Vulnerability in an Independent World

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Vulnerability, What does that mean, exactly? Basically, it means being open. Open to attack, open to criticism, opening our hearts to let others in. It’s risky. It’s a word we don’t like to be in our independent culture. We are taught at an early age to be independent, to find a job, move out on our own, to live our own lives. We are taught that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us. We are taught to hide our true feelings.

I grew up in the same town, the same house, for the first eighteen years of my life. I couldn’t wait to leave home and make my own way. I was convinced that was the way to happiness. I was not an unhappy child, but I wanted to be independent so fiercely. I had things to do and see and the whole world was at my fingertips.

I finally graduated from high school and was able to move away for college! I was so nervous and excited at the same time! While I didn’t move too far away (just 4 hours), it was far enough, for the moment.  Ironically, as independent as I wanted to be, I probably cried for the first week of my college life. I was so homesick that I went home once a month for the first semester (plus I did not have any clean clothes to wear!  Thanks for doing my laundry mom!).

Fast forward to college graduation! Once again, I was anxious to live on my own, live in my very own apartment, pay my own bills. What I wouldn’t give now to have my daddy pay my bills now! Sigh….

Clearly, I achieved the independence I wanted. I treaded the waters of college successfully, made some incredible friends and learned some new perspectives on life. I had the opportunity to study in Europe and backpack across that great continent!  I had the opportunity to travel to Africa, where I spent six weeks working in a hospital helping the men, women, and children of Tanzania. I learned more in those six weeks about being content with what you have than I ever had in my young life.

Right after college, I moved to a big city and had a small apartment where I could walk to work, coffee shops, and more.  That was everything I had dreamed of at that point of my life!  I was a grown-up.  I lived by myself for five years before I married my hubby (I did have a roommate for about a year or two). And I loved every minute of it (well, maybe not every minute, but I was content). I worked twelve hour night shifts, so I did many things alone: went to coffee shops, grocery shopping, mall shopping, ate alone at restaurants (though that was mostly fast food).  I even went to museums, church, and movies by myself (though those were not my favorite things to do by myself).

All of the above has helped shape me to be the person I am today and has served me well when I needed to be independent.  That stage of my life taught me how to do things I needed to be able to do by myself (pay bills, budget, change a tire, though, ashamedly, I have probably forgot that by now), check my oil, etc.  I would not change any of my life experiences.

BUT, I spent so much time learning to be independent, I forgot what Jesus teaches about vulnerability.  I  fought vulnerability so much that I forgot that God made us to need each other. He made us a part of a whole. We forget that we Christians (and women especially) are supposed to be on the same team!

"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of only one member, but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose. If we all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, thee are many parts, yet one body."

1Corinthians 12: 12-20

Jesus knew what it meant to be vulnerable. He knew what it meant to be alone, even with crying and screaming and gossiping crowds around him, even when he was constantly being interrupted. He knew what it meant to be criticized, laughed at, and beaten down. He knew what it meant to be exhausted but not sleeping. He knew what it meant to be talking and not heard. He knew what it meant to be vulnerable.

"And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well", And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in imself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his discipes said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you and yet you say, "Who touched me?" And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." 

Mark 5: 24-34

What if, like in this story, we were not afraid to ask for help or reach out to touch somebody? What if we remember we are on the same team? That life is bigger than we are. Life is bigger than the busy season of sleepless nights, potty training, temper tantrums, wiping runny noses, and dirty bottoms.  This life is bigger than deadlines and all night study sessions and early morning classess. This life is bigger than sibling rivalry, living under your parents rules, and not being able to vote or drink or smoke (at least legally).

This life is about living life together. Let’s challenge ourselves to let our lives be about helping each other cherish the moments. Let’s learn from each other, be willing to be vulnerable and call on God and each other.

We are on the same team, and better yet, God is on our team. We cannot fail!

Know that you do not have to do it all by yourself!

Please share!

 

Come Play With Me: Choose to Delight

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“Come play with me, Mommy!”  “I will soon baby, I promise.”  I then proceed to walk inside with the intention of getting my sweater.  I go inside and gather my phone and kindle (yes I do need these to play).  “MOMMY, come play ball with me!”, my daughter says in her sweet little 3 year old frustrated voice. “I will baby, I promise, I just forgot my sweater.  (It’s sunny and 60 degrees)  I go inside to get the baby monitor… and my sweater.  I go back outside and sit down, “Moooommmyyyyy, come play”, my daughter pouts. “I will, I just need to get the charger so I can hear baby brother.”  I go inside to find the monitor, just to realize I have misplaced it, spend another few minutes trying to find it, then I give up.

