Level Up: A 2019 Word of the Year Review

This past year has turned out very different from what I would have predicted this time last year. Just over a year ago, I was on the hunt for a business property for my husband’s office when I stumbled upon a home that fit the bill of our hypothetical forever home. A home we had only talked about once and weren’t planning to pursue for another few years. Yet, here I sit celebrating one year in a home that fills me with joy and gratitude nearly every day.

A little over a year ago, I was dreaming of beginning to do more ministry in my own space. Having dealt with feeling like my dismal hosting skills would keep me from living out some of the dreams God had placed in my heart, I was asking God how to do more for His girls. He answered, and February will mark a year of doing what I call Friday Soak in my home once a month. Yes, not even a month after moving, I hosted women in my home. The goal was to hold space to just be and rest in whatever He had for them that day.

Not only has He helped me with hosting in a ministry capacity, but I have also had the opportunity to host family as they have traveled into town over the past year. A thing that we rarely did before, and I always stressed over. Now, it is a joy and that is a testimony in and of itself.

In the beginning of 2019, I chose a word: Level-Up. Now as I begin to reflect on how that word has played into the events of the last 11 months, I am blown away. He has upgraded so many areas of my life—least of which was my housing situation. I have seen Him use tension to invite me into a higher level of being. I have been enjoying massive breakthroughs that—although they cost me in the moment—were some of the biggest advances I have seen in my entire life! It wasn’t cheap! It cost me my pride, my self-protection, and my ability to “do it myself”. It felt like too much in the moment if I am honest. The only reason I pushed through and paid the price, was because I was sure to the deepest part of my being that God—the one who paid an even higher price for me—was asking me to. And true to who He is (you can’t out give God), I have received 10 times anything I paid. The counterfeit comfort I once knew can’t even compare to the newness I am experiencing now. 

Level Up had come to cover a lot of areas: my thinking, my self-worth, my confidence in what God has called me to do, learning to put to death selfishness and pride. I love being blown away at the end of the year by how God took my feeble willingness to choose a word and focus and make it into SO MUCH MORE than I ever thought or imagined (Ephesians 3:20 anyone?).

I have already begun to direct my attention to my word for 2020 and am excited to declare dependence and growth over my next calendar year. I have goals to be more active here and the exciting news that my book will be out in 2020!!!     

As I work to peel off old-self ways of thinking and being, I hope you pick up some encouragement if you choose to follow me on this journey. I can be found on Instagram and Facebook @embracingthewild and I am openly working to teach and encourage the beautiful message that saying yes to becoming holy (sanctification…I know churchy word) is the most fabulous journey you can take. You will never regret it! Let me know on social or the comments below how your 2019 word has played out. Also, if you have a word for 2020 please share. Mine will come in a new post next week.

Giving Credit: A Lesson in Gratitude

gratitude post

The other day my son (11) and I were in the van alone. I find he is more chatty in those moments running from here to there than when we are at home. Thankfully, I have been aware of this for the past year and I have been using that time to check in. “How is school going? Any big projects? Anything cool happen at school today? How are you feeling about soccer these days?” etc., etc. He will usually give me more than one word answers when he isn’t competing with his sisters for my attention. Well, this particular conversation was one I will cherish as a mom for years to come. It started out randomly.

 

“Hey Mom, God was really kind to me today. He saved me from a bad grade.”

Okay! This was unprompted and I was all ears! He went on to explain how he had this big group project that he had been working on over the past week. Presentations were supposed to happen that day, but because they took so long his group got bumped to the following day. He explained that as he was listening to all the others, he noticed they did something extra that he learned was expected with the project. He said that because he learned this before they gave theirs, he was able to add it to his group project and he and his partner would now get a better grade for having that other aspect added to their project.

