Saturday, October 12, 2013

When Your Heart Grows Legs

I recently (as in yesterday) applied for a part time babysitting job.  It seemed like it would be a perfect fit for Sully and me.  It was two days a week for a few hours in the afternoon.  It would be watching a little girl the same age as Sully.  She would nap for part of the time I would be there which would be great because it coincides with Sully's nap.

Honestly,  it seemed like a perfect fit.  Until I got the rejection notice.  "Thank you for your interest but I am not comfortable with that.  So sorry!"  Not comfortable with me bringing my little guy with me.  I've been rejected before.  Let me count the ways.  But this felt different.  This felt like a rejection of not just me but my son.  And it is breaking my heart.

I heard once that when you have a child it's like letting your heart walk around outside your body. That's how I feel.  My heart grew legs, sprouted blonde hair, grew 6 teeth and waddles around in the cutest little way imaginable.  My heart has a name.  He has a face.  And I can't think of anything I wouldn't do to protect him.  To fight for him.

The truth is that Jesus told us that in this world we would have trouble but to take heart because He has overcome the world.  The hope in this is that while I know that I will have trouble and Sully will, too,Jesus is bigger.  Hope is beautiful.  Hope provides a healing balm to my hurting heart right now.

And this woman, she doesn't know that she's missing out on her daughter having one amazing little friend in my guy.  She doesn't know that his smile lights up a room.  I'm sure her heart is to provide the best possible thing for her daughter.  And because she's a mom I'm pretty sure her heart sprouted two legs and is walking around outside her body, too.

Navigating motherhood isn't easy.  It's not easy on Saturday mornings when you are sitting at your computer crying because your heart hurts and you realize this is probably just a taste of what's to come throughout the years of loving your kid.  There isn't a neat little bow to tie on this post today.  My heart still hurts but I have hope.

"Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying." Romans 12:12

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heartI have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rantings on Being My Best

As I stood at the peninsula in my kitchen the other day preparing lunch for my little munchkin I thought about the phrases, "Just do the best you can," and, "I'm just trying to be the best person I can be."  Growing up I heard those phrases a lot.  I haven't heard them as much in the past few years.  And what I started to wonder was what Jesus thinks about those phrases.

Are those phrases that he ever spoke to his disciples?  Do those phrases reflect the heart of God?  And what I think at the moment, and reserve every right to change my mind on, is no.  Let me tell you why.

Doing our best and being the best we can be just doesn't truly amount to much.  In the grand scheme of life it doesn't get us far.  Think about the apostle Peter.  Do you know where his best got him?  Asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus told him to pray because in just a few short hours people would come to arrest Jesus and then crucify him.

Do you know where Paul's best got him?  Persecuting and killing people that believed differently than him

.  Paul's best was zealous.  Paul's best won him the approval of some and made others quiver with fear.

And how about James, Jesus' half brother?  James best got him missing that his own half brother was the Son of God.  The Messiah.  The Christ.  James' best had him thinking that Jesus was out of his mind.

Don't even get me started on my best!  My best was a girl who longed to be loved and looked to all the ones who could never fill her because they couldn't even fill themselves let alone someone else.  My best was a girl who no matter how hard she tried couldn't change her broken heart, fix her loneliness from never having a father who cared or a mother who was around.  My best, even now, is broken and tattered, with false motives and selfish ambition.

This is why I think that God's heart is never that we try our best but that we realize He's our best.  I think God's heart is that we live in a continual awareness of how our best is not what it's about but that living a life surrendered to Him is what it's about.

At the end of our lives we will stand before the God of the universe and I don't think the question He will ask us will be, "Did you try your best?  Did you be the best you, you could be?"

Remember Peter, Paul and James?  Before they really got who Jesus was and what He came to Earth to do, their best was pitiful.   But after Christ died on the cross and rose, conquering death, sin and the grave, they got it.  And then it was Peter doing life filled with the Holy Spirit, living completely and wholly for Christ.  It was Christ's power through Peter.  And Peter built the church.  Christ's power through Paul brought people to Christ and Paul penned a chunk of the New Testament.  Jesus' half brother James- he became a man of prayer and helped lead the early church.  He lived surrendered to Christ ministering to Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah.

Remember me?  The girl whose best left her empty and longing?  I no longer try to do my best.  Instead, I live in an awareness that Jesus is it.  He's the beginning and the end.  The One who knows me and loves me and who fills the empty places of my heart.  I no longer need to perform.  I can rest.  I can sit back and be filled.  Anything good in me?  It's Jesus.  Without Him I'm just a girl with a tattered heart, false motives and selfish ambitions.

But Jesus came in to my tattered heart and His best is making things new.  His best is taking broken hearts and making them whole.  His best casts light on false motives and selfish ambition and trades those things for compassion, gratitude and love.  His best is truly THE best.

So, my dear reader, today I encourage you to lay down your best at the feet of Jesus.  Sit and be loved by the God who knows you.  And see if maybe, just maybe, His best is even sweeter, even more beautiful than your best.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hello Monday!

Hello Monday!

Let's say hello to some things, shall we?  

Hello one of my favorite months, October!  I love the cooler weather and all the colors of fall.  As the leaves change and drop it reminds me that God created beauty in all things.  

Hello pumpkins and mums and trips to the pumpkin farm!

Hello to spending another week with that cute little boy!  Love him. To. Pieces.  

Hello week of reading!  I'm currently reading Jesus the King by Tim Keller for Tuesday AM Bible study and The Invisible War by Chip Ingram and reading/SOAPing through the book of Mark and reading Randy Alcorn's Heaven devotional.  All are really, really, really good! 

Hello homemade pasta sauce that simmered all day on the stove yesterday.  We'll be having left overs for a while! 
Hello meal planning and trying to cut our grocery bill.  I'm going to take the $50 a week grocery bill challenge.  No coupons, just smart shopping and planning!  We'll see how I do.  This will mean staying away from one of my all time favorite destinations- Wegman's.  But look out Aldi, here I come!

Hello to a clean kitchen!  Hello to being in a cleaning mood today- this doesn't happen often so I am running with it!
Hello to another trip to the Great Pumpkin Farm on Wednesday with MOPS!  Super excited for that!

I hope that you have a wonderful Monday.  What are you saying hello to this week?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Identiy lost Identify found

I sat in a coffee shop a few weeks back with a friend.  It was my first night out without the baby or my husband in what feels like a very long time.  I was pumped.  A Saturday night all to myself?  A Saturday night to just sit in a coffee shop, sip my decaf coffee and not worry about having to rush because the baby needed to be fed or had to get to bed.  Wonderful!

And in a lot of ways it was wonderful.  I got to catch up with my friend.  I got to enjoy an entire cup of coffee uninterrupted (and if you are a coffee drinking mom you know just how wonderful that is).  I got to be outside of my house.  

Then there was the part that was not so wonderful.  The part I am still struggling with.  Identity.  As I sat in this cute coffee shop I looked at my friend.  She sat across from me sporting really, really cute patent, gray heels, a black sweater, mustard scarf and jeans.  She was wearing heels on a Saturday night.  And she had the most beautiful gray leather Nine West bag.  She looked fabulous.  She looked so put together.  

I don't remember what I was wearing, but when I left my house I knew it was a step up from the yoga pants and t-shirt I had worn that day so I was feeling good.  But something happened as I sat across from my beautiful friend as we talked about her job and how it was going.  I started to feel lost.  I was always the girl with the cute shoes.  I was always the girl with the new, cute bag that I got for a killer bargain.  I was the girl...

