Saturday, December 21, 2013

Advent Joy

I had the pleasure of writing this reflection piece on Psalm 145 for the Advent Devotional my church presented this year. So I thought I'd share it here with you, too. May we each take a moment today to savor, reflect, and remember the joy gift of our Savior King!


“They will celebrate your abundant goodness 
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” (v.7) 

In the midst of all the merriment, sometimes the Christmas seasons stirs awareness of our longings, our lack. Maybe you are still looking for that job. Maybe that Christmas bonus didn’t come through. Maybe spinning your wheels to secure the best department store deals has left your soul spinning, too. Maybe the strained relationships in your life have left you feeling separated from your Savior. Maybe all that feels abundant is your need.

Scripture assures us that the Lord is “loving toward all he has made” (v.13) and that he satisfies the desires of every living thing (v.16). What amazing promises! But what if that doesn’t just pertain to the desires you are waiting for God to fulfill? What if his abundant goodness is being poured out in your life every day?

The key to experiencing God’s awesome works is not to wait until life feels good. The key is to exalt him, praise him, and celebrate him today! When we take God’s Word as Truth and believe that, regardless of how we feel, he IS good, his ways ARE faithful, and his works ARE wonderful, then we can begin to see the evidence all around us.

A message from a friend with just the words your heart needed to hear. The sound of raining thrumming a winter symphony on your roof. A flickering candle, light dancing on the wall, apple spice aroma filling the house. The assurance that every failure and regret has been wiped away by the Savior’s atoning sacrifice—the Messiah born in the manger. These are all gifts from the perfect Giver, just a few reasons to sing joyfully to the King!

What evidence of God’s abundant goodness can you praise him for today?

“Holy God, you are so worthy of my praise and adoration! Please grow in me an awe of who you are and how you are working in my life so that my heart may overflow with joy and thanksgiving. Amen.”

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mud for My Selfishness

I don't want to admit it...

But some days, my kids feel like a burden. Some moments, mothering feels more like a chore. I feel irritated, inconvenienced, put out.

I don't want to admit it, really I don't...but some days the the overflow of my heart is not love and kindness and joyful training for my boys.

I like to rationalize these icky feelings. I mean, who wouldn't feel weary after six days of solo parenting while your husband is out of town? Who wouldn't be a little downtrodden from the demands of meeting the constant, unrelenting needs of three rambunctious boys? My feelings of wanting a little space, a little peace and quiet are valid, right? Plus, fill a tank that's depleted of patience with a healthy dose of PMS and who's gonna blame me for feeling like a I just want to play hookie from this mothering gig for half a day?

I just want an easy day. A day where my 4, 3, and 1 year old will all play perfectly, peacefully, without supervision so I can sit and just be. (If you have even one small child, you know that's not gonna happen, let alone with a trifecta of tiny testosteronies.)

These reasons may be understandable, even justifiable. 

But the real reason for my icky feelings about motherhood today is because I am selfish. 

As soon as I acknowledged this truth, the root of my struggle, I knew the way out.

The way to combat selfishness is to choose an act of selflessness.

 So with a small huff and a sigh, that's what I did.

And today selfless meant mud.

Letting my boys be boys. Down and dirty.

Mud squished between fingers. Caked in every crack.

I had to let go of my desire for control, convenience, ease. And as I laid down my desires for the sake of their delight, I found myself delighting, too.

Instead of feeling stuck in my weariness, condemned by my selfishness, I started to feel the warmth of the sun's shining rays.

I began to feel joy for the boyhood discoveries my little men were making.

I knew there would be clothes and shoes and toys, not to mentioned three filthy little boys, that would need scrubbing and demudding. But maybe there was beauty to be found even in dark dirt crusted on denim, ground into soles.

Yes, my soul was stirred with new life at the lavish boyish love for nature's gifts: an avocado, a tree, a root.

Maybe the mud was exactly what their precious souls needed today.
Maybe exactly what mine needed it, too.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

From Blah to Blessed

My autumn mantel is still in tact. We're moving in a week and a half, so it just doesn't make sense to pull out the Christmas decor. I'm longing for my sweet evergreen and holly berry wreath, but I guess there's an upside to being stuck in a decorating holding pattern...

Because I'm still seeing this every day:

Yesterday was a blah day. Ever have one of those?

I just felt blah. Bluck. Stuck. In a funk.