This story isn’t in and of itself that interesting, but I want to point out that his first response to this “happy coincidence” is to give God credit. This past year I have felt God highlighting to me how I need to train my kids to see God’s goodness in their life. Help them make the connection that God is good and He is good to them. This little story was a huge gift and I fought back tears as I realized God was giving goodness to me in showing me the work of the daily grind of raising my kids is paying off. We don’t bat 1,000 around here, but I take a win when I can. I sent up a shout of praise in my heart as my boy and I continued our conversation about giving God praise in everything…good or bad. He then blew my mind by agreeing that even when something bad happened (he lost his ipad for a few days) he could see God was making a way (he was grateful that he had enough money in his account to replace it if needed).  I mean I was a wreck by the end of this 4 minute car ride from one place to another.

So I ask, are you pursuing a life looking to connect all things to a way to praise God? Praising Him and having an attitude of gratitude takes practice and intentionality, but I can see it changing my son’s perception on life. I believe in the science behind this too. He is rewiring pathways in his brain and shaping his body’s response system. Simply giving God credit stirs our heart to praise Him. Praise opens our heart to trust and believe He will do it again.

Start the cycle today!

Ask God to help you see His goodness in all the things this Holiday season is about to throw your way. Even the hard/unexpected. Ask God, show me your goodness in this. Be open to a perspective shift.

 

Merry Christmas to all! Christ came and will continue to come for you, every day of your life.

 

How to Create a Morning Routine with Elementary Aged Kids

 

how to create a routine

After a decade of doing this mom thing I am looking down the barrel of a new season! My last, my baby is officially in Kindergarten. I sobbed about this impending chapter back in May, but now I welcome it with open arms. Of course there is a fringe of sorrow right around the edges as I see that there is no going back. My feet have left Babyville and Toddler Town. We are all in–and are currently up to our eyeballs–in elementary school. All three will reside in that life for one year. And then I will wade into the waters of middle school with my oldest. It’s true what they say about time. It flies when you are having fun and honestly, I am really enjoying the ages of my kids. I plan to increase that joy with each passing year and don’t waste your breathe trying to convince me otherwise. I am having none of it.

So, with this congruent year of everyone on the same schedule and leaving home at the same time, I am capitalizing on my good fortune. My main goals for creating a morning routine for my elementary kids are:

  1. To equip them with good “morning getting ready” habits.
  2. So Crazy Mom makes fewer pre-bus-stop appearances.

My best advice is do NOT rush to Pinterest. (If you found this post there well, that doesn’t count, and you will see why.) If you have a need for a routine, I think it is less about seeing something that looks cute and trying to copy it. I can say, I did not get this idea from there. I want to invite you to the ultimate Google search engine. Dear reader, I would like to introduce you to Holy Spirit. Yep, if you know me at all you are completely UNsurprised that this is where I went. Let me tell you my story to morning routine victory.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.

I prayed. I asked God to show me how to make our mornings run smoother. I listened. I thought about what has worked before and what has not. Here are my best tips for getting your family in a better routine in the morning. It takes 21 days to create a habit (or so they say) so give grace and keep at it for three weeks and see if a month into school you aren’t feeling a little better about the morning.

  • Evaluate the type of kid you have.

Are they early risers? Do they move like a sloth in the morning? Are they easily distracted and often forget key steps to getting ready? Are they happy or subdued in the morning?

Knowing your child will help to customize some of the decisions you make about when to start or how to get the tasks complete. Mine are typically easy going in the morning but are prone to be distracted easily by electronics. So we do no devices (unless I let the watch TV) after 7:30am. If they want to get up before that and watch TV or play on a tablet, that is up to them. My early riser loves this and gets up easily before 7 almost every morning. The 7:30 rule applies to me too. I am here to help them and model good choices in the morning.

 

  • Determine the time needed to easily get out the door.

Again, going back to the type of kid(s) you have this part is up to you. We budget about 45 minutes to get ready in the morning. It has been known to happen in 15 before but that gets crazy and someone usually cries. Now this is just my three being ready to walk out the door. If I too need to be prepared to leave that changes things. We also don’t do showers in the morning so that step is taken care of at night. (Which may also change as they get older).

 

  • Night time prep is so helpful.

Like I mentioned we bathe the night before and for the most part, pick clothes the night before. I remind them which special they have so they can dress accordingly.

 

  • Morning lists have changed our life!

