Tough Stuff

I have struggled with not having answers.  I want answers.  I want to find comfort in having all the answers.  So I can justify something that has happened, making the pain less.  I want something tangible to hang on to.

Life circumstances just don’t make sense sometimes.

What are we supposed to do when we don’t have answers?  When we can’t see the light in the darkness.

I’m sitting here thinking about this pastor, 30 years old Andrew Stoecklein, who committed suicide.  Suffering.  Alone.  My heart aches for that family, the suffering they are enduring.

And then I realize, there are a lot of things in life we don’t have answers for.

People die of cancer, car accidents, natural disasters.  This is the age old question “If God is real, why is there suffering in this world?”

I hate suffering, does anyone like it?  Have you suffered?  Grieved a loss?  Walked through a dark time in life?  Been so anxious you couldn’t eat or sleep?

I have and because I have experienced those things, I know there is a God who is real.  More real than any pain we can experience here on this earth.  More intentional with showing us the way than ever before.  More loving and kind than I imagined.  More powerful and real even without healing.  Even in death, He is with us.  Oh He is with us.

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Satan would love for us to see it differently.  That he is the one with all the power.  He’s gross and cruel.  He has no victory, and he is acting out of defeat and he knows it.  He’d love to deceive us into believing he’s won.

But Jesus took our pain and sin carrying it to the Cross and broke its power by sacrificing Himself because of His love for us.  And then in all His power, rose from the dead, letting us know He is the One who holds all the victory.  He has won.  We can rest there when we don’t understand.  When it hurts too much.

Father, show us Your Love and help us to have eyes to see it even when we have no answers.  In Jesus name, amen.

 

Embrace it all

Being a stay-at-home mom was always my first choice.  Snuggling babies, seeing them do new things, playing with my kiddos during the day, and teaching them new things.  I was looking forward to it all.  And ultimately I didn’t trust a single soul to look after my babies but me.  (Yikes, this is exactly how I felt.)

Now, staying home was a big sacrifice.  I had just started teaching and making a salary to add to my husband’s for the first in our married life.  It was nice.  We were taking care of stuff, giving, and saving up for things we’d need in the future.  But we made this transition together.  Trusting God would provide but both a little uncertain on how He would.  I felt uncertain if we could make this work or not.  Six years later, I’ve felt some fears of staying home and not being able to add to our income as a family.

I recently read Rachel Hollis Girl Wash Your Face, and she wrote a chapter on embracing the mess.  This chapter spoke straight to the heart of how I’ve been struggling.  I haven’t been fully able to be with my kids because I’ve been fearful I should be working and providing more for our family.  Or in the frustration thinking, I could be working and not messing with this junk.  (Summer with all three kids!)

Something happened after I read that chapter, I knew that right now I’m want to embrace this mess of being a stay at home mom, and I feel like a mess most days.  But this isn’t forever, I will work, I will add income to our family again one day.  And God will direct all of those steps too.

So right now, my kiddos are watching disney, talking to me, my two year old is putting stickers on himself, and I’m writing.  We can’t wait for it all to be perfect to move.  I’m writing and doing things that help me feel purpose in these moments. Writing helps me stay present on the day.  I get the huge opportunity to grow and write and read while I’m staying home.  Which has been one of the greatest blessings.  Getting to discover new things about myself and the things I enjoy.

So, if you’re a working mom embrace it, if you stay at home embrace it.

Don’t compare your mess to someone else’s togetherness.

Today let’s embrace it all.

Fear

I’ve lived a lot of my life in fear.  The more I feared things, the more those things came true, which kept me in this cycle believing all those fears because some of them had come true.

Last night my son had a bad thought, which made him fearful he’d have nightmares.  Oh bless him, I couldn’t hug him tight enough.  I encouraged him to say his fear out loud, breaking it’s power, praying with him, and checking on him as he fell back to sleep.

It felt right.  I could tell he was calm.  My heart swelled with love for him.  I didn’t think less of him because he had a bad thought.  I didn’t tell him to quit it and get it together.  It didn’t make sense to say those things.

But how often do we say those things to ourselves?  Just stop worrying, get it together, no one else thinks this way.  And in our silence we’ve given power to those thoughts.

Negative thoughts are normal, it is what we do with them that gives them power or dissolves them.  

It also hit me after Caleb went to lay down, just because you think something doesn’t make it true.  Our brains need this reminder.  We are hardwired for protection.  Our brains know how to do this well.  And if we’ve had any sort of trauma we are hardwired for more protection.

A thought is a thought and we get to choose what to do with it.

  1. Speak it out loud.  So our brains have a chance to look at it differently.
  2. Share it with someone else. Maybe a friend or a counselor.
  3. Pray.
  4. Let others check on you.  People who love you and encourage you.  Reminding you that you are not alone, no shame.  Just joy shared in this journey.

 

Hopefully this encourages you, by reminding you, you are not alone.  How we speak to our kids is how we should speak to ourselves.  Or speak to ourselves the way we want to speak to our kids.  Parenting continues to teach me more and more about myself.  Grateful. img_0228

Green thumb

I always thought I just killed plants.  I’ve had a bunch of tomato plants, flowers and bushes that just die even though I tried my hardest to keep them alive, watering them and all.

I had resigned to the fact that I didn’t have a “green thumb.”

Hogwash.

Maybe some of you believe this too.

I will challenge you, go to the Dollar Tree or Dollar General (I realize this isn’t the highest quality but for plant stuff you can’t beat it!)  Honestly for a $1 I had no qualms about these flowers dying.  *Something to blame it on, they were cheap.

I bought flower seeds for $.25 at Dollar Tree, put them in a drawer, and in July (our hottest month or at least second hottest in Texas) I planted those suckers.  I thought okay who cares lets just try and grow these flowers.

And off we went.  Those sweet little seeds started to sprout a couple days later.  I was booming with excitement.  Such joy in these little tiny things just miraculously popping up out of the ground.  And all I did was dig, drop, and water.

I love the flowers that are now blooming each day.  They are these perfect little pom pom flowers.  I show them off because I know they will make other people happy too.  They are all different color flowers out of the same flower bush.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago on Instagram, maybe this is how God sees us.  We are planted in our faith with Him, but maybe we aren’t sure much is happening.  We aren’t sure if we are even growing, but little by little we water this faith and it miraculously starts to grow.

And all we get to do is step back and say wow isn’t that amazing!

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.