Being Brave

“You wouldn’t be too terribly upset if I pawned off the littles, huh?”

This was a real life text message I sent the husband just yesterday. Take off the judgment glasses because we have all been there! As Ann Voskamp said, “Sometimes the bravest thing is showing up for your life everyday.” #Word

Anyways,it was ONE of those days! A day where overwhelming oppositions about shattered my calm place, and Mommy nearly came UNGLUED. I always use to pride myself on being patient, that was until I had my own children.

Should I tell you that my oldest was lacking in the sleep department, is fitting quite nicely in the outfit of the terrible 2’s, has the same number of major meltdown moments as there are hours in a day over the simplest of situations. Both boys have bronchitis, our youngest is teething, going through a major growth spurt, is in that ‘into everything’ stage, and seems to be a bit more on the emotional/clingy/ sensitive side this month….which translates into outbursts of his own. In this challenging season of Motherhood, where life is stretching me so thin that I am becoming anorexic in other areas that I’m passionate about.

Investing every moment of each day into my boy blessings I have no extra time or energy to fill my own bucket. Writing. Reading. Conversations. Connection. These are just a few things that make me come alive and feel like Shana…not Mommy. I matter. You matter. We have great and mighty purposes within us waiting to be exhaled to enrich others.

I came to this place recently one night. This place where sometimes you have to be raw with the realities of your life ~ scratching beyond the surface level of all your good intentions. As I quieted myself from all the chaos and calmed my mind to regroup my thoughts to hear His still, gentle whisper I asked for Him to start the process of stitching up the brokenness of my heart, during this season of what feels like climbing a mountain.

Opening the Word I knew Isaiah is where I would find comfort…turned to chapter 40 and began reading. I fell into verse 9 and stayed awhile. “Climb a high mountain, Zion. You’re the preacher of good news. Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem. You’re the preacher of good news. Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid! (The Message)

When negativity surrounds your circumstances/situations and you become a clanging voice trapped inside, there is always hope for transformation into the new. When you are in a ‘climbing the mountain’ type of season, just remember the words and comfort of Isaiah 40:9.

“The brave are the ones who trace the inside of their everyday wounds and don’t grow hard.”   ~Ann Voskamp

On the Wild Side

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On a recent Saturday morning jog, I began to notice the beautiful wildflowers that had started to bloom. Overnight, literally, these beauties came into view. I am a lover of all things beautiful and flowers are very high on my list. To much of my experience I have received these as a sign of love and admiration filled full in a vase of water. Yet, I started to think on ‘wildflowers’ as I was putting one foot in front of the other for the sake of health. I love the fact that these flowers are wild, meaning they were not intentionally seeded or planted. What made me savor these treasures even greater was they bloom in the most random, not on purpose kind of places. Wherever they land, they bloom beauty in the ordinary.

Pondering my own life, in that many days are ordinary and often times dull. With two littles under the age of 3, I tend to find myself following the same routines and schedules to make it through the day successfully. Mundane to say the least. Yet, this lesson of the ‘wildflowers’ comes to my mind and reminds me that there is beauty in each ordinary moment if I choose to bloom in the season of where I am planted. Dare I be….on the wild side!

Fashioning Joy

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Peace. Sparkling jewelry. Candles burning. Inviting atmosphere. A book. Crackling fire. Coffee. Befriending a cozy chair bundled up in a blanket. Vase full of lovely flowers. A rain storm.  Helping those in need. Watching my littles sleep.

What are these things, you ask? Just a few of my favorite things that I have fashioned into joy! Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Everyone finds peace in a variety of ways and in different things. I have come to find that there are many moments, ideas, experiences, expressions that cross my path daily in which I must gaze upon and give thanks to the Creator for them. In this gratitude is a journey that only leads to joy! I can’t begin to express in words how thrilling it is to shape these things into your own personal joy that only He can give! That is exactly what it is…a gift! To us. The Beloved who knows the inner most parts of our very being, the intricate weavings of what makes our heart beat wildly…these gifts are from Him!

