Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Summer Album… so far

The sun is shining, I feel the warmth of it on my face, tanning my much needed white skin. The breeze is blowing, water and pools flowing, and bare feet abound. Finally, summer had arrived and our long winter was over. We were ready for that change! Summer means bon fires, going to the lake, fair days and nights, toes on the dashboard, country music blaring. Thank you Jesus for summer time!

My husband has a busy travel schedule for work, but thankfully it's also allowed us to travel with him as a family. At the end of May, Eric and I took a much needed vacation to San Juan, Puerto Rico where we stayed at the Caribe Hilton. It was an amazing place, beautiful weather, and lots of things to do. I was personally thankful that the people there also spoke English… cause let's face it, I dropped Spanish is college. We did everything from paddle boarding, snorkeling and kayaking at the 3rd most beautiful beach in the world, explored downtown San Juan, ate amazing food, and soaked in the hot Caribbean sun!

In June, Eric took Miles and I with him to Gatlinburg, TN. He worked, we played. Kind of. It was my first time there, and it was gorgeous. There are tons of things to do in Gatlinburg and surrounding towns. Great family trip! And I'm pretty sure I was born with the southern hospitality, if only I had been born with the southern accent. It's my favorite.

Summer has been exciting so far and there is so much more to come! Thank you Jesus for miracles, sunshine, and the opportunity to experience the joys of summer.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Moments in Motherhood

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Whether you have children on earth or children in Heaven, you are a mommy and I hope you were celebrated yesterday! The older I get and the more roles I've taken on in life - becoming a wife and now a mom - I have begun to recognize the selfless sacrifices that my mom has made in her life. And still does. And I'm realizing those things because of the moments I have in my life as a mom. The last few days have really reminded me to reflect on my motherhood and all I will have to look forward to.

There are so many different moments we will experience in motherhood. My mom raised 4 kids with my dad… and stayed at home for 16 years. I was the oldest of the 4; three girls then a boy. All in 8 1/2 years. On my hard days with my one toddler son, I often wondered how my mom did it with four. How did she shower? How did she make time for herself? Did she ever get a nap? Now I understand why she wanted us to take naps! Not only because she knew we were tired and needed it, but I'm sure it was time she needed to herself! What about prepping dinners? School, sports, and church schedules? She was the first one to volunteer to help another person that needed it and stay after events to clean up. Why? Because it was the right thing to do. And through her example, I learned the right things to do.

As a mom, I have many moments of joy. Holding my newborn child for the first time was the most exciting, happiest days of my life. Then came the exhaustion. I'll never forget being so incredibly tired from waking up every 2-3 hours to nurse and change a diaper. But the moment I looked into my sleepy son's eyes and saw him snuggled against me, it was joy. There is frustration too. When you can't understand why they are crying, whining, throwing tantrums, throwing food, throwing balls at the TV. You can't figure out what they want because they haven't learned the words to say it. (Yes, these are personal experiences). You're yelling back at them, "I don't know what you what!" The moments when you know you need to teach them right from wrong, but what is the correct discipline to use? You have to take a deep breath and ask God to give you the right words and to continue giving you patience, like you ask for every single day.

I often find myself feeling guilty too. Guilty that I'm not spending enough time with my son teaching him his colors, shapes, letters, doing crafty things, or playing outside enough. Then there's the guilt that the dishes aren't done, the laundry's not put away, and there's not an extravagant meal on the table because frankly you're not a good cook and although you want to feed your family healthy meals, sometimes cereal or spaghetti will have to do. But then… that laughter. The laughter of my child is probably one of my favorite things. Especially when he's playing with his daddy or I'm tickling him. I love the moments when my sleepy son put his head on my shoulder and pats my back. Those moments when I can't believe he really does understand what I'm telling him to do. Those perfect little "Thank Yous" at exactly the moments he's supposed to say them. The kisses and hugs that make all that exhaustion, frustration, and guilt go away.