By this time, my daughter is nearing temper tantrum phase.  MOMMMYYYY, COME… PLAY… WITH… ME!! Now, I really try not to let her talk to me like that, but I was exasperating her.  In her defense, she had asked nicely several times  without success.

I finally play ball with her, and we had such a good time! We were both laughing and just delighting in each other.

Isn’t that what our Heavenly Father wants? Much like my daughter continued to plead with me to play with her, our Heavenly Father pleads for us to come to Him. He wants to delight in us. He wants to spend time with us, ball playing, no interruptions, time with us, with you.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4

Aren’t we all like a three year old sometimes, begging and pleading just for someone to pay attention to our antics? Isn’t that’s why we get angry or frustrated or sad because our spouse or our boss or our friends or our parents or siblings or children don’t appreciate us? They just don’t see that you emptied one side of the sink even if the other is still full. They don’t see that you put one basket of  the never ceasing laundry mountain away or that you took the garbage out without asking or put away your laundry or shoes without asking. Those people, they don’t see that you helped your co workers with that project or that you have already done all the things expected of you and more. If they only would have noticed what the problem was in the first place or just noticed all the little things we just did or do on a daily basis. Does this sound familiar?

That’s just the point though. How awesome it is that we have a Heavenly father who does just that. That lives in the moment, in the present, and we know we are loved.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love....I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15: 9,11

He does recognize us and all the little things we do or don’t do. Not because it matters whether the kitchen is clean or the laundry is put away or all the toys are picked up. Not to Him at least. Because He sees what really matters. He sees the heart of the matter. He sees your desire for a clean home so that it is pleasant for you and your family to live in. He sees that you took care of the problem at work because it was the right thing to do. He sees the kindness and the listening ears and helping hands. He sees your broken heart and anxious spirit. And He cares. He care about all of it, because He loves you. Unconditional, never un-breaking, always and forever love.

"For God so loved the world (that's you!) that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

It is because of our God that we have an example of how we should treat all our loved ones. It is because of Him that we have a reason to do things without thanks or recognition. Because of Him, our standard is higher and our hope remains constant.

One of my favorite sayings from my teenage and college years (wish I could remember where I originally heard it), is that we need not remember who we are but whose we are.

We all have days when we are frustrated and overwhelmed, when that laundry pile seems like it will never go away (and maybe it won’t).  We all have days where we don’t delight in our loved ones or ourselves even. Today was one of those days for me. I was lacking patience and my daughter was lacking listening. Nothing I did or didn’t do seemed to make a difference in her sassy attitude. It was so bad by 7:00 PM, I was finished. My daughter was in bed by 7:15.

I pray when we have those days the days where you feel like you are the worst mom ever, that instead of raising our fist in anger or thrashing our bodies on the floor toddler style, that we choose the higher standard. I pray we choose love and delight. I failed miserably today, I did not choose love or delight. I chose yelling and frustration and anger. I pray on those days where the end is not what you want to remember, I pray that we will receive grace and forgiveness for ourselves and lift our hands up to our Heavenly Father who hears and forgives all. I pray that we bow on the ground in prayer, not rage.

I pray that we may always choose love and delight and forgiveness for the days when we don’t.

Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need to hear these words.

Life is in the Interruptions

Interruptions, oh how I am constantly being interrupted. Many days I do not sit down to eat until two o’clock…. By the time I feed the baby, prepare my daughter’s meal, then take her to the bathroom, change the baby’s diaper, get them both down for naps at the SAME TIME! (That’s my goal anyway!)

Interruptions are a way of life. It took me 34 years to figure that out!  I hope this helps you know that before 34 years!  I have finally come to expect that I will never be able to complete one task in a day, or at least not while I have a three year old and a baby.  It is just…not… happening.  I try, oh, how I try. I start to unload the dishwasher, then it’s “Mommy, I need to go potty”.  I try again, then the baby starts crying. Then the dog needs to go out. Then I turn my back, and my daughter is handing her seven month old brother paper to chew on and hard peppermints within his reach! (I know, I should have moved the peppermints! Don’t worry, I did after that!)

