Saturday, January 20, 2018

Morning Mercies



Last night, as I took a scalding hot shower to try to wipe off the stench of my hideous behavior, the hateful words I'd spoken rang loudly in my ears. This morning, I can still hear their echo.

Ironically, one of the things I told yelled at my son yesterday was, "You can't take words back. You can apologize, but your words drive a nail into someone's heart, and when you remove the nail, you still leave a jagged, bleeding hole."

Not only did I scream that at him, but I pounded my fist into my other palm for added effect. He had disrespected me and then really wounded his sister with his words, so apparently, I was going to teach him an excellent lesson by highlighting some very wise words with my some really horrible behavior.

I then went on to nail some more holes into my husband. Over and over and over, almost uncontrollably, I hammered them in. He was so brave in light of it all, so honorable. The Holy Spirit in Him was strong, and he gave grace when I needed it the most.

This morning, the shame of my behavior still clings to me, like an oily film even a scalding shower can't wash off. There is just so much remorse.

However, my God is faithful, even in these moments. His voice whispers to me, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinth 12:9).

The Holy Spirit reminds me His mercies are new each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

And, when I sought a devotion this morning about my anger, He brought me to Unglued, by Lisa TerKeurst, and this verse wrapped its arms around my soul:

For, I, Yahweh your God,
Holy your right hand.
and say to you: Do not fear,
I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13

Do not be afraid. I'm holding your hand. I will help you. 

I let out a relieved sigh. Thanks be to God.

I need help in so many areas right now. My temper seems to have a mind of its own. My house is topsy turvy. Our homeschool days are dreary. My business needs new life.

But in all things, there He is. His grace is sufficient. His mercies are new each morning. He is with me, holding my hand.

And I am grateful.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wear the Dress



Today, as we prepared to go to the store, Emily was helping me get the younger kids dressed. When she brought in little Avery, I just rolled my eyes and sighed. 

She was wearing black tights and one of her beautiful little Christmas dresses. I barked at Emily to go change her. "She can't wear that!" I said. "There's no reason to."

If you've been keeping up with me at all lately, you know I have had some rough days. Due to having baby number seven, some rather severe hormonal fluctuations have put me in somewhat of a tailspin;  I've been unable to think clearly, moody, weepy, and pretty dang irritable.

But a meeting with the Minister of Counseling at our church yesterday has been working on my heart - shifting some of my perspectives - and here's what she told me: I might have some hormonal issues, but I also just have some significant life issues. I have been living my life in survival mode for so long that life itself has become a chore. Some processes, priorities, and perspectives MUST shift.

I started to come to this realization early last year. I said I wanted to be Adventure Mom. I wanted to have fun again, to BE fun again. But just as I was making those changes, I got pregnant...again...for the fourth time in five years.

I don't know if you know this, but trying to be adventurous with morning sickness is the pits.

And then I just forgot. I went right back to the rut.

So today, when little Avery looked so disappointed that Mommy wanted her to change a small voice inside me that began whispering just yesterday raised it's voice in my head. It screamed loud and clear, and it stopped me in my tracks.

"No!" I said. "Nevermind. Life is short. Wear the dress."

The words resonated so deeply. Even now, they bring tears to my eyes. Wear. The. Dress.

I even charged into my bedroom to put on a fancy dress, too. But then, I thought of trying to wrangle all the kids in Wal-Mart in a dress and whatever coordinating shoes that would require. I was looking at my closet and started to feel stressed, but then...that voice again.

"No!" I said. "Nevermind. Life is short. Wear the jeans."

Because I am just DONE.

I am so done stressing about things that don't matter. I am so done with charging through life worried about what other people think. I am so done with getting things done, but forgetting to have FUN.

God gave me this life, and it is just too short not to fully live it.

So, I put on jeans...and a shirt that says "Freedom"...and my most comfortable cardigan...and my favorite red lipstick...and my earrings that jingle just a bit...

And it felt freaking fantastic.

I am saying this now, loud and clear for anyone who will listen, I have had enough of the drudgery. I have had enough of safe and boring and normal and status quo.

