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Friday
Jul182014

Time with Jesus

"After we sighted Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we sailed on to Syria and arrived at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. So we found some disciples and stayed there seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go to Jerusalem. When our days there were over, we left to continue our journey, while all of them, with their wives and children, escorted us out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach to pray, we said good-bye to one another. Then we boarded the ship, and they returned home" (Acts 21:3-6, HCSB).


What is the current condition of my heart? Am I in a disciplined place where I can hear the direction of the Holy Spirit? Am I spending time with Jesus daily, pausing for His voice, His presence?
The life of a mommy is a noisy one. WIth a chatty 3 year old and needy baby, I really don't get too many moments to myself. Writing is my chance to breathe. It's my chance to digest. It's my chance to contemplate scripture, God's plan, the ins and outs of life that are going differently than I thought.
I try to carve out a few minutes each more for devotion. Sometimes, like today, the house is actually quiet. Other days, I'm reading my scripture verses while Emma talks in the background. Often, she's asking for my attention. I've honestly had to set up some boundaries, telling her that Mama needs these few minutes each morning. It's not a perfect set-up, I'm often still a little distracted, but I'm trying to set a new precedent in practice. I'm trying to say that Mama's devotions, and, let's be honest, Mama's first cup of coffee, need to be accomplished first each day.
And I don't think that's a bad thing to do.
My children are sponges. They see and hear everything that happens in a day, and absorb it for later contemplation. They are learning and changing, as the days go by. I want them to soak up some Good News as well. I love the mornings when Emma asks me to read the verses out loud. They don't make much sense to her now, but she's soaking it in. She's learning. She's, hopefully, seeing that this time is important to me.
This short time to read and pray are sometimes the only moments I have to myself in a day. There's other snippets, maybe an hour when they're resting in the afternoon, but that time is irregular. My morning cup of coffee, and my morning internet browse are regular, every day occurrences. And so, I try to make my devo time first. I use a Bible app, and open it up first thing in the morning, before my coffee is even downed.
All because I want to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. I need His direction as I deal with children everyday. I need His direction as I write and encourage and interact both online in social media and at the grocery store, playground, church. But in order to be led, I have to be fed, I have to make time with Jesus and integral part of my day.

Lord Jesus, work through me as I interact with those around me today. Help me to see the greater picture, how I can best encourage my children to become more like you. Direct my thoughts, footsteps, and actions through each moment of this day.

Monday
Jul142014

Monday

I life my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.
The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going
both now and forever.
Psalm 121 (HCSB)

 

Today has been one of those days. You know, a day that just seems a little off kilter, a little out of wack. Time-outs before Mama finishes her coffee never bode well for the day. When it comes to my 3 year old, I'm trying so hard to take a few breaths, give things a little space, and give myself time for a little prayer. The answers still aren't immediate, but I did find myself cooling down a little bit, ready to greet the next challenge.
The rest of the morning had it's trials, but we (thankfully) made it to nap time without a full-blown tantrum. Parenthood is hard. It just is. Lunchtime found us with one of those "mommy of the year moments." I looked into the bonus room, where Ezra was supposedly playing, and found him chowing down on a cluster of grapes, purple stain everywhere around. I took the grapes away, and turned around to talk to Emma, who had just come in from the back yard. While I was talking my daughter, the baby quickly crawled out the backdoor into the yard, trying to make a get-away to who knows where. Sigh. Such a crazy boy.
Mommy hood has definitely been a season of testing. A season of challenges. Oh how I longed for the privilege of raising little ones. And oh how unexpectedly hard it has been. Have you been there? Have you ever been faced with daunting challenges? The challenges never seem to quite go away, they just change with the seasons. Develop, flower. Learn. Grow. 
I've grown and changed so much as a mommy. Almost four years ago I was granted the amazing gift of raising this girl, this girl who challenges me, this girl who causes me to look even more toward my Lord up above. To cry out for help each and every day. This girl who is helping me grow and be the woman God has called me to be. 
Psalm 121 is such a great reminder of God's provision. He sees all things, protects all things, is always there right beside us through it all. He's there, during early morning disciplining, during afternoon tiredness, during middle of the night feedings. He's there, when the parenting answers are unclear, when we feel exasperated or unsure of where to come next. He's there. He's our protector, our strength. Be encouraged today friends. He's ready and willing to take on your burdens. 
Friday
Jul112014

The Lake

 

Have you ever been to Lake Michigan? If not, you're surely missing out. The Great Lakes are truly one of my favorite places to be. We just returned from a week at my parent's cottage. Located in a little town, it truly makes me happy. Driving up toward it, my shoulders relax and I let out a sigh. It's time for rest. It's time for family. It's time to enjoy some days where the sun doesn't set until 9:30PM, where the beach, coffee shops, ice cream, and bookshops are all within walking distance. It's time for crafts, marshmallows, and lazy morning cups of coffee. These summer days are for memory making, sand castle building, remembering why we love our family so. 

