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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Five Minute Friday: Welcome

Joining Lisa-Jo and the crew for Five Minute Friday today where we write like mad on a given topic for five minutes.  Today the topic was welcome.  Check out my quick thoughts and then scoot over to her site to see what others laid out for us to ponder!

Mother put a yellow bow on the mailbox.  She sang this little song that I had never heard about a soldier coming home.  It was her sweet, simple way of welcoming us.

Brother and sister came home.  Helped us unpack.  Everyone was ready to work.  We went to dinner that night.  Laughed, ate good, laughed.  It was their sweet, simple way of saying, “welcome.”

Other gestures were made, grand and small by people who love and support us.  There were sad goodbyes and sweet hellos, all of it was to send us off into the harvest to be His laborers.  It was all good and it was all needed but I have learned that although there is a part of me that feels like she needs the affirmation and people support– the grandest welcome mat has already been laid out.  He laid it out in the great commission at the end of Matthew.

And He invites us over and over again to do His work, show His love, be a representation of the kingdom in this world.  It doesn’t take as grand a gesture as the one we have made.  It’s a daily life thing, accepting his invitation into the greatest workforce there is–the work of your life because of the life that was laid down for all of us when we had not sense enough to realize or appreciate it.  He wants us all to feel welcome in his love and follow Him and do the work.  When wondering, “Should I help . . .?” pause and realize that He is always looking for us to do his bidding.  You are welcome.  Roll up them sleeves and take up that cross!  Ain’t nobody mad but the devil.

His Work, Our Hands

God is always moving.  And He’s often trying to move me.

Lately I’ve been sensing this incredible pull to more ministry, in fact a complete change of lifestyle and a shift so that my life is centered around ministering to His people, third to my relationship with Him and my family.  Here’s how it happened:

Huni has always had a desire to work in full time ministry but in very specific ways.  A few months ago he spoke to me about us making a drastic decision which would plunge us right into it.  Time went by and we didn’t really talk much about it.  You know how it goes, life gets in the way: things to be done, comfort sought after a long day and then you wake up the next day and do it all over again.

But the Lord wanted to make sure that we were tuned in and listening.

Well, I went to the home of a phenomenal woman and she, along with her husband and children, have planted themselves in a low income community, even though they could afford to live almost anywhere, in order to be a light for Christ and live alongside the people and offer themselves to the people, in order to give them hope and practical steps to a brighter future.  I was so inspired as I listened to her talk about what it’s been like to live there and how her life as well as the lives of her children have been greatly blessed as they bless others.

After I left her home, a spark was lit inside of me.  Really.  I couldn’t get into my car fast enough before I was calling Huni and telling him all about the conversation and how our family unit needed to get focused, be in prayer and figure out how the Lord wanted to use us.

As soon as I opened myself up to the possibility that there could be more, there should be more, there were rolling hills of confirmation waiting to take me for a ride.

I am so excited to be used by God but, oh so afraid.  Frans, (that’s “friends,” but my cousin Chris pronounces it this way and I kinda like it :0) Frans, I like my comfort.  Wooooo!  For reals!! I seek it out, I watch for it, I protect it, I guard it with my life!  But I know that by doing this, I leave little room for the Lord to be my God of all comforts, as He says He is.

So, here I am.  At this place where I am happily content with my life and where it can go but still there’s enough room in my heart for dissatisfaction so that God may to speak into me and tell me about the ways that He may want to use me, push me, stretch me for His glory and for the sake of His people.  In truth, I really shouldn’t be so comfortable when there are so many hopeless and hurting people all around me.

I wonder is He trying to move you?  Is He trying to get your attention to tell you that the everyday mundane that you comfortably accept day in and day out is less than His best for you?  Are you willing to allow Him to show you what’s behind door number one?  You never know.  You might prefer to take what you can see, but behind door number one, His good and perfect will for your life, could be the life you’ve been waiting for, with thrills for a lifetime and peace enough to calm all your fears, with provision secured for all your needs.  I strongly encourage you to pray and ask Him what He’d like to do with you and then pray for the courage to follow.  We have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to rock this world!!  But first we’ve gotta have the heart and selflessness to fully stand on the Rock and the Rock alone, trusting that whatever He offers is better than anything else.

Salt . . .Light . . .Us . . .

I’ve always had high educational aspirations.  When I left to get my bachelor’s degree, I was already thinking about my master’s. And as I finished my master’s degree, I worked hard to quiet the roar for a doctorate.

After finishing undergraduate school I was bound to explore the world.  First stop, Manchester, UK.  I fell in love with my college sweetheart and he loved me back so passionately that just before I left he asked me to be his wife.  I said yes but I went to Manchester anyway.  Not wanting love to anchor me just yet, I moved forward in learning, exploring, discovering and then caught the first love train coming back this way when my stint was over.

