I see you

Dear momma,

I see you.

I see you loving on those babies, when you are so tired you cannot even think straight.

I see you cutting up those grapes in halves because you’re nervous your toddler will swallow them whole.

I see you momma cooking two meals because you don’t want to eat chicken nuggets, but it’s the only protein your cutie will eat.

I see you washing those dishes for the second time today.

I see you holding your sweet girls hand as you walk her to school.

I see you leaning over your little ones at night and kissing them on the forehead and whispering you love them.

I see you rocking your two year old who’s teething and they look at you with those loving eyes.  The world stops for a moment.

You’re a good mom .

I see you asking for help when you were losing your patience.

You’re a good mom.

I see you praying over those kids asking God to help you not totally mess them up.

You’re a good mom.

I see you budgeting and trying to save as you head to the grocery store.

You’re a good mom.

I see you making mistakes and beating yourself up for them.

You’re a good mom.

You’re not perfect.

But you are a good mom.

Take true inventory of your day.
And if you can’t, ask someone close to you. My sister in law is one of my best encouragers.
And you’ll realize the rough parts were such a small portion of the day.
Then, remind yourself you are a good mom.

And it’s enough.

Grounded

Where to begin.  This topic is heavy and hard to articulate.  It’s something I’ve felt a thousand times, but still struggle with the right words for it.

Anxiety.   Defined as “…an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”

I read an article yesterday about “Anxiety in children” from heysigmund.com.  I just can’t get over how powerful this article was.  When you struggle with anxiety, maybe you fear your kids will struggle with it too.  I don’t think anyone loves feeling anxious.  But it is a normal feeling.  It’s normal.  It’s normal. It’s normal. (I’m reminding myself.)  Because one of the biggest hiccups with anxiety is that it feels so lonely.

This article articulated what a strong mind looks like, and it is one that protects us.  I love this.  I believe the heart of anxiety is a sense of needing to protect ourselves.  “Hey Sigmund” calls an anxious mind strong, creative, and a little overprotective.

Have any of you been with a parent or maybe yourself, and you just feel the need to be overprotective, sit down Timmy, don’t climb on that, don’t jump too high, what’s in your mouth, oh nothing, just the food I gave you…  Anyone else?

Someone with anxiety is reacting the same way just in their mind.  It is irrational but it feels so real to that person.  And going back to the definition, I’m reminded of myself, anxiety for me is a fear of not having enough of myself to do what I need to do.

So I’m going to recap a piece of this article, because this stuff is good!  Go read this article even if you don’t struggle with anxiety, because I know you know someone who does.  Give yourself wisdom to understand someone else.  It is super science-y, which I love.

First it talks about our amygdala (where we feel all our emotions) and someone with anxiety, there’s works a little harder.

Grounding is one area I want to land with this topic.  Anxiety is like the mind getting hijacked by fear of the future.  And grounding is a way to bring it back to the present.

“Hey Sigmund” suggests a fun activity using your five sense.

When anxiety rolls for you or someone you love, here are the five suggestions: Have them say out loud: (Probably will only have to do a few)

5-what are five things you see

4-what are four things you hear

3-what are three things you feel

2-what are two things you can smell

1-what is one thing you can taste

This can help bring you to the present.  (Present; defined as existing or in progress right now. LOVE!)  We don’t have to be perfect or anxiety free, but we can stand in the present making progress over anxiety hauling off with our day.

I’m practicing this today.img_7242-1

Writing

I’m off this week.  A little jostled.  Like my tiny world shifted a little too much this week.

So today I’m still writing.  I don’t want to write only when I feel awesome or when I feel I have the most amazing word for someone.  But I want to write, and do it on days that I don’t feel like it too.  Because I feel called to it.  To write.

The one thing I hear over and over if you want to write is to keep your butt in the chair and write.  Today is that day for me.

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I want to write not just to feel better, but to see change and growth.  To see this craft turn into something beautiful, an art work.

If you told me a year ago, I would thoroughly enjoy writing, I’d laugh.  My claim over myself for years was I’m not a writer, I like math.  I was really saying um, I’m only good at math not english.  Which is a pretty broad statement to put over yourself.  I like to do that, box myself in.  Anyone else?

