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Tuesday
Apr082014

My Focus

 

 

I can't believe that Easter is coming so quickly. That the world around me is getting so green.

In my journaling this morning we were in Revelation 21. The description of The Holy City, with golden streets and gates made of single pearls sounds so spectacular.

Can you even begin to imagine? I'm so excited for this earth to come. This place that no longer experiences sickness, sadness and death. A place where evil has no home. 

This world, this existence, is all I know. Yet, I long for something more: our eternal home with Jesus. I long for a body that's not in pain, for grief to never have a hold on my loved ones, for evil to no longer tempt. For there to be no need for a sun or moon because God's glory is all around us. Think about it, God's glory will be so bright that there will be no need for light! His glorious light is all we will need.As I read this chapter, one thought stayed on my heart: what am I filling my life with today? Am I filling my life with things that are good and right and true? Or am I focused on things that will mean nothing in eternity?

My days are long ones. Ezra still wakes up often at night, and Emma is often ready and rearing to go at 5AM! My days are often spent running errands, wrangling children, keeping up on housework, and putting healthy meals on the table (most) evenings. Spare moments are usually mindless moments, a second to check my email, a random hour when both children decide to nap simultaneously, an hour or two in the evening between the kiddos' bedtime and my own. I'm sure I'm not alone in living such a life. You might have small changes, but the gist is the same. As wives and/or mothers, we don't really have much time for "us." So, the question comes down to how we're spending those free moments. Those in-between times.
Are those shows I'm watching, those books I'm reading, the things I'm surfing on the internet, uplifting? Do they bring me, and others, closer to Jesus. And, a far bigger question on my heart this morning, will those things even be allowed in the kingdom of God someday?

Ouch.

I like to think that I read and watch pretty good things. I stay away from things that swear, R rated things, things that don't glorify Jesus. Years ago I gave up most of my secular romance novels. If you feel different than me on this, please don't think I'm attacking you. I'm only sharing what God has placed on my heart with, what God has convicted me, personally, with.

As my children are growing up, I want them to know what's different about me. I want them to know that Jesus is more important to me than any earthly thing. I want them to see that my focus is above, not on this world.

Hmm... I'm not sure what this will mean about some of the things I watch.
I know it's definitely a call for my heart to focus, for my time to be used wisely.
To make sure that my first thoughts are on Jesus, not social media, when I wake up in the morning.
And to make sure my focus stays there, as I run from one errand to the next, take care of my family, make it to the end of each day.
We'll see where else this may go, but I know one thing. I can't wait for the beautiful eternity up ahead. Will you be there with me? I hope so. All it takes is letting go of this world, and admitting that we can't do it on our own. We need a Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday
Apr042014

A Rain Drop Kind of Morning

It's been awhile, but my heart is full. This week has been full of warmth and sunshine, which has been so good for my soul. The kiddos and I have been living outside, feeding the ducks at the park, doing devotions on a red blanket with floppy head in place, afternoon bike rides down the streets. I truly love this time of year, even if my head is achy from pollen counts. 

 

This morning brought rain, but even rain has beauty to it. Rain, which brings life, green, spring to this place called Alabama. Rain, which we had so little of during our Colorado years. I know that summer will bring pretty intense humidity to Alabama, so I'm truly enjoy this beautiful Spring, soaking in each sun-filled day. Enjoying the pitter-patter of the rain on the cloudy days. pp

I've been journaling a lot lately, something that's been so refreshing for me.

 Journaling through Lent with this lady: Naptime Diaries. It's truly been wonderful. Having a writing prompt every morning has really got some creative juices flowing. I've been a bit discouraged lately, a bit uncertain about where to go with blogging, but having a handwritten journal, again, has reminded me of why I love writing so much. How writing, for me, is a form of worship, a series of written out prayers, a time with Jesus. That was the whole reason I started blogging. To pray, through words, to encourage, to minister to others with the words God has given me. I love this handwritten journal and definitely want to continue after Lent. Suddenly, my lack of blogging has less to do with not having anything to say and everything to do with my heart having to much to say. 

But it's time to get organized, write out some lists, and come up with some scheduled blog posts for all of you. God has been teaching me a lot lately. A lot about perfectionism, expectations as a wife and mommy, parenting young ones, prioritizing, friendship, and personal goals. 

I'm imperfect, I'm growing, I'm on the mend. I'm a daughter of the King whose constantly learning new things. I'm the wife of a military man who is still learning the ropes. I'm mommy to two little ones that often demand more than I feel I can give.

Would you continue on this journey with me?