I felt blah for the constant raucous noise of boys. Blah for changing yet another diarrhea diaper. Blah for the broken garbage disposal and clogged up sink with breakfast oatmeal floaties. Blah for people I love going through seasons of deep pain. Just blah.

And then I read these words. "In everything give thanks."'s so vague. I see it every day. Say it every day. But sometimes the meaning gets lost on me.

So what would it mean if I replaced the vague with the specific?

In the chaos give thanks.
In the sickness give thanks.
In the mundane mama tasks give thanks.
In the broken appliances, small set-backs, temporary inconveniences give thanks.
In the seasons of praying for the seasons of pain give thanks.

Yes, making it specific makes the difference. Giving of thanks for specific things helped turn my blahs into blessings. 

But what's so blessed about a hum-drum-bummed kind of regular mommy-in-a-funk day? 

Blessed because every day is a gift! Every moment is a gift, if I choose to see it and GIVE THANKS for it. I'm NOT perfect at it. But God IS perfecting me through it. 

And living in the center of God's will is ALWAYS a blessing, isn't it?

(Did you know that to Give Thanks IS the Will of God?!)

"In every thing give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:18
So I gave thanks.

Gave thanks for this little munchkin whose clothes I had to change 4 times.

Thank you, God, for Jude's smile!

Thank you, God, for a little boy and his big bucket! 

Thank you, God, for eyes that shine and crumbs on lips! 

And I thanked God for my pirate and my super hero. 
For the grace to let three boys eat lunch on the couch.

Thank you, God, for brothers. 

Thank you for not leaving me in my blahs, 
but helping me see what "everything" is:
Gift. Beauty. Grace.

Everything is Your unfailing love. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jesus in my bathroom

I sat on the edge of the cold porcelain bathtub. Hot water pounding out of the shower head into the empty tub. Steam slowly filled the bathroom.

I rocked Jude and prayed the warm misty air would soothe his lungs and offer some relief.

Why does croup always hit in the middle of the night? Why does it have to steal my sleeping babe and replace him with a barking seal imposter?

My 17 month old fussed and fidgeted on my lap. He held my hairbrush and his brother's lime green squirt bottle until he chucked them on the floor in protest of being sick and tired.

My heavy eyelids begged to close, but Jude needed a few more minutes of steamy therapy.

So I began to sing.

The usual soothing bedtime tunes...Jesus Loves Me gave way to Gentle Shepherd which ushered in a chorus of As the Deer.

Then without a conscious thought or decision, I found the words of Silent Night pouring from my lips.

Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright.

Jude's little jammied body snuggled into mine and his breathing settled.

It was barely November and Christmas was hardly on my radar. But there in my steam-filled bathroom with dingy grout and a pile of little boys' discarded dirty clothes crumpled on the floor, the words of this classic Christmas carol washed over my heart.

I imagined how the air in that stable where the Christ child was born might have also been thick and steamy from the sweat of labor, the hot breath of animals, the stench of manure. I thought about how this sweet melodic song was really depicting a story that, to the mother living it, could not have been nearly as picturesque as our postcards and nativty scene figurines might make us believe.

I have given birth three times in a hospital (twice with drugs) and, let's be honest, it was not a pretty picture. How might my new mother horror have been magnified had I been laying on dirty straw instead of a sterile hospital bed with my virgin-delivery husband catching my babe instead of a seasoned doctor?

Silent night. Holy night. 
All is calm, all is bright. 
Round young virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace! Sleep in heavenly peace.

After the chaos and confusion of birth there was this Holy child. A Holy child whose presence must have masked his mother's pain, who made that smelly stable holy, too.

Heaven's peace filled that otherwise ordinary space. 

Glories stream from heaven above
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah

And God whispered to my heart,
I love you. I am here, filling THIS musty, ordinary room. My heavenly peace is available to you, too. I am Holy. Praise me for my holiness!
I didn't want to be pulled from the comfort of my cozy bed and restful slumber to care for a sick child. But, oh, what a gift it turned out to be!

Because there in my steamy bathroom, Jesus showed up.

And my heart was filled with joy. Not happiness for circumstance. But joy for Christ.

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
Jesus, Lord at thy birth!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wiped Away

Do you ever feel like an entire day of good parenting is wiped away by one bad mom moment?

The homemade wholewheat and oatmeal chocolate chip pancakes for breakfasterased.

The living room fort you built, the sprawled-out jigsaw puzzles you guided, the choo choo train you constructedvoided.

