Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankfulness for his Faithfulness

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
Psalm 145:4-7

This past year looks nothing like I expected. Through all it's dramatic twists and unexpected blessings, I see the distinct handprints of God's faithfulness.

It's the time of year where we count our blessings. As Christians we think of Thanksgiving as a time to be grateful for what God has done for us. But that's not quite enough. We must proclaim God's abundance to others. Because Psalm 145 exhorts us to share God's works, mighty acts, awesome deeds, greatness, abundant goodness, and righteousness, I can't keep silent on the works of God's faithfulness to me and my family in the past year.

How God was Faithful in 2016 (an incomplete list):
  1. He enabled me to finish writing Unsupermommy. I was merely obedient to his calling; he was faithful to bring it to completion. When I needed physical help he provided baby sitters, grandmas, and a patient husband to support me. When I needed wisdom, his Word was a ready supply. When I needed encouragement, he moved in the hearts of others to speak. When I wanted to give up, he was persistent. He was faithful.
  2. He gave us the land. We're about to start building our farmhouse. My parent's technically gave us the land, but they were simply instruments of grace in our lives. Every piece of dividing off that land was met with a roadblock. We simply couldn't have made it through without God's amazing faithfulness. This blessing hasn't come in via the timeframe or plan we expected, but it is coming. He provided a winding path around the roadblocks of the county--one that was set in motion before my parents' even owned this property. He was faithful.
  3. When Wes was discontent and overworked at his previous job, God provided the unexpected gift of a career advancement close to home. We have already been so blessed by Wes' close proximity at Ridges so many times. When Wes did the first interview for that job, they were so honest in telling him they had two other internal candidates at the top of their list. But God had other plans for that position. He was faithful.
  4. We put our house on the market in May and sold it in two weeks to a buyer who didn't want to move in until September. Who has ever even heard of such a buyer? God was faithful.
  5. We moved in with my in-laws, and it has been so different than we expected. My MIL has only been at the house with us about 14 days in the 3 months we have been here, which means I've been shouldering a load of cooking, cleaning, and childcare that I did not expect. But he's been faithful in that too. He gave Wes the wisdom to insist on a Y membership where I can have some childcare and personal space. He has given me more patience and helped me establish a new routine for a quieter afternoon, even if it doesn't involve the alone quiet times we did at the old house. God has been faithful.
  6. I was so afraid to reach out and ask people to write endorsements for Unsupermommy, but God met me there again. I've been humbled by the caliber of people willing to read my words and put their approval behind mine. Unsupermommy will certainly reach more women with their endorsements. I was afraid, but God was faithful.

These six things are the big ones, friends, but there are so many more. All of God's faithfulness in every day moments could never be recounted. It would break the internet. That faithfulness must be whispered in the moment to our friends, spouses, and children. Don't let a chance to tell others about God's faithfulness pass you by. We are meant to proclaim it.

Do this today. Tell someone, tell the world. Speak boldly about God's blessing on your life. Proclaim his faithfulness. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How I survived 3 babies in 3 years

I had 3 babies in just shy of 3 years. People often ask me how I did it. Here's my secret:

I didn't do it.

On my own I couldn't even make it 5 minutes. I simply wasn't patient enough, strong enough, rested enough, gracious enough, or loving enough.

I wasn't enough for the task God gave me, which was exactly his plan. Because he is abundantly enough, and he equipped me with enough grace for every overwhelming moment of every exhausting day. All I had to do was simply rely on him.

Reliance is the result of relationship. If you feel today that you simply aren't enough for the job you've been given, stop trying. Draw near to God, and be equipped with so much more than just enough.

Let your inability become the means to receiving God's all-sufficiency.

Monday, November 7, 2016

In the Tending Season

I'm crazy about peaches. I like to eat them whole, like an apple, leaning over the kitchen sink with the juice dripping off my chin. I like them so much that I may sneak away while my kids play in the other room to eat my peaches in secret.

It's hard to love peaches though. They're a fruit that requires faith. We invest in them when they are still hard, hoping for them to ripen to sweetness. Believing in the tender perfection that can burst forth if we catch them in that perfect moment. Sometimes that moment never comes. Sometimes they were picked too early and never lose their hardness or they were picked too late and the fruit has become mealy and bitter.

Peaches remind me of psalm 1:3, "He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers."

Mommies, we may be firmly planted trees, but we only bear fruit in season. If we try to force fruit during the seasons of sowing, trimming, or abiding, from our sheer willpower to produce, it may be mealy or hard. The tending seasons require faith and faithfulness. We still do the work: water, weed, and prune. We move forward in obedience to the tasks God sets before us, but there are seasons with little to no fruit.