This is something new I am putting into place and I am encouraged by the results so far. I made a list of basic getting ready tasks. These will seem obvious, but I can change the list any time if I feel they are getting the process. When these things become habit, maybe we can add things or lessen the list, but until then, things like “get dressed” are on there. Also, if they complete the list, they can watch TV or play on a device, so it keeps me from having to think up the necessary items for them to be ready to leave. My  youngest is a very beginning reader so the pictures help her to remember what each item says.

Each list is slipped into a dry-erase pocket so the can check off the item each day.
Each list is slipped into a dry-erase pocket so they can check off the item each day.

 

  • Everything has a place.

The hooks in our mudroom are dedicated to a specific kid and they are conditioned to put their bookbag on the hook and their folder on the counter each day when they get home from school. This plays into the morning when they are leaving, we are not rushing around looking for key school items.

 

As a final note, I use an alarm on my phone that is 5 minutes before we need to leave for bus stop. This is a final help that pulls us out of any rabbit-hole distraction that we encountered in the morning. They can brush teeth and slap on some shoes in that amount of time. Lately with the lists and the discipline to wake a child that is still asleep at 7:30. We are rushing less and I am yelling way less. Not every morning is perfect, but they are getting better and the results of my prayer time can be felt in the mornings. Kids really do thrive on routine and although I am not one who enjoys a lot of structure, I am pressing that aside to give my kids good habits. Truth be told, it is teaching me a thing or two as well.

Ultimately, you have to find what works for you and the personality of your kids. Pinterest is great for inspiration, but I would encourage you to spend time praying and journaling the thoughts that come during that time first. You might be surprised what God will reveal to you. For instance, I was confronted with the fact that when I play on my phone after 7:30, kids see and do what I do. The problem with that is I don’t have to be out the door ready for the day at 8:30 they do! I must lead by example and show how to prioritize appropriately. That came to me in my prayer time. God’s wisdom is ours for the taking…we only need to be willing to receive it.

On a slightly related topic, I get up at 6am so that I can have an hour completely to myself. This is what works for me and I LOVE getting my time with God in a quiet house with no one up but me. I will post about that soon. But I would love to hear what works for you and your kids! Comment below What is your best tip for a smooth morning?

 

Empathy Before Therapy

two young women sitting on grass hugging rear view

Life is messy. I don’t think there is anyone who has lived a full life, and upon reflection, found a life devoid of troubles—be they great or small. I would consider myself to be a positive person, but I can also be honest about the fact that my adulthood started in a rubble of broken dreams and a shattered heart. When I relive the details of that time in my life, I don’t writhe in pain or ugly cry through the play-by-play. I can tell the bad along with the ways in which God redeemed all that was stolen from me. I learned more about myself than I ever could have imagined at 20. I also had such sweet encounters with God that I know He was very near to me in my time of pain.

When a painful event has taken place, the initial shock seems to paralyze us. In the ground-zero moments of pain, we can almost see the things we “should” do, but they seem impossible. Pain hits like a bomb so close to us that our faculties are impaired. Like a real bomb hitting too close can impair a person’s vision or hearing, we freeze up and feel helpless. We want to both assess the damage, and curl up and try to disappear. When the news spreads to others they come to help. The help—although well intentioned—can invite in guilt that tells you that you’re not doing enough. As much as we all want to tell someone in pain what they “should” do, let’s be more focused on just being present. Pain overwhelms in the initial onslaught and it is okay to spend time surveying the myriad of emotions and simply being held by your Savior. He doesn’t expect you to “DO” anything. Let him comfort you. Let him use his kids to come alongside you and be a support system.

