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.

8 Life Lessons I Learned From My Toddler

DSC_0403 (2)I now have a three year old!  I can’t believe it!  Sometimes I feel like I am looking at someone else’s life. I honestly was never the girl that dreamed of the kind of kids she would have, and even if I would have kids. I never thought about what kind of mother I would be. I honestly really never liked kids, and if I’m being honest, I’m still not crazy about other people’s kids (I do like most of my friends’ children, most of the time). Sometimes I wonder if I am a good enough mother. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I get impatient or frustrated and yell or say things I shouldn’t say. In spite of all that, I believe I am the perfect parent for my children. And more and more, I understand a little of the unconditional love our heavenly Father has for us.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for me and for my children, this I know. I have to remind myself almost every day. There are days when my beautiful Sophia is very tiring and challenging and exhausting. She is headstrong and fiercely independent. (I can’t imagine where she picked up that personality trait!.. Must be from her daddy. 🙂 )   She has taught me so much in her short 3 years of life!

Lesson 1: Sometimes you need to just be silly.

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Sophie is a jokester. We used to ask her, “What color is this?”  For awhile, the only thing she would respond with was “Orange!”  She knew the colors! That was her 2 year old self teasing us!  Another joke she says, “I’m BeBe”, or I’m “Uncle Matt”, and then now she follows it with “You’re Daddy”, or “You’re Max” (Max is our dog!)  She has a mischievous little glint in her eye while she’s saying these things too. Sophie loves to be tickled. She loves being thrown up in the air, loves hide and seek. If we can’t go outside, she will run in circles around our dining room table. She makes me laugh.

We need to let ourselves laugh. We need to remember what it was like to just be silly.

Lesson 2: Be Persistent!

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This past summer, we made the transition to a big girl  bed. Now that she can get out of bed freely, she will literally knock or bang stuff on the door. It’s really quite funny and difficult to not go back to her room. She is a world champion at bedtime stalling!  I have to give her props for creativity. “I need some water!” “Lie down with me!” (with big blue pleading eyes!), “I need to put my babies to sleep”. “I need to read” . She even uses prayer time as a means to stall her bedtime. If we have taken away story and song time because she is not listening, then she pulls the prayer card. She knows mommy wants her to pray!

The point is: While we don’t need to  give in to our children’s every demand, we can learn from their persistence.  If you want something, keep trying! Don’t let a few no’s (or a few hundred) stop you from pursuing your passions or dreams.

Lesson 3: Sometimes you just need to let it out!

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Oh, we have had our share of tantrums and fits!  Screaming in a restaurant, screaming in the store, you name it, we have had it.  How about the time she laid down at the train station, no wait, the cell phone store, no, the consignment store, and just had a textbook tantrum and sit down!  Oh, yes, my Sophie has a temper.

And talk about drama! Once, after a trip to the community pool, Sophie fell and scratched her knee while walking back to our car. Drama central!  After the drama settled, she wanted a Dora band aid, but when I tried to put it on her knee, she screamed. Then she just held it the whole ride home.

Okay, so maybe you and I are past the tantrum phase, but don’t you want to just let it all out and scream and stomp your feet and cry sometimes?!  Well, maybe we can’t scream and stomp our feet (unless you are completely by yourself, then I say, go for it!). However, it is  probably not the best example to teach our children in order to launch them into functional adults.  However, it is okay to accept a hug or want someone to kiss your hurt away. It’s okay to dry your tears on someone else’s shoulder. The point is: Stop being so independent! It is OKAY to ask for help. It’s okay to cry.

Lesson 4:  Sometimes a girl just needs to look good.

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Sophie  loves trying on shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I would walk in her room after nap time to find shoes and clothes, and toys EVERYWHERE!  She would take hair bands and use them as necklaces or for awhile she was attached to hats. She would wear them constantly, even sleeping with them.

Sometimes you just need to dress up a little. We should dress up, not to impress others, but just to remember how beautiful we are.

Lesson 5:  Life is about what happens everyday in the little moments!