So, if I was that girl, who am I now?  Who am I now that I can't afford new shoes or a cute handbag, even if it was a killer bargain?  Who am I now that I don't wear heels.  Like, ever.  Who am I now that I don't even know what the latest trends are (except I do know this whole ugly tights style with normal length shirts is in, and I'm sorry, I just can't get on board.  I could go on an entire rant, but maybe that will be an entire post).  Who am I?

I think that entering different life stages, especially motherhood, has a way of bringing us to an identity crisis.  For what seemed like a really long time I was a college student.  Then I graduated.  That was a tough identity crisis transition.  I worked for a few years with high school kids.  That job ended and I didn't know what to do with my life because for two years I was the girl who worked with high school kids.  

Here's what I'm learning and in no way have fully grasped- I can say until I'm blue in the face that my identity is in Christ, but if I sit in a coffee shop and wrestle with who I am because my shoes aren't cute than I do not fully believe my identity is in Christ and I need to continue to learn who I am in Him.  I know in my head who I am in Him.  I know what the Bible says about who I am.  But I am not believing it.

So, I want to post a video I watched today that my friend shared on Facebook.  I hope that it encourages you the way it encouraged me.  And I hope today, whether you have the cutest shoes, or you, like me, are wearing your worn out, old, stinky running sneakers that you would know that you, sweet reader, are so much more.  I hope today, we (yep, I'm writing this for me, too) believe we are who God says we are and we stop limiting our identity to what we wear, what we've grown up believing about ourselves, and/or what others say we are.

You are loved.  You are created in God's image to be loved and to be known by Him.  And trust me on this one, He's so much more than an amazing pair of shoes or a handbag.  And we're created for more than cute shoes and name brand handbags. 

Message to All Women  Click that link to watch the video!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hello Monday!

I've been following this blog by Lisa Leonard for a while. I absolutely LOVE her jewelry.  I have received two pieces (the Mama necklace and the Love is my Anchor necklace) as gifts and they are perfect- meaningful, beautiful, fun to wear!

Apparently the dog crate is the new exciting thing!
So today I decided to link up and say Hello the way Lisa does every Monday.  Let's go!

Hello Weight Watchers!  I missed not having a meeting last week because it was Labor day!
Hello 49.2 pounds- which is what I've currently lost.  Holla!
Hello starting up working out again after a little summer hiatus.  Jillian Michaels,  you always kick me into shape in the best way!
Hello napping baby, which is why I have time to sit and write this!
Hello warmer weather- could it be the last warm up before fall?
Hello cleaning my kitchen and cooking dinners- there is something about the structure of Autumn that I absolutely love and is motivating to me!
Hello Sully's first haircut!  Given by my mother in law- he looks so grown up even though there wasn't much to trim off.
Hello trip to Rochester to visit my grandma and hopefully my first trip to Trader Joe's!
Hello trying to be more consistent blogging- let's see how this goes.  

How about you?  What are you saying Hello to this week?  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Trade it

Do you want to know how God taught me a truth the other day?  C'mon, you do, don't you?  If you are thinking it was during some quiet, serene, peace filled moment, you are wrong.

If you are thinking it was when my one year old threw a temper tantrum over an empty sippy cup, then I would have to ask if you are stalking me, because you are right on!  Go you.  But stop stalking me.  Not cool.

On the floor was an empty sippy cup.  It had previously been filled with water that Sully had finished.  He was playing on the floor and came across the sippy.  He picked it up and was trying to drink it.  It was empty.  

I see this.  I go and fill a new sippy cup with milk and I try to hand that to him.  He then throws a temper tantrum because he does not want to give up the empty sippy cup.  Did I mention that it was empty?  I tried to take away the empty cup to hand him the full cup.  He didn't want it and he threw a temper tantrum complete with rolling on the floor.

It's silly, isn't it?  But I do the same thing.  There have been and there are so many things in my life that just don't satisfy my soul.  They are empty and they leave me empty.  But I fight to keep them.  I turn to them to fill me (eating, shopping, vacations, security this side of heaven, trying to keep up with Jonses' even though I don't even know who they are).  They don't fill me.  They never will.  

And God, who created me with a hole meant just for Him, stands before me, offering me all I ever need, offering all that will satisfy my thirsty soul, and I see Him.  But I cling to my empty cup.  

All Sully wanted was something to drink.  And as his mom I was offering him something good- milk that will satisfy his thirst and nourish his body.  It's not that I wanted to deprive him of something good, it's that compared to what I had, what he held in his hands just wasn't that good.  In fact, what he held in his chubby little fingers didn't even compare!  
 My cup is empty.  Whatever I try to fill myself with other than the Lord; His truth, His word, His love, does not even compare.  But when I let go and when I surrender my empty cup to Jesus, He fills me.  My cup overflows in the best possible way.  

One day I will stand before the Lord of the universe, and the truth is, the empty sippy cups I hold in my hands will look even more empty compared to Him.  I don't want to waste this life holding an empty cup.  

If you've ever clung to an empty cup, or are clinging, here is the good news.  You didn't miss your chance to trade it.  The Lord, in all His mercy, in all His love, wants to trade you.  He wants to take your empty cup and fill you up with His love and His grace.  He did all the work.  You just need to open your hands to receive it.  He loves you.  God is crazy about you. And what He wants you to have, a relationship with Him, will fill your soul like nothing else, and probably knock your socks off, too!  

Thanks for stopping by today!  Here's to cups that overflow!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sully!

Dear Sullivan,

It was one year ago that you graced us with your presence after four nights of letting us know you were on your way.  It was one year ago that I experienced what real pain felt like and would realize after holding you in my arms those first moments that you were worth it.  Did you hear me?  You were worth it.  You still are. 

It was one year ago when I realized that somehow although I just met you it was like you'd been around forever.  It was one year ago when I realized that I was capable of loving more than I had ever imagined loving a little being that would poop on me.  I love the Lord.  Completely.  I love your father, unconditionally.  But you, you I love with a fierce, mama love.  I don't have to protect the Lord.  I don't have to protect your dad.  But you, you I am responsible for, to love and protect and train.  

It was one year ago that I began to understand better God's love for us.  Holding you, so little, so needing me, unable to do anything for me, made me realize that God's love for humanity has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him.  It has nothing to do with what I bring to the table because in light of who God is, I don't really bring anything to the table.  In light of who God is, I'm a helpless baby.  But He loves fully, completely, fiercely.  

It was one year ago today that I realized it doesn't matter what you do or who you become- that I will always be your mama and I will always love you.  And it clicked again, that God loves us as a parent and He loves us in that way.

A lot has happened this year.  And a very wise friend told me that the days are long but the years are short.  That is the truth.  Sometimes I get through a Monday and feel like I've just walked through an entire week.  But waking you up on your birthday I realized how fast this year went.  How in 12 short months you have grown up before my very eyes.  

