A few months ago I had the privilege of being asked to write a review for a book by Shannon Upton entitled, Building Your Home: A Faithful Mom’s Guide to Organizing Home and Family. I love a good book on organization. I feel like it has been my life’s goal since my first born took… Continue reading My First Book Review
Category: Just for Fun
Shake it UP
I finally did what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I didn’t bring work home and I spent some beautiful moments thoroughly enjoying my kids. We spent the evening together without homework, work, or chores. The best, most enjoyable thing was dancing. Seeing my little girls’ faces light up while I danced like… Continue reading Shake it UP
It’s In A Box…Somewhere
My mom ’s garage is packed almost to the ceiling with all my belongings. I thought when we were loading them in that there was some sort of organizational plan. Yeah…nope. There might have been, but I’ve messed it up with all my digging and moving and climbing around the mounds of stuff! And I… Continue reading It’s In A Box…Somewhere
Day 5 – What Will the Neighbors Think?
I have often joked that wherever we go, we are kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies. I should just blare that music from our car when we enter the neighborhood. I’m looking for a house right now. I think maybe we should move out into the country! We are loud and busy and just a… Continue reading Day 5 – What Will the Neighbors Think?
Enough to be Happy and Healthy
Last evening I had the pleasure of sitting with an eighty-three year old gentleman at a church dinner in the fellowship hall of a lovely little Baptist church. He was so sweet and kind. A fellow that clearly had worked hard all his life. He told me about his grandchildren and attending the dedication… Continue reading Enough to be Happy and Healthy
A Serious Love of Honey at MomLifeToday
Just wanted to share this post with you from MomLifeToday. I hope you are encouraged that no matter your struggle, Jesus will and can be your strength. No reason to fear. No reason to fuss. No reason to sigh. Jesus will truly give us all we need to do all He has called us to do!
An empty white page. Beautiful. I love it…the potential, the wonder at what God is going to show me…open up to me as I write. Often I sit down at my computer with the intention of sharing a difficulty or struggle that God is bringing me through, but today I decided I just want to write. To share life.
This past weekend I started an organization project. I thought it would take about 4 hours…oh my goodness did I underestimate! I’m on hour 47 and there is more to be done…how is that possible?
My projects always ooze into other things and before I know it I’ve created complete chaos. I once saw a t-shirt that said, “Chaos, Madness, Mayhem…My Work Here Is Done” – I should have that t-shirt. Actually I think I should get that shirt for me and my children…we are excellent mess-makers.
I need to finish this project. I can’t work in mess…I need clutter-free zones. Clutter takes me to bad places…like duck and cover mama’s gonna blow places. But I found a corner that is uncluttered and my children are all busy or sleeping, so I decided to ponder things…not sure what things yet. This is kind of stream of consciousness blogging…might be disastrous.
I’m sitting in my favorite chair, Bible and laptop beside me, with a cooling down cup of coffee and hot cocoa (Yum!) on the windowsill next to me and praise music filling my ears. And I’m realizing how much I need this moment. This clutter-free, no to-do list moment.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Life is cluttered in my head, in my heart, and in my home. There is so much to think about, feel, and do. If I just had more time to work through my thoughts, quietly ponder the Word, finish my projects… Sometimes the lack of time in my day is astonishing to me. I wake up with such hope for what I will accomplish, only to go to bed disappointed by a day spent in constant motion with very little to show for it.
Wanna know something funny? When I typed that last sentence I typed “constant emotion”
Hmmmm, I wonder…
I wonder if I might want to consider that a bit more. Constant emotion. I feel like that might describe me well. I do feel like I’m in constant emotion. I’m always feeling something…well, I guess we all are always feeling something. God made us in His image…He feels therefore we do too!
And these emotions aren’t bad, necessarily. It’s just that mine tend to swing all over the place and I tend to be ruled by them. I range from feelings of peace and acceptance to anxiety and confusion, anger to forgiveness, frustration to understanding, loneliness to longing for solitude, regret to trust, hope to fear…the list could go on and on…and amazingly I could probably feel all those emotions in a day…any day.