He is the giver of all good things! We are surrounded in every day living with His goodness. It is when I slow down enough to unwrap all the amazing little gifts that He places before me in every moment that my heart overflows with gladness. Yet I wonder if it is really the gifts that bless me more or the instant joy I feel knowing that I am wildly loved enough to be lavished upon by my Husband! Immediately, thankfulness and gratitude fill my mouth and are spoken through the lips to Him who provides beauty in the beats of my heart. He knows exactly what provides me with joy as He alone fashioned me together in my mother’s womb.

In this toxic, stained world that also encompasses us, each day I choose joy. I decide to push forward beyond the hurt, pain and numbness that is open for my heart to accept and reach for joy in the small that I see to change the way I experience life and the world that spins around me.

What makes your heart happy and beat with pleasure? One of the greatest things about grasping this concept of fashioning your joy that I have found is that it keeps my mind always looking for the positive and finding the happy in all things at all times.

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

A Place of Quiet

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“Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  ~Mark 6:31

Staying heavily involved with family gatherings beginning in early November through the middle of January can leave me beyond exhaustion. I tend to let the stress of life gather inside until it begins to seep out in the healthiest ways. Trying to be extremely prepared ahead of time so that when the time comes, I can sit back and enjoy my loved ones and the experience itself has always been the plan. Unfortunately, my plan doesn’t always come into fruition. So, when I feel the heaviness of it all I must escape to my place of quiet!

When I have a cup of hot coffee in my hand I tend to relax and let go! In these seclusions of self, I make a cup of coffee and find a place to where I can regroup my soul. I tend to focus using this acronym:

C ~ Centered on Christ. My everything should be focused on Christ! My heart, mind, emotions, decisions, actions, behavior, etc… Remembering everything He did, does and will continue to do for me, shatters my overwhelment and brings my heart into a state of gratitude and thankfulness!

O ~ Ornaments. Adorn my soul with giving, kindness and love. “Your adornment must not be merely external~ putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” ~ 1 Peter 3: 3~4

F ~ Find pockets of peace. Letting peace be the umpire of my heart, no matter how overwhelmed I feel or how challenging the circumstances amount to. “The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.” ~ Numbers 6:25 ~ 26

F ~ Fullness of Life. In every stress filled event, finding fullness of life reminds me that He wants that for me! Do not let the enemy seep into my frustrations to steal, kill or destroy my joy, peace or happiness. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” ~John 10:10

E ~ Enjoyment. Taking the time to step away and regroup allows me to go into the season with enjoyment! Having my heart beating appreciation, thankfulness and gratitude instead of taking things for granted or having a bitter taste of obligation. “May the God of hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life ~ giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!’ ~Romans 15:13

E ~ Eliminate expectations. The holidays are wonderful opportunities where we want to exercise our control issues and put unspoken expectations on others to do what we want, how/when we want it done, etc… I’ve noticed in my own life that during the holidays I tend to eliminate any expectations of how I want certain things to go, and in doing this, I receive a great reward of peace! There can be extreme amounts of pressure during the holidays anyways, so why add more by having unrealisitic or unspoken expectations of others to follow. Instead extend grace and mercy with a dose of love!

Wishing you all a more balanced, healthy way of approaching the holiday season! Abundant blessing to you in 2014!

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

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Peering out the window and seeing the ground covered with a white blanket of…..ice!!!??? Beautiful and peaceful nonetheless. Yet, after 5 days of being locked in the house with my 2 energetic littles has left me jumping for joy for a 40 degree high today! I do enjoy the SLOW changes in seasons, but I am not a fan of the deep, hard cold….that’s why I live in TEXAS!!  That’s right people, haven’t graced the outside world in 120 hours!! Roads, driveways, overpasses all blanketed by hard, white ice. The highs have hovered below freezing keeping the white frozen.

Pre parenthood, this girl would have been a brave soul out there trying to get to what was next on my list of to dos. Now I cringe with the thought of my little people being out in that mess. #GoingStirCrazy It has made my usually ‘on to the next thing to get done’ personality slow down to a snail’s pace. Can be exceedingly painful for this task oriented, schedule planner person!!  I have been able to get myself into the holiday spirit by putting up all the Christmas decor, which may prove to be a hazard (we’ll talk about that a little later). I have made about as many firefighter, ambulance and police siren sounds as this MomMom can muster. I have had many cups of coffee, hot cocoa and seasonal flavored teas to help me get through these very cold days. I have been listening to Christmas music enjoying a slower paced way of life. I have wrapped gifts and tucked them under the tree (again we will brace this ‘Christmas tree’ subject very soon). Laundry has been caught up and the house seems a bit more put together than normal. Wishing any tranquility that I’ve been able to instill in our home would deeply settle into this soul of mine before I come unglued of being blocked in by these walls that seem to consume me!