So, my sweet Sully, This is what I want to say to you:  That I love you.  I'm crazy about you, kid.  You make me laugh.  Your hugs, they are the BEST hugs.  And you have a smile that just lights up a room. You, my sweet boy, are a gift to me.  To our family.  God has done a work in my heart this year, He's refined me in ways I didn't see coming and I just don't think that it's a coincidence that the things He's done have been the year you've been in my life.  And I know the refining, though not always easy, will help me to be a better mom to you.  My heart is continually humbled when I think about getting to be your mom.  I love being your mom.  
And here's my dream for you:  That you would love God with every fiber of your being and that you would care more about what He thinks about you and what you're doing than anyone else.  And that you would love your family well.  That you would enjoy time with us and that you would know that family is a gift.  And I really want you to have an honest relationship with your dad and me.  I want to be the kind of mom where you can cut through the niceties and say it like it is because you know that I will keep walking with you.  I want you to take risks, make mistakes, and when you fail, I want you to learn and grow from them.  I want you to love well and be loved well.  I want you to grow up and be who God created you to be.  And I want you to take note from the godly men that God has put in your life- your dad, grandpa, uncle Todd and uncle Chad- lean on them, learn from them, be real with them. They love you and I can't think of a better group of men who will model for you what it means to love Jesus and to run after Him.

Happy Birthday, Sully.  Here's to many more!  

Love you (to pieces!),
your Mama

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fighting the Snuggle

I've been reading a lot in the book of Luke lately and there is a phrase that I just feel I connect with.  Mary, Jesus' mama, treasured things up in her heart and pondered them.  I do that.  It's why I haven't written in so long.  Life has been happening and I keep treasuring and pondering.

But tonight I sit at my computer after what feels like a long couple of days of mothering and I could just weep.  Not sad weep.  But not necessarily happy weep, either.  Just weep.  Maybe it's too much treasured in my heart getting it all out weeping.  None the less.  I could weep.

There are lots of things going on right now and I don't want to get into all of them.  Some are incredible answers to prayer and just downright, knock your socks off, I don't deserve blessings from a very loving, Almighty God and other things are a little bit tougher.  And a couple things are really tough.

Sully is getting his two front teeth.  It's been going on since Sunday.  Poor little guy has swollen gums and he had a high fever, then a low fever and now no fever but is totally miserable.  So, tonight, as I was tired of the endless cycle of what feels like: make breakfast, clean up, change diaper, prepare lunch, clean up lunch, change diaper, change diaper, change diaper, cook dinner, clean up dinner, Sully was done.  He was just done.  He didn't want me.  He didn't want Ryan.  He didn't want to be in his walker.  It was time for a bath (which normally he loves) and he didn't really want that either.  In fact, he kept trying to stand up in the tub, it was like he was doing everything in his power to get out of the tub.   It didn't matter where he was or who he was with he was just not happy.

I got him dried off and ready for bed and I started our night time routine of snuggling.  He just kept pushing me away.  The tired, exhausted, overwhelmed mama wanted to just put him in his crib and be done. The tenderhearted mama that cherishes that time wanted to hold him so close that he would just melt and give in to the snuggle.

I went with the tenderhearted mama approach and eventually he calmed and then thirty seconds into his crib he was asleep.  I came downstairs and sat here at my computer.  I realized I was miserable today, too.  I realized I've been miserable for a few days now.  Tired.  Overwhelmed.  Emotionally tired.  Sully stiff arms me when I'm holding him and he doesn't want to be held.  I do the same thing to God.  I did it today.  And in the quiet of tonight, as I sat here, alone, I knew I was guilty of that today.  I just wanted to be left alone and I was done.  I don't want to be loved on or encouraged or reminded that the God of the universe loves me with an everlasting love.  I just want to fight.  I want to push.  I want to kick and cry.

Thankfully, I don't think God ever has to wrestle with, "What approach should I take with my children?"  Yes, he speaks hard truths.  Yes, there are consequences to our sin.  But He always, always, forever and always goes the way of love.  It's truth spoken in love.  It's discipline because He loves.  It's consequences so we remember HE is better than whatever shiny thing we went and ran after... again.

So, His tender voice of love tonight, that spoke truth to my heart, brought me running back to the One who gives rest to the weary and whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.  Yes, I am tired.  But in Him I have rest for my weary soul.  In Him, I have life abundantly.  I am overwhelmed but in Him I can lay my burdens down and pick up peace.  Yes, I am emotionally drained but He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I don't know what things you are pondering in your heart.  I don't know if you can relate to my tired with life feeling today or not.  Regardless, wherever you are, whatever you're treasuring in your heart or whatever you are walking through, crawling through, or trudging through, in Christ is love, peace and life that brims over the top of cup.  If you need to lay down some burdens tonight, I'm right there with you.

Matthew 11:28-30
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  

Psalm 73:26
 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Five Years

Five years ago today, on a bright, cool, sunny, Friday I stood before the Lord, family and friends and I vowed to love my husband for better or for worse.  I remember the day so well.  I remember the days leading up to that day so well, even though at times, in the moment, they felt like such a blur.  And that day, my life changed.

I'm not trying to be melodramatic (I don't really ever have to try to be melodramatic.  It comes easily.  It's a gift). But my life really did change.  I went from living alone to living with Ryan.  I went from having my own bank account to sharing one.  One moment my last name was Adamski and the next it was Kader.  One day I was a fiance and the next I was a wife.  Life changed.  And in my wildest dreams, as life happened, what it looks like today is not what I would have dreamed it looked like.

Well, I think I would have said on that beautiful May day  five years into this marriage thing we probably would have a house and a baby.  But although I may have uttered those words I certainly never stopped to really grasp what they would mean.  It all seemed so far off.  I have heard horror stories of people's first year of marriage.  Ours was wonderful.  Some of my favorite memories are from that first year.

And as I was awakened at 5 am this morning by a crying, crabby baby the thought that floated through my still sleepy mind was, "This isn't what I thought five years would look like."  Because the truth is, even though a house and kids were totally in the picture for me at some point, they are, in essence, a lot less glamorous in real life than the dreams you dream on your wedding day.

Yes, I've been up since 5 am.  Yes, I've had a fussy baby most of today.  My house is a mess because my grand plans of picking up and cleaning and even mopping the floor today were met by a shortened nap time and a baby that chased me in his walker.  Chased.  Yes.  Chased.  I had to put on sneakers because he kept running over my toes.  He kind of sang as he chased me around the first floor.  It reminded me of a scene in The Walking Dead when the Governor is looking for Andrea and he is whistling.  If you aren't familiar with that, then think of the Jaws theme.  My 8 month old terrorized me today.

Totally not what I envisioned or dreamed of five years ago.  But here's the truth that I kept reminding myself of today:  Life was good before I had a baby.  But life is also good now.  And, Danielle, despite what you tend to tell yourself, your life was NOT that glamorous before a baby.

It's the grass is always greener mentality.  If only I could sleep in once.  If only I could leave my house without six bags on my shoulder and a baby carrier in the other.  If only I could remember things again.  If only I could... fill in the blank.

You may have a grass is greener situation, too.  I've realized the problem with the grass theory is that I miss out on the very thing God has for me today, in my current season or situation.  My eyes are fixated on something other than Him.  When I take my eyes off the pasture I'm longing for and put them back on the Author and Perfector of my faith, Jesus, then I realize that I am incredibly grateful to build a life with a man that has stuck with me for better and worse.  There have been better times and there have been worse times.  And Ryan has walked with me through both.  I realize that this little  terror hell raiser beautiful baby boy is a gift and a reminder to me that God heals the deepest wounds and enables us to love others well.  These days I love beyond what I ever thought possible.  I was once broken.  And loving others well once seemed like a hazy dream I had woken up from too soon; unable to fully grasp and definitely not reality.