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For all of Sophie’s challenges and tantrums, there are more than enough sweet moments. Like the time when she handed me my tucks during my pregnancy with our son (both embarrassing and sweet), or how she is with her baby brother, constantly loving on him, kissing him, and helping me mother him. Or when she spontaneously gives me a kiss or “helps” with chores (she can help unload the dishwasher and put clothes in the dryer! Sometimes she even sweeps! She loves to hold the dustpan for me!). Or how she “cooks” with her pretend food. How she loves to make baby brother laugh and share stories and tummy time with him. Or how she tugs at our heart strings every time she asks us to lie down with her. Or the times when she asks for a “big hug”.  Once, after I gave William his  bath, I turned my back for one second, and next thing I knew Sophie was bathing her baby dolls. All Ican do sometimes is laugh.

For all the bad moments there are 10,000 more good ones. We  can learn from the bad moments, but we need to cherish the good moments. After all, people don’t usually take pictures of the bad moments (although I think that is warranted sometimes!). Our pictures are of the happy moments. You don’t usually remember the tantrums and attitude between the pictures.

Lesson 6:  Life is Messy!

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Life is Messy.  From throwing up in the doctor’s office and in the car and all over me. (all three of these happened last year!), life is messy. From snotty noses and ear infections, life is messy. From spilled drinks and dumped over cheerios, life is messy. (thank goodness for dogs!). From tear stained faces to skinned knees and new scars, life is messy. From emptying out all the drawers to emptying the toy boxes, life is messy.  Life is Messy! Let it go and keep making messes!

Lesson 7:  Celebrate the little successes!

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My Sophie finally went poo in the potty! It has been a long time coming! I dare say, we may be done buying pull-ups! (at least day time ones) If you are a mom, you know how exciting this is! It was all I could do to restrain myself from posting it all over social media! I did text almost all my close friends and family! We celebrated this feat with ice cream and a toy.

That’s how toddlers are, they celebrate little things, like putting their shoes or pants on all by themselves. Or finally figuring out how to open the doors! Or putting that last puzzle piece together. Let’s take a lesson from our toddlers and celebrate the little successes. Like doing prayer/bible time even once or twice a week. Or maybe it is making it somewhere on time! How about getting noticed for a job well done. Picking up a few pieces of trash (that’s one less piece of trash!) Or finally learning to parallel park. Perhaps, it is making one person smile. Or making it to bed on time. Or making it through the day without killing your children.

Little successes add up to make a big difference!

Lesson 8: You are capable of so much more than you realize!

Do you know how many times Sophie has done things  I didn’t think she knew how to do?  Like the time she opened our screen door and walked outside, BY HERSELF with the dog! (we have no fence and we live on a steep hill!) Or the time she started drinking out of a regular cup.  Or  the time when I walked into her room and she had figured out a way to pull off items from the top of the dresser!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for!

And so are you!  Don’t sell yourself shot. Believe in yourself!

 

Yes, this year has taught me so much. It’s taught me that this parenting stuff is hard, that life is hard, and marriage is hard As the cliché goes, anything hard is worth doing!  I said at the beginning that I didn’t really like kids, but I LOVE my children. I love my Sophie and everything she is and everything she stands for. I love her just because. She is a gift. One that I do not deserve.

To my Sophia: rbp-42

I love you and everything you are and everything you have taught me, and everything you stand for. You have taught me so much more about love and life than I ever imagined.  You are uniquely wonderful and beautiful. God has a plan for you! I don’t know what it is yet, but it will big! Bigger and more wonderful than I or you daddy can imagine!

 

What are some lessons you have learned from your life experiences? I would love for you to share your stories!

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, don’t forget to share!

 

 

 

 

For the Love of Chocolate

DSC_0197I LOVE chocolate! Just about any kind, with nuts, without, with peanut butter, caramel, whatever. If it has chocolate in it or around it, I will eat it and be bribed by it. One of my favorite kinds of chocolate is Dove chocolate, every flavor. I even love the little sayings that come in the wrapper. Now, I’m sure the Dove manufacturers did not intend to provoke profound thinking on their wrappers. And often, I just read them in passing. Some are cute, some are downright stupid (sorry Dove), and some are sweet. But one recently did have me pondering deep thoughts (maybe it’s the breastfeeding hormones).  “Do all things with love.”

Do ALL things with LOVE. Really?? Do ALL things with LOVE? Am I supposed to potty train with love, change diapers with love, eat, feed my children, fold laundry with love? While these things seem trivial, are they? What if we did everything from the lens of “Do ALL things with LOVE“.

