Sunday, November 2, 2014

New blog!

Hey! Just letting everyone know I'm now blogging over at God's Word in Everyday Life

See you there!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Five-Minute-Friday: Hold


I have an almost 4-month-old baby girl. Sweet. Angelic. Lovely.

When her brother was born two years ago, I became stressed and worried. Why was he crying? Was I doing everything right? Let's get him on a schedule asap!! I don't remember savoring the moments as much as hectically filling my days.

This summer I've spent hours holding my Lou. Holding her little fingers that she's curled around mine since the moment she was born. Holding the memory of her round face and long dark lashes in my heart. Holding my breath when she smiles.

Years fly by even when days seem to last forever. I've been taking a lesson this time around from Mary's playbook: "Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often." Her time as Jesus' mother must have felt so fleeting. And she held those days in her heart.

I want to let my children go as they grow, yet hold the memory of their sweet smiles and sticky fingers and cuddles and tears in my heart forever.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Roots of Bitterness

This past Sunday's sermon was about forgiveness. It struck a chord in my heart and probably many others. God brought me back to a couple of years ago when I learned a valuable lesson on forgiveness.

One verse used Sunday was Hebrews 12:15:
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
 I have a dear friend who does an amazing job at looking after me to make sure I'm receiving the grace of God. We text back and forth often and once a couple of years ago, when she was planning her wedding, I brought up something from our first year of marriage that was laced with bitterness.  Our first year being married, living in Dubuque was so much harder than we planned. Even though we'd been students for four years in the city, we felt like outsiders for much of that first year and beyond. We moved three times, experienced a difficult pregnancy and 3 or 4 jobs changes, and changed churches. So for a long time, I assumed that everyone's first year of marriage was just as difficult as ours had been.

What I didn't realize was that I had let bitterness seep in and wrap its fingers around my heart. And as I told my friend about the hardships of marriage, she graciously pointed out to me how harsh and negative my comments were. And I wondered where that ugliness had come from.

As I unpacked my feelings little by little, I discovered years of unforgiveness against many, many people for big things, little things, stupid things, hurtful things, and pointless things.

Anger at the woman at the government office who barely believed me that our marriage license from Kansas was official when it didn't look as fancy as Iowa's.

Hurt from the rejection of a person I cared deeply for in college.

Embarrassment from that one comment a friend made about something in my personality when I was 14 years old.

Inward rebellion at rules I had been expected to follow in various situations. 

I took a pencil and paper and wrote out everything that came back to my mind that still bugged me from the past. Everything. Even the things that seemed stupid or small. And then I burned the paper. I let it go.

I'd had no idea that I was being weighed down by all that junk. No idea.

See, you've got to name things or they will keep having power over you. Recognize them. Stop ignoring the pain or anger they are still causing you. Speak them out loud and then speak God's grace over them. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you've made that your head still reminds you of. Forgive others for their wrongs or their mistakes against you. Then there will be release.

Today as I was getting dressed I pulled on a t-shirt I loved (before it became ratty, haha) and remembered a stupid comment someone made about it when I first got it. I realized that literally every time I put on the shirt, I thought of that comment and it ruined my experience of wearing the shirt - every single time. Bitterness where it wasn't welcome, without even realizing it was there. So I named it and let it go.

What are you holding onto? What memories spring up as you go about your day? What or who makes the hair on your neck stand up when you're reminded of them? Those are a pretty good indicator of unforgiveness you're holding onto. Let it go. Receive the grace of God and walk in freedom.

It's so worth it.

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. - C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

We Trust the Ones We Know

Today the kids and I were out enjoying the local botanical garden. Breathing in the crisp fall air refreshed our souls, let me tell you! Charlie brought his bike and I pushed Lou in the stroller and we just relished being outside together. We stopped at the gazebo, which Charlie loves, mainly because there is an owl statue in the rafters. He likes to shriek, "OWL! OWL!" and try to jump up and touch it.

Today while there a couple came with two toddler boys and the man was lifting the boys up to actually touch the owl (I'm not nearly tall enough to do that with Charles). He offered to lift Charles up and of course Charles accepted. But when he was lifted above the man's shoulder, Charles refused to let go of the man's jacket collar - too scared to be lifted up several feet. He wanted to, but he just didn't trust the man to keep him safe.

It's hard to trust someone we don't know.