I have finally just decided to accept my interrupted life. That’s not a bad thing. I’ve decided to change my perspective. If you can’t change the circumstance, then change the way you look at things. When I look at my children as interruptions, then my day goes much smoother.  I expect to be interrupted every five minutes.  And that’s OKAY. This is just a season. My children need me now, they will not always need me. God made me to be their mom, the dishes can wait.

I often think this is how Jesus felt. He was constantly interrupted as well. He was constantly giving, with very little in return.  I wonder if he ever got frustrated?

Just this evening, I was actually sweeping the floors (this is a rarity in my house! Who has time for that?).  My daughter was “helping”, and by helping I mean sweeping my piles of dirt out of their piles in order that I had to sweep again! She was trying to be helpful. It’s really my fault for showing her how and buying her a mini broom. (Yes, I did!) How often were people trying to help Jesus, and they just made it worse. What did Jesus do in those moments?

I think so many times we focus on life in between the interruptions, on the tasks on hand. We so often forget that Life is IN the interruptions.  Our life is those little interruptions:  the baby crying in the night, sticky hands hugging you, tears that need wiping, knees that need to be kissed and cleaned. Our life is in those phone calls from a friend who needs you. Or perhaps it’s in putting down your electronics to look your spouse in the eye. Maybe it’s the person in the hall at work or school who is lost, just needing directions and guidance. Take Martha, for instance. She was a busy woman, and I think she may have been a little resentful of Mary. Mary was her interruption. She had to stop what she was doing to go ask Mary to help. I can relate.  BUT, Jesus had it more right. He delighted in the interruption. He saw Mary’s heart and accepted her. He loved her. He loved Martha too; he just needed her to stop and slow down, to take joy in the interruption.

I’m not saying I’m great at this. Not in the least.  I am a work in progress, and I am just praying along the way that I don’t screw my kids up too bad.  I probably would have been a Martha. But when I look back on my life, I want to remember what I did with my life of interruptions.

Remember, Life is in the interruptions.

What interruptions have you had today?

Thank you for Reading!  Please share!  If you don’t want to miss a post, please sign up for my email list!

The Middle of Nowhere: How I Learned to Love More

I’m visiting grandparents this week. They live in the middle of nowhere at least 5 miles down a country dirt road. I am not exaggerating! This is not where I grew up, my dad moved here for his job my freshman year in college.

Everything here seems so much more expansive. You can see stars for miles. You can see all sorts of creatures. We see birds, flowers, bees, spiders, lizards, raccoons, and even the occasional deer or fox.  Of course we can see most of these at home, but somehow it seems more impressive, more expansive, bigger.

Life is slower. There is no rushing here and there, partly because it’s the way of life, and partly because there are just not that many choices. You can only drive so fast over a 5 mile gravel road with potholes. There is so much to do, yet so little. My daughter has a huge forest land to run and play in, a nature park right outside the door. “Granny” has tons of old toys and books which are completely new to my daughter.  There are birds to watch, lizards to catch, bees to run from. There is plenty of space to throw a ball that does not entail mommy chasing it down a steep hill (our current home situation)! The best part of all: there are at least 2 other people to give her attention: Granny and Granddaddy!

I love my city, my house, my life. I don’t wish to move to the country (though I would not rule it out), but the country is a nice place to visit. This country place reminds me of just how beautiful life can be. It shows me how to be present and oh, how the opportunities abound for teaching about how awesome our God is. How majestic is His name!

“Can you count the stars?”  “Isn’t it amazing how God made all these stars.” “Look how many variety of flowers there are; it looks like a painting.” “How great is it that God gave you so many people who love you.”   “Look how God made the lizards and spiders.”

This country place makes me stop. It makes me slow down. This place reminds me to appreciate the world God has given to me and to respect it. It reminds me to share my love of God with my children and with others.  There is something about an old porch swing that gives you answers, answers that were in front of me all along.

1. Point out God’s wonder and beauty around you. God made the butterflies, the stars, and you. Just like you can’t count the stars, you can’t measure how great is God’s love for you.

2.  Spend Thirty Minutes a Day with your loved ones.  I’m currently reading Purposeful Parenting, by Jean S. Barnes. She suggests to spend 30 minutes a day with our loved ones.

“Practicing the Thirty Minutes a Day Rule became intentional- and turned into so much more. By intentionally making thirty minutes a day for simply delighting in one another, we learned how to really pay attention to each other in snatches too…. Looking for ways to give one another undivided attention became a lifestyle, and it strengthened our relationships just like layer upon layer of glue holds things together, because nothing makes the ones you love feel more cherished than your attention, your constant practice of being there. In being there, I discovered another wonderful practice in how to show the kind of love that’s transforming. This practice is about seizing extraordinary moments that might otherwise pass you by as ordinary. It’s about seeing the cracks in your child’s soul, where values, discoveries, and new ideas can be planted and begin to seep in and take root.”