Yet we hold fast in faith. We believe that God is working--in us and in our little ones--as we invest with hope, waiting for the moments of juicy sweetness, the ripe fruits. One day, we'll get our peaches.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Dating isn't an Extravagence

"I know for me, it's always you." - T.Swifty

We're ditching the kids tonight. Actually, we ditch them twice a month. It sounds extravagant, doesn't it? For years I thought it was enough to manage one night a month, which usually became one night every other month. After our second baby was born our marriage hit its lowest low. Finally my husband grabbed me, unmet need in his eyes, and told me that he needed to date me. Often. So I put my thinking cap on and came back with twice a month. One night a month the kids would sleepover with grandparents and another night we would get a babysitter. It was the first time we had ever paid a babysitter. We always relied on grandparents before that, and it just wasn't enough. Putting down money just to get out of the house felt borderline frivolous--even a bit selfish--and at first I balked at it. But I was wrong.

Dating is worth every penny, because it's loving my husband well.

Loving him well is loving my children well.

Loving him well is loving myself well.

Loving him well is loving God well.

Find a way, fellow mommies, find a way. Get grandparents in on the game. Do a kid exchange with another couple once a month. Skip a new shirt to pay for a babysitter. If you are dating often enough that it feels extravagant, it's probably just enough. Our most essential human relationship requires a little extravagance. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

God's Grace is Always Greater

If your motherhood load is 1, or 3, or 8 today, God's grace is greater than your job.

If you are pushing against the force of another week, God's grace is greater.

If you woke up in a bad mood, God's grace is greater.

If you can't break habitual sin, God's grace is greater.

If you don't like your kids today, God's grace is greater.

If you can't resist the lure of laziness, God's grace is greater.

If you wish you had any other job right now, God's grace is greater.

God's grace is sufficient enough for our tasks, redeeming of our failings, transforming of our attitudes, and abundant enough to always surpass our expectations. God's grace is always greater

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Advantages of Kids

I often think back on those blissful pre-kid days. The ones where I controlled my time, my body, and even my mind. Those days are long gone, but in the rough-and-tumble trials of parenthood, it helps to take a moment to remember that it's not without advantages.

The Advantages of Having Kids:
  1. Those times when you "can't get a babysitter:" It's the perfect excuse to skip any social events you just don't want to attend: Your second cousin's second wedding? I'm sure that night will prove impossible to find a babysitter. That high school play you can't wait to miss? Sorry, all the grandmas are busy that night.
  2. Get to do all those awesome kid activities again: slip n slides, trampolines, trips to the zoo, amusement park rides, swimming pools, coloring books, and sports are all socially acceptable again.
  3. Reading your own books can be categorized as setting a good example for your kids: It's true that kids who see their parents reading, read more, so read away! Sit those kids down with their own stack of books and declare it reading time for the whole family!
  4. Chores: two words: free labor. Enough said.
  5. The perfect excuse not to clean: It's Saturday, and you really should clean your house. Outside the sun is shining and the leaves are ablaze with fall. Never fear! Your kids have to get outside! A trip to the orchard, zoo, park, or arboretum is obviously in order. In fact, it's your job. Go ahead and neglect your home. You've got a free ticket for fun! The weather is awful? No problem--I'm sure your kids are dying to check out a Saturday afternoon movie. Don't fret, you need some family time.
  6. Stranger Sympathy: Oh, you mean you have 3 kids? 6 kids? All boys? All girls? 2 under 2? 3 under 3? You must be SO busy. Let me get the door for you. You can go ahead in the Target line. Your life must be so difficult. Yeah, all those things may be true, but it's great to hear them, right? The world knows, this job ain't easy! Enjoy the respect and admiration of strangers and friends alike!
  7. The LOVE: Yeah, it's cheesy, but kids love to love their parents. There's nothing quite like the unprompted kiss on the cheek or sweet, unexpected "love you." Parents get the benefit of that cute-as-a-button, pure-faced affection. It might be hard work, but. That. love. It's worth wading through the waters of sleepless nights and endless fights. Despite all our imperfect parenting, those babies love us with all our their mighty, little hearts. Don't ever forget it!

I'm with you, having kids is always hard work, BUT, it's not without it's benefits! Take a moment to read an extra chapter today, shirk some cleaning for fun, or better yet, force your kids to do it! You're a parent, you can. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dear Angry Toddler: A Letter of Repentance

Dear Angry Toddler,
I know that you don't hate me.
I know that you may actually prefer to be naked and free.
I know that putting on clothes may make you feel hindered and uncomfortable.
I also know that you may just be grasping for control wherever you can find it.

Dear Angry Toddler,
I'm so sorry.
I get so angry when you make my life less than easy.
I get so angry when you won't just listen and obey me.
I get so angry when I wonder if another mom could do this better than me.
I get so angry when I wonder if after giving you all of myself, you don't even like me.

Dear Angry Toddler,
I'm sorry that you see your anger reflected back in me.
We are cut from the same cloth.
We are both carrying the deepest need of serving the all-mighty me.
We are both sinners, and we hurt each other daily.

Dear Angry Toddler,
Please forgive me.
May the mercy I constantly receive begin to flow over to you when you are angry.
May I be an instrument of Jesus in your times of need.
May I set aside self to servant-lead.
May I lead you to Jesus, and his mercy seat.

Dear Angry Toddler,
We have the same need.

Jesus, forgive us and take the lead.