Oh my goodness I AM in a state of constant emotion… I’d like these God-given emotions to display Christ’s character…not my craziness.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
This week I’m waiting to hear about a job I’ve applied for…I thought I would have known by now, but I trust God’s timing. It’s been interesting how the waiting process has gone for me. At first I felt such desperation to get the job…it seemed like the perfect fit for our family. Then I decided maybe it wouldn’t be as easy a transition as I thought and I was okay if it didn’t happen. And then I went back to the hoping hoping hoping I’d get it. And each day for the past month or more has been a variation on the theme of hoping, desperately wishing, indifference, fear, or any other number of emotions. Today, I feel such peace as I wait. It would be a nice fit to be sure, but if it isn’t God’s perfect fit why would I want it? It is in His hands, not mine. Thankfully. And as I ponder not getting it I wonder what God’s perfect plan is…how in the world are the needs of my children going to be met? I know He is aware and cares about each of them more than I can even comprehend so I’m sure the plan will be good. (But oh do I wanna know what the plan is!)
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
And I again I come back to what God keeps reminding me…His good might not look like my good. His good might be more challenges and more struggles…but in His hands those challenges and struggles would be just what we need to grow in our faith and in our love of Him and each other. I know that, but oh how I pray that is not God’s plan for us.
Sometimes I can really “get” things in my head, but my heart struggles. You know…those dang emotions. I wrestle with feeling like I need to fix things…I need to make things happen…I just need this and I’ll feel better…my child just needs this and they’ll feel better…
Most of the time my emotions are centered on my circumstances, my situation, my environment…I’m easily swayed emotionally by things not going as I planned…my house not looking as I hoped…my children not doing what I asked…wow, it is all about me isn’t it?
But you know, sometimes life seems really hard. There hasn’t been a time in the past few years without some struggle going on. My prayer partner and I pray each year for an uneventful year. So far, not so much. We seem to go from one crisis, tragedy, and struggle to the next.
But I can see that those difficult things, although overwhelming at times, do not represent my life. Just as my state of constant emotions does not need to be my identity. My identity is in Christ. I want to be defined by Christ.
Remember that story of Jesus calming the storm? He was asleep in the boat while the disciples freaked out. In the past, I’ve wondered why He was asleep…it seems odd, maybe even a bit callous to the fear of the disciples. But I wonder if the reason might be to show us how much we can trust the Lord in the storm. Jesus was so confident in the Father’s care, he slept through the raging winds and crashing waves. He rested in the care of the Father while the storm raged on.
I wanna be like that. I want to calmly be with my Lord as the storm rages on around me.
I know I’m blessed even in the storm. I can see it as clearly as I can see the clutter in my office. The blessing of time spent with my children around the fire pit reading a great novel together. The blessing of dinner out with my girlfriends to celebrate a birthday. The blessing of a neighbor dropping off cookies just to love on us. The blessing of neighbors who invite my little girls over for dinner just for fun. The blessing of a sister who laughs at all my jokes. The blessing of hot coffee and cocoa in the morning. The blessing of a comfortable house. The blessing of family and friends who love me. The blessing of His word spread before me each day.
This week we had more rain than I can ever remember and my backyard became a rippling creek or I might even call it a small river…there was water everywhere in pools up to 6 inches deep. Our little English basement drain decided it was done draining and I feared a wet basement episode. I went out in my daughter’s rain boots and tried to figure out how to divert some of the water cascading through my yard…honestly, I was laughing most of the time. It was nuts!
Sometimes those moments when things are just ridiculously awful, I can smile more than at the little annoyances of life.
I even laughed when I slipped holding the bucket my kids had filled with “puppy presents” and forgotten to put in the trash…it was the most disgusting bucket of “water” you can imagine. I was carrying it back to the woods and unfortunately I slipped. The bucket and I had a face to face experience I would prefer never reliving! After my initial holler of “YUCK!!!!” I ran laughing to the sink to pour the hottest water possible all over my face…I seriously wanted to dip myself in bleach or Purell or something! Icky!