 

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Yes, let’s talk about the Christmas tree. As you know, I have little people that make everything nice and lovely go higher up in the house, if not altogether put away. My 2 year old son is actually getting better about not getting into absolutely everything. It’s the ‘just turned 1 year old’ son that grieves me! He gets into anything that he can worm his hands around, pulls up on everything that  will/will not hold himup, puts everything in his mouth as he thinks all things are to enjoy by mouth. Well, actually, a lot of adults do that too…??  He is relentless. Insatiable.

My husband, aka Goff, and I have had the same conversation for over 2 weeks regarding whether or not we should put up the Christmas tree. Not because we didn’t want to  or that we were lazy, but because of the development state of each of our boys. We agreed to put the tree up, without decorations, and simply observe the littles. Again, my oldest has proven himself yet again by not really getting into it. He noticed it, asked about it and after being told about it…that was that. Every year he becomes more aware of what Christmas is and this year is going to be his best yet! The other little surprisingly did well. I gave him 48 hours before I decided to decorate the tree. Of course, while they were snug as a bug in their beds! This morning, of course, our oldest noticed it first. He said, ‘Christmas tree pretty!’ He walked around it a few times observing the ornaments with delight. The youngest stopped, looked at it, looked at me, smiled then DARTED towards it!!! You would think that he would be going for the limbs or ornaments, right?? No, this little boy went straight underneath for the cords!!!! Such a boy! So much so that I had to hide the cords within the tree, which proved grounds for a toddler tantrum. #NotGettingWhatHeWants  After about three screaming matches, distraction derailments, this MomMom resorted to hiding the cords within the tree and off the ground. Mission accomplished. Since the cords were gone, he went for the ornaments. So, the ornaments that were on the bottom have now inched their way up higher on the tree. Literally, the top half of the tree is decorated and very ornate while the bottom half is quite bare and dull.

I can’t imagine Christmas without a tree and desire my ‘beautiful mess’ of life to be normal, yet the little people always bring a different perspective in any and every situation!

A Setting for Two

This week in Proverbs 31 Ministries On line Bible Study, Renee Swope’s book A Confident Heart is my choice of topic. I dived into chapter 9 : When Doubt Whispers “I Can’t Stop Worrying.”  Boy did I find myself in the words written on the pages of this chapter.

One of the blog writing choices is ‘A Setting for Two’ ~ Share your favorite place to meet with Jesus for some alone time and tell us what sets it apart from other spaces in your home.

We live in a quaint two story home that houses many rooms. Yet each room does serve a purpose…the boys’ rooms, the media room, my husband’s work from home office, and the rooms continue to be named. I’m not really looking for a room to meet Him because His dwelling is within me, but I seek a calm, quiet space of time in which to enjoy His company. You see, I have 2 very small boys that wake up quite early and go non-stop until the sun goes down. I at times feel my alone time with God is intermingled with the chaos my ‘littles’ bring! On some days, I even feel as Renee Swope described it, ” …my God time seems like a drive thru instead of a 5 course meal.” Can I get an amen, young Mommas to the little people!

As I read the topics to choose to write on this week, I just began laughing as I read ‘A Setting for Two.’ God sure has a great sense of humor. This past weekend, I sold my ‘God chair’ as I called it. For the last decade it was where I would sit, drink my coffee, have conversation with the Lord, pray, cry, laugh and most definitely dream His visions for my life! I have many challenging and deep, yet beautiful memories in this chair as I’ve experienced a lot of ‘life’ during this past decade.

 

Meet my ‘God chair’…..