Would that make the mundane things a little more enjoyable, or just increase the pressure of being a parent? After all, as all moms and dads know, toddlers and infants are exhausting (as I’m sure any age can be).  Between taking my two year old to the potty for the millionth time, cleaning the floor and sheets from pee and poo (I am happy to report that we are now almost completely potty trained!, just trying to get that #2!). Between  begging her to go # 2 on the potty and bribing her with a new toy and ice cream (which has not worked), and just short of forcing her on the toilet (which I realize does not work either!).  Between nursing every few hours to soothing a fussy baby at all hours, the last thing I  think about sometimes is love. I think about sleep and rest and peace! I think about being able to sit down with my lunch and not have little hands grabbing at my plate demanding at that instant to eat, even though they may have just eaten or just said they were done! I think about drinking HOT tea or coffee. I want to read a book in its entirety and in one sitting. I want to finish writing this post without interruption. I want to be able to eat my chocolate without having to hide it or share it with my child.

Maybe that is the point. Parenting is not glorious work. But neither was Jesus’ work . Did he want to constantly be traveling and speaking and healing? How many times did he get interrupted while praying or having a meal with his friends. How many times did he get woken up by cries and whines? How many times did he just want to spend time with his Father without having to break up an argument or soothe somebody? He did those things out of love and with love. Do ALL things with love.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16: 14

What if, instead of lamenting our days away we said the following instead:

How amazing is it that my two year old is learning to go to the bathroom all by herself? How awesome is it that I can see my baby boy growing right before my eyes?. How extraordinary are all those dirty and wet diapers, for they are a sign that he is healthy?

While not the most glorious acts, these are all opportunities to show love. Show our love in discipline and teaching and learning. And even though this season of my life with young children seems to be dragging by at times, I know this too shall pass. Will I look back and say I did all things with love and that my children knew they were loved? At the end of the day, ask yourself:  Did I have a heart filled with love or was my heart weary and weighed down with the tasks and to do lists of the day?

I want to make sure my children know that they are loved. I don’t want them to remember a clean house, every meal being at 6:30, or an organized playroom. While there is certainly nothing wrong with, and I do aim for those things, my point is this:

I want my children to remember the laughter we shared, coloring and building blocks together. I want them to remember me baking with them and taking them to the park. I want them to have love filled memories.  I want them to remember that I loved them, just as they were. And, perhaps, I will share my chocolate. 🙂 (Sometimes…)

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to share!

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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

15 Simple Ways to Show Someone You Care

Recently, I asked my husband what he considered the most important things he needed to do for his day to be successful. His response, quite frankly, surprised me. Not because of what he said, but more so because of what I had in mind. I was thinking along the lines of housework, meal planning., etc…  He quickly made me realize what really mattered. His list was 1. Spend time with your spouse. 2 Spend time with your children 3. Do something nice for somebody every day.

The last one is what really honestly floored me and totally made me reevauate, well, everything.

How do you do that exactly? How do you do something nice for somebody every day. It seems like such a simple tasks, but when I actually tried to put those words into practice, it proved to be quite difficult. The majority of my days are spent with a 30 something inch little person. Even when we leave the house, my focus is on not losing sight of her, keeping her from running out in front of a car, and from destroying other people’s property. You know, just your usual day spent chasing a toddler. To say or do somthig nice for somebody else??? Are you serious??

My husband’s mindset is right, even if you don’t do it correctly all the time and even if keeping your toddler from destroying other’s property might be considered your good deed for the day (even if they didn’t know it! :)). Perhaps, my service would be walking out of my house showered and with make up applied to my face. Gasp! They, being the world,  have no idea what they would have been presented with if I had not left my house somewhat prepared.  In all seriousness though, I sat down to to actually think of ways to actually be nice to somebody that did not include my toddler not coloring on their wall or demanding a 5th sucker. 🙂 I came up with the following list:

1. Wash your loved one’s car (You could either do this by hand or if you despise that you could take it to a basic car wash; I prefer the latter)

2. Freeze their favorite summer fruit and then bring it out in the winter for them to enjoy (this was inspiration from my friend Lisa)

3. Send an old fashioned card. You know, the ones you buy in a store and put a stamp on an envelope.

4. Send a simple text message telling your loved one how much you appreciate him/her.  It will put a smile on their face.