I say we take this a little further, and also apply it to significant others or anyone else we may be living with at the moment, be that a roommate, a parent, or sibling.

3. Pray in the moment. In the serenity of the country, I was looking at Facebook (ironic, I know!), and I saw a post from a friend whose son is having surgery. I showed my daughter the picture of the little boy and I said, “He is sick. He needs our prayers.” Then we prayed right then. I had never done this before. It must have been God given. I think it did leave an impression on my 3 year old, but it taught me so much more.

4. Accept distractions.  Though the country is quiet at times, often it really is not. You have tree branches creaking, birds chirping, porch swings rocking, bees and hummingbirds buzzing. At night there is the wind blowing when it is stormy, frogs and crickets singing their melody. And the occasional cougar screaming (yes there are cougars in that part of the world). Owls may hoot and woodpeckers are pecking, but though the wind may be blowing through the trees, the distractions are different. It is the distraction of just watching in amazement at the bumblebees for 20 minutes as my sister and daughter did; it is the finding of extraordinary large pine cones and the variety of flowers all around you. It is the distractions of chasing the squirrels and raccoons off the bird feeders. Yes it is a different distraction, one that is God given.

I recently attended a conference where the one thing that stuck out to me was that our children our an interruption ministry. That has changed how I look at parenting. Instead of being annoyed every time I am interrupted while cleaning the dishes or doing laundry (these tasks will take me all day, if finished at all), if I look at my children as a ministry, it changes my whole demeanor.

5. Tell them you love them. This goes for more than just your children, but includes your friends, your spouse, your siblings and parents. We all need to hear that someone loves us. God did not make us to be solitary people, he made us to be loved and to love. Tell those that are important to you that you love them. All the time. Everyday.  I love you even when… I love you especially when…. I love you all the time.

Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need to hear these words!

Stopping the Hate Talk: 5 Ways to a Better You

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

“I hate my hair, my arms, my legs”  “I look so fat in these pants.” “Why can’t I look like that other girl? She always looks so perfect; she makes me sick.” “If I had all the money in the world and could afford a personal trainer, I could look like that too.”

How many times do we say these things to ourselves or about others? Why are we so degrading to ourselves and other women? It doesn’t matter your age: young girl, teenager, young adult, older adult, pre- baby body, post- baby body. When does it stop? When do you decide that you are enough and that God made you the way you are. As a teenager, I thought myself pretty; I thought myself confident. It wasn’t until middle adulthood that I started to doubt myself. There have been plenty of times that I have looked in the mirror and thought that I did not like the way I looked. Part of my problem is that I have not been treating my body right and I have had two babies and it really does change your body!  What do you hate about yourself? What do you love about yourself?  Which one do you think about the most?

Self-Worth is defined as the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self respect.  Do you place value in yourself? Do you have respect for yourself?  Do you think of yourself as worthy and beautiful?

All this self degrading hate talk stops here.  IT STOPS HERE! I challenge you here-forth that when you look in the mirror you find one thing you like about yourself, just one. Daily. Yes, DAILY!

There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8: 31-39) , but He still wants us to take care of ourselves and our bodies. The following things help me to take care of myself and help me feel good about my own self esteem.

  1. Get up and Move!  Whether it is taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood, an aerobics video in the comfort of your home, or training for a race, get up and move.  Start TODAY! Even ten minutes a day can make a difference. Make it work. Maybe that means climbing stairs during a short break at work or parking in the furthest parking lot. Sometimes, for me, that means having a dance party with my 3 year old. Or I have an aerobic app on my phone that lets me choose 5 to 10 minute increments. Sometimes my 3 year old and 5 month old join in the fun. One thing I’m going to try in the next few weeks is running before my husband leaves for work!

2. Eat healthy! Of course there are lots of arguments about what is the best diet or supplement out there.Think before you eat! Is this particular food going to make me feel good or energized? I’m not saying to never have that piece of chocolate, i’m just suggesting you think twice about it. This is definitely one of my biggest challenges. I have a huge sweet tooth!  It’s about lifestyle change. While I don’t follow it strictly and I am not an expert, my personal belief is that a plant based diet is best for health and energy. Commit to make a change. Just eating more veggies and fruit can make a difference! Progress, not perfection!

