Capable

Last Christmas I was gifted a Cricut Explore Air 2 .  With three kids ages five and under, I was terrified to even open it.  I needed the perfect space, the best ground rules for my kids to follow in reference to it, and time.  Time to create.

So, there it sat for seven months.  Seven months.  I was working up all these dreams, things I’d make and create with it.  Things I would save money and time by making myself.  But they were just thoughts.  Because my Cricut still sat in the box in my closet starring at me each day.  Wooing me to try it.

So I set it up.  It didn’t fit on the shelf I wanted so on my desk it went.  Open for my kiddos to rub their greasy sticky fingers on.  As I’m writing my two year old is open and closing the Cricut.  Its nerve racking.  I keep hollering things at my kiddos.

“This is expensive.”

“Don’t touch it.”  (which brews all sorts of excitement!)

But I went for it anyways, trying all sorts of things.  Putting together a mat and just printing.  Messing it up and trying it again.

It’s not as stressful a week later.  I’ve made a phone case sticker, prints, cut outs.  It’s fun.

I love to create.

So what’s something new you’ve wanted to try, but just can’t find the time?

I know these two things: desire and time are never just available.  You have to be intentional.  Even with the fun stuff, especially with the fun stuff.

Create something new today.  Go for it.

Just a new route

So my goal this year is to read two books a month.  That’s not an outlandish goal by any means.  But with three kids, it felt like a good goal to me.   So far this year this has looked like a chapter or two a night, or I’ll read some in the afternoon.  Pretty casual.  I’ve been hitting my mark each month, but some months I have to be more intentional about that goal.  Like in June.

Sweet June rolled around.  And we went on vacation, (ooooh a flight, I’ll read then, as I’m chasing my two year old down the aisle), I got to spend time with my best friend (totally worth not reading!!!) and so vacation was kind of a bust on reading.    No big deal, I’ll read when we get home I thought.  Needless to say, my books I picked were hard to mull through chapters, which I do not like to do anyways.  A parenting book that is going to take me six months or more to read, because it’s heady.  Therefore, I only finished one book in June.  Everybody Always, by Bob Goff.  (As I look back now, if that is the only book I read this year it was worth it, great read!)

Now this is where my downfall normally happens when I set a goal.

I failed.

Goal: two books a month, read: 1 book in June.  Those numbers aren’t matching sister!  There’s still one left over which equals fail.  (I’m math minded so I see a lot of life this way.)  

For some reason, I channeled this thinking towards another route.  My books were too tough to thumb through quickly.  So in July, I picked up a few young readers novels at the library about the Holocaust.  Tough topic, but I was confident I’d finish them in a week.  Boosting my self-esteem on not finishing my goal for June.  July pasted and I had read four books!  Boom.

And I read four books without feeling like I was just reading to finish, I was able to absorb.

I love this.  It was simple.  I need simple.  Sometimes our course just needs a little boost or readjustment, not a whole overhaul.

Shift your perspective, give yourself a boost, and continue on those goals you set in January.  You are worth it.  And I bet if you wrote them down, the goals you set are worth it too.

What’s your never?

These are the areas I’ve struggled the most: the areas I told God “never.”  Never would I share, never would I do that, never would I say that, never would I treat someone like that.  Never, never, never.

My heart was so intentional about saying never.

For example, my two year old just cried himself down for nap.  I said I would never.  I know not realistic, but my heart just aches when my kiddos are crying.  However, my two year old needs a nap, and he won’t go with others in the room.  So I shut the door, and he cried for less than a minute.  And I hear a gentle whisper say “see he is okay.”  And maybe more importantly “you are okay.”

Lots and lots of parenting things I said I’d never do (pre kids of course because you are always judgmental until you walk through it-am I right?).

When I have claimed “never” over an area of my life those are the times I’ve struggled the deepest in my faith.  When I’m actually faced with the reality that “never” is now a possible option or just the reality of life at the moment.  I hurt, I resist even more because I’ve promised myself never.

Maybe for you it is medication to help you stay sober, or the keep you calm.  Maybe you said never to counseling because you had a bad experience.  Maybe you said no to taking care of yourself, because we are supposed to serve right?  I won’t be like them…on and on we go.