5. Prepare their coffee or tea just the way they like it or buy their favorite beverage

6. Bring home ice cream unannounced or whatever their favorite treat may be.

7. Flowers (even those who say they don’t care about flowers appreciate the gesture occasionally). It doesn’t have to be a dozen red roses; a simple bouquet from the grocery store will suffice.

8. Keep a bag of candy or gum at your workspace for co workers.

9. Do a chore someone else in your family always does.

10. Hold the door open, for anyone! It’s always appreciated.

11. Pick up somebody else’s trash. Sometimes the best deeds are those unnoticed.

12. Take cookies or donuts to a firehouse or to your work place or husband’s work, doctor’s office etc.. (They do not have to be homemade!)

13. Put $5 dollars in a library book or pay somebody’s library fine.

14. Try the pay it forward thing at a fast food restaurant or if you can afford it, find someone’s meal in a restaurant you can pay for.

15. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile out of the blue.

What are some of your ideas for a simple kindness you can do for somebody else? I would love to hear from you. I challenge you to practice an act of kindness at least once a week for the next month. Once a week is really not very much, you can do it! Follow me as I attempt to meet the challenge as well at #showsomeoneyoucare

Proverbs 16:24, “Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.”

All I Need is to Trust

{a95594f7-0dfd-4a22-b877-0531c3490ff2}_6BWRecently I have started trying to initiate a morning devotional time with my toddler. It is literally only a few minutes including reading or watching a short bible story, singing a song if I can think of an applicable one, maybe talk a few minutes, and a scripture. We are working on memorizing a short scripture. The first day I tried it, my daughter was focused and even repeated the verse after me. I was so excited! I did not think it was possible for a two year old! Of course, in typical toddler fashion, she has vehemently and passionately refused to partake in any sort of devotional time since then. I, of course, being a dedicated mom, continue to try anyway, in hopes that she may absorb some of what I am saying.   And while I know she is only two, I can’t help but irrationaly think she is doomed and will never learn to listen. Of course, I know this is just a phase. (that she will hopefully soon, but not too soon, pass.)

At any rate, it does not matter if she refuses to listen right now or not; the truth of the matter is I have learned more then anybody. It has caused me to memorize scripture (a habit I have long forgotten) and the particular one I am trying to enforce upon my poor daughter is actually very fitting in my life right now.

“Depend on the Lord, trust Him, and He will take care of you” Psalms 37:5

My husband and I are about to have another child in this scary, messed up world.  We have just lost another (the third in three years) family member to the ugly word that is cancer.  I have friends and family members going through so much hurt right now.  I suffer from my own lack of friendship making skills. I want to pay off school loans, but can’t seem to find a way.  Every time I think we are making progress, something else happens where that money needs to be allocated: an unexpected, but necessary trip, a car needing repair, clothes for my child and upcoming infant, and so on. I am struggling with the feeling of being overwhelmed and the daily mundane tasks seem ever daunting.  The security thing is what gets me the most.  I like to feel secure. I like to know where my bread is coming from, and I honestly have never really had to wonder. We have closets full of clothes. I know we have way more than we need. That’s where the trust gets me. I know God will take care of us, but will I choose to let him? To honestly give of myself and my finances? To know he will carry us through the hard times of recent losses and sorrows? To know that He is with me, to the very end?  I am reminded of a very simple story:

One day, while at summer camp in high school, we were having our Bible class time. It was sooo hot and humid. The air was completely flat, no breeze, nothing. If you have ever lived in the deep south, then you know what I am talking about. There is no relief from the raw humidity and heat. Well, we were all sitting on the grass or tree stumps, trying to focus on the devotion and not focus on the sweat blinding our eyes and drenching our clothing.  I don’t remember what we were talking about, but it must have been something to do with praying in faith, because I decided to pray for a breeze. Most importantly, I believed. I knew there would be relief. And there was!  It was just enough, even if for a moment. Now, I know in the large scheme of life how that must seem like a mundane, useless and trivial prayer. There are so many greater things to pray for: lost souls, the poor , the homeless, the list is insurmountable.  That is just the whole point though! God does care about the big things of course, but perhaps more importantly He cares about every thing, even the things that seem trivial. He cares about us!  That is where trust comes in.