3. Challenge your mind! Take time to learn. Read, whether an actual book, a website,e-books,newspaper, or a magazine. The world is full of great minds. You are one of them!

4. Feed your soul!  This is the most important point. Make time to pray or read your Bible and talk to God. I try to get up before my children in order for this to happen. Now lately, that has not gone like I planned. I have an almost 6 month old who wakes up in the middle of the night, and well, I am grumpy if I don’t get enough sleep. On those days, I try to read while I’m nursing him. Many times I’m praying in my car on the way to work. Those two things, especially the prayer, make a huge difference in how the rest of my day goes, and how I feel about my self as a person. I am a much better mom, wife, and friend when I make time to pray and read God’s word. End of story.

5. Take time for yourself! I don’t care what that looks like or how much time you say you don’t have. For me it looks like time to write, or time for a hike, a walk around the neighborhood, sipping on a hot cup of tea or coffee on my back deck. Coffee or lunch or breakfast with a friend, even if it has to be over the phone. Perhaps you can get up 10 minutes before the rest of your house,just to sip and drink your coffee.  Maybe once a month, you can find a babysitter or your significant other can watch the children, and you can go get coffee, by yourself or with a close friend. Find a walking partner. Train for a race with your co-workers. Sometimes, I take an extra long shower because that may be the only time I have had to myself that day. I breathe in the steam and take pleasure in the solitude and not having to explain what I’m doing. Everybody leaves you alone when you are in the shower (most of the time).

Challenge yourself to love more. We don’t need all the hate talk. Life is hard enough without being so mean to ourselves.

What are some tips you have on increasing self-worth?

Thanks for Reading! Please share with those extraordinary women you think need a reminder of how awesome they are!

Be That Act of Kindness

To the lady in Walgreen’s:

Thank you! You were so kind to me the other day. You probably don’t remember me, or maybe you do. I was the mother of two, with a two month old and a 2 year old clinging to my side and crying. You changed my day, for the better. I dropped off my prescription for my little girl’s ear infection and was told it would be 30 minutes. I was not upset that I was going to have to wait, I was a little dismayed it was going to be such a seemingly long time, but I wasn’t mad. But you noticed me, you saw me with my two young children and from the kindness in your heart, you expedited our prescription to being ready in 5 minutes!  That was such an amazing act of kindness, you have no idea how much I appreciated you! I wish I had remembered to get your name and not just hurriedly said thank you, though I hope my sincere thanks was apparent.

How extraordinary to be the recipient of such kindness!  I was not expecting it, was not even go to ask, but somehow she knew. Maybe it was the little baby fussing or the little girl clinging and crying on her mommy. Maybe it was my disheveled look (though I think I looked pretty put together under the circumstances 🙂  Or maybe you noticed the bags under my eyes from near chronic sleep deprivation. ( I am happy to say my baby appears to finally be sleeping through the night now!)  Whatever her reason, it felt amazing. Amazing to be noticed, amazing to be loved, even if just for that moment.

She was Jesus to me in that moment. She stopped to notice the little people and made a difference. How many times have we read stories of Jesus, stopping to talk to those culture deemed insignificant? (the woman at the well, little children, the boy with the few fish and bread that fed five thousand, the fishermen to become apostles) What he did for those people, at first glance, did not appear to be a big deal, but for those people, it made all the difference in the world.

It seems fitting, on the eve of Thanksgiving, for us to remember to be thankful for those seemingly insignificant moments that make all the difference. So, as you are doing your last minute shopping, or your early Black Friday shopping, as you sit down with your family or friends, remember to take notice. Take notice of the salesperson still being friendly after a full shift of having to work on Thanksgiving. Take notice of the nurses and doctors and other healthcare personnel for  caring for you or your loved one. Take notice of the loving hands preparing your food, whether at home or in a restaurant (one year it was just my sister and I for Thanksgiving, and yes, we did eat our Thanksgiving meal in a restaurant, and we were thankful there were restaurants willing to prepare a meal!) Take notice of the homeless guy asking for food or money. Take notice of the elderly who cannot walk or hear or see as well as they once could. Take notice of the young mothers or fathers who are juggling car seats, sticky fingers, diaper bags and temper tantrums (If you have no children, don’t judge. When and if you decide to have children, your day will come. It will be your child screaming in the grocery store or restaurant, and if you haven’t had this experience, then please share your secret with the rest of us!)  Take notice ,not just on and around the holidays, but all year round.  Be that act of kindness. Be somebody’s Jesus. You never know what a difference even the smallest of kind acts can do.  God will do the planting; you only need to do the sowing.