So, today I want to wish Ryan a very Happy Anniversary.  Ryan, you help make Jesus even more real to me by the way you love and sacrifice for our family.  And I want to encourage you, sweet reader, to stop thinking the grass is greener.  It may very well be.  But you're not there.  You're here.  And by longing for over there I guarantee you're missing something this side of the pasture.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Words that Stick

Have you ever had someone say something to you that was so true that it just stuck on your heart like a thumb tack on a cork board?  I have.  It was years and  years and years ago.  That third "years" just made me feel a little old.

It was the summer after my freshman year in college.  I was driving with a friend to meet other friends at a coffee shop and we started arguing.  I honestly don't recall the details, because honestly, the details weren't all that important.  It must have had something to do with me having an expectation and him not meeting it because what he said next, well, actually, what he yelled next, was, "You're always keeping score, Danielle." There were other words about nothing ever being enough but keeping score pierced my heart.

In the moment it pierced it in a hurtful way.  In the moment of this conflict I felt small and angry.  In that moment of driving in his beat up car, on the expressway on a cool summer night the lies that had long lived in my head pierced my heart, too.  "It's always you.  You'll never be cared about the way you want to be.  Your own friends don't really even love you."

Thirteen years later and that night is as vivid in my mind as ever.  Though I've long since lost touch with this friend his words that night still pierce my heart.  But they pierce my heart in a life giving, God has redeemed me kind of way.

Let me share.  I never did feel like people loved me the way I needed.  The truth that I later came to realize was that only God could and the freedom of that truth set me free to love and be loved in a healthy way with healthy expectations.  And I did keep score.  I still have a roladex in my head and can remember way too many things but nowadays that roladex is less about keeping score and more about just remembering.  Because, the truth that my friend communicated to me that night was a truth I would need to learn for every relationship in my life.  And it's a truth that has helped me to have a better marriage.

Ryan and I had a rough weekend.  I was really sick and when I get sick I seem to be a less effective communicator.  Instead of asking for things I think he should just automatically know.  When I'm sick, why doesn't my husband become a mind reader?  So, we had it out on Sunday.  And those sweet, truth filled words spoken to me 13 years ago rang through my head as they tend to do whenever Ryan and I fight.  Those words have become a boundary for me to not bring anything else into the ring except the current issue at hand.  Ryan not being a mind reader is not grounds for me to list the last 10 times he's failed to meet my expectations.  The truth of those words combined with the work God has done in my own heart and the power of forgiveness I've experienced through Christ set a boundary for me.  And they release me from living in a really ugly place of keeping score and feeling as if people need to meet a certain score.

And the real issue obviously isn't that my husband can't read my mind.  It's that I failed to communicate.  Communication is so important.  I know you probably know that.  I know you probably don't have communication issues in any of your relationships but man, I need that reminder sometimes!

It makes me smile because my friend from long ago has no idea that those words he yelled at me have pierced my heart in a positive way.  And I love that in the moment I did not know that God had a plan for those words, for that truth and that He would ultimately redeem that in me.  Mmmph, isn't that just like God?   He's not a God of keeping score.  When He forgives, He forgives.  He takes the sin away.  He doesn't condemn.  And when he deals with an issue in us, He doesn't dredge stuff up just to make us feel bad.  Or just to make a point that yep, we're not good enough.  He only brings up the stuff He will deal with.  The stuff He wants to free us from.  The stuff we're settling for that's less than Him.  And He loves us through it with all the grace of a Savior that took our place and never looked back.  With all the grace of the One who created heaven and earth and then humbly came, put on some skin, lived among us, God with us, died on a cross and conquered death does.

Let's not keep score today.  Let's love as people who have been set free.  Let's forgive as those who have been forgiven and didn't deserve it.  Let's choose to live today humbly and gently with hearts pierced by the truth of who God is and how much He loves us.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gratitude Friday

I drove back to my hometown yesterday and I took some time to talk to God about some things I was grateful for.  I realized it had been a while since I did that.  It was refreshing to take my eyes off of the hard things and place them back on Him.  So, here is a shortened list of some things I'm grateful for.  I would encourage you to do the same!

1)  Grateful for a loving husband and little boy that can melt my heart just by putting his head on my shoulder.

2)  Grateful for a car, that although cost us some money this week to fix, is now safe to cart that little guy around in.  And silly as it may sound, I really like my Toyota Corolla.  I'll be sad when it's time here is done.

3)  Grateful for old friends that you can pick right up where you left off with them.  I shared a yummy lunch with an old friend yesterday.  That time was a gift.

4)  I am incredibly grateful for sunshine.  I didn't realize how the dreary days here have taken a toll on my overall attitude.  Love me some sunshine!

5)  I am grateful for random phone calls from friends.  I am generally not a phone talker, but I realized how loved I feel when I get a phone call out of the blue from a friend.  

6)  Finally, I am really grateful for our dog.  I was gone all day yesterday and when I came home it was like his world just got better.  He would have crawled in my lap if I would have let him (and he's 70 lbs.  Not a lap dog, but don't tell him that).  He didn't leave my side.  That furry little big mutt makes my heart smile.  

Happy Friday!  Enjoy whatever this day holds.  If it's hard stuff then enjoy WHO holds this day.  Remember, God's mercies are new every morning.  He is faithful.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day 20 The Legacy of a Mom

What is going on with all the sickness going around?  Last week we battled the stomach bug this week Sully's got a horrible cough and snot coming out of his nose 24/7.  To quote my husband, "I thought it was a booger, but itsnot."  Ha!  Love that old man humor.

Keep on track, Danielle.  Keep on track.  So, tonight I put Sully down for bed.  And he woke up a few times.  I recently went in and picked him up.  I don't normally do this since we were really pro sleep training. And it worked since he can put himself back to sleep.  But I know he's not feeling well and I just wanted to comfort him.  So, I scooped him up and he just laid his little head on my shoulder.  I melted.

My mama heart was bursting!  It's been months since he's done this.  It used to happen the first two months all the time.  I would get up to nurse him and it was part of our routine.  But it's been so long, I realized how much I missed that sweet little boy's head on my shoulder.

I sat in the glider in his room to savor this moment.  To just be.  My baby in my arms, asleep.  And I sang a song to him.  And then I recited the line from that book, the one that every mother with a son has, "I'll like you forever, I'll love you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."  I smiled.  And then I started to cry.

I thought how really, as long as he is alive, I will always be his mama.  Even when I get to go home to Jesus I will still be his mama.  There will not be a day he walks this earth where that won't be true.

I thought about the legacy I can leave my son.  I thought about the things I do now that would live on long after I'm gone.  I have a friend and his mom passed away when he was  young.  Her memory is precious.  She left a legacy.  I didn't have that with my mom.  I don't have that.  What she left me was more hurt than love.  More what not to do's than how to's.  I don't want that for Sully.

As moms we have this incredible gift to shape our kids.  To love them.  To mold them.  To see their potential, their light, their personalities and to train them up and build them up and send them out into a world that is in desperate need of people that speak truth, live out grace and are humble.  The world doesn't need more people that believe they are worthless, or live to only fulfill their own desires.

So, here is what I want my son to know.  To believe.  To carry with him all his days on this earth.

Dear Sullivan,

I love you to the moon and back.  Don't you ever doubt that.  And although you mean more to me than you will ever be able to know (well, until you have a child of your own), the world does not, nor should it, revolve around you.  I don't mean that to sound harsh, my sweet boy.  But what this world needs is more people that are set on loving others even though there is a cost.  It needs less people trying to satisfy needs that things in this world can never satisfy and more people that are set to fix their eyes on Jesus, love as He loved, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

You are strong enough.  You are enough.  Because God created you.  Because He loves you.  Because His promise is to never leave you or forsake you.  When you are weak, He is strong.  Be a voice of truth in the midst of so much junk, so many lies.  Be a man of grace and don't hold a grudge.