This morning, I was thinking about how Jesus helped those in pain. The first story that came to mind was Lazarus. When Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, he lingered for 2 extra days. I am certain that was in obedience to the Holy Spirit. He didn’t do anything without checking in with his Father. But if you remember in the story, when he arrived to heal Lazarus and found that he was dead, he wept. There is speculation as to why he wept. Most support the theory that he wept because he was affected by the intense emotions of the ones he loved. I tend to agree with this for the most part, but maybe not because I think he was overcome with compassion. I think Jesus would be at the top of a very short list of beings who could completely bring his emotions into submission if he wanted to. However, I believe Jesus knew one of the greatest callings that his life lived on Earth, was to demonstrate how to be like the Father. In this story I believe he is showing those of us who would read this long after his ascension that the first order of business when someone is in pain is to practice empathy not therapy. Jesus had full confidence in the outcome of this tragedy. He could have taken Mary by the shoulders and given her a little shake to snap her out of her grief and said, “Woman, I am here to bring him back to life! Stop your crying and have a little faith!” However, he stepped into her pain and shared her feelings.

Empathy by definition is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This is messy and uncomfortable and at times feels like you are fueling the paralysis of pain. But Jesus himself valued this very important step in being a comfort to friends in pain. I know from experience that having someone come alongside me and validate my pain gives them a greater influence to speak life to me in the days and weeks that follow a tragic life bomb. Empathy opens the door to therapy.

All too often, in our desperate attempts to bring our friend to a better place we offer therapy first. I am guilty of this as a habitual fixer. I want to improve others’ situations and can hardly keep my opinions of how to do that to myself. Therapy is treatment intended to relieve or heal. This sounds like such a kind thing to do for a friend, but I am learning from Jesus that being there in shared feelings and validation is the first-aid salve their souls need most. Therapy is important and there is a time for it, but empathy supersedes the need to guide people out of their troubles.

Romans 12 has so many nuggets of wisdom. In verse 15, Paul tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. This section is all about love in action and that verse is lived out in how Jesus came alongside those who were mourning for Lazarus. I leave you with Romans 12:9-15. May you breathe in guidance from the Word on how to walk out our conviction to love one another. I pray that we can all be more like Jesus and less like Dr. Phill when our friends are hurting. I for one have lots of room for improvement.

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Getting Your Word

gettingyourword

In the beginning of a year you will see people posting about their word for the new year, or maybe a verse, or both. I started doing this back in 2012. At first I believed it was a heavy process that you had to work hard for to receive. I thought that there was this one word and like a needle in a haystack, I was charged with searching for it (preferably finding it before January 1). I don’t think that now. The word you take on for the year isn’t some predetermined word that, if you don’t choose it, will wreck the coming twelve months. I want to share how I have chosen my words over the last couple of years. If you already go about it another way and that is working for you, I am not telling you that you are doing it wrong. However, if you stress about this, or feel pressure to “get it right” each year, I hope this post frees you to enjoy the process.

In December each year, I begin reflecting on the year I have just had. I do this in chunks. I don’t sit down and do it all in one day. I take some time in the mornings when I am sipping coffee, reading, praying, and journaling. I begin evaluating how my word and theme for the year played out. As I am doing this, I am asking the Holy Spirit to show me how this word came to life over the year and what my theme will be in the coming year. I start to get a vague sense through this process. Then, I keep my ears perked for confirmation over the next few weeks. As the weeks wind down and a new year is on the threshold, I put the word search to rest. I am not going to toil and lose sight of the more important thing by becoming obsessed with getting a word. We can easily get distracted by seemingly important tasks in the Kingdom. Spending time in prayer and seeking a theme for your year is important, but the task of searching for it will not feed the hungry, or win more people over to Jesus. Let’s give it a slice of our time pie, but keep it modest. This is not a biblically mandated concept or requirement. It is fun to see how your word will unfold and I believe it enhances your experiences throughout the year, but it is not the end-all-be-all of your walk with God.

Here is the other thing I am realizing: it is less about discovering a predetermined word, and more about operating in the freedom we have in Christ to choose a word and watch it unfold throughout the year. He is dwelling in us and as we sit and sift through possible ideas, HE is there–with us. He delights in being involved in the process, and HE is empowering us to speak a theme over our coming year.

In the end of 2015 I was looking to continue a work that God had been doing in that year. 2016 was approaching and I was hearing the word inheritance A LOT! I had even been drawn to a few verses in Psalm 16 (v5-6).