So this year, I’m stepping out.  Writing.  I have things to say and words to speak.  Words that I feel are important.  I have a story to tell, and I want to be the one to tell it.  So I’m writing.

So, I guess I’m writing today to tell you don’t box yourself in.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but take whatever next step you need to move in what God is calling you to.

Sometimes, I like looking too far into the future, but the only step we need to take is today.

We have dreams, true dreams, that have been placed on our hearts.  It’s our job to awaken and do those dreams.  They are there for a reason.

I have so many friends that spur me on who are pursuing dreams and making things happen in their lives and their families.

Like my friend, who is a missionary pursuing prenatal fitness certifications because she is so passionate about mom’s and their health.  If she can do it in Africa, we can here.  Or like my friend and her husband, who are pursuing rental properties so they can live their dreams together.  Or another friend who is teaching at five am in the morning before her babies are up to help their family, but mostly because she’s an amazing teacher and it will always be in her heart.  Another friend who is pursuing a degree to be a nurse anesthetist, she’s dreamed about it, kept pursuing, and now has the opportunity to go and do that dream.  I could go on and on.

Maybe the the key is to let others inspire you, instead of making you jealous.  I like this option better.  So, instead of jealousy I can let someone else’s passion pour into my life and inspire me towards my passions, whatever they are.

Be inspired even when you don’t feel like it.  I’m working on it.

Never too far gone

Jordan Feliz sings “There’s no distance that I can’t reach you…” about the love our Father has for us and how He comes for us.

It’s hard to know this truth until you’ve been to the pit, the place you thought was out of God’s reach.

Two years ago, I hit that place.  Rock bottom.  A deep pit.  A place I thought I’d never leave.  Telling God, just leave me, go find someone else, I’m useless, no good.  I’m hurt beyond repair.

Our sweet third child, a boy, was born.  Loved.  Cherished.  This isn’t about him, but about that time.  I had built a home that I was trying to “self sustain”, all on my own.  Mostly pride drove the desire to be in control, but so did fear.

Being a believer, this was a hard place to admit I was and that I needed help and support, but that is exactly where I was.  So at rock bottom, I accepted help from many avenues: doctors, counselors, family, and friends.  I knew if God wasn’t going to leave me there like I asked that things had to change.  I couldn’t go on the same.

Two years later, things are better. I’m moving.  Growing.  Seeking.  Still need help and support.  Don’t we all?

This morning I picked up “None like Him” by Jen Wilkins (read it!).  I’m on chapter four and guess what the title is “Self-Sufficient” and it is in reference to God, not me.  I am not God, so that is not a characteristic I get to claim, even if I want to.  So, I’m still learning how to lean on others, accepting help, and walking in humility.  It’s not easy when you’ve built up a mindset that you are fine and can do it all.  But, slowly I’m changing.  The flow is changing, the pace is slower, and the people in my life are completely intentional.

This journey is a marathon, not a sprint.  I wanted a sprint.  I wanted to get through that season lightning fast, which left me frustrated some days thinking I “should” be in a different place, but acceptance is the first step, accepting right where you are.

If I had time, I’d sit down with you and tell you all the amazing things that happened in that pit.  I can look back and see the roll it played in my family, in the lives of friends, in myself.  It’s a beautiful time.  I didn’t think that then.

But,

  • I now know truly that there is no place we can go that He cannot reach us.
  • His love can pour over us anew, His forgiveness can be more real than we have ever experienced.
  • Grace and love from people around you opens up when you admit you need help.  Because one day they’ll need it too.
  • And I can promise He wants you, just you, as is, no achieving, no striving, broken and a mess.  He wants that person.  He sees worth, sweet worth from a Savior that will never ever leave us.  He can’t, He’s in us.

Be encouraged friend, you are never too far gone.

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Psalm 139: 12

Read Psalm 139

Flow

I was in counseling last week, refreshing after a busy start to the new year.