So as I contemplate the aforementioned verse, I think of what that means in my life. To trust, that in spite of currently having no benefits with my upcoming maternity leave (my choice so to get paid more hourly), he will provide. He will provide what we need and if needed he will provide a job when I am able to go back to work.  To trust, that through the loss of loved ones, He will provide us comfort? To trust that God will work in my child’s heart and help us to show her God’s love? To trust that God will provide the friendships I need and help me overcome my personal obstacles? To trust that God will provide a way and not give us more than we can bear?   I dare you to trust. Trust that He will take care of us.

What will you trust God with today?

My Daddy is Awesome

DSC_0655My little girl is the epitome of a daddy’s girl. Now she is only two, so perhaps it will change. Right now, she has him (and her uncles and grandfathers) so tightly wrapped around her little finger, she pretty much just has to blink or pout. She may only be two, but she knows she can get away with murder when it comes to most, if not all, of the men in her life. Now to my husband’s merit, he does discipline, but sometimes it is just too much for even him, especially when she pouts or asks so sweetly for him to sing just one more song, read one more book and then plunges the final dagger in his heart with a kiss or hug. He falls for it, hook, line, and sinker.

Daddy is the first thing she asks about in the morning. She adores him!  The other day I was putting her to bed. As per our usual bedtime routine, we read a book, sing two songs, and say a prayer (not necessarily in that order). I asked her what song she wanted to sing. She replies, the “dada” song.  Not having a clue what she was talking about, I made up a song. It went something like this. “My daddy is so awesome, because he loves me so, He is so awesome, he jumps me high in the sky, and he loves me too. My daddy is so awesome and I love him too.”  I change the actions (and the key) pretty much everytime because I don’t remember what words I sang before; it’s not a real song!  Anyway, while I still don’t know what song to which she was originally referring, it was a hit and now she asks me to sing “The Dada Song” almost every night, over and over and over and over….   Just the same, it is pretty cute (and he is pretty awesome).

As part of our bedtime routine, I have also been asking what she would like to thank God for today as a way to get her to think about what prayer means. Her response is always the same (so far). She may think a minute about it, but she always says, “Dada”. She asks about her daddy pretty much throughout the entire day, and of course when mommy is being too mean, she screams for daddy. All of this daddy love (and in honor of Father’s day) inspired me to think of a real song or at least our own words to the tune of another song.  I don’t have the tune down, so feel free to comment. 🙂 This is my attempt (please don’t laugh, I am not a songwriter):

My daddy is so awesome,

He catches fireflies

My daddy is so awesome,

he tosses me in the skies,

My daddy is so awesome,

He watches my cartoon.

My daddy is so awesome,

He thinks I have hung the moon.

My daddy is so awesome,

He loves me all the time.

My daddy is so awesome,

He will always be mine.

All this talk does remind me of one of my favorite devotional songs in college and high school. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smZwG-auxC8)

“Our God is an awesome God,

He reigns,from heaven above,

with wisdom, power, and love,

our God is an awesome God.”

It is a very simple, but powerful song. It encompasses how we should love our heavenly “daddy” with childlike fervor. God’s love is unconditional. He is the true model for how all fathers should strive to be. I know there are so many women out there, who have not been so lucky to have this type of model. But we do have a heavenly dad, who utterly adores and loves us. He loves us so much, that he sacrificed his own son so that we could spend the rest of our lives with our heavenly Father.

“For this is how God loved the world: He have his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

Perhaps you did not have the father who attempted to model heavenly fatherhood. I am truly sorry for your loss. Know, however, that you do have a father who loves and respects you as you deserve.  He wants you to come to him and put your faith in him. He would love for you to trust him to the extent that you can leap in the air and know he will catch you.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

My husband and little girl share a mutual adoration and bond, one that I pray will never be broken. She needs her earthly daddy, as much as we all need a strong father figure throughout our lives. It does not matter how old you are. If you have a good father, you know he will always be there for you. I have an earthly father who attempted to model that very love. More importantly though I have a heavenly father. Even if our earthly dads disappoint us (and they will as they are human after all), know that we have a Father who will never disappoint and will always take care of you.

“Depend on the Lord, trust in him, and he will take care of you”. Psalms 37:5

Thank you for reading!

Extraordinary Moments of the Week, December 28th-January 3rd

1. Sunday: I was at the grocery store checkout counter; the lady in front of me left her buggy in the middle of the aisle. Instead of walking around it,  I moved it where it belonged. (though I admit with a little grumbling). I hope it at least helped the employees a little.