My dearest mommy friends - you are doing a great job! I think every mom feel these things at some point. And we all know it. We all want to act like we have it together but the good Lord knows we don't. Thank God that he tells us when we are weary we can come to Him and He will give us rest. Jesus tells us we don't have to worry about what will be on the table, He will provide for us. Yes, the Lord requests of us that we work hard for our families and do it with a right heart. But what a privilege we have to know that we have been chosen to be our children's mommys. Children are such a blessing from the Lord and we have a tremendous responsibility to raise them as Christ intended. So, take heart, moms… and enjoy all the moments motherhood has to offer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To Love, To Help, To Serve

Let me share something with you... maybe you can relate.

I don't like to do dishes. I don't like to sweep or mop. I don't like dusting. And I really don't like cleaning bathrooms. Laundry, vacuuming, picking up toys... I can handle.

I love preparing to get organized. Creating cleaning charts, keeping my calendar up to date, creating a home command center. But I don't always follow through. I have my organized piles. Most of the time I know where right where to find things. I have great motivation. But my actions aren't really intentional. My husband wishes I was a little more intentional in my actions and not just my the motivation in my head.

I am a "stay-at-home" mom. I use that term lightly because it just means that I don't have a full time job working for another company outside the home. I am a wife, a mom, a maid, a cook, a personal shopper, etc. But I am home almost all day. There are errands to run, grocery shopping to do, some yard work, laundry to start, continue, fold and put away, floors to sweep, mop, and vacuum, shelves to be dusted, bathrooms to clean, dishes to be done, meals to be prepared, a Thirty-One business to keep alive, and OH YEAH... and a year and a half old son to take care of, teach, play with, feed, and put to bed. A stay-at-home mommy is a busy, rewarding, hard job. It's hard to keep up with everything that is required - it's hard to do it with a right heart sometimes too. BUT - it's a privilege I (we) chose, and therefore I need to work my hardest at it.

My husband - wants, needs, and appreciates a clean house. After a long day at work, he wants to walk in the door and spend quality time with his family. Not quantities of time cleaning. It shows him that I respect him when our home is clean. And as much as I "get that"... I'm not very good at helping fulfill that area of our marriage. I argue with it, I give excuses. Yes, we can all be realistic and admit it's not always possible to walk into a clean house, especially when you have young kids at home. But I should still be trying my best, with a right heart and pure intentions, to be that helper for my man and meet his desires and love languages. Even if I don't understand them. Why... because I promised to love, cherish, and help him. Your relationship should be a priority above all others.

Here are some biblical principles for marriage:

  • God created wives to be helpers to our husbands (Genesis 2:18)
  • God commands wives to respect our husbands (Ephesians 5:33)
  • God commissions our husbands to be leaders of the home (Ephesians 5:22-24)
Sometimes these are tough truths to handle and it requires some humbling in our selfish, independent hearts. Sometimes we are so quick to lead our men, boss them, and criticize them. In Courtney Joseph's book, Women Living Well she writes, "God desires that they (our husbands) be servant leaders, but whether they are actually doing that should make no difference as to our attitude of being their helpers."

She suggests three simple concepts when it comes to helping your husband.
1. Know your husband. Know what he likes and what he doesn't. Help him when he asks, without questioning him. Always have an attitude of helpfulness. Look for ways to meet his needs.

2. Do not compare your husband to your friend's husband, your brother-in-law, or your pastor! Your husband is your husband and he is unique. Don't expect him to be anyone else besides who God has called him to be.

3. Do not wait for your husband to "deserve" to be helped. Do what is right no matter what he is saying or doing. Have the right heart and attitude.

So today I challenge you - wives - work hard at whatever you're doing with a humble, right heart. Whether you understand what your husband is asking of you or not, choose to love him for him and to show him you respect him.  Respect is an attitude of the heart that will be displayed in our actions. Be a servant leader, a support system, and a helper. Your marriage will be better for it and so will you.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My children dance in Heaven

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. 1 in 8 couples have experienced infertility. I am one. As of this year, we have 3 babies in heaven. Yes... that's some very personal information that I just shared with you. But through each miscarriage, I have learned that God wants me to share my story with others. If I can encourage, be there for, listen to, or support another woman who has been through this, then I will share my story over and over. To God be the glory.