Love well.  Whatever you do, do it well.  Choose your words wisely.  Invest in your family.  Have fun but not at others expense.  Laugh.  Laugh a lot.  Smile because you have the BEST smile.  And know, please, please know, I have prayed for you all the days of your little life.  And long after I am gone, my prayers for you will live on.

I hope to spend many, many, many more years with you building a legacy.  I love you.  to pieces.  to the moon and back.

Your Mom

My 20 days of being real has come to an end.  My plan is to keep blogging.  My hope is that you will keep reading.  And my encouragement to you today is this:  You are enough.  You are loved.  You were created for a purpose.  Love well.  Leave a legacy.

Be blessed today sweet reader.  Be blessed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day 19 This is Church

Can I be absolutely, completely honest with you right now?  Instead of sitting at this computer I desperately want to turn on the tv and catch up on Pretty Little Liars.  Sigh.  Don't judge me on my tween television picks.  Or the fact that it's the middle of the day and I want to veg on the couch.

But instead I'm here, in front of my computer, on Day 19 of being real.  When I started this blogging journey I thought I would long be done before the middle of January.  I definitely thought I would be done before February ever came and went.  But it's March.  It's March.

Anyways, here's what I want to share.  Do you go to church?  I go.  Most Sundays.  We skipped last week.  Yep, we totally skipped church.  But here's what I realized today.  I've been to church three times this week... actually, four... nope, make it five.

We have a friend who says, "That's church!" when something real happens.  My husband shared that with me and I smiled and I thought, it's pretty true.  I'm not dogging on church on Sundays.  Go.  I like it.  Find a church that teaches the Bible and believes that God is good, just and loving; One that believes Jesus is God with skin on and lived a sinless life, died on the cross for you, for me, and rose on the third day to ultimately give us the greatest gift we could ever know- life with God, a relationship with Him and an eternity with Him.

But church can happen every day.  I sat at my dining room table last night as a friend poured out her heart.  I sat there asking some tough questions and following up with some loving truth.  She cried.  My heart was tendered.  It was doing very real life with another person centered around the truth of who God is and the truth of who He says we are.  That's church.  My heart praised him when she left my house because He showed up.  Right there.  In my little dining room.

Today another sweet friend sat at the very same table.  And we laughed and cried.  We talked about hard, real stuff.  It was honest.  Soul wrenching honest.  And we spoke truth of who God is and the amazing, unpredictable ways that He works.  He was glorified.  And that was church.

Earlier I spent almost more than an hour on the phone with a friend and again, there were tears and truth and love.  There was forgiveness and grace.  Two lives intertwined by a loving Heavenly Father who has created us to do life together.  That was church.

Tuesday mornings you can find me gathered around a table with a group of women that I am humbled and honored to know.  I get to see them for Bible study and there is honesty and depth centered around God's word.  And I am continually challenged as they share their lives, their hopes, their fears, what God is calling them to and how they are following Him.  Yep, that's church.

And on Monday nights you can find me sitting in a comfy chair at Starbucks with two or three other women. We are all moms.  We are all in this following God thing together.  Some Mondays it's chit chat and fun.  But some Mondays, like this week, it gets messy.  Some Mondays we talk about our fears, our short comings, What we think God is doing, what we want Him to do and ultimately how we have to trust that His ways are the best ways.  That's church.  Christ centered, God glorified truth.

God shows up in every day places at normal hum drum times.  And I realized this week that I need to start recognizing Him in those every day moments.  Years ago God re-wired my mindset to know that ministry isn't something you do where you raise support.  Ministry is wherever you are.  Your work place, your neighborhood, at the mall or Target.  It's loving the people around you.  It's modeling Christ and living for Him wherever you are.  (Thank you, Amy and Kristie for speaking that truth into this girl's life.  It took a while, but ultimately the Holy Spirit got that through my thick skull!).

I think too often I think of church as a place.  It's the big building in the northtowns that I go to on Sundays.  And then it's over and I can check it off my list.  But I don't ever think that is how God desired or designed church to be.  In Acts church happened when a bunch of believers were together.  They preached the gospel, they ate together and fellowshipped together.  They praised God together and did life together.  God was glorified and the news about Jesus spread.  I want to live a life like that.  Fear often holds me back.  Fear of being let down by people or letting people down.  Fear of the mess that comes when my life is intertwined with anothers.  But today God spoke very clearly to me that despite the messy-ness and the difficulty of doing life with people who might not see things exactly as you do, it's worth it.  Push past the fear because it's totally worth it.

How about you?  Have you done church this week?  I know it's not easy.  Don't let fear win.  You were created for more.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 18 of Being Real- Dear New Mom

I was lying in bed the other night thinking through the past six months of being a mom.  I began to write a letter to myself- to the pregnant me- of all the things I wish I would have known.  I'll share what ran through my head with the disclaimer that 1) Motherhood isn't one of a kind for everyone.  What works for me won't necessarily work for you.  What works for my kid might not work for your kid.  And we need to stop judging each other and start banding together and encouraging one another and 2) Even if someone would have told me everything in this letter while I was pregnant (and I'm sure people told me some of it) it doesn't mean I would have gotten it.  You know, really understood it, until I walked through it myself.  And I'm sure there would have been things I would have turned my nose up at that now I know are real things.

So, if you are a new mom, or a soon to be mom, or your kids are grown, or you don't have kids, just enjoy this letter.  From me in the present to pregnant me.

Dear Soon to be Mama,

Currently your body is changing in crazy ways.  Your belly is growing, your bladder is shrinking and you are starting to walk like Winnie the Pooh, but in a not as cute way.  Don't fret.  Soon enough that little one will be here and everything you've learned up until this point will not matter.

Let's start with the hospital visit.  I know you're scared of birth.  I know you are worried about the pain.  You will get through it.  It will hurt.  A lot.  More than anything you've ever experienced before in your life.  And you will sit in that hospital bed wondering why only one person (Thank you, Patty, in Accounting) talked to you about back labor.  You will wonder, as you grip the hospital bed, as you sweat more than you do when you are working out to a Jillian Michaels work out dvd, if they purposely don't tell you about back labor because you would have chosen to NEVER get pregnant in the first place.  You will think back to all of those Baby Stories you watched on TLC and not remember a single mom having back labor.  But you'll endure.  Get the epidural.  Don't be a hero.  There's no medal.  And no, despite what others have said, your baby will not come out drugged or sluggish and yes, he will latch on to your breast right away.

Then he's here.  And now you are heading home from the hospital.  And here is where the real need to know wisdom comes.  After about 7 months of attention for being pregnant, having doors opened for you, bags carried, smiles and questions about, "When are you due," all of a sudden you will no longer matter.  It doesn't matter that you are still in pain from birthing a 9 lb 2 oz baby.  It doesn't matter that you fractured your tail bone in labor.  It also doesn't matter that you will not be able to wipe your lady parts for about a month but will resort to "washing" them with the squirt bottle only one friend told you about before you gave birth.  Also, the mesh underwear you were so afraid of will be the most comfortable thing you will wear for about a week.