Our mind keeps track of that inner voice, and when we say no I’d never, our mind has a hard time letting us do it when it actually is good for us.  Or a good option for the time.  Allow yourself freedom, because others around you need that same freedom to move and live and make decisions.

What are some of your never-s?  Maybe some are funny, and maybe some need an evaluation.  Let God search you.  It is for freedom.

Rewriting Your Story

Two songs that are speaking to my heart right now are Phil Wickham “Till I Found You” and Steffany Gretzinger “Letting Go.”  Go Listen!

A line in Phil Wickham’s song is “You are rewriting my story.”  Man, it’s is singing to my heart right now.  Maybe you planned life differently.  Maybe you hadn’t really planned at all and are taking life as it comes.  Even so, I’m sure you had an amount of expectation on what life would look like even if generally.  Those expectations can be great if life goes as planned, if it all turns out great.  But what about those hard pieces that inevitably come?

John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

(The red felt appropriate, words from Jesus.)

So maybe we can let go of the expectation that life with Jesus will be easy.  That we shouldn’t have to endure hardships.  That’s why we came running right?  To him for salvation.  But I think it is when our faith endures these hard times that we are refined, our true selves brought forth.

Now the second song “Letting Go” has a line “I’m letting go, and falling into you.”

Letting go of what others think.

Letting go of fear.

Letting go of lies.

Letting go of who we think we are.

Letting go of self doubt.

Letting go of shame.

Don’t worry we aren’t letting go into an abyss, if we have Jesus.  We are letting go and clinging to him in the tough and in the good.  We are stepping with one eye peeking open praying “Oh please have me Lord.”  And I think we can let go, because His plan will be infinitely better.  Do we believe it is better?  Letting go requires trusting our God is really good.  And that He will be good to us, even still.

Another lyric, “You unwind me until I’m totally undone.”  Oh, let that sink in.  How many of you need Him to unwind you?  Yeah, me too.  Me too.

So let Him write a new story.  Start by letting go, so you can become the person who celebrates others, who is brave, who steps out, who has confidence in themselves, who looks up instead of down at their feet, one who stands tall proud of who you are and the God you serve.

I’m still figuring this all out.

Small beginnings

We begin something new.  We start, but it doesn’t end the way we think it will.  We take a different route.  We try a new craft or creative outlet.

I like starting new things.  But sometimes it gets hard.  A new lesson with old feelings attached.  I want to start something new, and settle in.  Like into a big fluffy couch.  But it seems anything worth while in this life will keep us on our toes, growing, learning, responding, teaching.

I’m not sure I’m clear today.  I’m struggling with small beginnings.  I like to pick something up, and be awesome at it immediately.  Anyone else?  Writing is challenging for me.  It’s a place of insecurity.  But the more I do it, the more it flows.  But it was so small at first.

I paid for a blog (for accountability to actually do it), committed to write twice a week, to grow this practice.  It’s not flourishing yet, but it is a move in the right direction.  It is growing this passion in me to write.  I like how it feels.  It feels inspiring, which matches with my personality type.

The verse in my quiet time yesterday was Zechariah 4:10 “ Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”  WOW!  He is so good.  The reminder.

Maybe you came from a small town, our Savior did.  Maybe you don’t have a perfect look, people were not drawn to our Savior because He looked pretty.  Maybe you’re not sure you have what it takes, but don’t discount your small beginnings.

David was the smallest boy in his family when God chose him to be Israel’s next king.  Our Savior rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in the triumphal procession.  Ruth lost her husband and was living with her mother in law when she found Boaz and became a part of Jesus’ lineage.

God does not despise small beginnings.  He loves them!

So take whatever next step God is calling you too.  He will meet you there.  Sometimes we have to step in faith to know that He is there.  Then we get to tell others, He is there.

It is never just for us.  I like that.

 

New Mercies

I keep seeing this word: mercy.  In my quiet time this was the verse for today with the caption: choose grace.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

The old testament talks about God being slow to anger and abounding in grace and mercy.  We get annoyed with Israelites after a few rounds of their complaints.  We don’t always associate grace and mercy with God in our crisis or even our daily life.  Normally my words to myself are “Can’t you get it together?”  “Why are you anxious about that, it’s not a big deal?”  Frustration.  Lack of empathy.