Paul told the Hebrews to throw off every weight that kept them from running the race God set before them, and that's precisely what I intend to do. 

I want my life to look different. 

I want laughter and adventure and fun and creativity. I want to live life to its fullest, and more importantly, I want to teach my kids they can do the same thing.

The important stuff will all get done - schooling, bill-paying, errands, chores - but there just HAS to be a way to do it without squashing all the life out of it, and I'm going to find that way.

I want to live a life of meaning and significance, and I can't do that if I feel like I'm living each day just to make it to the next.

And I want you to come, too. Join me in the revolution, friend. Lock arms with me as we protest mediocrity and the mundane. Laugh in the face of the rat race and shake off the shackles of self-shame.

Put on the lipstick. Wear the fun shoes. Do the scary things that make you come alive. And, by all means, go ahead and wear the dress.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Unveiling



Yesterday. *sigh*

Yesterday was a crap show (and that's putting things mildly).

It started out well. I had my first quiet time with Jesus in weeks (since bringing sweet baby Asher home). I felt God with me and heard His prompting to be more present with my children. I thought about all the sweet, special, rainy-day activities I wanted to do with my kids that afternoon.

The day started with such promise...

And then...attitudes.
And then...arguing.
And then...disrespect.
And then...inconsiderate-ness (a made up word, but a very real thing).

With each jab, I lost more strength and each rebuke was more strongly worded. Every hour I lost more control of my temper.

Finally, I just left to run some errands and sobbed in the Wal-mart parking lot.

Then, after unloading my entire heart on my sweet sister-in-law, I was able to get myself together, run my errands, and go home with a slightly better attitude. Thankfully, the day ended with peace...in my home, but not in my heart.

The mom-guilt hangover after a day like yesterday is NOT insignificant. It clung to me like a wet sweater and nagged at me all through my quiet time. I knew God had something to show me, but I was missing it, and, honestly, I was too emotionally tired to dig that hard.

But then - as is always the case - God met me right where I needed Him.

In my Community Bible Study lesson for the week, we are studying Exodus and ended where Moses meets with God and comes away with his face radiating the glory of God:

As Moses descended from Mount Sinai...
he did not realize that his face shown
as a result of speaking with the Lord.
Exodus 34:29

Isn't that a beautiful picture?! A man's face radiating the glory of God after spending time in His presence?

But then it says:

When Moses finished speaking with [the Israelites],
he put a veil over his face.
But whenever Moses went before the Lord to speak with Him,
he would remove the veil until he came out.
After he came out, he would tell the Israelites what he had been commanded,
and the Israelites would see that Moses' face was radiant.
Then Moses would put the veil over his face again
until he went to speak with the Lord.
Exodus 34:23-35

I'll be honest, I've read this more times than I can count, and I never really put much thought into why Moses was veiling his face. I questioned it, but then moved on. Until today...

Today, my CBS work connected this passage with Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth. He's talking about the difference between the Law of the Old Testament and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he says:

Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness - 
not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the
sons of Israel could not look at the end of what was fading away.
But their minds were closed.
For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant,
the same veil remains; it is not lifted,
because it is set aside only in Christ.
However, to this day, whenever Moses is read,
a veil lies over their hearts,
but whenever a person turns to the Lord,
the veil is removed.
Now the Lord is the Spirit;
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
We all, with unveiled faces,
are reflecting the glory of the Lord
and are being transformed into the same image
from glory to glory;
this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (emphasis added)

Moses veiled his face to cover the fading reflection of God's glory, which he received while he met with Him. He only uncovered his face when the radiance was renewed.

We forget. We forget how gifted we are, through the blood of the lamb, Jesus Christ, to be able to boldly approach the throne of grace and speak to our God whenever we need Him! Moses, on the other hand, had to wait, and the reflection of the glory faded.

But why, then, if I have the Holy Spirit inside me, did I spend most of the day yesterday reflecting anything BUT the radiance of the glory of God?

Because I forgot to turn to the Lord. Instead...

I turned to facebook to tune things out...and put on my veil.
I simmered and seethed and focused on the negative...and put on my veil.
I yelled and pleaded and raged...and put on my veil.