I think we all need such breaks. Moments away. Moments away from the everyday pressures that can feel like way too much. Moments to remember where our priorities lie, what truly matters. Times when we can actually squeeze in a night away with our spouse, while the grandparents watch the kiddos. Times to treasure relationship, laughter, and just, just sitting and soaking in the sunshine.

Thank you Jesus for such a vacation. You do truly know that my heart needed it. 

Tuesday
Jun242014

His Voice


"Now is the time to refuse outside voices and the persistent inner voice, time to keen in on His voice, to live ever more fully in the quiet joy and peace of belonging to Him" (Jean Fleming, Pursue the Intentional Life, 77).

It's hard to keep up with the world's expectations. Television, movies, and books tell what an ideal woman should look like. Those pressues can be intense. But honestly, it's not the world around me that causes that greatest amount of distress, it's the voices inside. The voices that tell me I'll never measure up, I'll never be good enough, that I must be doing something wrong with my children, that they'll grow up hating me. Those words are things no one in the outside world has every told me. No, I'm actually surrounded by some pretty amazing, encouraging people. It's the inner voices that get to me. The inner voices that attack me, right where they know it will hurt the most. The inner voices that come out when I'm at my weakest: when the baby is screaming, the toddler is melting down, the house is a disaster, there's no time to write. Those are the moments when the lies creep in. The inner voices that tell me I'll never measure up. I'm still in the midst of (in)courage's Bloom book study: Pursue the Intentional Life. I love the quote by Jane Fleming up above. I read it a week or so ago, and the words have been running through my heart every since.

Yes, it's definitely time for me to live even more completely in Him. To focus in on His voice, His words of wisdom, His words of grace. By worrying and doubting, I'm not doing that. I'm not listening to His voice in my life, instead, I'm listening to the voices of the Deceiver. This summer, I want to learn more about the quiet joy and peace found in Him. I want to live more fully and completely in the here and now, as a wife, as a writer, as a mommy.

As Fleming said in the Bloom video for Chapters 4-7, "God loves process, just keep going." That I love. I'm definitely a work in progress, but I am moving forward. With each day, each lesson, each trial, I'm desiring to only move closer to Jesus.

And so, I strive to hear God's voice in my life. To look around and see where He is evident, at work.

I see it in the flowers, when my family takes an evening walk. I see Him in my daughter, when her whole face lights up with a joyous smile. I hear His voice in my heart, reminding me that I am His. I am treasured. I am a work in progress, but I belong to Him.


"It gives me a great sense of security to know that God's smile comes to me because I am in Christ, not because I'm adorable. It is so hard to be adorable all the time" (Fleming, 83).

Rest in the truth that you belong to Jesus, friends. Look for His voice in your life today. Replace the lies the world, or your own head might be telling you, with His truths instead. You are loved.


Wednesday
Jun182014

The Intentional Life


"The truth is that everyone, regardless of age, is already setting patterns for the shape of his or her life. These patterns of though and practice will either serve the glory and purpose of God or hinder them" (Jean Fleming, Pursue The Intentional Life, 16).


"Vision, values, character, and disciplines developed in the springtime of life serve even in the winter. Whatever the age, it is not too soon to prepare for the rest of life" (Fleming, Pursue the Intentional Life, 32).

A new book arrived on my doorstep yesterday. Jean Fleming's Persue The Intetional Life. Not that I need to be reading one more book, I'm already reading several! But this one was given to me for the Bloom Book Club. I'm a few weeks behind, so I'm trying my best to zip through the first chapters of the book and make up for lost time.

At the beginning, Fleming talks about the end, the last years of her life here on earth, however many they may be. It's kind of strange reading a book by a woman a good 40 years ahead of me in life. She writes about life in her 70s, while I'm still wrangling babies at home. But then, she seems like an amazing mentor. A woman of God who has seen a lot in this life and has some important things to say. Perhaps she's the very woman I need to be gleaning from right now. She's writing to encourage all of us as woman to be conscious about the life we're living now. Because who we are now, only concentrates over time.

Lately, I've been on a quest to realize who I am. To truly identify the things that make me tick, the passions God has placed on my heart. To live completely for Him in the place, in the things He's called me to do at this moment in time. This book couldn't have come at a better time. There are definitely areas of my life that need work, things I wouldn't want to let go unheeded for another 40 years.

And so, what to do? Be conscious of those things, and work on improving them. Start righting wrongs right now, start yielding myself to the Spirit, so that I only become more like Him as time passes. Don't neglect the things that need attention, the things that will only become worse as the years go on.

Oh how I long to become more like Jesus, but that takes time and attention. It takes prayer, and a good bit of journaling on my part. It takes honesty, not something I always like doing with myself.

What about you?