Splashing poop water all over myself kinda put the whole backyard experience in perspective for me. I could angrily stomp around in the pools and puddles and fuss about the mess (and the poop water), or I could splash around laughing at the absurdity of it all.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Adding to the silliness of the afternoon, my littlest daughter was outside sledding (yes sledding) down the muddy hill into the huge puddles. She was covered in mud…just like our two labs (so you can imagine what my house looks like…). It was pure joy! Pure muddy, filthy joy!
Sometimes I miss participating in the joy-filled moments because I’m so busy doing…dare I say, so busy fussing. I wish I could remember that I NEVER regret stopping work to enjoy my children. NEVER.
Today I’m determined to finish my project so that I can spend time tonight playing…maybe we’ll even splash in the mud again. I foresee it still being there. The trick is going to be letting myself look past the clutter in my house – to put aside the clutter of thoughts in my head – to overlook the clutter of feelings that overwhelm…and focus on the simplicity of time spent with my children.
That is easier said than done, but I believe God will honor my desire to serve Him through loving my children…investing in them not just their surroundings.
And I think focusing on the beautiful blessing of my children will really help with my mess of emotions…maybe I can change my constant state of emotion into something positive…something that is more a reflection of Christ than me.
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered. 1 Chronicles 16:10-12
I was very tired the night before and I didn’t set my alarm. After all, I have two alarm clocks ages 6 and 7. They are relentless in their early morning wake ups. And although, they did wake me up briefly, they just went and played. Beautiful!
I woke later than I’ve slept in years. I thanked God for rest and began what was to be a great day.
My oldest daughter was downstairs with the dogs watching TV – and yes, the dogs were watching TV too. Honestly – all the “children” in my house are enamored by any kind of screen!
As soon as I entered the kitchen, she shut off the TV and we planned breakfast. We discussed making breakfast in bed for the boys, but decided we just wanted to get the day started! The boys dragged themselves downstairs shortly thereafter and we got our day moving…with chocolate chip pancakes and oatmeal with all the fixings.
Emma and I ran out to pick up a couple of things including a soda for everyone. Soda is a treat now. We have been trying to lessen our sugar intake – no easy feat.
The rest of our day was spent outside working on the yard together. Music blaring, sun shining, and dogs romping. It was just perfect…except for 1 snake, 2 black widows, 1 brown recluse, lots of doggie landmines, and the task of filling 28 bags with leaves!
But the yard looks great! And the soda tasted wonderful…although we all ended the day with headaches – either from dehydration or sugar…or both.
We enjoyed dinner on the patio and a family devotional around the fire pit roasting marshmallows. (When we go back to sugar, we go back big!)
This day was such a blessing especially in light of previous week which had been a little challenging at times. It included but was not limited to sick children and an overflowing toilet which poured nasty water down into the kitchen. (I will say that my house is now very well disinfected, but yuck!!!)
This near perfect day reminded me of how I’m so easily impacted by my circumstances…whether they are good or bad.
My kids noticed my happy attitude that lovely day. My son asked if I could sleep in everyday because I was so much less stressed. My oldest daughter said, “Well, maybe it was because we were actually really helping mom today.” I laughed and said, “I think it was a little bit of both.”
But I don’t want my emotions and attitude to be dependent on my children’s obedience or my sleep habits or anything else for that matter.
Lately God keeps bringing me to the book of Colossians – particularly 3:12-15
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgive you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Those verses don’t only describe who I am, but how I want to be.
I am – chosen, holy, beloved.
I want to be – compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forbearing, forgiving, loving, peaceful and thankful.
So how do I do that? Even on a bad day?
It struck me that Colossians is a letter written by Paul, a prisoner, to share the secret of contentment and fulfillment with the church at Colossae – people who were in a much better situation than he was. Isn’t that amazing!