I told my counselor my word for the year was “balance” and read my blog to help explain how I saw it.  And she said she liked it and added that it also sounded like the word flow, rhythm.  My heart jumped with excitement.  I love rhythm.  It reminds me of dancing and singing in the kitchen, usually to Justin Timberlake.

img_7245-1My flow on a typical day usually comes when the kids are all happily playing together.  Its beautiful.  When the kids were younger, it was when they all napped at the same time and that peaceful sound fell over the house.  It was beautiful.  Peaceful.  Joyful.  Refreshing.  Especially if there was a sleepy babe laying in my arms snuggled on the couch.

This new word doesn’t change where I’m finding myself this year.  The word flow brought more clarity to the word balance for me, which is usually what counseling provides for me too, clarity.  Balance for me is a flow to life that is sustainable and joyful.  I have a tendency to want to stay in this flow state; however, then I wouldn’t know I was in a “rhythm or flow.”  It would just be normal, not a special time that I take notice of.  There is still life to be lived I remind myself.

My counselor said it reminded her of yoga, moving back and forth between poses can be difficult, but once we are in them it gets easier.  I like that.  Flow is not always a continual process, but one that we enter in and out of.

Sometimes it is hard to transition back to working out, but it becomes a flow once we make the transition.  Sometimes it is hard to transition from winter snuggles on the couch to playing outside when it’s a little chilly, but once we are there it is a little easier.

Today, I’m transitioning to eating better for myself.  I hate the transition, avoid it, and stay in an unhealthy place until finally I move and do something.  So I’m doing it. Stepping.

I believe we can make a lot of these habits, but life will happen and our flow will be jostled for a time, just get back at it whatever that flow is.  If it’s dancing in the kitchen, that’s easy!  Do it.  If it’s working out because it brings you joy, do it.  If its painting because you go into state of peace and focus, do it.

So, what is your flow?

 

Forgiveness

I am in no way an expert or counselor on this subject.

But, I have been asked to forgive.   And here are some insights I’ve learned.

Forgiveness is not something we like to talk about, it might bring up guilt, or you may just feel apathetic towards it because it feels like too great a challenge.

About two and a half years ago, I listened to a sermon series from Bruce Wilkinson on forgiveness.  He has a book titled “The Freedom Factor” which lays out Bruce’s take on forgiveness from scripture.  It is pretty powerful, and the most important thing I learned was that I had the ability to forgive.  And you do too.

Many times we catch ourselves saying “I can’t forgive! It hurts too much!”  I believe healing is the process after forgiveness.  Once forgiveness takes place, healing can begin.

Forgiveness is a process, but one that you are able to do.  It may seem impossible, but that is faith.  The impossible happening.

Jesus tells us to forgive, and that the measure we use to forgive will be the measure used against us.  Two and a half years ago, I wasn’t kind to myself.  I was hard on myself: judging my motherhood, my marriage, my friendships.  The measuring stick I was using was impossible to meet. I wanted to live in forgiveness so much, but I just wasn’t sure it was possible.

Last week, my husband spoke a word, and I took it personally.  I told him it hurt my feelings, and he said that was not his intention and asked for forgiveness.  As I was fighting the feeling of stewing, a light bulb went on, yes I could forgive him!  How powerful when someone asks.

But what about when they don’t.  We can still forgive and trust God with the rest.  Whew. Yes, forgiveness is trust that God has indeed forgiven our every sin, loves us still, and wants to use us.  I’m forgiven to forgive.  Isn’t this the gospel?

Three things:

  1. You have the ability to forgive.
  2. Ask for help from friends and people you trust to pray.
  3. The more you forgive, the more you feel it, and the more you can rest in the TRUTH that you are forgiven.

God will do amazing things, He will forgive through you.

Perfect

“Now I’m perfect.” -Olaf

“Well almost.” -Anna shoving a carrot into Olaf’s face.

I relate so much with Olaf.  I want life to be perfect, summery, flowers and roses.  But it’s not always that way.  It’s not perfect.  We are far from perfect.

But I still strive for it.

Once we clean up one area well enough, we return to the same place.  The same cycle.  But maybe the cycle is so we look closer, deeper, find more meaning.