We think if we show compassion to our neighbors or ourselves, we are giving a pass.  However, it is clear this is important way of living in scripture.  I think modern psychology would agree.  Punishment does not equal lasting change or a “good head on our shoulders.”

What if we let feelings pass, if we slowed down long enough to see if we needed something, made time to be quiet to hear and listen.  We are scared though huh?  Scared if we stop what we might hear.  Well, I can promise you this.  Just from this Hebrews verse alone, we can know our God is gracious and cannot wait until we come to Him to receive the mercy and grace undeserved, but that He wants to lavish on us anyways.

We can wake up tomorrow and do it differently if we know we have grace and mercy.  Perfectionism comes when we think we will be punished.  Punished for anything and everything.  Not a great way to live.

Example: I’ve felt guilty my kids don’t help pick up much, I bear the burden of most of that.  Now, I could stay there punishing myself-which means I will try harder to keep the house neat and tidy and get angry when our third runs through the living room pouring legos all over the floor or my oldest says he’s just too tired.

Or grace and mercy say, tomorrow is a new day.  Make a stride.  You can’t fail at this, because grace will meet you when you lose your cool as I teach my children to pick up.  And lets be honest, may grace meet me when I succeed, keeping me humble not trusting to much in my own ability to get it right.

So where can you give yourself mercy and grace?  Giving it to yourself means you’ll give it to others too.

Whatever it is, you got this.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself today!

Remember: Lamentations 3:23 “…His mercies are new every morning.”

 

Don’t lose heart

Do you know you have worth?

If you are a believer and you know intellectually you have worth, good.  But what’s better is if your heart believe it.

What matters most is that at your worst, do you know you have worth?  That’s when it makes its way to your heart.

Most of the time, we believe our worth when we are working, accomplishing, and getting credit for it.  But do you know when all the lights turn off and you are falling asleep at night that the God of this Universe sits looking on you, believing you have worth that you are worth pursuing and saving.

Be reminded of the last time you sat staring at your baby or someone else’s sleeping.  That baby had not done much to deserve such adoration except for being there.  Created.  Alive.  Breathing.

At the end of the day, you’d probably say that most people around you have worth.  You could believe it for them, and tell it to their face.  But could you tell it to yourself?

Probably the hardest part for me in this journey of faith, is not loosing heart when its the valley of life.  When it looks bleakest.  When I’ve failed.  Do I still believe then?  It is easy for our faith to go to our head, and for us to have all the right answers.  But in the depths, do our hearts believe it?  That God is good.  That He is for us, because we are worth it.

Our humanness makes us worth it.  Nothing earned.  Or credited to ourselves.  Just to have breath in our lunges means we have worth.

That is why we fight for the innocent, the persecuted, the ones that have fallen through the cracks, the oppressed.  We want answers for them, maybe because in our depths we need a God who seeks after the oppressed, the wrecked because in our deepest selves we have been wrecked and oppressed.  Because we are human, and sin entered this world.  We have suffered.

You have worth.
When you know it, you’ll tell others when they doubt their worth.

One of the greatest blessings to keep giving out.

 

 

Right where you are

Seasons.  They come and go.  And if we aren’t careful we will be worrying our way to the next one, instead of being right where we are.

You may not want to be where you are health wise…

career wise…

relationship wise…

But you are there for a reason, and to wish it away is to miss the point.

It is easy to be in seasons of wondering, not sure which way to go.  I’d say it is normal sometimes too.

But take up what you have already learned and build with what you have.

Health wise, make a new choice for yourself, a kind choice.  Maybe just a walk with your family.  I wasn’t sure if I’d get good use out of a gym membership right now, and was a little sad that I don’t have one.  Kinda sulky.  So last week, I decided I’d go for a walk with my mom and son while my other two kiddos were at MDO and do some squats, jump rope, and planks.  Pretty simply.  My body didn’t think it was that simple the next day.  But it was a pretty easy choice.  Today I mowed the lawn.