2. Sunday: We received good news this week that a friend’s breast mass was benign! So thankful for that!

3. Monday: Usually, I go to Costco with my husband on an evening or weekend. I decided this week to go on Monday by myself. (we really needed some stuff before the weekend!). I was glad I did! As it was 10:00 in the morning, it was not busy.  We (my Sophie and I) were also able to enjoy the sample stations. (usually there are a hundred people waiting in line, and I just don’t have that much patience or time to wait in line!)

4. Tuesday:  I enjoy Christmas lights all season, but I tend to  enjoy them more after Christmas. Maybe it’s because a small part of me is ready for the new year, but I think mostly I know they are only going to be on for a few more days. Then we will have to wait another 11 months!  Bittersweet.

5. On Wednesday, I was able to enjoy an afternoon to myself. Now, I love spending time with my daughter and husband, but I do enjoy those rare moments of times where it is just me. I did end up cleaning most of the day, but it was without interruptions! (I forgot how productive I can be without a toddler following my every step!)

6. New Year’s day and New year’s eve, we were able to enjoy catching up with dear friends. We only need to make more time in our daily lives!

7. Friday: Dance party with my little girl. (And no, I did not video it!)

One last moment that was too sweet to not share: Tonight while putting my Sophie to bed, I was able to rock with her. Now this may not seem like much, but for us it’s rare. Sophie is usually asking to be put her in her crib and is not willing to sit still for longer than a minute. But tonight, but she sat in my lap with her precious head bundled against my chest, and we listened to the rain. My little bit of heaven on earth.

Don’t forget to share any moments you had this week!

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.

The Moments That Take Your Breath Away

Wednesday morning I had a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting, in which we discussed, after viewing an inspirational video, having the courage to rest and rejuvenate. Inspired from the meeting, I took the time to take a stroll with my toddler and dog. (Walking is one of my ways to rejuvenate). Especially at this time of year where there are so many expectations; so many pressures. The pressure to buy the right gift, the pressure to do all the Christmas activities, the pressure to make those homemade cookies. (that’s the biggest one hanging over my head right now). There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those activities. It can all be just a little too much, a little too overwhelming.  Sometimes you just need to  stop and notice the sunset; smell the proverbial flower. That night, the sky was an incredible orange/purple; Christmas lights were coming on as we strolled. It was just what I needed. It is how, I believe, God speaks to me.

I sometimes feel as though my world is speeding by me. I am the highway on which the cars are whizzing .  I need some speed bumps slowing my life down. My little baby is growing up so fast; she is now a toddler and “big girl”. I am trying to remember to slow down and just be. Be with my Sophie and learn who she is; learn to be the parent she needs. . Be with my husband and just savor the moments. I have a hanging on my wall that says ” Life is not measured in the how many breaths you take, but in the moments that take your breath away”. How true that is. It is so hard to make yourself slow down, and I am no different. It is a miracle that I have slowed down to write this post. I have company coming for dinner; Christmas is too close. I have presents to wrap and a car to pack. My house is a mess (though much cleaner as I write this, sigh).  It looks as though we are moving from all boxes sitting all over my living room and guest (aka storage) room waiting to be wrapped. I am forgetting the reason behind all this craziness: the gratitude I feel to be able to have boxes full of gifts, the joy in my heart to be able to celebrate and provide a warm meal to loved ones. As I sit here heavy with burden of things to do,  I’ve become at peace (for the moment) realizing the joy and knowing I am loved by first and foremost my Savior.

My prayer is this:

That amongst the business of the season and this American life, we will stop. We will remember that God is in control. Maybe we don’t’ always see it, but that is why he is God and we are not. Remember the extraordinary moments. Moments where your almost two-year old shoves a whole handful of candy sprinkles in her mouth instead of on the cookies. (we did manage a few decorations on the cookies). Moments where your husband gives you a hug in the morning and tells you how much he appreciates and loves you. The moments of a father and daughter reading together. The moments of pure excitement as only a babe can manage over being able to balance on a step stool.  The moments of tickle giggles and incoherent babbling will soon be a distant memory. Those are a few of the moments that take my breath away. I would love for you to share the moments that take your breath away.

Philippians 4: 8 (NIV) “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.

The day my daughter was born and my breath would be stolen in that moment forever.
The day my daughter was born and my breath would be stolen in that moment forever.