Would you pray, right along side me, that God would have something new to teach us this season?

That as Spring slowly, ever so slowly, comes, that our own hearts would be renewed, once again?

Because He brings light and life to each of our lives.

Light, has been the overall theme of my heart this week. Light, as I watched the sunlight gleam on my two little tow heads. Light, as the sun soaked into my white shoulders on our walks and bike rides. Light, as I read about the Israelites, stumbling around in the darkness for 40 years, going in circles instead of entering the promised land. Light verses Darkness. Belief verses unbelief. Trusting God with every part of me, verses holding things tightly and not letting go. 

"Unbelief causes many Christians to wander in the wilderness. They continue to struggle with the flesh and they don't go anywhere. They mark time. They don't gain ground. They can't move forward and they don't conquer they flesh and they don't go anywhere. They mark time. They don't gain ground. They can't move forward and they don't conquer the things God wants them to conquer. Instead of living victorious life they feel totally defeated" (Chuck Smith, Faith, 92). 

I don't want to live a life in darkness. A life wandering around in circles, even though the truth is right in front of me, bright as day. Instead, I want to live in truth. In the knowledge of everything my Savior has done for me. I want to live in joy and peace, because He's already paid the great cost for your sins and mine. That's the great news of today and everyday. News that even Christians forget at times. We're no longer bound to darkness. We don't have to wander around in circles. All we have to do is open up our hands and let grace enter in. Let light permeate the darkest corners of our hearts. Live each day to the fullest. Move forward in the knowledge that He is in control. The battle has already been won. He has chosen us individually to live with Him, in His marvelous light.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light, but now you are God's people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 3:10, HCSB). 

Wednesday
Mar122014

When Grace Enters In

She bumped into him. He started crying, so she ran over to her bed and hid her head underneath. She didn't want to get in trouble. She knew that her accidental act had made the baby cry. And so she hid. Hid from what she thought would be a reprimand. My heart hurt in that moment. Hurt for the little girl who just assumed that she would be punished. It's so hard being three. Three year olds (or at least my three year old) forever push boundaries. They're exploring, stating their opinion, trying to live even more independently. As a mama, I feel like my days often revolve around telling my daughter "no." I try my best to encourage and uplift, but I also have to teach her the difference between right and wrong. This is compounded with a young sibling. A sibling whom I have to protect from an over-zealous big sister. And so, perhaps, she gets reprimanded a little too often. It's a hard balance, teaching obedience and grace. But it's one I long to find. 

When she hid her head under the blanket, I was reminded of the grace God gives to each of us. We mess up, intentional or not, and hide our head, not wanting to hear His response. But, God, in His grace, reaches out and draws us into His arms. He knows. He knows the full picture when we cannot. He sees how the pieces of life fit together, and His grace covers all. 

He sees us wherever we may try to hide. He finds us, head under the blanket, and meets us there, in that moment. 

And He showers love. Love unconditional.

Maybe that's the secret in parenting. Teaching, strengthening, loving through each challenge. Letting your kids know that, while they can't get away with disobedience, disrespect, dishonesty, etc. that you love them through it all, even in the hardest of moments.

Because God gave grace to all of us.

More than anything, I want my children to grow up knowing about the grace of God. Knowing that He, and He alone, holds the keys to life and death. Knowing that we are nothing without Him.

And so, I soldier on, relying on God to fill in the blanks. Praying that He will give me wisdom in parenting, wisdom in disciplining, but also wisdom for when grace should enter in. 

 

Thursday
Mar062014

Cherished Memories


Life is so very precious. People are always telling me how quickly these days with little ones will pass. How I'll look back and wish I could rock them to sleep once again.
It's all about perspective.
When you're in the midst of baby years, it's hard to look past it. It's hard to even imagine them as being older.
And then, I get glimpses. Glimpses in the way my daughter tosses her hair or answers a question in a complete sentence. Glimpses when she does a chore, all by herself. Glimpses when she puts letters and sounds together. (She'll be reading before we know it!). Glimpses that my girl is not quite as little as she used to be. She's not all that much of a baby anymore. And glimpses that her brother is close behind. While he still, easily, falls under the definition of baby, he's creeping closer and closer to toddler-hood. He's learning, exploring, pulling himself up on everything, and mimicking the sounds we make. Even he is getting older.
These days will pass. The hard moments with two little ones will be distant memories.
And what will I have gained? What memories will I have stored up? What lessons will God have taught me?
Definitely some hard ones.
But there will be beautiful memories as well.
Because life is precious in our house.
Our house is one of dicipline, yes, but it's also one of laughter and love.