Moved to his city just before the nuptials so that we could begin to build on some common ground together since our whole relationship had basically been long distance.  God, in the way that only He can, hooked me up with a job that included commission and a new apartment convenient to everything I’d want and need since I didn’t have any wheels just yet. (He’s so efficient, right?!!)

Then came marriage and we were happy.  We were thrilled, in fact, and our love for each other was so thick and full that it had us believing that we were fulfilled in every area of our lives.  For a time.

The ache for more came pounding, palpable and unrelenting.  My job was . . . cool . . . but I knew that it wasn’t supposed to be mine but for so long.  So I prayed and explored some more and even though I knew it would disrupt our comfort for a short time, I left it all. (here’s where I thank God for giving me wisdom to wait on and accept the man that He chose for me, ’cause my man was with me all the way, so supportive and genuinely concerned about my emotional well being.)  Again, God blessed me.  This time with a career as an educator and a position at a great school that offered an opportunity to obtain my M.Ed. (score!!!!!)

Then came baby girl one and we were ecstatic.  Prior to her conception, I had never made room in my mind or heart for children of my own.  Not sure why, just didn’t think I’d be fit to be a mommy.  But God softened my heart and gave me the desire for children and then gave me the desires of my heart.  E and I thought that life couldn’t get any better. We felt abundantly blessed to have Israel Grace.  For reals.  And things seemed . . .right.

Then came baby girl two and I was stunned.  Thirteen months later, she came sweetly into the world.  So many negative emotions flooded my mind and heart simply because I felt that I wasn’t ready for another baby and I wasn’t trusting God to know better than me. (covers face in shame)  I was terrified of what it would be like to have two children, much more two children less than two years old.  Terrified.  But I knew that I had to repent and get my mind right because whether or not I was ready He wanted to give me this gift and my, oh my, what a gift she is.  Ava Joelle is a blessing of massive proportions.  Absolutely.

My life seriously changed after she came.  But not for the reasons you might think.  Yes, it is difficult being mommy to two little girls.  So much to do.  So much to manage. SO much.  But after we had Ava, we decided that I would stay home full time, instead of part time as I did once we had Izzie.

Staying home full time has been amazing and hard and on another day I’ll elaborate.  It’s like a whole new world and nothing like what I imagined (I’ve watched too much t.v.).  As much as there is to do and as busy as I am on a daily basis, loving my family, caring for them, educating the girls, training the girls, caring for and cleaning my home and so much more, the Lord completely opened up my life and showed me that I was missing something.  One morning, I walked into my girls’ room and I could hear my Lord speaking to me, saying, “You can have the life you want.  You can do what you want to do with your life.  You are not in control but I have empowered you to make decisions.  But first, you need to figure out what you want. ”  And it felt like freedom to hear that.

I had recently heard an inspiring and exciting talk by my pastor’s wife, Mrs. Lynette Lewis (for more visit http://www.lynettelewis.com).  As she excitedly and confidently spoke about dreams and their power to energize, she awakened something in me.  And as she spoke practically about personal mission statements and how to put your dreams in action with the 1-1-1 rule (work toward one dream, once a week, for one hour) I became as the runner at the starting line at an Olympic track event; in ready position, just waiting for the sound of the gun so that I could take off running with the determination to win.

It appears to me that most of us have dreams and goals that we are not fulfilling for whatever reason–fear, lack of time, lack of resources, I could go on.  But I am discovering that none of these issues are powerful enough to hold us still, except for the power that we give to them by making them legitimate.  And what’s more, many of the dreams that I have are things that God placed inside of me and are related to my gifts and inclinations, unique only to me because of the purposes, works and people He has set aside for me to reach.

This week we had dinner with a sweet, sweet, funny couple (more on the wife, Whitney, soon).  After dinner Whitney and I got to talking and she spoke about how her giftings, at one time, didn’t seem to be life changing because some may not take it seriously (but I’m telling you, this woman is amazing and her art is a reflection of the creativity, innovation and beauty of our God) as say, moving to a third world country, adopting orphans and building homes while  sharing the gospel.  But then she spoke about how we, as God’s people, the representation of the Kingdom, are called to positively change and effect our culture, in. every. way.  That includes moving to third world countries and working there as well as it includes making a difference right where we are.  We are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).  So let’s figure it out friends.  What is it that makes your heart beat?  What would you do if you knew you could not fail?  What work would you do even if you knew that no one would pay you a penny or a compliment for doing it?  And where is God in these things?  Speak to Him.  Offer yourself up to Him and ask Him how He’d like to use you to change the world for His glory.  Listen closely and carefully.  Then get going! I believe that there is no job too big or too small, too silly or too meaningful when it is set to the tune of His course and purpose.  Let’s lay aside every weight and get busy.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

 

photo taken by raine, found on flickr.com