Deep Breaths

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Note:  I know that not all of my readers are moms, but I need to take this mom moment anyway.

Today was a day, okay?!?!  Busy, like most days, but as I was texting with one of my sister-Frans earlier tonight, I described myself as an introvert living in an extroverted situation, daily.

I am a stay at home mom.

I prayed for this.  Which in itself is an irony because I was the girl who never wanted children.  I mean, never.  I thought that this would cause problems in my marriage because Huni wanted children the minute we said “I do” but I said, “Boy, NO!”  So he waited, patiently, as God worked on my heart and then gave it desires for beautiful babies.  Then God filled those desires twice over.  And when we discovered that we were preggers with the first, then got her in our arms, I knew immediately that I wanted to be like the Levite woman and hide her away (Exodus 1:2).  So, I prayed that the Lord would bless us financially so that I could stay home and care for my new baby girl.  I worked part time and kept praying.  Months passed and my belly became swollen once more with yet another sweet surprise and my prayers became more urgent and intense as I felt that my best was compromised because I gave a percentage of it away everyday when I went off to educate other people’s children.  And He did it.  He gave Huni a job through which He chooses to bless us with income that allows me to spend my days with my baby girls.

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Each week, I face hard days.  But each day, I enjoy sweet moments.  Every few hours, I have to repent.  But every second, if I pause to receive it, grace abounds.  I see myself and the lack of patience, gentleness and understanding with which I parent.  I mourn over not being able to get it right.   I crave alone time and give way to self entitlement so that at the end of the day when the girls are sleeping, I can selfishly say, this is finally MY time, please just let me have MY time (but sometimes I don’t say it that nicely).  Instead of reflecting on the joy and love I felt as the Levite woman, I become the garden woman, tempted by the crafty serpent to slap God’s hand away by looking to what I cannot have, ungrateful for all that presently I have (Genesis 3).  And so, combined with legitimate fatigue of the mind and body, my emotions weigh and sway to the ebb and flow of condemnation, to gratefulness, to discouragement about the outcome of today, to hope for a better outcome tomorrow.  But, God’s grace abounds.

Tonight I had a good talk with another of my sweeeeet sister-Frans.  We laughed.  I felt a little lighter after a hectic day and found, through my twitter feed, this little video here:  A New Perspective For Moms from Elevation Church on Vimeo.  It felt like God’s gracious reminder to me that satan loves to use our weaknesses to distract us and cause us to take our eyes off of the One who can make us strong.  Oh, that I would train myself to fix my eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

To all moms (and all of you who hope to be moms, or know a mom, or have ever had a mom . . .):  Everyday is Mother’s Day.  Happy Mother’s Day to you.  My goal is to see myself more through God’s eyes, not my expectations and failings.  Will you join me?  As a wife, mom, daughter, granddaughter, sister, Fran, cousin . . . I won’t get it right every time.  But there is grace and God is good.  And in His grace and goodness, He will deal with me, and perfect me, and cover me so that He can receive the glory from every part of me.  Love you ladies!!  Through Christ, WE GOT THIS!!!  (Philippians 4:13)

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Saturday Night Contemplations

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I think we are most self conscious when we are acutely others conscious. . .

Don’t punish self for crimes committed by others.

Awkward stares, rudeness, insensitive comments, misunderstandings, heartbreaks. . .

Even though you have good reason to, don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Take heart. 
Our world is incomplete partly because we have so many impersonators and not nearly enough originals.

We need you.

The real you.

Then it occurred to me, many of us have spent so much time and energy trying to be something we’re not, or running from who we don’t want to become or trying to maintain an image or trying not to come off as weird … that we really don’t know who we are.  Some may try to shame you for this.  I say, congratulations. They say when you know better, you do better and now that you know, you have approached the passageway to a beautiful place called self discovery. It can be a lonely city; the names on the mailboxes of most of its citizens are Incognito and Inconspicuous.  Few people are willing to admit that as self assured and confident as they appear, it’s only a charade.

But it’s ok.

 Journey through your own adventure of self discovery. Take God with you. You’ll be a wilderness child spending unnecessary time going in circles if you choose to go without Him.  And as with everything I post here, this one is hitting home.  You won’t be alone. We’ll be neighbors.

The Show

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“Character refers to who you are.  Reputation refers to who people think you are.”