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During my times with Him, I would pretend an escape to a coffeehouse in Europe. One like this:

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Since He knit me together in my mother’s womb, knows every intricate detail of my heart’s desires (since He placed them there), He understands my need to do this. You see, I live in Texas, but my heart beats for Europe. So, I envision Him and I at a coffeehouse drinking our favorite lattes, spending time with each other, conversing hours on end with no other obligations other than to genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

 

How about you? Do you have a special place where you meet Him?

A Coffeehouse Chat

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Sitting across from a dear friend in a quaint and rustic local coffee shop, we drank our ‘pretty’ coffee while we chatted in efforts to catch up in each other’s lives. You know those special type of friendships that grace your life that even though you haven’t seen the person in four months, you can immediately enter their world without skipping a beat. Yes, she is one of those blessings to me!

Coffee and conversation was our idea. God, of course, had His own greater plan! I was very excited when I had this chance to meet up with her as we both have very full days! She teaches the ‘little people’ of 6 years old at a local elementary, and I am a stay at home Mommy of two very sweet energetic little boys ages 2 and 1 which the words ‘me time’ are very few and far between. So of course, when the grandparents came in town I jumped on the chance to be able to get away for a bit. I had never been to this coffeehouse before, so we chatted a bit about what to get. We spoke about my husband and little boys, her work and individual activities she is involved with.

Then it just got all crazy up in there! As if God pulled up a chair right alongside of us and joined us for the last bit of our time together.

You see, my friend and I are in different seasons of our lives. She is single, not dating anyone and immersed in her work. She is a beautiful, loyal, committed, dependable, witty woman of God that loves the Lord! Beyond smart and extremely hilarious. She has a servant’s heart and is a natural leader. Most of her days start early and end late. A great core group of friends from her church is where she lets loose! Deep days fill her life as she moves forward in the monotony of her long season. A heart that desires to beat wildly in the promises that He has given to her. Content with Him, yet discontent withe desires still unfulfilled within.

I live in a similar, yet different season. I am a wife to a wonderful man of 3 years, a Mommy to 2 precious boys that I take care of 24/7. I know parenthood is a sacrificial life, yet with my boys being so young this is definitely a season of MUCH self sacrifice for this Mommy! Can I get an amen from the other Mommys of the little people?? My days start early and seem to never end, even when I put my head to the pillow. My schedule is built around the needs of others. I am a body guard to my youngest and a referee during playtime. Lack of sleep has left me with the idea that it is highly overrated. The constant clutter in my brain as well as doing what seems to be a million things a second, I tend to slip in remembrance that His presence graces those moments.  I have to remind my soul to slow down enough to breathe Him in, rest in Him and talk with Him knowing that even in the midst of trying to find meaning in the monotony of daily motherhood, HE IS HERE! Deep days fill my life as I move forward in this long, yet rewarding season. The desire for my heart to beat wildly in His promises He grafted into my heart, long ago, to come into fruition. Realizing it won’t be during this season. In these deep days, I am reminded that not only is character being built but through them the desire to transition into the next season is birthed.

In our conversation of where we are in our personal lives, this is where God put down his latte and took over our agenda! Something tugged fiercely inside that I knew had to be shared with her. As I took off my ‘everything is just wonderful’ mask, I shared with her that I find myself at times now ‘idolizing’ my single season in the sense that I look at all the responsibilities I have now with not much freedom for myself and envy that time in my life when I had no responsibility to anyone else but to myself. Selfish, I know right!!?? I could come and go as I pleased, wake up when I wanted, go to bed when I was tired, take a nap when needed, run errands by myself and those errands were based on my wants and needs. Do you want to know the best part of that single season, the freedom in my time with the Lord!! If I was in the ‘flow’ of conversation with Him, I could literally sit for hours reading, praying, journaling, worshiping…those were some of the most special memories of that season! I had the time to commit myself to what/where I felt Him leading me. Discontentment also filled spaces in my heart that desired a husband and family to call my own during my blissful ‘single’ season. As I shared these things with her, it hit me that no matter what season you may find yourself living in right now, there is beautiful chaos. The joys and happiness. The challenges and struggles. My last thoughts to her, and myself, were simply these words, “Don’t glamoroize a season of life that you think will ‘complete’ you as a beautiful mess awaits you there too!”

‘Enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going.’ ~Joyce Meyer