Career wise, some of my friends are going back to work after staying home, some are working part time while they stay at home, and some have worked from the git go.  It’s easy sometimes to sit back and think of all the things we could have if I worked.  Stuff.  Money.  One day, I believe those things will be, but right now it’s not.  Right now, my two youngest need me, and I like to be with them.  Not every day, but that’s not enough to throw in the towel for me.  So, right now I celebrate for my friends, and I work while I’m waiting.  Growing skills, writing, mentoring, leading, organizing.

Man, relationships are hard.  Our families live far away, and it gets harder the older my kids get.  And I could and have sat around saying, “oh we can’t do that because we don’t have family here.”  But we do.  My neighbor is my family, my friends are my family.  And thank the Lord, our parents visit a lot!

So sometimes you are in the transition, and sometimes you are just right where you are.  And it is okay.

Let yourself know that today.

It is okay.

Gratitude

Oh my gratitude has grown tremendously in this season of life.  Gratitude for creation, for small moments, for quiet, for swinging, and reading.  Gratitude typically slows me down helping me stay in the moment.

I get joy just thinking about all these moments of deep deep gratitude.  A lot of those moments have little to do with me.  But they are an exhale to my Savior for gifts that are 100% from Him.

Peaceful moments with my husband on stressful weeks.

Surprise flowers blooming out of the ivy.

Quiet moments as my sweet babies are asleep in their beds.

Music while I’m cooking.

Counseling moments that worked out something deep.

Writing.

Getting wrapped up in a good book.

Summer rain.  

Rainbows after the rain.

Most of these moments of deep gratitude have little do with something I’ve done.  Gratitude isn’t about being happy all the time, but about realizing even in our worst moments goodness still abounds because it has less to do with us and more to do with Him and His goodness.  It has to do with our Father who loves to give good gifts to His children whether we’ve been good or bad.  He draws us to Him, and tells us we are still loved even when we’ve totally mess up.

At the heart isn’t this what we want to tell our children?  When they’ve hurt their sibling, told a lie, or yelled something in anger.  We want to draw them close and remind them of the good around them and how little is has to do with them.  That they are loved cherished and adored.  We want them to feel it and more importantly believe it.

Oh deep gratitude. I’m asking God to open my eyes to the things I can be grateful for.  Past, present, and future.

What are you grateful for today?  Don’t let it rest upon something you accomplished today, look deeper and ask God to open your eyes, slow down.  Smell the roses.

 

Good book reference: 1000 Gifts by Ann Voscamp.

Fully Known

You know how your mom, friend or spouse just know you.  Like when they buy you the perfect gift or call you at a moment you needed it most.

But, sometimes it’s annoying, right?  Like Jesse in Full House, when Rebecca had figured Danny out and even when he was trying to do the opposite of his personality she knew what he’d do.  He was exhausted trying to be someone he wasn’t.

It’s good to be known.  But it doesn’t always feel good.  It feels vulnerable, exposed.

Tauren Wells sings in his song “Known” that, “…it’s not one or the other: its hard truth and ridiculous grace to be known, fully known and loved by Him.”  I’ve been on one side of that line.  The hard truth.  I knew who I was.  I knew the depth of my sin.  But to sit there was too much.  It was too heavy, like a boulder on my chest.  Sin was debt I knew I could never pay no matter how hard I worked at it.

Freedom is to accept who you are, human, unable to do anything to save yourself, plus receiving grace that is absolutely ridiculous.  Grace completely engulfing our sinful selves.  God gives us grace upon grace because He knows who we are, how fallen, utterly dust humans.

James 4:6 says, “God gives grace generously…opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Proud and humble are the opposite.  Admitting you have faults, you are broken, you are in need: humility.  Because we all have faults, we all are broken, and we are all in need of saving.  Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  None of us can do it.  Think about the greatest person you know, yep, they are sinners in need of God’s ridiculous grace.

But you don’t understand, Tara, you don’t know me.  You are right, but God does, and He paid for all that you are hiding.

1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves…”  Isn’t that the truth, we think hiding and saying we don’t struggle with this or that sin somehow validates we are saved.  But God says confess your sin to be forgiven.

Grace balances the scales, in our favor.

So, let God know all of those completely empty places you carry, so that, grace can enter.  And know that it is both.  It is our admission of sin and God’s act of extending grace to us.

Grace- it overflows so that our sin is no more.

We are His, complete and whole.