The way you kept your cool when you discovered the four year old had stolen gum out of your purse and distributed the sweet and sticky treats to his brothersundone.

The wrestling and cuddling, the singing silly songs while dancing delirium until little boys wrapped round your waist squealed in delight, the lunch making and floor sweeping and diaper changing, the giving children quiet playtime so they could see you quiet your soul to commune with your Saviorever feel like ALL of it was negated by one negative moment?

If you have, you're not alone.

Because today, that's how I feel. 

I feel like it was all for nothing because in one moment where the baby was screaming because I wouldn't let him stand on the arm of the couch and his biggest brother was sulking over not being allowed to watch another show and then the middle one tried to pick up the screaming baby around the neck and he wouldn't release his headlock vice grip when I sternly instructed him to LET GO, in that one moment, I lost it.

The yell vibrated from my belly and the anger shot fiery darts from my eyes and I put the child with the big deer eyes roughly on the couch and told him over and over how bad and dangerous and mean that was until hot tears were pouring down his satin pillow cheeks all flushed with shame and fear.

And then I cried, too.

Cried I'm sorry, please forgive me.

Cried it to my son. Cried it to the Son.

Elias wouldn't let go of his brother quickly enough. And I was too quick to let go of my God.

...Recently I wrote about grace. How all the sweet and meaningful blessings that fill up our days are God's sweet grace in our lives. But the thing is, grace is not just about the blessings. It's also about the belonging. 

Grace is God never letting go.

I felt like all the good and fun, precious and purposeful moments in my day were wiped away by one moment of rage.

But thankfully how I feel isn't always what is true.

Because the truth is, what's really been wiped away is my sin. And He remembers it no more.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Grace

It's seeing 49 pop up on the airline scale when 50 lbs is the checked-bag limit.

It's dying to read her story because you couldn't get it out of your mind, and then finding the divine tale among the treasure loot in the best swag bag--the perfect airplane reading for the twelve hour journey home.

It's being convinced that the red and black stowaway crayolas ruined an entire load of laundry and then finding a post about how to get the crayon out and the crazy method actually worked!

It's your husband coming home early on the one afternoon he had to himself because he knew that boys smashing raw eggs under the dining room table made you come undone.

It's tears of joy over an ordinary trip to Costco turned extraordinary.

It's losing your mind to brothers bickering and then catching the biggest one cuddling the littlest.

It's praying for two years for the perfect house, the bigger house, while trying to be content in the smallness where the baby has to sleep in the bathroom because there's just no other room... and then once content, receiving the home long desired.

It's hearing the raspy words birthed from the three-year-old's soul that "You're my bestest mommy ever"--words that don't remember you lost your patience at all things boyish and yelled at those sweet boys.

It's clear blue skies and warm October breezes. 

It's baby eyelashes long and dark. It's afternoons swinging with friends in the park.

It's hot peppermint tea and the Word in a quiet house.

It's a friend who really knows even though you're just getting to know her.

It's hot showers, water pounding calm down your back. It's Jesus standing in the gap for everything you lack.

It's every time He makes beauty out of the mess, every time He gives more when you deserve much less. It's the light when you thought there would only be dark. It's the gift that gives joy's fullest spark.

Grace is cream in my coffee. Hugs tight around my neck. It's being okay with being a wreck.

 Fall leaves in every autumnal hue. Forgiveness for me. Forgiveness for you.

*   *   *

This post is part of Lisa-Jo's fabulous Five Minute Fridays. Come check it out.

Five Minute Friday 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I can tell you by living it.

I’m 30,000 feet above the sprawled out landscape of low-ridged mountains, mocha land covered in winding tan veins of deep ravines. Somewhere over southern New Mexico, I think. Somewhere in between my journey from Greenville, South Carolina back home to Glendora, California.

I look out the oval window next to my F27 seat, watching wispy white clouds stretched like cotton, and I wonder…

Where do I start in telling the story of how God used one evening of dish washing procrastination to set in motion a four-day adventure on the other side of the country that would stir my heart and change my life in ways I had dared not dream?

How do I fully describe the wonder of God’s incredible provision of finances and childcare and prayers that followed his miracle of a ticket to a sold-out conference?

How can I completely capture the beauty and splendor of being in a room of 450 women who follow hard after God even when it’s hard because they are captivated by their Maker, compelled to love their Creator and all whom He created?