~Emily P. Freeman

So often we move and act, aware of the eyes that seek us out  . . . convinced that the eyes are ever present . . . “Girl, somebody is always watching . . . .”  We overact or prepare to perform without even knowing for sure if the audience is present and attentive.  This hyper awareness has the potential to have us spending money that we don’t have to impress people we don’t know.  It can have us posting to blogs and social media sites our every move, especially the really triumphant ones, executive producers of commercials and vignettes about the great lives we live.  So often this awareness makes us sensitive to the people we encounter daily, devoted family and adoring friends but it mutes and blurries the sovereign God and the conviction of His Holy Spirit.  The presence of people, our busy world, its persistent distractions–both beautiful and destructive–have a way of confusing what’s most important and therefore making us actors on the world’s stage.  At the end of the week, we look back and wonder at some of our decisions . . . or we fight our way through the week, each day a struggle like Rocky Balboa pulling that huge, heavy truck uphill, knee deep in snow, because the temptation brought on by the curtain call beckons us daily, and to keep focus, to keep true is harder than we realize.  Those of us who are most caught up in the performance have made it to Broadway.   People expect a version of ourselves that is not true.  They can calculate what we’ll do next and they know where to expect us.  Not because we are so predictable as much as it is because we have done such a good job at showing ourselves, making ourselves known.  At the end of a life, these people look back and wonder, “What was it all for?  Where has it all gone?”  Being careful to develop your character according to the Father by the instructions given in His word can produce similar results (as it pertains to a sort of predictability), but the actions are Christ-driven, the purpose is Christ-centered and reward is so much greater.  Living character-conscious takes care of reputation.  You don’t have to throw yourself in front of the spotlight . . .somehow it finds its way to you, like gravity . . . like the wind, they obey their laws and everything else flows naturally to its sway.

I received an Emmy for my role in the show.  Actually, I have a wall full.  No condemnation if you were my co-star.  Let’s pray for each other today, that we would look to the Master Director for our roles and lines.  Love and grace, Frans. xxoo

Five Minute Friday!

I have so missed this!  So glad to be joining the Five Minute Friday crew today!  Today’s word is “together.”  Five minutes.  One Word.  Here goes!

Together

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Mommy, may I have some water?

Mommy, I need to use the potty.

Mommy, what does frog mean?

Mommy, what are you doing?

Mommy?  Mommy?  Mommeeeeeee!  Mommy, I called you!

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I do dearly love those two little girls.  I get to spend my all day everyday with them.  It is a blessing and I know it full well.

When I go about my day doing laundry, or cleaning bathrooms, the cadence of their happy little feet mark time behind me, following diligently from room to room.  They volunteer to help even when there’s not much to do.  They RSVP to be by my side even when there has been no invitation extended.  If I sit, snuggled with a blanket, they take it as an open seat, and snuggle next to me.  They want to hold me.  They want to kiss me.  They want hugs.  They want me.

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And as much as I often want nothing more than a quiet moment to myself, I think to myself that one day, they will need the wisdom, love a listening ear and comfort of a mother.  They will need me, but if satan has his way, they may not want me.  I do not want to spend their little years having them practice being sent away to play or be otherwise engaged while mommy has a moment.  There will be moments I get to myself but for now I will love them. And I will enjoy us being . . . together.

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Replacing Sunday Mornings

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Strolling through the articles of one of my favorite sites I found this title–“Replacing Sunday Mornings.”  I was intrigued and the article left me spinning, thinking.  It’s essentially about the millennials, people born between 1981-2000, of whom about 60% have stepped away from the Christian church at some point during their faith journey.  I am a millennial but I did not trek with them in their great migration away from the church.  I have some friends who have, though they may not communicate it as simply.

The article was beautifully written and strikingly thoughtful.  Its relevance rang loudly in my ears, resounding a familiar heartbeat of confusion and angst when it comes to church experiences.  Huni and I have moved away from our local church as we have relocated for full time ministry.  We struggle now to find a local body in our new location that meets our needs.  Through the pain and loneliness of this period I link arms with the millennials and can see through their eyes and reason with their mind as to why one would leave the Christian church in search for something real, something true . . . community, truthful & graceful shepherding, Christ.

I know that so many people have had some really bad and hurtful experiences in the Christian church.  Some people have suffered there or just been disappointed as their needs have not been met.  This is real.  But the thing is, it is not a true, full love that loves Christ yet does not love His bride.  If you have relationship with Christ but not His church, your relationship with Christ is incomplete.  I believe that Christ was not so much referring to a beautifully built building with doors perpetually flung open on well oiled hinges, stained glass windows and a steeple when He talked about “the church” as much as He was talking about the collective body of believers in Jesus Christ–the church, but our Sunday morning and midweek gatherings are an organized entity of the body that we call “the church” and it is real, relevant and important to Him.