You will have visitors, but they will just come to see the little bundle of love that latches on to you roughly every 2-3 hours.  You will get really comfortable with people seeing your breasts.  After all, after giving birth and having just about everyone and their mother up in your biz-ness you will eventually be more comfortable with your body than you probably should be.  You will start to feel like you only matter because of the milk you are producing.  You are more than breast milk.  Remember that.

It's ok if one night when you are driving home with your husband after trying to get out of the house for a bit with the baby but nothing went as planned and it turned out to be a disastrous night because you forgot the baby wipes and the hand sanitizer, if you find yourself sobbing.  If you find yourself uttering the words, "What have we done?  I miss the way things were," it's COMPLETELY normal.  No one talks about this.  But it's normal.  You're not a bad mom.  Life has just completely changed and it's ok to grieve your former way of life.  You may have thought that your former way of life wasn't that great.  It probably wasn't super exciting.  I mean, you're not a jet setter.  You haven't been to Paris.  But last minute plans to go to dinner or running errands all day without a set schedule will seem more glamorous than being Leonardo DiCaprio's date to the Oscars.

You will learn to breastfeed ANYWHERE.  Car? Check!  Starbucks? Check! Panera?  Check!  Wegman's? Yep.  At church?  Yes, but in the nursing room, of course.  I mean, they have a glider in there!  You will also become strangely obsessed with poop.  You will know how many times a day your little one has pooped.  If it's the right color and consistency and if he is one poop short a day this will become something that you slightly worry about.  Then, whew!  He poops a big one that leaks everywhere but you couldn't be happier.  Because he's healthy and pooping!

Speaking of poop- and other bodily functions.  You will get pooped on.  It will happen.  The poop does slow down.  Really.  I promise.  Have hope.  You will also get spit up on, peed on and eventually probably thrown up on.  Take pride.  It's a right of passage.

Also, you will no longer be the center of your world.  You will find that you are hungry but you have to feed the baby.  You will feed the baby.  Baby will come first.  You will mourn your old ways but also be really really happy that this is your current life.  Some days will be hard.  Some days you will think you are going to pull your hair out.  Some days you will think that one child is enough.  Is being an only child so bad?  And then you will pick him up from his nap and he'll nestle into you and you start thinking that maybe next February would be a good time to start trying for another baby.

And one more thing.  Be gracious.  Be gracious to yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes.  This is new.  New for you.  New for baby.  Be gracious to others that give you advice or just want to help.  Be humble enough to know that you don't know it all.  And maybe their way could work.  Be humble enough to admit you need help when you do, indeed, need help.  Be confident that you are doing your best.  And be grateful that kids are so darn resilient.  You can do this.  It won't be easy.  Literally EVERYTHING will change.  You will forever be changed, too.  The way you look at life, the way you look at other moms, the way you look at yourself, it will change.  You will grow.  You will cry.  You will eventually get to use toilet paper again and in roughly 6 1/2 months that tailbone will be just about good as new.

Love to you, new mom.  You're going to do great even though you will question yourself every single step of the way.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day 17- You are Not Forgotten

Just a quick note this morning while Sully is happy for a few minutes in his jumper.  He is "talking" away.  I keep joking with Ryan that once he really does learn to talk I will be more exhausted than ever because I honestly think he will talk ALL day.  "Mom, did you know that the human head weighs eight pounds?  Mom, why is the sky blue?  Mom. Mom.  Mom! Mommy!  Mama mama mama!  How come you are pulling your hair out?"

Just kidding and back on topic...

Mornings when I don't have anywhere to be I try to get up before Sullivan.  I turn on the Keurig and pick out whatever coffee I feel suits me that morning.  Lately, I've been on a total Starbucks Veranda kick.  I add the half and half and usually one packet of NuStevia.  I sit at the dining room table and I meet with God.  Lately my time with Him has been focused on me asking Him what to pray for Sullivan.  Today was spent praying for some very loved and special people in my life.  And about a half hour later I heard Sully wake up.  Normally he will just talk and giggle and coo in his crib until I get him.  But this morning was a little different.

This morning he woke up crying.  Sometimes he settles back to sleep so I waited a few minutes.  When I knew he was up for good I grabbed his bottle and started to get it ready.  I like to be able to get him up and changed and dressed and then bring him down and give him his bottle right away.  So, he was crying and I was getting his bottle ready.

And I felt the Holy Spirit nudging my spirit with this verse,“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" Isaiah 49:15. I immediately thought about how Sully, alone in his crib, crying out for me to be picked up, held, changed and snuggled, didn't know that his mother was downstairs listening to his cries.  He didn't realize that not only was I hearing Him but that I was actually in the process of preparing what he needed for the morning.  I was acting on his behalf.  But he didn't know.  He felt lonely.  He felt ready to be out of his crib and into a new place.  He wanted his circumstances to change.

I had not forgotten him.  And as the Holy Spirit nudged me I thought about the countless times I've been in Sully's place.  A place that felt very lonely.  A place that I was ready to be done with.  And a place where no matter how loud I cried out it had seemed as if God had forgotten me.

I know I'm not alone.  I read the Psalms and I know that David had felt it, too.  I have friends that are in that place right now.  Here is the truth.  Whatever hard season you are in, God hears your cries.  He knows just what you are saying to Him by either your words or actions.  Be encouraged that just as Sully couldn't see me working diligently to get his bottle ready, we don't always see God working in the midst of us.  Your season may be taking everything out of you right now.  God has not forgotten you.  He has compassion on you.  He's working in and through you and He will have ready whatever you need whenever you need it.  It may not be what you think you need.  But it will be what you really, truly need.

Take courage today, sweet soul, to keep trusting Jesus.  He is for you.  He has not forgotten you.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 16 Prayer

In light of being real I want to take this opportunity to share with you the biggest lesson I am learning right now.  I haven't mastered it, I am in the midst of learning it.  It's a game changer for me.  I think it will be life changing.  Do you know what it is?  I'm learning to pray for my child.

Was that anti-climatic?  Were you expecting something more exciting?  I am learning to pray as long as it takes prayers for Sully.  And I am really, really excited about it.  I am also learning the power of speaking truth into his little being.  I know he can't understand it now, but some day he will and he will grow up being bathed in truth the way I wasn't.

As I've shared in many a post before my life as a kid wasn't easy.  It held lots of loss, rejection, fear and insecurity.  There were some really dark moments.  There were dark moments of depression but also dark moments that were circumstantial, like the night before kindergarten when my mom took me shopping for new sneakers and a new back pack.  Most moms would drive their child to the store and then maybe on the way home stop at Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone.  Not my mama.  She took me to the store and then we stopped in the hood so she could score some drugs.  She left the car running with me in it as she stood on the curb making the deal.  That's when a young man jumped in the car, stared in my face and grabbed my mom's purse that was sitting right next to me.  I thought in that split second he was going to take me.

I can look back on my life and see God's hand all over it way before I ever knew who He was or that He loved me.  I want to share the "aha" moment I had a few weeks ago.  My mother and father-in-law have always told me they prayed for me ever since Ryan was a baby.  They continually prayed for whoever Ryan would marry.  Do you know the grace and the truth that washed over me one night not too long ago?  In the darkest, scariest, loneliest moments of my life, they were praying for me.  They didn't know that the girl Ryan would marry was at some point a little girl from a broken home who desperately needed prayer.  They didn't know that she had hurts and baggage and scars too heavy to carry and too deep to fix.  They just knew that they wanted to pray for the girl their son would someday fall in love with.

