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.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day 11- Happy New Year

I took some time off for the Holidays.  When I originally started my 20 days of being real I intended them to be 20 consecutive days, but shortly after starting I failed to realize 1) that 20 consecutive days is a bit intense since sometimes when I write I even need a day or two to process what I've put from my heart to this blog and 2) Christmas and New Years with a baby are a little more exhausting than I thought they would be.

So, I showed myself a little grace and took a hiatus.  I hope you have had time to recover from the busyness of the holidays but I hope that you were blessed each crazy minute.  Tonight I want to reflect a little and dream a little for the year to come.  So, here goes...

Have you ever had a year where in looking back you realized that it held not only some major, life changing moments but also moments where you were becoming who you were always meant to be?  Besides 1998, the year Jesus got a hold of my heart, I don't think I could say that about any other year.  Until now.

2012 holds the buying of our first house, the birth of our first baby, the faith step to quit my job and be a stay at home mama and the decision to take risks, write, and be real.  Looking back there are moments that are so tender, in a sweet, candy coated kind of way and there are moments that are tender in a, the band aid isn't ready to come off yet, kind of way.

The thread though, that ties all of those moments together, the sweet ones and the hard ones, is the thread of God's presence.  Looking back I know that God was there.  I was thinking about His provision and His presence in my life this year and as I peeled sweet potatoes tonight it almost brought me to tears.  The days leading up to Sully's birth I was so scared.  Scared of the unknown.  But God kept speaking to my heart, "Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, Says the LORD Almighty." Zechariah 4:6  And when Ryan and I wrestled with me quitting my job the whisper over my spirit was, "Trust me."

It wasn't an easy year.  But it was a great year.  And here is my take away that I am bringing with me into this new year: I will walk the path God wants me to, whether it requires joyous praise, or praise through the tears and feet full of blisters from the rocky path, because there is nothing greater in this life than knowing God and doing life with Him.

I don't know what your past year held.  But from reading the news I know it could very well have held loss, pain, suffering, grief, and loneliness.  It could have held joy, new beginnings, routine, a promotion, or moments that have defined who you are and what you believe for better or for worse.  Take some time to reflect but don't dwell.  2013 is here.  Don't look too long back at what was and miss what God has for you right here, right now.

In fact, don't spend too long gazing at your circumstances and miss the One that lovingly looks on you and wants to walk with you through this coming year.  God is with you.  And if He's with you, then He's for you. Let that truth settle over you.

And now, let's dream.  At the end of this year what is the one thing you would hope to be able to declare from the rooftops?  I want to know Christ more.  To love Him more.  To take more risks with Him, truly confident of who I am in Him.  I'm not there yet.  But He's got a whole year to work on me!

Happy New Year's sweet ones!