“So let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity we should do good to everyone- especially to those in the family of faith” Galatians 6:9-10

In what ways have you shown kindness or received kindness? I would love for you to share in the comments!

P.s. For more inspiration, follow my blog, and if this post encouraged you, please share with others!

 

When All You Can Do is Laugh

An adorable mess of constant exhaustion and joy. (See the dog in the background staying out of her way! Smart dog)
An adorable mess of constant exhaustion and joy. (See the dog in the background staying out of her way! Smart dog)

I am exhausted.  It is all I can do to make it through my day lately.  Between being 9 months pregnant and chasing an exhausting toddler who has been very belligerent to my admittedly increasingly impatient self, I don’t know how full time working moms or dads do it. I really don’t.  You have all my respect and compassion. I only work 24 hours a week (at an “away from home job”). I often say I work harder at home then at work. I can’t  clock out and leave my job at home, it is always there, with mountains of laundry ever mounting, dog hair blanketing my floor, a sink that constantly needs cleaning, and mouths that need to be fed. When I do get my floors clean, I turn around and see every single book off the bookshelf on the ground. My toddler’s latest pastime is clearing out all the contents of her drawers that she can reach during “rest time”.  I know that these are things I will laugh at one day, and I do laugh at them even now, because sometimes that is all you can do, laugh or cry. I need to choose to laugh.

This week has been an especially rough week, with constant reprimands to my independent and stubborn toddler and the stress of getting ready for our upcoming baby.  A recap for the week:  My toddler, while at daycare colored on the walls, and then the next day at daycare, she pushed a baby down on the ground (not a reassuring fact considering we are about to have an even tinier baby in our own household).  Just today, we have had at least three moments of disciplinary actions and two to three temper tantrums, one while in a store. Three temper tantrums total in public this week, one in a public library which ended in me dragging my screaming two year out of the library, one in which she was throwing merchandise on the floor which resulted in a battle of wills and a public sit down, and the last one where she just laid down on the ground and screamed (which was short lived thankfully). Most of these were from sheer disobedience and others admittedly from this momma already being on a short fuse and not having much patience for two year olds these days.  (Pray for my patience and to not be too hard on my two year old or my poor hubby).

Not to say there have not been sweet moments, because of course there have been, moments of us all playing with play dough together, a nice reprieve from the heat to enjoy a leisurely walk, and time to play outside without melting in the hot southern sun. Moments of tickles and moments of  laughter while flying through the air with her daddy. Moments where she says “I help mommy” .  I don’t even mention all the above to air my complaints, but rather in hopes that I am not the only crazy pregnant mommy and to hope I can encourage you to laugh instead of cry when nothing seems to be going smoothly. (although there are moments where all I wanted to do this week was cry) Sometimes all we can do is get through the day and take things one day at a time. I am all about trying to find routines and lists and stick to them, but sometimes that is just is not possible.  And believe me, I have been trying. I have finally decided that this is not a season in life for me to stick to a strict routine, perhaps one day that day will come or perhaps that just does not fit my lifestyle.

I keep trying to compare myself to stay at home moms who homeschool their children and I am not that kind of mom. I have no desire to homeschool, ever. I don’t see that changing, though I do try to keep an open mind, but right now, nope, not going to happen. I don’t fit in with the home school moms or stay at home moms, because I have an outside job. I don’t fit in with the working moms, because I only work part time, and the rest of the time is spent with my child.  I can relate to aspects of both and yet not relate to either group. For those of you out there who are in the same boat, know you are not alone.  It’s okay to want to work part time or full time or stay at home.  Whatever you choose, it has to work for you and your family. You do not have to do it all.  I put so much pressure on myself sometimes to do all the “stay at home stuff” on the days I am home. (clean house, take care of my child, make dinner, well that’s about all you have time for really). I am trying to pack 5 to 7 days of work into 3 to 5. It… Just… Doesn’t… Work.  So, my encouragement to you and myself, is to take one day at a time. Do not worry about tomorrow til you have finished the work for today.  That is literally how I prioritize my days sometimes, What do I need to do today and what do I need to do to prepare for tomorrow.  That’s it. And that’s enough.

Let us remember when our days our ever exhausting to lean on the Lord!