With each of our miscarriages these are the emotions: Fear. Worry. Doubt. Anger. Depression. Lost hope. Why? Why give me hope or excitement just to take it away? What happened? What could I Have done different? And along with these emotional comes what I know in the depths of my heart: I trust you Lord. I have faith.

Our babies went to heaven before we could meet them here on Earth. Babies who are rocked by their grandmother (Eric's mom Tonda), their Aunt Miranda (Eric's sister), playing with great grandparents, and chasing around other siblings and cousins. And I know that one day I will hold them. But for now, Jesus is.

I don't know why it took so long to get pregnant with our son Miles. But I do know that God has perfect timing. I don't know why God allows me to see a positive pregnancy test, just to lose that hope after a week. Why does He allow me to get excited? I don't know... but someday I might. God has purpose and reason. And while I may not understand His timing, purpose, and reason... I know that it is right. Yes there is anger, disappointment, fear, sadness. All normal. All natural. I have to allow myself to feel these things again and know that it's okay. I'm allowed to be mad. I'm allowed to be sad and grieve.  Lord, remind me it's okay and acceptable to feel this way. I don't have to hide it or pretend I have it all together.

My prayer is that the Lord teaches me hope again, with no reserve. To trust Him with no boundaries. With every loss I've learned, we've learned, that God's timing is perfect. His purpose and promise for my life is real and I can trust it. I can believe that God is good. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Purpose and Promise

There is a lot of trials, sickness, confusion, and change happening in the lives around me. My 7 year old cousin found out he has leukemia over a month ago. And now his only hope is God and a bone marrow transplant. On top of that his family has to move out of their house in a few weeks. And they need a new van to get them back and forth to the hospital. Our head pastor at our church has had to resign after 25 years at the same church, 10 of them as the pastor. There is change coming, and we don't know what it will look like. 

And yet through all these things, through all the prayer, I hear God say, "Trust me, I have promises to fulfill in your (and their) earthly life (lives). That's why I put you here on this Earth. This is for my glory." Sometimes Christians are so focused on the Lord's returning and going to heaven that they forget there is purpose for their lives here on Earth. Why else would God put you here?! In Beth Moore's book, Believe God, she writes, 

"God has made us promises. Real ones. Numerous ones. Promises of things like all-surpassing power, productivity, peace, and joy… while still occupying these jars of clay."

No matter what you may be going through now, or what you may go through in the future, there is purpose to it. And God has promises for you. The Word of God tells us that He knows the plans He has for us - they are plans to prosper us, to protect us - to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Whatever we go through, God has purpose for. Whether it's to show us a better way, to teach us how to become more like Him, to break down our walls, or to allow our story to affect others for Him. It's all for His glory.

Open your Bible. Read how much God loves us and what He has for your life. Cling to the Word of God. There is TRUTH and POWER in the Word. There is comfort, peace, promises, and solid ground in Jesus' words.

"Nothing keeps the mind sane in adversity like the Word of God.

If you know it, then you know peace. If you've read it, then you know hope. And it you love it, then you know love. You would know that love can heal.

When the waters have breached and flooded the walls of your heart, it's the Word of God that rescues you. 

And when the rhythm of life is out of beat, it's the Word of God that becomes your conductor. And when the earthquake comes to shake you, the Word of God is the pillar you can hang on to.

Our mismanagements, brokenness, and sins are all subject to the Word of God.

They are all subject to love because LOVE CAN HEAL."

Pastor Steve Reynolds
Hope City Church

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Heart to Share

Much of my life's journey has been written into words. Words flowing from my heart, tears, joy. And as I've grown in my relationship with Christ, in my marriage, as a mom, a daughter, a sister, and a friend… I've continue to write my prayers, hopes, and dreams. And I want to share my journey with you. My hope is that God will use my writing for encouragement in other's life. Maybe it will challenge you. Maybe it will make you laugh. It might change you, and give you a little insight into a changing, and beautiful life.