There are lots of areas of my life I’d love to forget.  Extremely hard times I’d love to lay down and have them vanish. Areas I could pretend they never happened.  In Christ, the condemnation is removed from those memories.  The guilt is gone, even if we still feel it sometimes.  The truth is we are new, but what if God wants to do more in that area, not only take the guilt but then use it.

Whew.  I’m uncomfortable with that.  I want to give God pieces of my life that I like, that make me look good.  You know the ones we put on Instagram.

This past week, I posted pictures of my family in black and white.  I love how black and white looks.  It takes away flaws and makes things look more glorious.  Maybe it makes things look the way I want them too.  In the original pictures, my teeth looked yellowed from the grey sky, you could see stains and dirt on the kids shirts.  And I only took pictures of the kids smiling or posing.  I didn’t take a picture of our girl falling and crying, of our baby boy crying because he felt left out.

That night a sweet friend messaged me and asked how our kids look so happy and how we manage three kids.  Do we ever feel overwhelmed? She asked.  OH MY GOODNESS.  Humbled.  Totally humbled. Yes I feel overwhelmed.  Being outside was giving me some breathing room and the kids some freedom to run and play instead of watching their favorite show or be on the iPads.  I wanted to run and hug her and proclaim no way in the world am I perfect or my kids.  Definitely, not.

God is perfect.  We are not, that is why we need Him.  We cannot be perfect in this life, but in Heaven we will be.  Our true life wrapped in Christ, we will be perfect as we stand before him.  Whew.  If we were able to be perfect here, there would be no need for us to be here.  This life prepares us for the next.  And our imperfections are how we show other’s Christ.  Our imperfect past shows others they can be saved too.  So I remember those moments even if they are hard and that God loves me and wants to use those moments to help save others.  I ask God a lot, how are you going to use this?  There are much better areas we could work with, but He keeps bringing me back to those moments.  Those moments that make me human, those moments that I’m weak and in need, those moments that He has used to save me.

Let’s be imperfect together.  It’s the only way, but we might have to go back and love ourself first so we can love others there too.  Maybe that’s the memory.  Not because it’s not painful, but because we still had worth then too at our worst, at our most broken moments.  And so do others.

Little by little

When I reading with our older kids last night, I was feeling frustrated, like I had let my kids down.  Like I hadn’t done enough for the day.  (Usually happens after scrolling through Facebook or instagram, i.e. note to self).  I was throwing up a prayer and felt an immediate response, there’s grace for that guilt too.  When you did enough and you still feel like it’s not enough.  When you didn’t necessarily do anything wrong, but you are afraid you didn’t really do anything right either.  There’s grace.

Imagine this with me. There’s a little boy working hard on an assignment. The school day is ending and he’s stressed trying to finish all of his work. His teacher has two choices – scold him for not getting his work done or sit (down?) by him and calmly reassure him he has tomorrow. And what about the boy’s parents? Again, they have two choices. They can be frustrated they have to help and rail him asking him why he didn’t get his work done in class OR they can sit down with him at the dining room table, answer questions, laugh about the day and enjoy time together while he finishes his work.

We can see the difference when we are looking at someone else, especially a little one, that the scolding is unnecessary, but we do it to ourselves all the time.  And I don’t think this is how Jesus is speaking to us.

Another example of this would be Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. On Jesus’ way to the cross, Peter denies knowing Him three times before the rooster crows.  Peter promised Jesus he would follow no matter what.  He left everything and now he is denying he even knows Jesus.  Can you imagine Peter’s mental beating he is giving himself?  Why did you do that?  What were you thinking?  You should be ashamed of yourself.

What does Jesus do?

He restores. He gives grace upon grace.  He know’s Peter inside and out.  Jesus wants to be with him.  To have breakfast with him, even after this fall.