How can I craft the right word pictures so that you can see the God-glory of hands held high in praise, the God-grace of hearts bowed low in surrender, the God-gratitude of faces shining Jesus-light in overflowing joy?


How can I convey the thrill of hearing the humble yet radiant Ann Voskamp speak live words of poetry and passion, power and truth? Or the delight of a divine encounter in the hotel lobby where Sarah Markley went from my writer’s inspiration on a page to a gracious friend in real life? Or the blessing of having God’s women pray over me, women like Rici, Shelly, and Laura, who started out as strangers and ended up as soul-sisters I wish I could hug and live life with every day?

How can I impart to you the impact of Allume?

The answer is, I can’t. Not fully. Not the way my heart is bursting to.

But I can tell you this:

I went to Allume to learn more about blogging. To be encouraged in my craft. To be equipped to execute. To be around like-hearted women who use their love of words to fulfill their Kingdom call.

And God was gracious to accomplish those things.

But what I really learned is that it’s not about growing my readership, it’s about growing my relationship with the Holy God.

It’s not about increasing my blog traffic, it’s about increasing my trust in Him.

It’s not about perfecting my writing, it’s about pursuing the only perfect Writer.

Scheduling my next post means nothing if I don’t first seek His face.

How can I tell you what Allume meant to me?

It will take time. Time to live it. 

Live real life while seeking His face so that I can shine His light.

So that's what I’ll do. And as I do, I’ll continue to share and celebrate the moments that make up the journey.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Creating Beauty

Last night I had planned to joyfully do laundry and worshipfully wash dishes...but then I saw this free printable at A Holy Experience and instead was stirred to create something beautiful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 has been a theme verse for my life for the past year, plus with Autumn now upon us and all things pumpkin spice and thankful grace compelling my senses to savor this season, I knew right when I saw this beautiful sign I had to display it in my home as a beacon for continuing to count each moment as a gift.

So I was inspired to do a Fall mantle makeover!

This is what it looked like before...

Now, since my creative stirring came at 9 pm last night with my husband out of town and a house full of sleeping boys, a trip to Target or Michael's was not going to be possible. So I decided to "shop" my own home, scavenging cupboards and collecting decor from different rooms in the house.

And this is what I came up with...

I got out the tall ladder in the garage and retrieved this lovely leaf wreath from the rafters. (I store it with my Christmas decorations and every year I kick myself for not remembering to get it out in the fall...and this year I remembered. Yah!!)

Then I put the Give Thanks print in an old picture frame I found in a forgotten cabinet, repositioned the Give Thanks and Blessings Abound blocks (my favorite!), and snagged this sweet birdie tea light holder from the sill above my kitchen sink. Swapped the little framed mirror from the original look with this pretty amber star from another spot in my house. 

And wha-la!!

I think the whole thing came together great. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and full of thanks to sit on my couch and look at this little collection of beauty.

I love to create. I love beauty. I love to create beauty. 

As I was debating whether or not to share this little joy moment in my life as a post or not, I initially hesisitated at the thought. I mean, a mantle makeover is not spiritually deep or's just decorating. And is there meaning in that?

And then I heard it. Heard it in a whisper to my heart.

Your love is a reflection of my love. That is who I AM. The Creator of All Things Beautiful. 

And there is always meaning in reflecting ME. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Laundry

What if I stopped complaining about it?

What if I stopped feeling overwhelmed by it?

What if I stopped being bitter towards it, beat down by it, and bemoaning every time I had to do it?

What if instead...I started to be blessed by it?

Blessed by the never-ending piles and socks without a match and I just want to relax while the kiddos sleep and not have to fold and fold and fold some more?

Yes. Blessed by all of that.

What if I praised God that I have access to hot water and 900 choices of softeners and detergents lining Target's walls?

What is I praised God that I'm not stooping down at a river's edge rubbing fabric between rocks because he's given me a machine in my garage that does the washing for me?

What if every time I folded a little boy's dinosaur t-shirt or knee-worn jeans I thanked God for the strong heart that t-shirt covered, the strong legs that run and crawl and jump and climb each moment of each day in that thinning denim?

What if I took off the shackles of duty and responsibility and put on the garment of thankfulness, gratitude, and all-things-are-grace? 

Whites and darks and towels and sheets and mismatched piles overflowing out of my closet and every  basket in the house. Yep, that's where I'm at today with my laundry.

But instead of begrudging the chore, may I embrace the challenge of choosing to be blessed.