 

psalm16.5.6

( She Reads Truth is awesome by the way check them out here)

 


Although I had this before the year began, it took me a few weeks to officially declare this my verse and word for the year. I was battling the idea that it was audacious to choose such an abundant theme. As I wrestled with this in my quiet time, I realized a few things:

1.) This is not for anyone else.

2.) We are called to an abundant life anyway (spiritually).

3.) I cannot waste my time listening to the enemy try to steal what is mine.

 

As I saw this year develop, I realized it wasn’t just about receiving from Him spiritually, but I faced some difficult things and this verse was there to remind me that in good and bad, this was still a truth. I had this to lean on more than I had it to stand on this year. We had an amazing year as a couple, but we also made some hard decisions that I had to declare this verse over me as I asked for peace going forward.

20170117_061251

 

This year, my word started with a word spoken over me by another. It was confirmed with my husband, and I feel in my spirit a confirmation that this year will be one of new depths in the Lord. My theme for the year is a phrase not just a word: Go Deep to Soar! I will dig deeper in  my relationship with God and HE will give me what I need to soar to new heights in personal and professional ways. My verse is,  “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

Do you search for a word or verse (or both) for the year? If so, share in the comments. I love hearing from others!

A Dream Deferred is not a Dream Destroyed

addisnotadd

Today I was thinking about dreams. Hopes, dreams, goals, and things we want to happen. We talk a great deal about our dreams and what we hope to achieve in this life. I have gone through times when the dreams I have for myself are right in front of my face. For instance, my writing. I have dreamed of being a writer for a long time. A few years ago, I started to see this opportunity come to life as a friend asked me to write for her website. It turned into a weekly gig, and eventually two published devotions! I was sure it would continue to ramp up and I would be writing regularly from then on…not so much.

The website was sold off and I shifted to a homeschool mom who had too much on her plate to really give writing the proper attention it needed. I was frustrated and a little disheartened. It’s not that I doubted that God put that dream in my heart, but it turns out that that specific path was not a straight shot to a career. I know that it played a crucial part in my journey, and I trust that I will have other writing opportunities in my life. But when a path has an end, we have to make a choice: we can see it as a part of our big picture, or we can be consumed by the end of it. I am so glad that the Bible has so many examples of deferred dreams. because I am sure the enemy salivates at the open opportunity that exists at the end of a path.


Biblical Examples

Joseph: pretty sure he had the opportunity to lose all hope sitting at the bottom of a cave that his brothers threw him in. I mean didn’t he just dream about them bowing down to him?

David: Hearing you will be king of Israel is great…but it’s hard to firmly accept while spending years continuing to be a shepherd and then being hunted my the current king.

Ruth: Marriage usually means a new chapter and the beginning of a family, but Ruth experienced loss and displacement well before her arms held her own baby.


 

There are more, but I think it is key to remember that none of us are immune from a deferred dream. If you are in the midst of a dream deferral I would love to encourage you to make sure you are pressing into the Father’s love and comfort during disappointment…or even during redirection. God wastes nothing. He will always use the opportunity to grow your faith, reestablish priorities, draw you closer to himself, set the stage for a bigger dream, or even give you a wake up call that that dream is not HIS best for you. Obviously, there are lots of things God could be doing while you are being rerouted or put in a holding pattern. The best thing to do is seek HIM! He will reveal, in His most perfect timing, some (or maybe all) of the reasons that you are not going at the pace or in the exact direction you anticipated going. Intimacy with Him is ALWAYS a part of it for Him.  Seeking God in a time of delay or rerouting will always be a good thing. Remember the infallible truth that God is good. It is as untouchable as His love for you. You can reject it (just like His love), but it doesn’t make it any less true.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5 

My challenge to you today is simple: spend time talking to God about your dreams. Then, spend time letting all the “missed opportunities” or “finished paths” go and ask God to make the next step in the journey clear. Then listen, write down what you hear. The thoughts that are higher than your own that come in your heart with a banner of love are those of the Holy Spirit. We hear from Him more often than we realize, and He is creative and full of hope.