Often I struggle to trust the Lord on something. Why is he allowing this? Why isn't he answering my prayers with a yes? What's going to happen next? What if it's something bad?

But if I remembered what I know to be true of my God, I wouldn't have such trouble trusting him.

Do I really know God's heart? Know it to the point that I feel safe trusting him and his ways?

If I believed that God was completely good and only did good things, would I worry about bad things happening, or would I trust that he knows what he's doing when he allows hard stuff into my life?

If I believed that God knows and cares about my needs, would I fear tomorrow like I do?

If I believed that God's love for me lasts forever, would I doubt my worth and wallow in insecurity?

If I believed that God forgives my sin, would I keep allowing myself to feel condemned and guilty?

Ten to one if Nate had been there to lift Charles up to touch the owl, it would've been much easier for my boy to let go and stretch out the extra couple of feet, because he has a steadfast relationship built with his daddy. He trusts him because he knows him.

How well do I know God? 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Freedom to Love

Kyle Idleman wrote in his book Not a Fan, "Following Jesus is not about trying every day. It's about dying every day." For years I've been coming out from the burden of self-imposed legalism and when I heard those words last winter, they set the last bit of me free.

For years I tried so hard to please God. I knew that salvation from hell wasn't accomplished by my works, but somehow I believed inside that my sanctification - my becoming more like Jesus - was accomplished by my good works. If I do everything right, don't waste a moment of my life, and be as responsible as possible, I will earn God's smile - his "Well done, daughter!"

In my very personality, I want to get things right. I want to make people happy. Unfortunately for me. It became this almost sick obsession. I could take care of the needs of everyone around me and keep them happy. And doing that kept me happy. I felt satisfied. But the satisfaction didn't last and God started showing me that keeping people happy wasn't always what was best for them. Sometimes they needed some things to be hard or to go wrong, so they could learn dependence on God, not me.

And then God began revealing that he loved me just as me and I didn't have to DO anything to make him happy with me. Anything I did for him should be done because I loved him and because we had a relationship - not because I had to earn his favor. Grace is favor we don't deserve. God is so good to us.

But it was hard for me to connect the dots in a practical sense. We still have to put in work on our end of the relationship - that much is evident in the New Testament - we don't become more like Jesus automatically. But I was still trying hard. Too hard. And feeling like I was failing all the time.

That's when I began to understand that following is not about trying and failing. Following is about love. And love is sacrifice. Love is laying down yourself to meet another's needs. Just like God did in Jesus. He died to pay for my sins. The ultimate sacrifice.

Love in any relationship is sacrifice. Sometimes that means giving up the chance to make a person happy so that they can learn something on their own - in particular dependence on God. Sometimes it means stepping in to serve them, over and over again, with no reward. Sometimes it means give and take - you give and are blessed with a return. But you can't have a meaningful relationship with anyone unless you die to yourself in some way.

Jesus talked about this all the time.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
In his own death, the seed of his life brought forth a never-ending harvest of fruit.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Taking up our cross means DYING, not TRYING. I don't know how I got it confused but for literally years, when I thought of being Jesus' disciple, I thought of working harder to be a better Christian - giving more of myself and my resources, thinking less of myself, trying harder every day.

But it is relinquishing, not grasping. It is "How can I lay my life down today in sacrifice for my relationship with Jesus?" not "How many things on my 'Be Spiritual' to-do list can I scratch off so Jesus is happy with me?"

This is freedom.

1 John 5 says
This is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
In a way this verse has always confused me, because aren't commands in their very nature a kind of burden?

But not if they are kept out of love! God gives us commands in love - life goes better when we obey (I am always reminding my son!) - and he wants life to be the best it can be for us. So if I keep them because I love him and trust that what he says is best, I am obeying God because I love him, not because I want him to love me.

Oh, my heart. God is so good. And it is so good to breathe the fresh, free air of grace.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Power in your Words

Words have power. Been thinking lately about how our kids become what we expect of them in some ways. Today I was at a clearance event for a kids consignment store and was sifting through 50% off t-shirts and has to ask myself - "Is part of the reason our kids are so self-centered because we put them in t-shirts that say, 'It's all about ME!'" Or are they jerks because we talk about them like bad attitudes are all they are capable of?

I know it's not completely the reason, but could changing our words help our kids truly see themselves the way God sees them?