*   *   *

Love me my Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo! Blessed to be a part of this amazing community of writers who gather each week to write for the love of writing, and then encourage one another for the bravery to do it. You don't have to have a blog to participate! So come check it out!

Five Minute Friday

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

Nothing feels glamorous about searching on your hands and knees for soggy Cheerios trapped in the looped rug beneath the dining room table.

Nothing feels spectacular about setting your timer to go off every 15 minutes so you can take your toddler (who may or may not be screaming) to the potty...again.

Nothing feels paramount about performing another rendition of the Alphabet Song in a new accent to keep your kids entertained so you can quickly slap on some makeup to cover the new wrinkles creeping in each day and the dark eye circles that never go away.

Nothing feels significant about making another peanut butter sandwich or quesadilla or blueberry waffle with extra cinnamon sugar sprinkled in the "dragon caves."

Nothing feels impactful about kissing another booboo or breaking up another fight, about singing the same bedtime song 12 times in one night or helping rebuilding that block tower until it's just right.

Nothing feels important about changing diapers, brushing teeth, buckling seat belts, or wiping tears, bottoms, and noses.

Nothing feels life-changing about soothing middle-of-the-night bad dreams or satisfying pleas for just one more drink of water please. Or reminding for the thousandth time DO NOT put toys in the light socket or lock you brother in the bathroom or pick up the baby or pick your nose.

Nothing about mud and boogers and pee and poop and vomit and who-knows-what is caked on your shirt and stuck under you nails feels marvelously magnificent or remotely meaningful in the big picture of life. 

But that's the magic.

How we feel doesn't dictate what actually is.

And the thing is...all this seemingly ordinary stuff makes being a mother anything but.

*     *     *
Come on over to Five Minute Friday to see what others are writing about "ordinary."
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Write

I've known since I was seven years old. I want to be a writer.

It was Mrs. Barber's poetry club that did it. I remember the pastel drawing of my favorite stuffed monkey my mom drew for the front cover of my laminated poetry collection. I remember my rhyming poem about a fuddy duddy muddy buddy, my concrete poem about a rainbow, and my haiku about wind.

Even as a scrawny second grader with ragged pigtails and a freckled nose, I knew. Knew that words had power and emotion and life. Knew that stories lived inside me, and that words were the key to unlocking them.

Imagine. Believe. Write.

From second grade to my senior year of college, my answer to the recurrent, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" question remained the same. I want to be a writer.

And there have been several mile markers along the journey that have affirmed I was headed in the right direction.

Mrs. Lunsford, my eighth grade language arts teacher, told my mom at a parent-teacher conference that I was the most talented young writer she had ever taught.

Mr. Allison, my favorite high school English teacher, wrote in my junior yearbook that I could be the next Hemingway or Fitzgerald, or whomever I wanted to be!

So my choice of college majors: Creative Writing, naturally. I declared it before even starting my first class at Cal State Long Beach and stayed true to my writer's dream my entire college career (unlike one of my roommates who fell into the typical majority and changed her major at least five times.)

And yet...

Here I am...all grown up, and I spend  a little time writing, journaling, blogging, but I often feel unworthy to call myself a "writer." I don't have a picture book with glowing illustrations displayed in the brightly colored nooks of Barnes and Noble. A collection of poetry with my name embossed on a book jacket is nowhere to be found. No novel or devotional or New York Times Bestseller.

Just a handful of rejection letters from a feeble attempt half a decade ago.

So how could I be a writer? I  haven't lived up to the dream.

...and then these words from her precious heart resonate in mine:

"Sometimes I think we over glamorize writing.
We make it something that must reek of Hemingway, Lewis, or Lamott before we’re brave enough to share it.
Who says?
You see I think the quiet secret is that you can be a writer and no one needs to recognize your name to make that any more or less true. I think your story matters. The one you write at midnight in 600 word blog posts. The one you scrapbook. The one you piece together for your kids as you fill them in on what grandpa and grandma were like.
You are a writer.
You actually already are."
It was as if Lisa-Jo wrote them just for me. These words that I have pasted in my Mother's Notebook, a place where I write.

Yes, I write.

So I'm learning, accepting, that it's not a dream or a degree, it's not praise or publication that makes me a writer.

I am a writer...because I write. 

*   *   *

Thank you, Lisa-Jo, for Five Minute Fridays where you write brave and bold each week while encouraging and inspiring the rest of us to do the same. I'm so thankful for your voice.