The reality is, even as Christians with unlimited access to God and His Spirit within us, we can veil our faces, blocking others and ourselves from seeing the reflection of His glory.

Yesterday, I lost sight of the person God is trying to turn me into, as I layered veil after veil of distractions over the reflection of His presence.

But what would my day have looked like had I taken the time to turn to the Lord? How much more radiant would my face and countenance had been had I sought the counsel of one who shines light even into the darkest corners? How much different would my day have been?

Here's the thing: we cannot spend time with God first thing in the morning, asking for guidance, direction, and help, and then spend the rest of the day without Him.

You don't go driving into completely unfamiliar territory all day having just glanced briefly at a map first thing in the morning. You take your GPS! You consult that sucker regularly!

Likewise, don't expect to have a successful mission if you're going into the unfamiliar territory of your day having only briefly consulted the one who designed it.

A daily "quiet time" is a great start, the first fruits of the day, but you need the continual sustenance of the bread of the Presence of God to get you through the rest of it.

Where do you put a veil on during your days? What habits, frustrations, and pitfalls cause you to lose sight of the person God is calling you to be as you're transformed into His image?

Today, together, let's make a concerted effort to turn to Jesus, to remove the veil, so we (and those around us) can see the reflection of His glory and be transformed into the Christ-followers He is calling us to be.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Whole New World: My Top 5 Tips for New Moms


Puke, pee, poop, nursing, bottles, swaddles, sleep, and lack thereof - our lives are once again inundated with everything "newborn." I've just had my seventh (and final) baby, but I have some friends who have just, or are about to, bring home their very first bundles of joy, and it made me think: what do I know now that I wish I would have known then?

So here are the top 5 bits of advice I have for all the new mamas to be:


1. Who's body is this?!


Despite Hollywood's best attempts to convince you otherwise, your body will probably not "bounce back" right away. We all know one or two women who were able to wear their skinny jeans home from the hospital. That will probably not be you. 

As a matter of fact, if you're anything like me, you will look down at your body post-baby and think, "Oh my gosh! Ya'll missed something in there! I still look pregnant!"

Give yourself and your body time and grace. You've been through A LOT. Your hormonal, after-baby self may be tempted to cry and lament the body you once had, screaming through sobs that you'll never be attractive again. Remember these words: most of this is temporary, but the parts that aren't are totally worth it. 

Kiss the baby, put on some spanx, and keep moving. This too shall pass.


2. "Today, we're soldiers."


In the most recent "Sherlock" episode, Sherlock and Watson get through a terrifying experience together by telling one another: "Today, we're soldiers."

Welcome to the first two weeks of your babies life.

After the first two weeks, it won't be gravy, but you'll start to fall into a groove. You'll have some idea of what you're doing. You'll be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

But those first couple weeks? You're sleep-deprived. You're confused. You're learning on the fly. You're in foreign territory. During those two weeks, look at your partner, join hands, and say," Today, we are soldiers." This too shall pass.

3. Put on headphones


Welcome to the world of "Oh my gosh, how can EVERYONE have an opinion on EVERYTHING." Pregnancy may have prepared you for this some, but once your child is born, people become next-level nosy, and everyone and their mama, and their grandmama has something to say about what you should do.

Tune 'em out.

Everyone has their own way, and most of the time, they're super passionate about it: vaccines, diet, sleeping, schooling, and everything else under the sun. And guess what? They want to share with you EVERYTHING they believe, and you'd better agree OR ELSE.

But here's the deal, God gave YOU this baby. Be informed and ask people you trust (who will respect your decisions), but in the end, the way you raise this baby is up to you. Eventually, if you put up healthy boundaries, people will begin to respect them. This too shall pass.


4. They're smarter than you think


Far earlier than you could ever imagine, your precious little baby will lie, manipulate...and call you on your junk. 

What you learn about all the decisions you're making about all the little things (see #3 above), is that they are meaningless in comparison to how you're walking through this life. Your little one will be born with sin of their own, but they're also watching you very closely.

I've known moms who never set bedtimes for their kids and moms who were strict with the sleep training. I've known moms who have never breastfed and moms who breastfed into the toddler years. I've known moms who never gave their kids processed foods and moms whose kids practically lived off mac-n-cheese and Captain Crunch. 