Love, and memories that I'll never forget. It can be so easy to get caught up in the busyness, in the to-dos. But, when we slow down, we realize the beauty of it as well.

My largest struggle, right now, has to do with my son and his sleeping patterns. He's fine, during the day, but his nights are really restless. He loves to use me as a pacifier, or demands that my husband (or I) hold him upright as he sleeps. This is really rough for us. It's not an issue we had with our daughter. She was really young when she started sleeping solidly through the night. Not so much with this one. Everyone has an opinion on how I should solve this issue. And I appreciate the points of view. But I truly want to do what is best for our little man and his individual personality.

And so, our son's sleeping patterns have been a matter of prayer for months now. At times I become rather obcessive about it. I feel bad that my husband hears so much about it. But that's something I love about him, he's an amazing listener. He doesn't always have answers, but he's there to encourage me and figure it out right alongside me. He's there to discuss, throuble-shoot, and pray thorugh these early-childhoood parenting years.

This morning, friends, I truly woke up with peace! It was such a marvelous feeling!
Peace that it all would get figured out in the end. That Jesus really does care about this need for sleep in our lives. And peace that we're really doing ok at this parenting thing. We're just taking things one day at a time, and troubleshooting as we're going along.

And you know what? We're doing some things right! I woke up this morning thinking about all the beautiful memories we've made together. I'll the moments I wouldn't change for anything. Moments that I truly treasure up in my heart:

1) Cuddling my little girl, far into the night, because she didn't want to be alone in her room.

2) Using baby carriers with both of my little ones, so that they could feel my heartbeat.

3) Reading books, lots of books, all day long. In our house, it's a given that our children will be book lovers, ha!

4) Our bedtime routine: Bath-time, Story-time with milk, prayers and songs. I love hearing everyone sing together, in the dark of Emma's room.

5) Racing back and forth across the back yard, little baby in arms, toddler running in the wind up ahead.

6) Building more Lego castles then I can count.

7) All the walks we've taken together, discussing each house, car, tree, flower, and pinecone we pass. No one makes you appreciate nature like a three-year-old on a walk.

8) And, for the sleep deprivation and frustrations, I'll never be sorry I cuddled my baby baby so much, rocking him back to sleep at 2AM and praying for people who came to mind in those early morning hours.

9) Trips to the playground, children's museum, and train depot. I love going on adventures with my little ones!

10) And pausing for one more hug, one more kiss, one more tickle. I can truly never have enough.

11) Singing, singing so many songs together.

12) And dancing, cranking up the music on the hardest of days and crazy dancing around the house.

Those, my friends, are moments I wouldn't change for anything. Because life is beautiful.


What memories do you treasure? How can you live more fully in today? What cares can you cast at His feet for the tomorrows?

Tuesday
Mar042014

Moving the Waves


"A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?”

He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Silence! Be still!' The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then He said to them, 'Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?'” (Mark 4:37-40, HCSB)


Is my faith so little, that I neglect to trust in your provision? That I forget that even the winds and waves are at your command? Is my faith so little, that I don't believe that you'll provide for me and my family on this day? That I lack the ability to face this day with strength and confidence?

In my heart of hearts, I know this isn't true. I serve a risen Savior. You are a mighty God, who rules over heaven and earth. The winds speed up and slow down at your beckoning. Nothing is out of your plans, your hand.
I woke up today a bit grumpy. Grumpy at my little boy, who, at 8 months of age, still wakes up every few hours during the night. Still often wants me to sleep sitting up, him in my arms. In my world this is a major issue. Mama is without a good nights sleep. In my world, it feels like I will never get past this baby stage with him. That I've done something wrong in parenting. That my approach is less than perfect.


But it is less than perfect.

I am less than perfect.

This world is less than perfect.

That's why we need someone greater. Someone to take the reigns and pick up the pieces of our lives. Someone to ultimately be in control. Someone who cares for the struggles in my life, that may seem awful small and insignificant compared to your struggles.

But the beautiful thing is that Jesus cares about it all. He cares about my lack of sleep, just as He cares for you.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you" ( 1 Peter 5:7, HCSB).

The verse above doesn't say some of our cares, or only the most important cares, but ALL of our cares, big and small can be brought before Him. When we give our cares to Him, we're showing that we really do trust in Him. We have faith that He is in control. He will provide. We're showing that we have faith in His provisions today and everyday. We have faith that He sees the stormy moments in each of our lives, whether a single wave or an ocean of them. He sees. He knows. He truly is in control.

What cares can you give to Jesus today? How will you live your live by faith?