Five Minute Friday

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Minute Friday: True

I remember driving in the car with my husband and my first son, all pink and new, along the windy  road that curved between the open hills and backs of random homes with farm animals in the suburbs. I remember wincing at each bump in the uneven payment, still wounded from the war of delivering the precious gift now tucked snugly in his Graco car seat.

And I remember crying. Tears just streaming down my new mama cheeks. Crying because once our black Saturn rounded that final curve and then three more short turns till home, it would be time to nurse again. Time to let this new-life Noah latch onto his only source of life-giving food--the latch that made toes curl tight with pain that shot my whole body through.

Crying tears of overwhelmed. Tears of exhaustion. Tears of I never knew that this natural thing would feel so unnatural and I really want it to work but it sucks the joy life out of you to do something eight, nine, ten times a day that feels so awful, so awkward.

I remember my husband touching my knee. Not sure what to do. "You don't have to keep nursing," he offered. "We can go get some formula." He was trying to be sweet, give me freedom, reassurance. But this was something I had to do. For my son. For me.

Seasoned moms said that it would get easier. I had to believe it was true.

And true it was.

*   *    *

I think back to that day more than four and a half years ago, and wish that I could hug that new, desperately tired, trying to do right mom. Tell her that she would go on to nurse three boys, each for more than a year, and there would be tender moments without pain and the gift of bonding and nourishment and nurturing would be so very worth it.

In many ways I feel like a totally different person now, different mom. Yet there are new things about my current season of motherhood, raising three boys, 4, 3 and 1, that stir in me that same worn to the bone and at my limit cry because I want to do the very best by my sons no matter the cost but some days I can't help but succumb to the tears because I don't know if the struggles will get better and if all sacrifice will be worth it.

But I'm guessing that in another four and half years I'll know that it was and that it did, too.

Five Minute Fridays over at Lisa-Jo's. Writing on one word for the sake of creative bravery in a community of women who love words and Jesus. Today's word is True. Come check it out.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I don't have time?

He kept running in and out the back door.
"Mommy, come watch me! Come watch me, Mommy. Come watch me!" he panted over and over with no breath in between.
His cheeks were rosy and I could see a golden sweat-soaked lock peeking out from beneath his his fierce blue and black shark helmet.
"I'll be out there in a minute," I told him, trying to muster a little enthusiasm.
But I didn't want to go out there in a minute. Didn't he know that this was Daddy's time to watch him and his big brother ride scooters and bikes and it was my time to clean the kitchen, listen to my soothing Holy Experience piano soundtrack, and enjoy that Jude was happily eating Cheerios and watching me wash dishes while securely strapped into his elephant booster seat?

But the third time Eli's sweet, persistent pleas echoed across the kitchen walls, the third time I grumbled to myself, I don't have time for this, I suddenly (thankfully) had a shift in perspective.

I don't have time to take my hands out of the dirty dish water so I can watch my beautiful boy? I don't have time to give this living piece of my heart a moment of my attention? I don't have time to put aside my charge toward productivity to cherish being present with my family?

I recently wrote about my desire to make my washing holy work. But sometimes following the Holy Spirit means stepping away from the washing to go and be with the ones waiting to be loved.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She

She smiles wide each time I see her, not because life is perfect but God is good. She leans in when we talk with eyes that shine understanding, empathy, encouragement, love. She is wise and beautiful in all her years, but counts joy her greatest accomplishment over all the degrees and jobs and accolades.

She's the first one to ever truly care for my heart, to let me lean in deep, pour out all the brokenness and fears, desires and dreams, knowing love and belonging wait on the other side. She never judges or condemns. Just gently leads though listening, careful question asking.

She was generous when she had little and now she is generous when entrusted with much. She's always looking for ways to serve, to lighten the load, to let me know I'm seen. She gives without expecting in return, but always returns gratefulness and thanks for any gift she's given.

She's not afraid of a messy house or rambunctious kids but invites the sharing of life in the midst of it all.

She chooses her friends carefully so it's a privilege to be chosen, called friend, invited into the tree of trust. And she is always trustworthy. She does not gossip or break confidence or say disparaging things behind my back.

She uses her words to breathe life, bring joy, offer hope, show understanding, spur you on toward good deeds, demonstrate compassion, empathy, and daily-doses of God's amazing grace.

She is so very humble--never grumbles or complains about her struggles, never boasts or brags about her strengths. She is a pillar, a rock, a tree deeply rooted in God's truth and love and grace.