We went to this spot on a trip to Israel this past November.  An amazing trip.  This spot where Jesus restores Peter spoke so tenderly to me and tears bursted forth as I walked down to the beach.  I was overcome, so grateful for a Savior that wanted to be with someone who totally messed up.  I imagined Jesus smiling as He was walking out on to that shore to call Peter in because He knew what He was going to say.  He knew he loved Peter and that Peter loved him.  Maybe He asked Peter if he loved Him so that Peter would remember that he did.  And that love for God and for people is what changes everything.

Let God’s love and grace transform even the smallest of guilt into peace.  Knowing He has us.  He is working.  He is growing and changing us, even if we don’t see fruit yet.  Little by little.

What do you feel guilty for today?  Ask God to pour His grace over it.  He will.

You are not alone

My husband’s favorite band, Emery, released an album called “You were never alone.”  My husband got a poster with this album cover on it and I can remember the very day I opened it those words washed over me.

You were never alone.  Alone.

Yuck.  I hate that word and honestly avoid it most days.  However, I’m on a new journey of inviting others in.  Like letting a handful of ladies in to read my blog before I post it.  Because I know for sure I cannot do this alone.

You know those people in your life you can ask anything of and they’ll help you.  The ones you fight for and the ones that fight for you.  The people who make you feel better after you are around them.  They challenge you, but also love you.  Those are the people we need to let speak over us.

God created us to be together, in unity.  Sin broke that, but Jesus restored it.  And He wants to continue to restore that unity through us.  For us to be a part of His restoration.

I’m pretty selfish, especially as a mom.  I feel like my time is already so split that I withhold from friends sometimes because I’m not sure I’ll have the energy to be with them.  Anyone else?

Yesterday, I’m cleaning for our connect group buzzing around picking up toys and wiping down tables.  My first reaction is to immediately think this is too hard.  Cleaning is a tough job.  Taking care of my kids is enough to do.  Which most days it is.  But when Wednesdays roll around, it’s time to spread myself and allow God to use me.  A clean house makes my husband more at ease.  I can love on people instead of thinking about the things I should have gotten done.  So I clean.  Hopefully, next week I’ll remind myself of this.

See it takes work to be with people.  But that joy at the end of the night when we are all sitting around eating dessert and laughing and listening to each others stories is enough.  That’s what I clean for.  To be heard.  To be seen.  To be known by a group of college age students that mean so much to us.

Who are you letting in today?

I was reading through Thomas Merton “No Man is an Island” and I love this quote he gives by John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”  We need each other.  So we can say to ourselves and others “You were never alone.”

Enough

Enough: occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations. Competent. (m-w.com)

Last night I was doodling, playing with my watercolor calligraphy pens and listening to music, trying to find inspiration.

 

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I have always loved lettering.  I remember sitting in class in junior high and high school spelling “SMILE” and making block letters.  So calligraphy feels like an adventure back in time for me, with some added excitement with all these different types of pens!  I have always loved pens and journals too.  A natural tendency if you will.

I was listening to King’s Kaleidoscope “Rain” and the chorus is “I am enough, always enough.  You are enough, precious and loved.  Morning will come, sure as the Son,
I am enough, you are enough.  You are enough.”  (Go listen immediately*)

Not only am I enough, but you are too.  This song sings deep truths over my soul.

I didn’t always feel like I was enough growing up.  I fell into patterns of “pharisee” living-trying to earn my salvation.  Maybe you’ve been there too, trusting Jesus for your initial salvation, but after that you needed to get your stuff together instead of trusting in His work on the Cross continually.

Through counseling and tons of encouragement from friends, I am moving into recovery as a Pharisee.  Its a terrible way to live.  It eventually bites you.

So on this Tuesday, my kids are all home, I’m writing while one naps and the other two play and fight.  Reminding you and myself, we are enough.  We don’t have to earn or merit our salvation.  It’s done.  Jesus on the cross and raising three days later.  It was enough.  For you.  For me.  For the whole world.

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The Garden Tomb just outside of Jerusalem

 

I have written on my cupboard in the kitchen “You are Enough, because Christ is in you, and He is enough.”  (reference John 3:16, Colossians 1:27, and 1 Corinthians 12:9)

I pray those words sink deep into your soul, and mine too.

Those are the words that will change us for the better.