They prayed for me.  It's a gift that means EVERYTHING to me.  It's a gift that will forever grasp my heart and bring tears to my eyes.  It's a gift I can never repay them for (although they might say that another grandchild wouldn't hurt). :)

That's what I want for Sullivan.  I want to give him the gift of praying for him and praying for the girl he'll someday marry.  She might not even be born yet, but I'm praying for her every day.  And I want to speak truth into his life.  Truth that he is a mighty warrior, a leader, respectful, kind and compassionate.  I pray for him to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and to love others just like Jesus did.  I pray for him to have godly adventures and to take risks and not live in fear, just like the men of faith who have walked before him did, like David and Joshua.  I am praying for him to follow Christ even when it's not easy and to stick up for others when it's the right thing to do.  I am praying for him to be respectful and to have a teachable spirit, to listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.  I am praying for him that he will care more about people and helping them than he will about making more money or attaining more stuff.  I will speak the truth that he is loved first and foremost by God and then by his parents.  I whisper over him, even now, that he is fearfully and wonderfully made as it says in Psalm 139 and that God is always good.

I didn't grow up knowing or believing those truths.  But I did grow up with someone praying for me.  And I believe because of that I know and believe these truths now.  Take some time today to pray for your kids.  It's one of the best ways to say, "I love you."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 15- I've Got you

As is the norm in our house lately, right around 2pm I put Sullivan down for his afternoon nap.  He had been rubbing his eyes and fussing in his bouncer.  He loves his bouncer so I know that when he starts to fuss he's probably tired.  I scooped him up and we made our way upstairs.  I snuggled him in and gave him kisses.  I laid him on his changing table, got him in a clean diaper, popped in his binki and set him in his crib.  

What should have happened was not what happened.  He should have laid there peacefully, maybe playing with his hands as his sweet baby blue eyes began to stare off, overcome with heaviness.  He should have rolled to his side as he usually does right before he falls asleep.  But instead he looked up at me and started to cry.  I kissed his forehead and walked out of the room.  I call my little boy the sleep ninja.  I stole the term from my friend Tara who is way more creative than me in coining terms.  He fights sleep like a ninja.  I knew in about ten minutes he would be out.

Ten minutes passed of him crying.  Then the crying turned to screaming.  I went upstairs and his little face was bright red.  Big tears were rolling down his apple cheeks and his breathing was heavy from crying.  I scooped him up and held him against me.  I held him close to my chest and bounced trying to calm him.  He just kept crying.  I started to whisper, "I've got you, mommy's here," over and over again.  But he was inconsolable.  

"I've got you.  I've got you.  I've got you," I said over and over and over again.  I was holding him sideways, so his head was in the crook of my arm and his belly was against mine.  He reached his arm up and rested it just under my neck and he closed his little blue eyes.  But he was still doing the heavy breathing.  You know the breath you take when you cry really hard, in, in, out.  In, in, out.  He had stopped crying but his breathing wasn't back to normal.  Even though I had him.  Even though I was holding him.  Even though nothing was wrong and his mama was right there.  

I felt in that quiet moment, as I listened to my son's labored breathing, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit say, "I've got you.  I've. Got. You."  And Zephaniah 3:17 washed over me like a warm summer rain.

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

There are things in my life that get me as agitated and upset as Sully got over having to nap.  For him, I don't think he wanted to be alone.  He didn't want to sleep, in a room, by himself.  He wanted to be near his mama.  He wanted to be in my arms.  Even though what he did need was sleep and sleep isn't a bad thing.  Because I am his mama, and my heart towards him is good and loving, I wanted to comfort him.  I whispered truth over him that I was there and that I have him.  I sang him a song to calm him and I rocked him and when I looked down at the little hand resting on me and his chubby cheeks and his little patch of blonde hair I rejoiced over him, overcome with love, for the little boy I bore.  

God delights in us.  It's a crazy thought, especially if the concept of God being a loving father is new for you. But he delights in us.  And in the moments when I am fussy, upset or downright hysterical He can quiet me with his love and he can rejoice over me with singing.  It's what parents do.  And the truth is when God whispered over me, "I've got you," I knew exactly the things that he was scooping me up from.  They aren't bad things, but they aren't easy things.  Trusting God in areas isn't a bad thing.  But it's not always an easy thing.  Some days I just don't want to have to trust him, just like some days Sully doesn't want to nap.  Napping is good (and all the moms and dads out there said, "Amen,"!) just like trusting God is good.  But sometimes it just seems like life would be easier or better without napping having to rely on a mighty, powerful, loving God.  

When I scooped up Sully it didn't mean he would never have to nap again.  What it meant was in that moment he needed me.  He needed to be comforted and quieted and he needed to know his very loving Mama was there.  As God whispered, "I've got you," over me in that moment I knew he wasn't letting me off the hook for having to rely on him.  But he was comforting me, quieting my soul and reassuring me that my very loving Heavenly Father was there.

He's got you, too.  If you'll let him.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 14 New Years Resolution

There's so much talk about New Year's resolutions as soon as December 31st hits that I've waited to write this post.  I also waited because I've debated writing it.  I've debated because it's on that level of being real that isn't the easiest to be at.  It's much more comfortable to write about... well, most anything else.

In November I joined Weight Watchers.  I joined because a friend had joined a little while after giving birth to her son and her excitement for the journey was contagious.  So, I looked up a meeting place and decided to start.  I have never done Weight Watchers before.  I had heard mixed reviews from people.  But I knew that I needed something to help me get healthy because it's not just about me anymore.  I have a baby boy that needs a mama who can keep up with him when he starts to walk and run and play.  And I don't want to sit on the sidelines of his life missing out because I was too selfish to make some sacrifices and address the idols in my life.

Pastor Jerry Gillis said something that I think was incredibly profound a few weeks ago at church.  He said that our New Year's resolutions need to point us and others to Christ.  I wrestled with it since one of my resolutions is to keep getting healthy and fit.  How is that bigger than just me?  How is that about Christ?

This past weekend I realized how.  I've written about the idol that food can be and has been in my life.  How so often I've turned to food for comfort or fulfillment instead of Almighty God.  I've confessed it.  I've prayed about it.  But to be honest, it was still a battle.  There were times I would win.  I would wrestle in my head all through a meal, or being home all day about food and I wouldn't choose to eat out of boredom, frustration, sadness, etc.  But it was still an exhausting mental battle.  I thought that was just how it would always be.  It was how I was wired.

Until this weekend God, in all His graciousness, gave me freedom.  I sat in Red Robin with my grandma and Ryan and Sully.  Ryan and I decided to share a burger.  I had half a burger.  I had some fries and I even had a few little pretzel bites.  Not once did I think that I wanted more.  Not once did I think that I needed another half of a burger.  Then Sunday we went to lunch at a place with the most incredible dinner rolls you can imagine.  Sweet and warm and delicious.  I didn't eat one.  Here's the freedom.  It wasn't a battle to not eat one.  I saw them.  They looked great.  But I didn't need one.  I didn't have to fight with myself to not eat one, I just didn't need one.  I ordered a bison burger and I didn't eat the roll.  I didn't care that I didn't eat the roll.  I ordered a salad instead of fries.  And I didn't once think about the fries.

Freedom.  It's the sweet and joyous gift from a loving, gracious God, when we decide to walk in the light of His love bringing forth our idols from the darkest places.  When we offer them He takes them.  And let me tell you that the sweet taste of Freedom is more precious to me than any dessert or french fry or Roadhouse Roll any day.