In the end, none of that stuff mattered nearly as much as the example their parents set for them. Be joyful. Be forgiving. Be patient. Be kind. And when you jack that up? (AND YOU WILL) Be humble and ask for forgiveness. This too shall pass.


5. This too shall pass.


Pay attention. This is the most important part. Everything you're dealing with right now? It will be over in the blink of an eye. 

Someone once said, "The days are long, but the years are short." Truer words have never been spoken. Some of those days you experience will be beautiful and life-giving, but some of will rip your heart out of your chest and stomp on it. 

There's a good possibility that you'll find yourself crying on the floor far more than you'd ever imagined. In those moments, remembering how quickly time passes probably won't help you because you won't be able to see the forest for the trees. 

But generally, remember, this too shall pass - the good and the bad, the beautiful and ugly - and it will pass in the blink of an eye. So try your very best not to sweat the small stuff and not to worry about tomorrow because today is a beautiful gift. Do your best to enjoy it. BE PRESENT.

Whether you like it or not, this too shall pass.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

When C's Won't Cut It




If you read my previous post, then you know I struggle with discipline in just about every area of my life.

In my housekeeping...
the way I discipline my children...
keeping up with this blog...
my business...
my schedule...
fitness routines...
eating....

I could probably go on, but I think you understand.

I have allowed the many hats I wear to serve as an excuse to be undisciplined. "I just have so much going on? Who can possibly get everything done?"

It doesn't help that many well-meaning people serve me excuses on silver platters. Everyone is very eager to give me grace because of the number of children I have, homeschooling, etc. And to some degree, they're right: I do need to be able to give myself grace and know there are times I just can't do it all. 

But here's the crux of the matter: somewhere, deep inside, we know when have crossed the line from God-given grace to self-given excuses. It's a fine line, but it exists, and if you're honest with yourself, you know.

When I was in school as a child, I was not allowed to get C's. It was unacceptable. To some people that was crazy, over the top, parenting, but I always understood it. I wasn't a C student. I was capable of more. If I was getting C's, there was a good probability it wasn't because I didn't understand, but because I wasn't putting in effort.

However, as a senior, I had one class I could NEVER get an A in, and more often than not, I got C's: AP English Composition. To this day I hate the words "passive voice" because I saw them written on my papers so often (not that it stopped me). I truly tried, though. I worked diligently on my papers, but for whatever reason, I wasn't able to perform beyond "adequate." 

Because my parents knew I was trying my best, earning a C in that class, while disappointing to me, was acceptable. It was my efforts that determined their view of my performance, not necessarily the results. And that, my friends, is the point of all this.

It's all about knowing what you're capable of and whether the effort you're putting forth is truly your best effort. 

In my case, many of my failures have come from a lack of organization. God has seen fit to give me responsibilities in a lot of different areas. I have known for some time that I needed to be more organized in order to thrive, but...even thinking about trying to organize myself was daunting challenge.

Who has the time? I said. I have too many other things to do!

So instead of taking the time necessary to get my life together, I plodded along haphazardly. And when that got too overwhelming, I didn't do anything at all. Scrolling facebook seemed like a much better option than trying to wrap my tired brain around getting more important things done.

I've been acting like an A student making C's and D's, giving the teacher every excuse in the book for why I couldn't get my work done. I was riding the waves of mediocrity like a pro, but the sea of excuses started drying up, and every facet of my life, including my walk with God, suffered.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
Proverbs 13:4

My diligence and discipline were lacking, and my soul craved, but got nothing - until now...

I'm finally making a genuine attempt at organizing ALL aspects of my life. Thus far, I've seen some improvements in a few areas and less in others, but I've seen progress!

Recognizing that progress is actually a big step for me. In the past, I would have ignored any forward progression, keeping a laser focus on the areas where I wasn't progressing. I was an all-or-nothing kind of girl. I would become discouraged and then, like clockwork, I would give up because "it just wasn't working."

Praise God for direction and His amazing grace.

Where in your life are you making progress? Where do you need to? Do you struggle with discipline and organization?

