Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Give Thanks

With fall in full swing, I see daily reminders that the holiday season is upon us.  From the changing leaves to the cooler air to retail stores full of all things Christmas, there is no avoiding the fact that the holidays are here.    

There is a trend on Facebook using November as a month of “thankfulness”.  Each day marks a day to be thankful for something – anything – from food to family to blessings from God.  Even I have found myself using this month to find at least one thing for which to be thankful every day.  Some days, things pop in my head that seem pretty straightforward, yet other days I spend more time trying to think of just the right thing. 

The scriptures are full of verses that call us to this spirit of thankfulness – but here’s the thing.  It’s not just for the month of November.  Every day should be spent “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father” (Eph. 5:20 ESV).   As we approach the throne of our Heavenly Father in prayer, we are to “enter his gates with thanksgiving.” (Ps. 100:4 ESV). 

One of my favorite passages comes from I Thessalonians 5:16-18.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.“ (ESV)  Everything that happens is exactly according to the plan of a Sovereign, loving God.  Why give thanks only during November?  What would happen if every day were spent finding one thing for which to be thankful – easy or hard?  How would our prayer life change?  How would our relationship with the Savior change?  What would become more important to us – things?  Or blessings? 

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Always a Student

Tomorrow marks the 12 year anniversary of my becoming a Mom for the first time.  I will never forget that day, but I will also remember the days before.  I had a scheduled induction for September 7th, mainly because I asked my doctor if he would, and he said yes.  It was the first week of September and the temperatures had been in the 100's.  I was 39 weeks pregnant and ready to do something about my built-in heater.  If you know me, you know that I am incredibly hot-natured anyway, so this baby needed to come.  I am enormously proud of the young lady that my daughter is and is becoming.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for her.  However, that is not the topic of this blog post.

Three years and three weeks later, the Lord blessed us with another daughter.  Growing up, I always thought I wanted to have boys.  I just felt like I would make a good boy-mom.  God, however, in His infinite wisdom, called me to be a girl-mom, and I wouldn't trade any of it.  If you were to ask me what I've learned most from being a mom, I would say hands-down: GRACE.  Let me elaborate.

The more I grow in my spiritual walk, I become more and more amazed at my own depravity as a human being.  Yes, I am created in the image of God, but I am one messed-up chick.  I sin.  A lot.  Every day.  A lot.  Yet, my Heavenly Father shows me grace.  He forgives.  Over and over.  For the same thing.  And He will never love me any more or any less than He does right this second.  And that love was shown in a way that still gives me chills.  He let His only Son leave a perfect Heaven, live a perfect life here on Earth, die a slow, painful death.  And for you, too.

Now, what does this have to do with being a Mom?  Every day, my patience is tested.  Every situation calls for a different set of actions and reactions.  On those frequent occasions, when I want to scream to the high Heavens and run away, I am reminded, "Show them grace.  Show them grace."  I have often said that I am overwhelmed by the love I have for my children.  When in reality, it's just a blip on the radar compared to the love that Christ has for me.  It's almost like God is using my job as a Mom to remind me of what He did for me.  Every situation comes with it an opportunity to show my children the same grace that Jesus shows to me.  Ephesians 2 says that it is by GRACE we have been saved, not by WORKS.  Thank the Lord I don't have to be good enough.  Refer to earlier "messed-up chick" comment...

Now, I know that those of you reading who already have raised children or currently have teenagers are saying, "Honey, just you wait."  I know that.  But I also know that understanding the love Christ has for me and for my girls will equip me to tackle the next 10-15 years.  Show them grace.  Show them grace.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mom on a Mission

Every night we say prayers at bedtime with the girls.  Sometimes we pray, sometimes they pray.  Sometimes we pray as a family, sometimes we divide up and pray.  One thing we are trying to teach our girls is that prayer is nothing but a conversation with your Heavenly Father.  You can talk to him like you talk to us or to your best friend.  No stilted or special language needed.  Just talk.  And goodness knows, they can do that.

Last night when Parker was praying with me, she went through our family's day for the next day (meaning, today.)  "Be with me and Maggie while we are at school, be with Daddy while he's a work and be with Mommy while she...while she...while she does whatever she does."  Huh.  Does she really not know what I do all day?  I think I made a Facebook status about this a while back with some smart remark about not doing "whatever I do" all day and let's just see what happens.  She has prayed that before and it made me giggle, so I guess that's her idea of my day.  I do something, but she really isn't sure what.

So, this morning while she and I were having a few quiet moments before she got on the bus, I told her what I would be doing today.  Here's a sampling of my list...

