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.