The Reality of Change

therealityofchange

I am sitting in the last few days before I go back to work  add another bullet point to my job description. I am a wife, mother of 3, facilitator of everything in the home, and now I will be working outside of the home (at my husband’s office…our office) for many of my “free” hours each week. This feels big. The reason for this shift was explained in my last post, but let me back it up to begin the story from a few years ago. See this new change is not just a cut and dry move. It is one that has been developing for years. God has been working behind the scenes and I am seeing now how seemingly unrelated changes have paved the way to today.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when I started really asking God to show me how to be submissive. Or more selfishly put, for God to raise my husband up as the spiritual leader in our home. To his credit, he is a Godly man who has always sought to be in relationship with God. His faith was one of the major things I loved about him when we were dating and it is still a huge part of why we work. However, I grew up in a home that was predominantly run by my mother (for lots of reasons that made sense and it is a much bigger story than a blog post so suffice it to say, I love my parents and they provided a wonderful home where I felt provided for, safe, and loved). Anyway, she made the spiritual decisions and lead the family in faith. I am forever grateful for my mom giving me an amazing faith foundation. It is not perfect, but I consider it to be a most excellent starting point. With that said, I knew how to dig deep and follow what I believed to be God’s will for my life. This gave me confidence in the area of faith and in my ability to raise up my children in the ways of a believer.

The problem is when two become one, their individual faith journeys also become one…and sometimes this makes for murky waters. We have different backgrounds and the lens in which we view our faith. We agree on so much, but if we are not diligent, we slip into old, learned behaviors or even the mindset we had when we were single and only worried about our own journey. This has been a bigger part of this aspect of our relationship than I care to admit. Obviously I didn’t forget I was married, but when it came to growing in God, I get really single lady about it. I think about only my own growth and how fast I can go alone. Not intentionally, but the reality is, we are one and I cannot run miles and miles ahead of him. And I won’t if I am giving God room to whisper ways to serve my family in my growth. This is the hard part of change. It isn’t just me. It is my family. I have to work out my renewed mind in the context of wife and mother…which also means that the enemy will absolutely use those avenues to attack me and make me doubt the new thing God is doing in my life.

Attacks we encounter in our daily life may not be from where you think, or for the reasons you think. Sometimes the sole mission of the attack is to give life to doubt. This doubt can start small and begin in the most obscure of ways, but before you know it, you have accepted the invitation down the rabbit hole and you are now unsure of your ability to do anything you once thought God called you to do. Take heart, friend. A moment of true worship of the Father can wipe away much doubt.  Doubt whispers a false reality. Maybe it is a failed moment with your kids or a sour conversation you had with your spouse. You replay them in your mind and doubt begins to try to prove to you that you have not changed, or that this new thing is not going well. Doubt tries to burrow in and take root in your heart, but let’s pause and  worship. What happens? You begin to shift your focus on your imperfect existence and you are reminded of whose you are. You are swept up in love for God which He immediately showers you with the unwavering love that He has had for you from before you were born. It is unchanging and it is not intimidated by your imperfection or the enemy’s tactics to emphasize your flaws.

So remember, change is the constant companion of the journey into the Father’s heart. He changes our mind (Romans 12:2) he heals us (Psalm 147:3), and he will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Change is wrought with uncertainty in the non-eternal details, but the big picture is constant, in your favor, and good. The God kind of good, not the world kind of good. Be steadfast and refuse to reserve a seat for Doubt at the table of your heart.

The Never Ending Journey

theneverending

There is no arrival here on Earth. This is something I need to remind myself of often. I work towards goals, I build a life together with my husband and our kids (that is until they branch off and start their own), and I push deeper into the depths of the Father’s love. However, I am never going to reach a finish line in any of these categories–not on this side of Heaven anyway. I will never be Earth-conscience of my end point. You are here until you are not. Sounds simple, but I think we all can lose sight of that. The goals we have may not turn out the way we think, but even if they did, you would need to create new goals anyway. This life is fluid and can change, evolve, or re-direct at any given point. The thing we need to realize is that putting your faith in Jesus and the roots you place in your relationship with God will be the things that last forever. They will also be the things that give you stability when the rest of your world feels uncertain.