So, yes, I've set a New Year's resolution to be healthy and fit. Yes, I've lost almost 25 pounds.  But I've gained something much more valuable to me.  I've gained freedom in Christ and a closeness to Him that comes with choosing daily, even when it's ridiculously hard, to surrender the things in my life that I hold dear. He's trustworthy.  He's good.  And He is the giver of all good things.

May you taste the sweet freedom that comes when you choose to live in the light of Christ's love and bring your heart, your fears, your idols before Him.  Could it be that what you treasure and lay before Him will seem like mere pennies as He trades you for His joy, His love, and the freedom that only He can give?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 13 Love in Action

I'm currently reading the book  Love Does by Bob Goff which is a lot about love in action.  I really like the book.  It was actually a Christmas gift from our good friends to my husband, but I hijacked it and in the moments before bed, when Sully is asleep and I have a few moments all for me, I crawl under the covers, turn on my book light and read about Bob's life- all his crazy antics and how he chooses to live life loving others because of the way He's been loved by others and by Jesus.

I got to experience some love in action on Wednesday and I wanted to share it.  I had one of those days.  You know the kind I am talking about.  Well,  you definitely do if you have kids!  It was this kind of day:  Wake up, dress, get the baby up, feed baby, pack up baby and run to WalMart (even though it's not remotely close to your house because you have a gift card), grocery shop, wait in check out line for twenty minutes with a baby that is now tired of being in the carrier and just wants to be able to roll and kick freely, because there are literally only two cashiers and one of them is the express lane cashier, finally pay for groceries, drive home only to realize you NEVER used your gift card, change baby, get baby settled in bouncer so you can start to make lunch because friend and kids are coming for a play date, in the middle of making lunch stop to feed the baby, friend comes, try to keep making lunch while your baby is screaming, put your baby down for a nap thinking that is what is wrong, come downstairs, attempt to keep making lunch which is of course a new recipe you want to try but is demanding way more attention than you thought it would, in your head consider trashing recipe and serving peanut butter sandwiches just so you can sit down, realize your baby has been crying for ten minutes but you couldn't hear him over talking with your friend and the television, head upstairs to get baby, change baby and realize he's pooped all the way up to his ears, so you strip the baby getting poop everywhere and you start to run a bath.  You yell down to your friend to take the chicken out of the oven when the timer goes off, bathe the baby, re dress the baby, throw the poopy clothes in a plastic bag and throw it on the floor vowing to get it later to wash and shout.  Bring baby downstairs, feed him his bottle while everyone else eats lunch then you eat lunch only to realize that you need to leave for an appointment you have except that now the baby needs to eat his baby food, feed baby sweet potatoes, there is no time to wash his face so you pack him in his carrier and head out the door with a somewhat happy 4 1/2 month old who has sweet potatoes crusted to his cheeks.

Ok, I'm tired just typing that.  But that was my day.  And right in the middle, between giving Sully a bath and feeding him a bottle, I was holding him and I had stooped down to look in the fridge for something.  As I stood up my back hit one of the shelves on the fridge door at just the right angle and the entire shelf came off of the door and with it all of the condiments (and there were a lot) came tumbling to the ground.  It was a moment when you can choose to laugh.  Haha, isn't that funny of all the times for that to happen.  Or choose to cry because, seriously, you just can't handle one more thing.  I would have cried.  It was that kind of day.  I know it might seem silly since clearly people, including myself, deal with much more difficult days all of the time.  But emotionally and physically, I was exhausted.  And I would have cried.

But love stepped in.  She stepped in in the form of my good friend who happened to have to encounter my crazy day since she is the one that came for a play date.  She looked at me and didn't even stop to think.  She just stepped in and told me to go and feed Sully.  She stepped in and attached the shelf back to the door.  She stepped in and put back every condiment and rolled up the little rug where the olives had spilled.  She stepped in and acted.

sweet potatoes everywhere!  
And I couldn't have been more blessed in that moment.  I'm learning that love does.  It acts.  Love doesn't stop at the niceties that we try to put up.  It doesn't stop at the, "Oh, no, I wouldn't want you to be bothered," or the, "No, I'm ok."  Love acts.  It gently barges down walls and stands in the gap.  It doesn't always ask for permission.  Love looks at a situation and sees the need and then meets it.

Just like my friend did.  She could have in that moment asked me if she could have helped me.  And maybe I would have asked her to put the fridge back together.  But honestly, I probably would have told her it was ok and that I would do it after I was done feeding the baby.  Haven't you done that before, too?  Guess what?  When we do that- when we choose to either try to do life all by ourselves or handle things alone not only do we miss out on being loved and blessed but we rob others the opportunity to love and bless.  It is a two way street.

So, here is my encouragement to you and I'm saying it to myself, too.  Let's choose today to be honest, to stop trying to handle everything that comes our way by ourselves.  It's not the way God intended for us to live.  Let's let others help us.  It doesn't mean we are less than or weak.  Not at all.  I believe when we start to do life with others, letting them act in love and choosing to act in love ourselves, we become stronger.  And we will be a blessing and be blessed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day 12

Today was the kind of day where I drove around my neighborhood for 35 minutes just to ensure that Sully got a decent nap.  He fell asleep on my way home from Wegmans (side note really quick:  I heart Wegmans. I really do.  But lately I have been noticing that the workers aren't exceptionally friendly, it's just that there's a plethora of them.  It's a bit disheartening to me.  But I like them so much it's not enough to make me switch). And back on topic, go!  It's not a long enough ride home from the store that when I take him out of the car he will stay asleep.  So, I drove around as only a parent would do, listening to praise music and thinking about this coming year.

I also thought about what to write.  And here's what I decided: I have a double chin.  It's not really that bad. In fact, in real life I don't know if it would ever be the first thing anyone noticed, unless they had a double chin fetish.  But it shows up in pictures.  And it calls out to me when I look in the mirror.  It taunts me in a middle school girl kind of way.  It makes me do irrational things like have my father in law take 300 pictures on Christmas at different angles just to ensure that ms. chin is hidden.  Seriously.  And Dad, if you're reading this, thank you for your patience!  I bet you didn't have to do that raising three boys!

The funny thing is that even a few years ago when I lost a bunch of weight, it still showed up every time I looked in the mirror.  Today I realized that my chin is much more than a chin.  It's a symbol and a lie.  It's a symbol of how I feel about myself most days.  It's a reminder that I'm not happy with me.  It's the lie that says I'll never be good enough, thin enough, etc.  It's the lie that says I'm not enough.

You might have something like this, too.  Maybe it's your chin, hips, lips, chest, ears, nose, butt or smile.  It can be so easy to look at someone else and think how lucky they are because they are just so beautiful.  But if they are really honest, they probably have something they don't like.  And it's really easy if they tell you what they don't like to tell them they're crazy and ridiculous.  It's not that easy to say to ourselves.  To look in the mirror beyond our chins, thighs, hips or crazy hair.  To look in the mirror and see what God sees- His beautiful creation, wholly and dearly loved.

So, today, when I am done typing this, I am going to go my half bathroom and look in the mirror.  I am going to look myself straight in the eye and repeat Psalm 139:13-14.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

You, dear reader, are fearfully and wonderfully made, as well.  Not just your heart but your body, too.  And as my grandmother says, "God doesn't make junk."  So, if you need to take a minute tonight and look in the mirror beyond the imperfections, and repeat God's heart to you in Psalm 139, do it, and watch a mask fall to the floor.