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of this understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

CELEBRATE YOUR CURVES

Beauty in So Many Ways
Beauty in So Many Ways

I was driving home from work the other day when one of my favorite songs came on the radio. I had not heard this song in forever!  When you hear the title you will know what a sap I am for lyrics.  The song was “This One’s for the Girls”, by Martina McBride. I think I heard the song in my early to mid 20s. I would sing as loud as I could in my little sedan. It always gave me goose bumps. I felt it could relate to the depths of  my very soul of being a woman. It always makes me so sad when I hear women insult themselves or even others. That is not how God made us to be, but yet it is so prevalent in our culture. Each section of the song touched me in different ways. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTowId2CWHA

I think that now is actually when I need this song the most. I don’t recall very much lack of self confidence when I was a teenager or even in college and my early 20s. Somehow, I knew that all the things that people think others notice are not usually discernible to anyone but yourself. Very few people notice that zit or that you hair is too straight, or that you have one more roll or wrinkle than the person next to you. They are usually too busy thinking about their own flaws. I always knew who I was and to Whom I belonged.

It hasn’t been until my current years that my self esteem has started to plummet. I guess we all reach that stage at different points. You see, I was the girl that was skinny and didn’t have to worry about what she ate. While I was introverted and shy, when I made the effort, I could make friends easily. I put myself in situations where I would make the friends I wanted. It’s not that I wasn’t self conscious at times, but it was usually a fleeting thought, quickly brushed aside as being silly.

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You would think that now, in my 30s, would be the least likely time for me to have self esteem problems. But now is the time when my body has changed the most. I have been through one pregnancy and am currently pregnant for a second time. I felt confident I would lose the weight I wanted with my first child, (after all, I was going to breast feed) but I didn’t.  I was able to breast feed for over a year, but I have yet to lose the weight I wanted. I eat healthy; I exercise. (granted I could do better at both). I know in 10 to 20 years I will laugh at my 30 something year old self.  I have a beautiful daughter and a husband who loves me and adores me and thinks I’m beautiful all the time. But it is not enough for him to think that or say that, as much as he wants it to be. I have to believe it. And I have to remind myself of the beauty in myself and more importantly, the beauty that God sees in me. After all, He is the one who made me.

2103“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me… You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning; if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. … You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. …You saw me before I was born….How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!…Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalms 139

IMG_1018 Everything He makes is beautiful. What I see are extra curves, but God sees hips that gave birth to a miracle and Lord willing a second healthy miracle. When I see my laugh lines, I see wrinkles, but God sees memories and love. When I feel that minor back pain, I feel hurt and frustration, God sees a healing back who stooped to help others.  Where I see ugliness, God sees beauty. In the near future, I may see gray hairs, but God will see wisdom. I may see arthritic hands, but God will see hands that provided comfort. Who are we to mourn our lives, we should be celebrating. Celebrate every curve, every gray hair, every wrinkle, they all have stories to tell. Know that it is okay to not be your same size you were in high school or college.

You are beautiful! God declares that you are precious!

I

Favorite Inspirations

Two of my favorite inspirations on a daily basis!
Two of my favorite inspirations on a daily basis!

My goal for this section is just to inspire and lift up others who have caused inspiration in some form or another. I hope for this blog to be able to incorporate articles, bloggers, songs, or books. Basically anything that you can think of that brings a smile to your face or laughter in your heart. My goal is to publish this weekly on a Saturday or Sunday! I hope you enjoy! Feel free to pass on any encouragement!

1. I have just finished a book by Kari Patterson called “I Will Look Up”. It is a devotional book that has 31 devotionals. I enjoyed all of them, but my favorite was the chapter called “The End of Mommy Guilt (Or Whatever Other False Guilt You Face)”.  One of my favorite quotes was “We’re not called to a child-centered existence; we’re called to a Christ-centered existence. Yes, we give countless hours to our children, but they don’t run the show. God does.” If you want to check out her blog, here is the link: http://www.karipatterson.com/welcome-2/

2. You know the song “I Can Only Imagine”, by Mercy Me. Perhaps a bit overstated,but this song always inspires me. I heard it as I was driving home from work feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, and disheartened (though for the life of me I could not tell you why). It came on right when I needed it and helped lift my spirits. I listened to it again on you tube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xwzItqYmII) while I was writing this post. This song reminds me of something my pastor said a few sermons ago. He was talking about how as Christians we like to debate what we will ask God when we meet him, like what went through Noah’s mind when you asked him to build a boat when there had been no rain, EVER. Or perhaps, he can replay the scene where Jesus walks on water. I am sure you can think of your own questions for which you have always felt curious.  My pastor stated something along the following lines, “I don’t think we are going to care about those questions when we meet God. I think we will fall on our knees or be rendered speechless or dance and sing for joy. We are not going to be able to do anything but worship, in whatever form that takes for you.” I can only imagine…