I have been married 10 years and I know just enough to know that I don’t know nearly what I thought I did in the beginning. The last 3 and a half years in particular have been eye opening. Not in the “secrets-about-my-spouse” way, but in the “stretching-of-love” way. I found that the marriage I am in is safe and I have freedom to go to the depths of past wounds and get even greater healing than I thought I needed. I’m talking some major, life-changing, identity repair here. The last three or so years have been more than I could ever imagine! One thing I am learning is that when you pursue God and all He has for you, there will be no end. Not now, not ever. The depths of goodness He has for you are endless! The best part about it is you do not have to wait for the pearly gates for this adventure to start. He longs to give you abundant life here and now. This doesn’t mean abundance of stuff, but abundance of lifesource. It is hard to put into words, but I am giving it my best. Your relationship with God can become like oxygen to your existence. You long to look at everything you do through the lens of eternity and your purpose here on Earth. Regardless of whether you think you are doing exactly what you are supposed to do, you seek Him and let Him worry about that.

This year I thought I would be writing more. When the school year started, I thought I would have more time to write since my youngest was in pre-k M-TH until 1. Even with my oldest being homeschooled, I thought I would get more done. I was wrong. This doesn’t mean that I missed the mark on my calling or that I did something wrong, it just means this wasn’t the time to pursue my writing as a career. However, an opportunity opened up in November at my husband’s office (he owns his own Chiropractic practice). This opportunity would be perfect for me…in August 2017 when all of my children will be in school full time. I felt torn. I felt conflicted. I also felt a divine opportunity to practice a desire of my heart: submitting to my husband. This small phrase brings up a myriad of emotions. for many of us women. I will dive into the journey I have been on with this very topic in a future post, but suffice it to say, I was given an opportunity to let my husband make the final decision on whether our son would continue at his homeschool hybrid or go back to public school. After talking and praying together the decision was made to have me take the new role at his office and put our son back in public school in January.

Truth be told, I was a mess of emotion over this whole thing and although I supported my husband’s decision, I was having doubts and waffle-y feelings about the upcoming change. The morning after we had officially made the decision, I was praying in the car–just me. My prayer went a little something like this:

Jesus, I trust you. I know that we are doing our best to listen and seek you. We made the decision last night, and although I feel good about it and I feel like it is the best move, but my emotions are wishy-washy today and I don’t want to feel this way for the next 6 weeks (when the new semester would start). Can you give me greater peace about this process? I need something to help me align my whole self (heart, mind and spirit) with this decision.

I kid you not I suddenly had a thought in my mind–the kind you know is from Holy Spirit and not your own.

You have been wanting your husband to lead. Now is the time to get behind him and support his decision.

BAM! (Hear that with an Emeril Lagasse emphasis).

BAM! Just like that a wave of peace washed over my body. I felt my whole self align with the decision. It was as if the gnats of indecision and what ifs were shooed away by a force greater than I could conjure up on my own. I knew this was right and good simply because I was supporting my husband and asking God to provide me with the tools needed to be the helpmate I dream of being.

But what does that mean for my dreams? My writing? Where I thought I would be at this point in life? What about me? I don’t have exact answers but I am not at all worried about it. God has it all under control.

If you long to be a more submissive wife, or you long to see your husband lead your family in a more confident way, I hope you will stick with me through the next several posts as I unpack my journey up to this point. It is full of pride-busting moments on my part, but I think it will give hope to those in my shoes.

I Get By with a Little Help

I get by BP

I met with a friend today. It was your typical playdate with preschool-aged kids. There was milked poured, sibling squabbles, and Daniel Tiger in the background. I loved it. Not because of any of those things, but because this friend and I get each other. We don’t need to pretend that this phase of life is more glamorous (or horrible) than it is. We had honest talk about the kids and the husbands. We shared encouragement and days of woe. We wondered openly about whether our parents dealt with the pressures we do to be the best parent. I believe they did not.

Social media has made an in-your-face approach to parenthood the norm. I do believe however, that the core of parents in decades past still struggled with the same questions at night.

Am I a fit mother?