She gives permission to be exactly who you are, exactly where you're at. She loves me as I am and inspires me to be more of who I was created to become.

She is intentional. Beautiful.

She is the very best, Jesus-shining parts of ALL the women I am so blessed to call friend.

*   *   *

"On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend 5 minutes writing on the same prompt."
This post is part of Lisa-Jo's Five Minute Friday link-up. This week we're writing about "She".

Five Minute Friday

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Mercy

They fought me on it even though they love it. 
"But my legs will get too tired," one whined.
"But I just want to stay home," the other one fussed.
Staying home would be easier. But on this particular day, I knew getting out would be better, for all of us. Getting out would mean stepping out of the traps we fall into where bickering and frustration make us forget how much we desperately love each other. At home, more rules are broken and patience is worn out until the mama almost breaks and turns on the TV, desperate for some peace.

But there's another way to get peace.

To get out. To breathe deep the fresh air and take in the beauty of all things earthy, green, created.

So I dug deep, ignoring the preschooler pleas for what they thought they wanted and persevered for the sake of what was really needed. 

Forty minutes and twenty-two miles later we were there. The Arboretum welcomed us with its wide open gate and rushing waterfall. The curved dirt paths beckoned us to explore. We wound our way to the "slide tree."

The huge banyan stretching branches to the sky and sprawling age-old roots long and wide and deep across the ground. Nooks and crannies making perfect hiding places. Crevices as wide as bodies creating nature's playground slides.

Lizards scurrying, birds singing, leaves rustling in the breeze. Too many blessings to soak in for children to bemoan their mama's "meanness" in whisking them out and away. Too many blessings for the mama to remember to groan over the friends who couldn't come with, or the tantrums that had to be diffused, or the shoes that had to be baby wiped clean because the four-year-old put his feet in the swamp four minutes in to our out-in-the-world exploration day.
"Brother, brother, come and slide with me!" 

"Wait, come and find swords and dragon tails with me, brother!"
Soon they were exploring in the nearby undergrowth, coming out with dead sticks and beaming pride for their treasures.
"Whoa, that's a BIG one," each exclaimed for the other. 
Smiles stretched wide and the baby squealed in delight and soon was crawling up and sliding down the blessed banyan, wild to be a big boy adventuring, too.

In that sparkling moment of three brothers happy free, I almost felt like that common Arboretum dirt, stuck under nails, smudged on cheeks, caked on knees, was now sacred earth giving birth to childhood wonder and cherished memories.

And as my mama heart swelled with thankfulness for how the beauty and gifts always outweigh the daily-grind struggles, I was struck by this: I don't deserve any of it.

I don't deserve the light and joy and beauty overflowing in these moments. The harmony, peace, delight, and belly-laughter glee I surely have not earned.

I fight God even though I love Him. I fall so short. Yet, He daily picks me up. And gives me what is better.

His mercies are new every morning, indeed.

*     *     *

This post is inspired by Lisa-Jo's Five Minute Friday link-up. Five minutes. One prompt. Unlimited possibilities. So thankful to be encouraged to write by this amazing group. Come join the fun!

Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ordinary Beautiful

If you've been reading my blog for very long I hope you know at least a few things about me:


I LOVE my family.

I'm NOT perfect and that's why I need a perfect SAVIOR.

I try to savor each moment,

count each one a gift,

 and choose joy in all things

because that's what we're called to do.

And if you've ever read anything by Ann Voskamp, like her bestselling book or blog, you would probably guess that I also love her writing, her heart, and her joy dare to count one thousand gifts.

Daily I am blessed by her challenges and inspiration to live fully right where I am

Like today, with umpteen hours sprawled out before me and feeling the hum-drum-bummed of daily life knocking at my door to take me out with discouragement and ingratitude for the daily routines of naps and meals and training brothers to trade selfless love for their "me first" and "that's mine" screeching preschooler whines...I knew that I had the choice to ignore the knocks and step through a new door with eyes wide open to find all things joy and grace and gratitude.

"Giving thanks for one thousand things 
is ultimately an invitation to slow time down
with the weight of full attention."
- Ann Voskamp

So while playing outside with the boys, I set my camera on macro and set about to find beauty masquerading as ordinary. And beauty I did find.

Color. Texture. Light. Life. 

Beauty. Blessings.

 "I only live the full life when
I live fully in the moment."

Yes, Ann. Amen! Me, too.