Pray today that God would guide you and order your steps. Pray that He would give you the strength and clarity to make the necessary changes and incorporate HIS discipline into your life.

It may not be easy, and it may be messy, but I promise it will be worth it. 


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What is God-discipline?




Most of the time, if I had to choose one topic to write about for twenty-something days, it would be tortuous. I'd waffle back and forth between multiple topics, and finally just choose the one that I felt suited the moment best...or I could say the most about.

This time, however, when I saw the #write31days challenge, I knew exactly what my topic would be: self-discipline. God has been writing the words diligence and discipline on my heart for a while now: every day in a myriad of ways.

And yet...

Self-discipline still didn't seem right for what I wanted to convey. The Bible has plenty of verses on discipline and self-control, but for me, it has a different meaning.

When I think of self-discipline, I think of white-knuckling my way through life, independent and strong. I see a self-made woman, plowing her way through life with steely determination, plenty of grit, and great accessories (shush, it's my vision).

But that's not what my walk looks like.

Don't get me wrong; I've tried desperately to make that happen. I have charged into countless situations determined to succeed, independent and strong. Sometimes, that's worked out great. But more times than not, I've fallen on my face and succumbed to failure.

My walk has looked a lot like smeared mascara on tear-stained pillows and crying out to God in the shower. It has been messy, and not without casualties.

I am not self-disciplined.

Nevertheless, God is teaching me how to lean on him to become disciplined...so I'm calling that God-discipline.

More and more, I'm learning that white-knuckling my way through things on my own just isn't me.

I need His strength to get me through the moments when I just can't get through on my own. 

I need His faithfulness when mine is on the run.

I need His grace when, despite His perfection, I mess it all up.

I need His strong hands to help me back up when I fall.

Over and over, I have sought perfection, and when I couldn't achieve it, I've given up. Why do anything if you're not going to do it right? But that simply meant I wasn't getting anything accomplished because I'm far from perfection.

I used "perfectionism" as an excuse to quit. I have gotten overwhelmed and abandoned countless causes.

But not now.

I heard a quote today by Jim Rohn that said: "Success is steady progress toward one's personal goals." That sounds pretty simple, but he put a lot of emphasis on the word PERSONAL. He said you can't let anyone tell you what success looks like for you. Your goals have to be yours; you can't take on someone else's goals as your own. In that, he echoes loudly what God has been whispering to me for quite some time.

For me, progress, not perfection, is the goal, and successful for me may look entirely different than it does to the world. He is teaching me to lean on Him and trust Him in ALL things, leaving what the world thinks far behind.

That's the hardest part for me, you know: abandoning others' perceptions and opinions, letting my the tapestry of my life take on the colors of His will instead of the those of the threads of public opinion.

Thus, I'm abandoning self-discipline; by myself, I'm not disciplined at all. God is teaching me to look to him for the strength to be disciplined and to His grace and mercy when I'm not. I'm embracing God-discipline.

If you're one of those people who executes goals flawlessly, my posts for the month of October probably won't interest you much.

However, if you're someone like me - one who falls down a lot in the pursuit of God's plan and often has difficulty finding the strength and courage to get back up - I hope you'll follow along. We may just learn and accomplish a lot together.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

31 Days to God-Discipline



I've been thinking about writing more for a while.

Just thinking...

I've felt like God is calling me to write more. I've considered trying to come up with something regular.

Just considered...

Then, while scrolling Instagram the other day, I saw a post about Faith, but more importantly, it was a challenge to WRITE.

Every day of October. #write31days

The point is to write about one subject, every day, for 31 days.

Obviously, I'm late to the game, but in the name of embracing progress and not perfection, I'm jumping on anyway.

My topic? What better than the words God has been writing on my heart for the last month: diligence and discipline.

I'm excited. I'm nervous. But I'm stepping out anyway because God says it's time.

If you want to read each day's post, you can bookmark this page, and all the links will be here:


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Has God been writing words on YOUR heart recently. Why not link up! All it takes is a blog (easy to create), a simple image (also easy), and a visit to Write 31 Days! But do it before October 5th!