I really love Paul’s perspective on things. I love that he doesn’t offer Christian platitudes or a “name-it-claim-it” mentality or even a “do-good–or-else” mindset.
He shares often how difficult life can be. In fact in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 he shares how he was to the point of giving up.
For we do not want you to be ignorant brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10
He doesn’t sugar coat the challenge of living a life of commitment to Christ.
he also tells what is possible in this life of being a Christ follower… what we are called to…
I’d say the one word Paul uses a lot…the word he calls us to is JOY
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
As I typed that verse do you know what hit me? That it wasn’t “Rejoice!!!” That’s how I would have written it. But my teenage daughter tells me I use too many exclamation points – so maybe it’s just me?!
It’s one of those words which begs for exclamation points, especially when it’s an imperative. But maybe the reason he doesn’t add the excitement is because it is supposed to be a way of life not a cheer leading competition.
After all, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 he says, “Rejoice always”. Amazingly, this joy thing is supposed to be an all-the-time thing. Imagine that? Honestly, I can’t…but then again, I can.
I can because like I said before – there is a lot to be joyful about isn’t there!
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances,for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
That day was a joyful day. I think every day should be a joyful day.
I’m not talking about being happy – I’m talking about joy.
Happy is hard…at least for me because it is based on my circumstances, what I feel.
Joy is another matter….joy is not about what I feel; it’s about what I know.
So what do I know…
I have an eternal inheritance and hope.
Nothing can separate me from Him.
I’m a new creature in Christ now.
I’m more than a conqueror.
I’m beloved and precious.
I’m forgiven and holy.
I’m those things on a good day and a bad day.
I’m blessed no matter the circumstances of my day.
I was blessed the day we enjoyed sunshine and sleeping late.
And, although I can’t believe I’m saying it, I was blessed the day the toilet leaked all over the place.
Even though it was disgusting with a capital D, we did laugh, my bathroom and kitchen were cleaned…seriously cleaned, and we all worked together well. Those are all good things.
But even if we had not laughed but rather fought and yelled and despaired, I’d still be blessed because God is my God.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved with various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3-7
sensory issues, socks, and serious stuff
So the other morning, my youngest daughter decided to completely fall apart about socks. To say it was a disaster is putting it mildly. About 5 minutes into the exchange, I realized that I was acting more immature than my 6 year old. I wasn’t sure how to stop the spiral, so unfortunately….I didn’t. I… Continue reading sensory issues, socks, and serious stuff
Tonight we dragged our tree out…well, I should say my oldest son and his friend dragged it out…leaving a trail of needles and water behind. Contributing to the messiness of my floor.
Today my floor has been an issue.
A neighbor stopped by unexpectedly. As we stood in my kitchen all I could think about was all the stuff out, the general disarray of our home at that moment, and all the crumbs and such all over the floor,
I desperately wanted to ask her to leave and come back in 20 minutes.
But oh did I want to.
I was trying to pick up things unobtrusively…sneak things off the counter, put things in the sink, push things into drawers, pick up a larger crumb on the floor. I’m sure she could see my furtive attempts to clear the clutter.
I don’t know this neighbor well so she rarely sees the inside of my house. But I believe I can safely say that EVERY time she stops by some sort of tornado has struck…well, 6 tornados – me included.
Today was one of those days. It was back to school for my kids – both homeschooled and public schooled – and educational paraphernalia was strewn all over the counter, table, and foyer.
I began a new program to become certified to teach and earn my Masters in education so I have to admit that I contributed to the school stuff everywhere.
Calendars, bills, and other documents were stacked on a stool near the kitchen table because there was no room on the table.
My son had started a drawing project in the family room and paper had slid off the sofa onto the floor.
My youngest daughter had laid out Candy Land for us to play after dinner. (She beat me! 3 times!!!)
Oven buzzers were sounding and pots were bubbling on the stovetop.
Sitting between the pantry and laundry room doors were 2 baskets of clean laundry waiting to be taken upstairs.
