics. I don't know for sure what God will call her to in 4 years. My part isn't to know - it's to TRUST that He has a great plan for her IF I just guide her with the wisdom to WAIT on Him.
I challenge you to not get caught up in making the perfect plan for high school (or middle school or elementary school or preschool). I challenge you to stop and ask Him in prayer. Surrender the details of your life to Him. It will be worth it.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Chosen

"God is close, and if I choose to be close back, He'll rearrange my feelings."
As the mom of a middle and high schooler this year, we are journeying that season of finding yourself. Experimenting with clothes, hair styles, make up.
I vaguely remember my high school days. I spent most of my time trying to be one of the "CHOSEN." Oddly enough, I wanted to be chosen by those who were different. And spent a lot of time trying to become different. Look different. Act different. Be different. The funny thing about teenagers trying to be different is you end up with a large crowd of people who look the same - thrift store jeans, statement t-shirts, flannel shirts tied around their waist, combat boots from the army surplus store (I couldn't find a picture of me in my "normal" wear).
I think most of us keep a piece of wanting to be "chosen" throughout our life. I've seen some ugly mama discussions over who became room mom or team mom. Some vague-booking over who wasn't invited to this or that. We all want to feel wanted.
We've already been CHOSEN. Each of us. All of us.
12 You are God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient. Col 3:12
He's already picked me. I'm one of the cool kids. The cool moms. I'm in the "in crowd." And being chosen by Him should be the ONLY concern of mine.
But so are you. You are chosen by Him too. Because unlike the terrorizing PE days of my youth, he's not exclusive. He's not limiting.
And sometimes that makes being "chosen" here on earth tough. Honestly, the church is one of the places with severe clique problems. The church can cause more ugly "I want to be picked" behavior than anywhere else. We attend a huge church. And thus it is inevitable that there are smaller cliques within it. I don't at all think these people are trying to be excluding or ugly. But I think if you aren't mature in your faith, in your relationship with Him, that you can most certainly think that being in the clique is important.
19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you like one of its own. But you do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19
Sometimes we feel like maybe He has chosen us but not for the fun carousel ride, but rather the terrible roller coaster. In these moments we have to be intentional - we have chose with our minds to draw ourselves closer to Him. Our emotions will follow.
You see the thing is emotions can betray reality. Wanting to be chosen so bad that you get your feelings hurt, can alter the way you see what is really happening. This is true in all relationships - including ours with Jesus.
Mama Warriors, that first quote is so powerful "God is close, and if I CHOOSE to be close back, He'll rearrange my feelings."
You are one of his CHOSEN.
"Who are the people who have respect for the Lord?
God will teach them the ways they should choose." Psalm 25:12
CHOOSE Him back.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Welcome to my Mess

"I am not equipped to handle what they have - both bad and good."
There is nothing like a weekend pity party and down time to scroll facebook to cause the green eyed monster to begin to roar.
As I sat at home this weekend, in gastro madness, I got to "watch" how *everyone* else was out. Eating things that look fabulous- things I haven't even considered eating in years. Adventuring with their family. Taking adorable group selfies of all the "fun" they were having.
I stepped away from that world to watch Big Bang Theory. Guaranteed to cheer up the nerd dork that I am. As we watched, the Princess and I decided we adored Howard and Bernadette's living room. Pretty grey walls. Beautiful couch with adorable colorful throw pillows. A coffee table. It is precious. Seriously.

You see once the green eyed monster of comparison has risen her ugly head, she's hard to extinguish.
I woke this morning and looked around my own living room. There are blankets strewn all over our partially hand me down, partially bought on clearance mismatched couches. Those couches hold my family. Those blankets are a sign that we like to snuggle in, all together. There is no coffee table - that left when we had our first crawler and it became a source of more "boo boos" than pleasure. Now, we have a soft, rounded edge ottoman that can be used for board games but mostly stays tucked to the side so Peanut has plenty of room to build tall castles with Daddy each night. There is usually laundry on my couch - mostly folded. For my big kids know that folding a load of laundry means they get to pick what is on the TV. I'm not above bribery. A huge piece of drawing paper stays out - a place for everyone to doodle. And toys, well, what's a living room floor without emergency princess supplies - we usually have wings, a wand and a tiara at minimum.
I'm not equipped to handle a fancy living room. Trust me. I've met me. We LIVE in our home. Everything about our home says we live here - we school here, we fellowship here, we rest here. We use it. To it's fullest. 24/7/365. I don't fuss about sippy cups on my couches or crumbs on my floor. It's not in me (if you've met my mother, it should be - but it's not  - her domestic goddess skills just skipped me).
My devotion read this morning challenged me to say to myself "I am not equipped to handle what they have- both bad and good."
I don't know the back stories of every awesome fb picture I see. I don't see the struggles behind the happy date night picture. I don't see the past - just a glimpse of a posed moment.
I am only equipped to carry MY good, MY bad, My victories, MY burdens.
I'm only equipped to be ME.
28 “Come to me, all you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. 29 Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls. 30 Serving me is easy, and my load is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
"My load is light" - I've been pondering that this morning because let's face it, some days my load feels anything BUT light.
I'm thinking if it feels heavy, I'm not carrying it right. I didn't lay it down at the cross in prayer - I'm toting it around. Dragging it. Or often just being swallowed by it while sitting on my mismatched, blanket covered couches.
Mama Warriors, the world of comparison is so easy for us. It's right there. It's me in my wrong size yoga pants, messy pony tail (and not that cute purposeful kind) standing in the Kroger wearing a fake smile trying to figure out how everyone else can throw on leggings and look WAY better than I do? It's me in my house trying to figure out why our home looks so..........lived in while everyone else seems to have had Chip and Joanna over recently? It's me feeding my kids the store bought rotissiere chicken and trying to figure out how everyone else has time to actually make Pinterest meals AND their kids eat them willingly?
It's so easy to berate ourselves. Because truth is hard to believe when you've lived years with the green eyed monster. You are equipped to be YOU. You were chosen to be you. Hand picked, fearfully and wonderfully made. You are equipped to carry your good, your bad, your victories, your burdens. They are YOURS. You want what HE wants you to have - you want what you are equipped for. Messy living room and all! 


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Savor

"Seeking with all of your heart requires more than just the routine Christian good girl checklist."
Enough.
I think moms spend the majority of the early mom years chasing this elusive "enough." It's always just out of reach.
I would be happier, more fulfilled if only ______________.
The answer to that blank is our elusive enough.
I think what you fill in that blank with is your idol. If you would be happier with more money, your idol is materialism. If you would be happier if your relationships were better, your idol is what others think of you.
We have to replace that blank with His truth.
Our "enough" has to be our relationship with Jesus. Has to be.
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Col 3:12
"I must continue to pursue truth that keeps me grounded and God's love that keeps me filled."
Truth that keeps me grounded. Love that keeps me filled.
We have to CHOOSE to live in the moment WITH God. Here and now. Now waiting for our elusive enough.
My word for 2016 is "Savor." I'm choosing to be grateful every day for my enough. For my here and now.
Mama Warriors, We are just a few weeks into the school year here, and just starting to really kick into the depth of our curriculum. And I'm already feeling the stress of that. The need to be "enough" for my kids - as their mom, their teacher, their taxi driver. If my "enough" lies in my kids, we are going to always have a rough time. So much pressure for a kid to be my "enough." My enough must come from Him. My well must be filled from Him. I must model for my kids that they are enough IN Him.