*Making lunches
*Making breakfasts
*Cleaning up the kitchen
*Teaching a class
*Going to the store
*Planning dinner and getting it started
*All other duties as assigned...and then it starts again.

Then after I thought about it, the Holy Spirit reminded me what I had read on my Jesus Calling App on my phone with blurry vision at 6:15 this morning.  "Spend time with me for the pure pleasure of being in My company.  I can brighten up the dullest of gray days; I can add sparkle to the routines of daily life.  You have to repeat so many tasks day after day. (sound familiar?)...The best remedy is to refocus your mind and heart on Me, your constant Companion.  

I went into the bathroom while Parker was brushing her teeth and said, "Hey, I thought of something else I'll be doing today.  Spending some time with God reading the Bible and praying."  She smiled.  All of a sudden, my monotonous day doing "whatever it is I do" became much more significant.  I get to spend a part of it having a conversation with my Heavenly Father, who also happens to be the Creator of the Universe and all things in it.  I can talk to Him about my struggles, my joys, my pains and tell Him how grateful I am for all the things He has done for me.  Giving me Eternal Life, for one.

So, what are you doing today?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Did I just say that?

Remember that little saying we all learned as kids?  Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.  Honestly, could that be farther from the truth?  One of the reasons I titled my blog this way is because I have this bad habit of speaking before I really take the time to think about my words.  You know, those moments when you wish you could physically grab the words and shove them back in your mouth.  Those moments when you want to open mouth, insert foot?  The moments when you ask yourself, "Did I just say that?"  You get the idea.

I notice it most when I am talking to my children.  They are such an easy target when I'm having a bad day, not feeling well or just don't want to be bothered.  I am convicted of this and feel like it's a lesson that God is constantly teaching me.  It's not a coincidence that the book of James in the New Testament compares the tongue to a fire (James 3:6) and full of deadly poison (James 3:8).  How many times have I had to referee an argument between my girls and had them open their Bibles to Ephesians 4:29 and read it to me.  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  Uh oh.  Maybe I need to open my own Bible and read it to myself.

I would imagine that if I took a Facebook survey and asked how many people remember specific words over the course of their lifetime that were hurtful and they never forgot, I'd have more comments than I could read.  Truth is...words hurt.  How many times have I been out shopping or at the grocery and overheard parents talking so ugly to their kids.  My first thought is, "Come on, give them a break.  They're just kids."  Then how many hours/minutes later am I doing the very same thing and the Holy Spirit gently says to me, "Come on, give them a break.  They're just kids."

Many times this week I have been overwhelmed by my love for my children.  Just watching them walk to school or wait for the bus or chew their food, I am reminded of what a gift they are.  Then I am reminded that my love for them, no matter how great it seems to me, is minuscule in comparison to the love that my Heavenly Father has for me.  Would I be willing to give up one of my kids for someone that loves me, or even worse hates me and doesn't care to get to know me?  I doubt it.  But God did.  And He never...thought...twice.  It was the only way He could be with His children, His beloved.

My prayer this week is that I would be more thoughtful with my words, not only to my children, but to everyone I meet.  You never know what someone else is going through and one smile or encouraging word may mean the world to them.  Will this habit go away overnight?  Most likely, no.  But the Lord knows my heart and He knows my desire and thankfully, with a repentant heart, his mercies are new every single morning.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Family Dinner

NEVER underestimate the power of family dinner around the table.  Even if it takes 5 times longer to fix dinner than it does for everyone to finish, complain that they don't like it, ask to be excused, ____________ (fill in the blank).  You get the idea.  Yes, it takes a lot of time, work and creativity to put dinner on the table and to be honest, our stage of life is such that some nights, we are lucky to pick up at the same fast food restaurant.  But, it's those times around the table when I am reminded that no matter how hectic my day has been, how many times I've gotten frustrated or raised my voice or how many times I have said those infamous words, "Calgon, take me away...", we are a family.

It's around the dinner table where we have no choice but to look each other in the eye and listen.  We talk about our days, laugh, agree to disagree and everything in between.  It's around the table where my girls feel safe and can ask us questions or talk about something that's been bothering them.  It's around the table where we discuss our "highs" and "lows" of the day.  Family rule: it's okay if you didn't have a "low", but you MUST have a "high".  And you want to know something? Frequently, at least one person around the table says that his or her high is that moment, around the table, when we are all together.  

Truth be known, I took a break from cleaning the kitchen to write this post.  My husband has gone to a meeting, the girls are upstairs doing whatever they do, and I'm STILL in the kitchen.  But I'm okay with that.  We had dinner together around the table and THAT was powerful.