Thursday thoughts align

Each morning, after my shower, I climb back in bed for some quiet time before the small people wake up. This morning, I was reading through my blog roll, and several new posts hit my heart. Then at our first MOPS meeting, our speaker, Amy the women’s director at our church, spoke on the same theme I’d been reading earlier in the morning!

I want to share the links as well as some things that stood out to me:

What a cab driver taught me about excellence, Sarah Mae – I don’t want to just “get by” in life, I want to pursue excellence! “Does it intimidate you to think about becoming excellent in marriage and/or parenting? Me too. But that’s because I have considered excellence to be perfection, but they are not the same. Perfection is completion, no more work to be done. It’s finished. Not so with us. We are only complete in Christ, but in action, in life, not so much. But excellence, that’s different. Excellence is working hard at becoming the best you can at something, failures and all. It’s intention, and giving, and caring, and going for great.”

Giving yourself grace, Vanessa – “Truly giving yourself grace isn’t about giving yourself anything. It’s about being open to His grace and fully accepting it, not just for the big hurdles, but for the tiny every day stumbles.” I read this after Sarah Mae’s excellence post, and I thought they complemented each other so well!

Give your children the gift of a happy mama, Sally Clarkson – This is not a superficially happy mama, this is a mama whose joy comes from being intentional in faith, fun and thankfulness. “The grid through which you see life will determine how you behave in life. Children want a happy mama–that makes them feel acceptable, as though they belong, and filled up in their own little hearts because mamas are the compass that lead children to joy in life.”

Changing perspective and giving your family grace, Amy – I took notes on her message and posted the recap on the MOPS blog. “Pray for God to help you give your family your best.”

An interesting note, both Sarah Mae and Vanessa have personal blogs which I follow, but both their posts today were at (in)courage where Sarah Mae is a regular contributor and Vanessa was a guest poster.

Grow in His word – Colossians 3:16

My friend Vanessa is hosting a link-up with some of her bloggy friends to encourage personal Bible study. The idea follows the acronym GROW:

G – Greet – Welcome God’s presence into your study with prayer
R – Read – Read the verse a few times, both silently and aloud
O – Observe – Ask yourself what stood out to you while you read the verse
W – Write – Write out the verse, note your observations, and share a prayer for this verse

For my fourth element:


Context: Colossians 3 describes what a Christ-follower’s life should look like. It contrasts the old and new and uses the analogies of put off and put on. Toward the end of these instructions, verse 15 starts “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” and verse 16 follows “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Peace and the word, ruling and dwelling.

col 3 16 grow

The first line of the verse stood out to me this time.

Let – this word speaks openness to me. It’s not complicated or necessarily requiring much effort. Just stand back and allow it to happen.

the word of Christ – there are many ways God has spoken – prophets, visions, Jesus – but we can access His word any time with the Bible. His word. Isn’t that amazing? It’s there, was there, will always be there. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1 It’s stable and reliable. Jesus is the Word, truth personified.

dwell in you – for His word to dwell in us, we have to know it. And sometimes, after being in “the church” for a while, we can know a lot about His word without letting it dwell in us. We might keep it in our heads or use it to measure where others fall short, but we don’t let it dwell, really live as an active part of us. Memorization makes this easier. As the spirit also dwells in us (James 4:5), He can bring the word to mind. It’s there, hanging out, some of it in a back closet of the brain, but it’s still dwelling.

richly – the Greek word is plousios which means abundantly. We can’t just open the door a crack and let a few things in. “John 3:16 is pretty good, and all the love stuff. Y’all can come in. I think I’ll try to do the rest on my own. Encourage and teach on my own. Between Google and Pinterest, I should come up with some good stuff.” Nope, let the word dwell richly. It’s comfortable, it’s at home, it fills us. Richly. Like a dark chocolate molten lava cake. Mmmmm.

And that’s as far as I’m going to go today. Click over to Hearts on Guard to see the link-up and check out what the others are writing about this verse.

Some days

Some days I feel like that. Except I would have the covers pulled over my head.
Parenting is hard in itself. And I’ve discovered some personality things that make it harder, especially as a stay-at-home mom. Kelly, a contributor at Keeper of the Home described it well:
Wanna know something funny? I am an extreme introvert. Do you know what that means? It means I get my energy from quiet, alone time. Lots of it. It means after being around noise and people for a few hours, I feel like I’m going to completely have a melt down… Do you think I was “cut out” for this? Patient? Ha! No, but to keep from losing it all together, I have to die daily. I have to crucify my flesh every day. It’s painful. But it’s what we’re called to do. It’s just that most of us would rather run away from the means by which He wants to use in our lives for that daily dying.
I wish I could develop more of her perspective of appreciating character development. I feel like I’m still in survival mode a lot of the time. Though it makes sense that I shouldn’t just spend my time trying to develop character in my kids, I should be intentional in growing in character myself. And I need coping strategies that don’t involve crying and hiding. ;)
I’m just thankful for each new day where I can try to do better. And though children are quick to cause frustration, they are also quick to extend grace and forgiveness. When it seems like everything is going wrong, I can look back and see I really do have a few more things figured out than I did a year ago. So there’s big-picture growth.
In the day-to-day, I have to figure out a baby who won’t sleep without nursing and a little girl who is in mental, physical and verbal perpetual motion. Like any new muscle, this introvert is stretching, sore and fragile. The strength is building, but some days the covers go over my head to hide for just a few minutes since it turns out Hannah is not very quick at hide and go seek. ;)

Madly, Truly, Deeply

Before Hannah was born, I wondered what it would feel like to be a mom. My previous roles were daughter, sister and wife. This was something different; my life would now be devoted, 24/7, to keeping this little person alive and helping her grow into the best big person she could be.