The only good thing about my house was there were no dishes in the sink – and that, my friends, is a miracle!
This unexpected visit was not one of my finer examples of hospitality…at least in the sense of my home being ready.
I love having people over and enjoy welcoming them into our pandemonium. But sometimes… sometimes I want a little fair warning!
It’s okay though. Just my pride being a bit wounded.
Why I think my sticky counters, cluttered tables, or messy floors would shock anyone, especially my neighbors, is beyond me. Honestly, we are kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies of the neighborhood. I feel like we should have their theme song blaring when we drive down the street. (Hey! I bet my teenagers would love that!)
When I pull into the driveway I have children climbing out of windows and/or falling over each other to get out of the same door. And the number of odds and ends that tumble out of my car at any given stopping point is staggering. My car is a giant purse…full of children, paper, shoes and goodness knows what else!
Where am I going with this blog?
Actually when I started this blog I was going to write about sweeping the floor – specifically the tree needles and some grapes that were dropped.
I was thinking how the needles, although everywhere, were quite easy to sweep up…kind of like all the mundane issues of life. Those things that aren’t surprising or particularly difficult, but they seem to be everywhere. They take up time and energy, but they are doable.
Then there are the things like grapes. Grapes…ugh. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to try to sweep up those silly grapes. They went everywhere but where I wanted them to go.
Those little buggers can roll fast and far!
I could have leaned over and picked them up individually, but I didn’t have the energy to do it. (long, long day) I just wanted them to go nicely into the dustpan.
But nope. They went every which way. Unfortunately I couldn’t leave them lying about because grapes are magnets for feet. And squashed grapes are even more work…sticky work. My house is sticky enough thank you very much!
I don’t know why I thought about the needles and the grapes…or why it struck me that it was so much like my life. Maybe I’m over thinking things…totally possible. I’m pretty tired.
But what I realized is that God equips me to handle both things.
Those needles are like the plethora of monotonous things that occur in any given day…like dirty dishes, cluttered counters, messy floors, loads and loads of laundry, and neighbors that stop by unexpectedly on a particularly messy day. But they are all things that God gives me the grace to handle if I will rest in Him each day.
Part of that resting is finding my identity in Him rather than the state of me, my home, my children, my finances, my education, my work, my relationships, my marriage/divorce, my health…all of that is not defining.
I am defined by Christ!
And then there are the grapes…the things that roll around your life and cause trouble.
They roll in with things like dealing with our ex-spouses or struggles with our children’s behaviors, financial worries or household issues, health crises or work concerns…you can probably add your own grapes to that list.
And there are bigger grapes that spin everywhere, are impossible to catch, and often just end up squashed on the floor. These things are bigger things…heart issues, agonies that bring us to our knees, struggles and sorrows that linger, hurts that seem to take forever to heal…I’m sure you know what I mean.
Those are some whopping big grapes. But thankfully our God is bigger than any grape…large or small.
Needles or grapes all need to end up in the same place…and so do all our troubles and struggles and annoyances.
It’s a little hard at this point to continue my analogy perfectly because I’m going to have to equate a dustpan to the Lord, so maybe I’ll mix it up a bit and say this:
All our stuff needs to end up in the dustpan of faith and handed over to our Heavenly Father.
There is no amount of life messiness that God can’t handle. And He’s willing to handle it all.
I’m more than happy to hand the broom and dustpan to Him…I’m tired of cleaning anyway.
If I trust Him to take care of all those things, I can be peaceful no matter the state of my home. And that means that when people stop by I can rest assured that even if my house seems a bit muddled, I will not. I will be calm and able to focus not on my house, but my guest.
If I trust Him, when the pains and sorrows of this life seem too much to bear I can find solace in His Word, peace in His presence, and comfort with His people.
So sweep those needles and grapes toward Jesus and let Him deal with them all! His dustpan is big enough.
I don’t know if that string of thoughts exactly works, but I hope that it blesses you in some way – even if it’s just a smile at my attempt to spiritualize a messy floor.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7