I am in a season where, if I lived in a cooler city with more to do, the temptation to replace my Sunday morning would be REAL and I’d have to prepare myself through prayer starting Friday night, not to give in to the temptation to ditch that Sunday morning time in a worship space with other believers.  But I press and Huni and I keep searching.  And I believe that God cares about our faith journey and will lead us to someplace where our needs can be met and we can participate in meeting the needs of others.  So I think you should read this article.  If you are in a similar place, let’s pray for one another.  God desires that we get back and trust Him to take care of us in those spaces.

What about you?  Are you in a good space right now as it concerns your Sunday morning with a local body?  Are you searching or have you left? Praying for all of us, no matter where we are.  Praise God for His grace.

xoxo

Photo Credit

Gracefully Accepting Higher

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I read this post by Stephanie Bryant in December and it was brilliant.  It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Huni and I recently moved back to his hometown to do full time ministry.  I was hesitant and excited about the move but once we got there I wanted everything around me to rise to our new normal.  I knew that things were going to be different but I wanted to hurry up and discover the differences so that I could contain them, normalize them . . .control them.  Uggggh!  Why oh why do we do this to ourselves?  New marriage, new job, new home, relocation, new baby, new friend . . .whenever there is a change, we look for a new normal and what I have discovered in my recent experience is that, with God, there is no such thing.

You see, God is always calling us higher.  Even when we’re in a season that makes us feel low to the ground, He is calling us higher because He is calling us to reflect Christ.   (Romans 8:28-29)

We’ve been living in our new town for about 8 months and it wasn’t until this week that I really starting getting into my groove and not feeling like a complete nutcase, chasing my tail in a 3 diameter circle going 75 mph.  I have learned, the hard way, that we have to give ourselves the grace of time to allow a change to morph into whatever it is going to become.  And we have to divorce the world’s notion of the new normal.  If the Lord answers our prayers and calls us to something immeasurably more than we can ask, think or imagine, why would we want to relegate it to what is considered to be normal?  

Here is merely a glimpse of the reality that we are called to everyday:

“so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”  ~Philippians 2:15 NIV

“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”  ~Daniel 12:3 ESV

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” ~1 Peter 2:9 ESV

Oh that we would learn to live comfortably in His marvelous light instead of the dull comfort that our yearning for normal yields.

We are not called to look longingly out of the window in search of what was good in our yesterdays.  So many times in His word, God likens us to stars!  Reminder: No two stars are alike (every star is unique).  Stars get their light from the sun (they are fueled, daily, by the most powerful source of light).  Their brilliant light shines forth from more than a billion miles away, yet their light reaches us and lights up the sky each night (they are potent, consistent and highly effective).

So, it’s been eight months and I’m just now beginning to get settled in . . .day by day and moment by moment I am going to continue to ease into this season of my life and instead of looking for the myth of the “new normal” I’m looking for each moment presented to me to shine like the star I have been called to be.

Five Minute Friday: Graceful

Joining Lisa Jo Baker, aka, The Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday today.  Check out my post below and click over to her page for more really cool posts rendered in a five minute dash!

Graceful . . .

When I was a young girl, I took African Dance lessons.  It remains, in my mind, as one of the best times in my life.

I was good.  No, ahem, I was goooooooood, honey!  I had so much grace, freedom, poise, purpose and passion in my movements.  I was the girl with the long brown frame who used her whole body to make each movement beautiful, as if the movement itself was just a part of my natural rhythm and sway.

I continued with the dance troop for years.  Followed it everywhere it went.  Danced downtown at festivals.  Danced in plays.  Danced at Spirit Square.  Made the paper.  Mama still has the clipping.  Me on the front, in the African garb looking all authentic and official.

And then classes were offered right up the street from my house.  It was like I belonged to the dance and the dance belonged to me.  We were meant for each other.  That troop and moving my body like that, it became a release.  It helped me see the beautiful parts about myself and love them, own them, appreciate them.

Then Mama and Daddy divorced.  So many things changed.  Mama didn’t want to live in that house anymore, even though Daddy had long left and the air was freer to breathe in since he took so much of the tension with him.

So we moved.

And I stopped dancing.

I haven’t been able to dance like that ever since.

And believe me I have tried.  ;0)

And even though I sometimes think that all I will ever have are the memories of a time when I was a great dancer, all graceful and sure . . . when I hear the sound of a drum beat, I am reminded that with all the things I lost back then, I never lost my gracefulness.