3.From my daily Bible reading: “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.” Psalms 63:1-11, NLT This passage reminds me of one of my favorite songs as a child. “Better than Life” by Acapella. It made me so happy to find this song and many more of my other favorites on you tube. Here’s the link to the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv5zZOnQ654

4. From the Huffington post, “The Life of the Party is closer than you think” This was great article highlighted by the Huffington Post about living life in the most extraordinary of ways.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-macy-stafford/the-life-of-the-party-is-closer-than-you-think_b_6950288.html.

KEEP DREAMING, NO REGRETS

KEEP DREAMING, FARTHER THAN THE OCEAN
KEEP DREAMING, FARTHER THAN THE OCEAN

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to be when I grow up. You see, I want to be proud to tell my children and grandchildren what I do, whether that be a homemaker, a lawyer, a doctor, a volunteer or anything else. I want them to know that they can reach for their dreams and if their dreams change, that is okay, because that’s life and God speaks to us in different ways at different times. Lately, it has been a struggle. You see, I am a nurse. I decided that is what I wanted to do in college. Being 18 or 19 or 20 and having to decide your entire career path is very daunting and overwhelming. So being the analytical person I am, I did personality tests, career tests, talked with career counselors, perused all the careers my personality matched. Basically I spent a semester to a year of my life contemplating this ever daunting decision that would forever change my path of life. Or so I was led to passionately believe.

Now I am all for career counseling; please don’t misunderstand.  I think nursing is a noble profession, and I think I made the right decision for myself with the knowledge I had at the time. I try really hard to not live with regrets, because what are regrets? Nothing but pining over your past life thinking about what might have been. That is no way to live. And I believe, even if you did make a bad decision, that your past is part of who you are today. It does not define you, but to deny your past is to deny yourself.

What I have struggled with the last few years is thinking I had to stay a nurse forever. That it wasn’t okay for my life or passions to change. I am just now coming to the realization that it doesn’t have to stay that way. I should have figured that out a long time ago. There were several women in my nursing class who were not the traditional age for college and in fact it was their second career choice. They had different careers. So why have I felt this way all these years?

I worked so hard to graduate nursing school. I studied constantly, I had no life, I was constantly worrying about falling behind (more on worries another day). I lost hours of sleep. Just about the only relationships I had were the people in my nursing class (who were awesome by the way). There were days when I stayed up until the early hours of the morning, studying and working on  projects. The next day I had clinical, and then the next night was the same. It just seemed a shame to waste what I had spent five years studying and working towards. Not to mention, that I am still paying off school loans (I chose to go to a private school). I have worked in all different arrays of the nursing profession. I worked in an intensive care unit, a rheumatology clinic, a medical surgical floor, and I now work in the operating room. It’s not that I don’t enjoy what I do, but it’s that I have lost my passion, I have lost my way. I have become apathetic, and that is what I’m not proud to tell my children. Now, maybe that just means that I need to find a different avenue of nursing. If that is not the case, then I have to accept that  I may need to pursue a different passion, one that I can be excited to dream about  I feel like right now,

God has put it on my heart to start this blog. I want to be able to reach out to women all over the world, who just need a little encouragement or don’t feel like they are enough. They are enough, and so much more. They are God’s daughters. You are beautiful because God chose you before you were even born, and you were made in his image.

Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart.”

Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God, he created them, male and female, he created them.”

Perhaps, like me, you are struggling with thinking  you have to stay in the career you chose, but I no longer believe that is true. In fact, that is preposterous.  As moms and daughters and sisters, we should always dare to dream. Ask God to help you with your dreams and show you the way. It might take you down a path you would never expect, but as long as you are following him, it will be the right path. As for me,  I pray this blog is also God’s dream for me and that he can use me to inspire and encourage woman for His glory. And if he says no, then I pray he will direct me in the way I should go.

Psalms 23:1-3, The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul, He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

Keep Dreaming and being your extraordinary you. There is none other like you, none so beautiful as in the eyes of the Beholder.

Matthew 5:16 (ESV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.