Am I screwing up my kids?

Did I go too far in that punishment today?

Did I feed them well?

Are they going to like me when they are older?

Am I actually ‘ruining their life’ like they claim?

The reality is we are all getting it right in some areas and wrong in others. We never really know how this whole thing is going to turn out until it does—and then it’s too late. Too late to go back and undo the things, unsay things, and un-choose things. Sure, we can apologize and change behavior moving forward, and God has a way of redeeming things beyond our wildest dreams, but it doesn’t erase our choices.

This harsh reality is all the more reason for abundant grace. Grace for the mom who looks a little worse for wear. Grace for the mom who needs two extra set of arms (and maybe a latte). Grace for all. Grace for the ones you hear about over the internet that experienced a tragedy and you even think about making a public opinion about a family you’ve never met in a situation that you did not witness personally. Think grace.

When God put all this in motion, he did not set limits on who could be reached by his grace and love. He set out to prove that he could love anyone or anything. He did it in the supernatural capacity as well as within the confines of human skin. He has poured out his spirit on all flesh (meaning that Holy Spirit indwells in all who begin a relationship with Jesus) so that we could tap in to the awesome power that gave Jesus the capability to love all so well.

Here is a challenge for all my mom friends. Next time you are tempted to think something that is less than helpful towards another mom, do this instead: ask Holy Spirit, “What is God saying about (insert her name)?” Then listen. God only has love for everyone. He isn’t going to celebrate a sin in their life, he will highlight their heart or a strength they have. He doesn’t gossip about other moms to you…the Enemy might though.

I left my friend’s house today feeling filled up. We built each other up and didn’t need to tear anyone down. We agreed to keep each other accountable in our prayer life and I gave her a “It gets better” speech, because that sweet woman is knee-deep in three kids four and under and that is not for the faint of heart, ya’ll!

Find a way to be a friend to another mom this week. Reach out, send that text, plan that playdate. “I get by with a little help from my friends” isn’t just the title of a song used in the opening credits of The Wonder Years. It is a truth. We need our friendships. We need the “me too” of a friend who gets it. The reality is no one quite knows the plight of motherhood like another mother, and it creates this quiet bond between women. A bond that is constantly being buried under a mound of insecurity, comparison, and tough days. But in the end, we are all mothering to the best of our ability. Let’s harbor compassion not comparison.

Ten Years

  
The idea that I have been married for ten years is hard to grasp. I know it is a drop in the bucket compared to the “forever” marriages of those who have been married forty years or more, but this is a big milestone for us! It is a benchmark for marriage in general. In this first decade of marriage, we have nurtured a fledgling business, moved once, had three children and crossed into our thirties. We have shed the naivety of our first decade as adults and have a more eyes-wide-open approach to life together as well as life in general. We no longer hold to the idea that life is a fairy tale, but we know that it can be even better if you let it. Because the reality is that none of us enjoy trials and heartache–they shake up our confidence in what we think we know. However, when we are on the other side we are more sure of what we can count on. 

I can count on this guy.

In ten years we have seen lack and we have seen surplus. We have had joyous blessings and we have had heartahce. We have been in mysteriously-lovely unity and in opposite-sides discord. We have not seen it all, but we have seen enough to know this world can rip you apart if you let it. 

I was asked recently about a good book to read to prepare you for marriage. I answered with two things:

First, I think the Five Love Languages is an excellent starting place. I think each person should know how their spouse feels loved. But secondly, and most importantly, I believe each person should be on a committed track of personal growth with the Lord. This commitment has proven the most beneficial thing in our marriage. The reason being, when you are nurturing an intimate relationship with God and truly listening to Him, He will go to you on behalf of your spouse. He will guide you into deeper love and understanding of their heart. This isn’t a magic bullet as it takes time (like all wonderful journeys do) and it requires humility and a true desire to hear truth from God. But it has been and will continue to be the best path for a lasting marriage. 

As we celebrate ten years, I am grateful for the lessons and the growth. I also know that I wouldn’t want to do this “brutiful” life with any other human. 

I love you Matthew Ferris, forever and always.