Then I walked into a nursery of bassinets, and the nurse led me to one and said, “Congratulations, mom!”

Um, okay?

It wasn’t in that instant, but one day I realized that over time I had not only fallen in love with this little person, I had feelings for her that were very different than other relationships. Now, as she is three, she regularly drives me to the end of my patience and takes me to the negative end of my emotional spectrum more than anyone else. But she also makes me laugh more than anyone else, and I have this passionate, crazy attachment to her despite the daily challenges.

We spend hours and hours and hours a week together. Just the two of us. We have our routine, our friends, our jokes.

I know some things will change with the new baby. Everyone will be making adjustments. I keep reminding myself that this sibling is a gift – I can’t imagine life without my sister! It’s hard to wrap my head around, but as God puts our family together, I’m trusting He’ll give me the same crazy love for each child as I have for Hannah. But I’m wondering how I could possibly love anyone else the way I love her?

There are a lot of children’s books along the lines of “how much I love you.” Some of these are pretty cheesy, in my opinion. But someone gave us one that makes me cry every time I read it to Hannah. I want to include the last few verses here:

You’re my sweetie, my dear, my smile and giggle.

You’re my playmate for always, my hug and my wiggle.

Hanging out with you is where I like to be,

eating ice cream sundaes or watching the TV.

Under your umbrella, behind you on a bike,

by you and beside you is what I really like.

I can’t imagine life before you came along.

You are the music to my dance and my song.

I am meant for you, and you are meant for me,

the one I love forevermore. Undeniably.

I Love You So… by Marianne Richmond

Did anyone else have an emotional rough patch going from one to two kids? Please reassure me!

Back seat reminders

I was nicely driving home from Chick-fil-A today, chatting with Hannah in the back seat. Then the jerk behind me was apparently unfamiliar with the procedure of four-way stops, and he didn’t appreciate that I remained at a stop and yielded to another guy who had the right-of-way. So he honked at me, waved his arms around and yelled, “Come on!”

Remembering I had a toddler in the back seat, I took a deep breath and just muttered, “Sheesh, chill out.” To clarify to Hannah, I said, “The guy in the car behind us is a little cranky.”

“He’s sad?” she asked.

“Maybe,” I answered. “Maybe he’s having a bad day and now he’s cranky.”

“Mommy pray for him.”

I rolled my eyes a bit. Clearly, she didn’t understand the situation. This jerk-face just honked at me with excessive arm-waving and then revved up his car to dramatically pass me as soon as we were through the stop sign (that I’m pretty sure he didn’t actually stop at). But I didn’t feel right refusing her request.

“Dear Jesus, please help the cranky guy to feel better and be a safe driver. Amen.”

Nothing spiritually earth-shattering, but Hannah seemed content and we moved on with our drive home. And I wasn’t so ticked off any more.

Grown-up problems

My heart is heavy. As I get closer to 30, and most of my friends are past that point, I’m having somewhat of a Peter Pan moment. I don’t want to grow up; grown-ups have too many problems. Real adult problems.

These were the things that I’ve always known can happen, things that sometimes used to affect my friends’ parents, but now they’re affecting my friends. And I don’t like it.

I have friends who have had multiple miscarriages, friends who have been divorced, friends who have gotten cancer, friends whose husbands had affairs, friends whose husbands have been deployed…

These are not things relegated to a storyline in a book or movie any more. These things are affecting people I know and love.

I guess I had somewhat bought into the lie of “We’re young and invincible! We’re in charge of our destinies! Just stay in school and don’t do drugs and everything will be ok.” And even “If you’re a good enough person, hard things won’t happen to you.”

I have learned from watching my friends go through hard stuff. Most of them are Christians and have acknowledged the complete suckiness of their situations but have also shown faithfulness, trust, patience and hope. I admire their strength as they face some seriously difficult life seasons. My heart hurts for them, and I always feel at a loss of what to say or do to show support or encouragement.

Getting older stinks.

However, while getting older, I see friends have these adult problems, but I have also gotten to see friends make exciting decisions and rejoice with grown-up situations. I have friends who were surprised with twins after being told getting pregnant would be difficult, friends who are missionaries, friends who started successful businesses.

I know the highs and lows are just part of life, and there are (hopefully) a lot more to come. In this season of Thanksgiving, I am praying for a truly thankful heart for the gifts with which I am surrounded. I’m praying for protection over my family and loved ones and for words of encouragement for those who are in a difficult season.

God is good.