It's easy to label your kids. We call our boy "silly" and "crazy" all the time and I can tell he's starting to act that way more when we treat him like that's all he's capable of. I'm starting to use words like "strong" and "gentle" to define him and am seeing how that makes a change in his actions (on a good day, lol).

And what about our lives as adults? When I say all the time how overwhelmed I am, or how tired I am, it honestly is defeating, and in a weird way, I like to feel that defeat because it gives me license to feel sorry for myself. But what if I used words like "blessed" and said things like "My days are full but I have so much to be thankful for"? Then I would be worshiping rather than complaining. And I'd be refusing to let those negative words overwhelm me.

"Life and death are in the power of the tongue." Proverbs 18:21

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: Beyond Bathtime

***I've written here before that God has given me a heart and a passion to write. I read mom blogs daily and am so incredibly thankful that God has laid a burden on so many women's hearts to write for moms. As of yet, he hasn't given me that same interest for writing lies in several different directions. But I value the blogs and books written by women about motherhood because I am a mom after all! In the past year or so I've read a handful of incredible books about motherhood and want to review them briefly here to encourage other moms to pick up these books and be encouraged. Most of them cost less than $10 on Amazon and are well worth the money.***

Beyond Bathtime

Erin Davis

Not long ago I heard Erin being interviewed on a podcast with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and was so encouraged by her words and her fresh perspective on motherhood from God's Word that I ordered her new book immediately. I just finished reading it today and was so blessed by every chapter.

Erin takes us to God's word to find our perspective for motherhood. Our culture views children as a burden; the Bible portrays them as a blessing. Beyond Bathtime uncovers lies in our culture and lays out the truth from God's word. I had never thought much about what a woman like Eve could teach me about being a mom, or how the fact that God chose for Jesus to come to earth through a womb and be raised by a mom (Mary) shows how he values the role of motherhood. And Erin's perspective on the story of the loaves and fish that the little boy brought to hear Jesus and ended up relinquishing for Jesus to multiply for the crowd blew me away:

Let's trace the journey of that little lunch. Mom packed the lunch. Boy carried the lunch. Disciples noticed the lunch. Jesus blessed and multiplied the lunch. More than five thousand people ate the lunch. And millions know that Jesus is God because the story of this miracle has been told for thousands of years.
That's how mom math works in the kingdom.  (pp 107-08)

Beyond Bathtime includes loads of practical ideas for putting truth into practice. My favorites were in the chapter about celebrating your kids. Her illustrations of how we show by our words and actions that our children really are more of a burden than a blessing really convicted me. Do my kids really know that they are a blessing from God to our family? How do I demonstrate that? Erin had lots of great ideas.

As a young woman I often felt like there were other ministries I would be better off giving myself to than motherhood. God has gradually been changing my heart, so these words from the book struck a chord with me:

If a woman surrendered her life to share Bible stories with children in an unreached people group overseas, we would consider that big and rightfully so. 

But your children are also an unreached people group. They don't come into the world with a knowledge and heart for God. It's your job to teach them, and it's a big job. (p 108)

Beyond Bathtime is not a long book - 10 easy-to-read chapters with questions you can answer to help soak up the information even better or discuss with friends. I've put this book down feeling more than inspired but more so equipped to view my daily life as a mom as actual work for God's kingdom. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Change


What a word.

In the past 8 months our family has had more changes than I can count.

We renovated a house and moved into it.

We added Baby #2.

We bought a van.

My husband began a new customer service job and then was hired full-time at the church. Two job changes.

My grandpa died.

My sister got married.

And those are just the outward, big, noticeable changes.

But the little everyday changes add up so much more, don't they?

The little changes in my attitude from day to day, learning to be more thankful, less stressed and less of a control freak.

The little changes in our two-year-old's behavior, his learning to obey, and adding words to his vocabulary, and whining less.

The daily growth and development of our new baby.

My husband's ever changing responsibilities with work and all that we've learned about money and taking care of a home and vehicles.

Change mystifies. But God is constant through it all. So thankful that he never changes and that he guides us every day toward fresh perspectives and new horizons.

Change is good. God is good above it all.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Days in the Life of Moms

Motherhood makes me laugh.

How about you?

What little things in your day today made you just blink as you thought, "Did I really just see that happen?" or "What did my child just say?"

Today I heard my little man, whose vocabulary consists mainly of action verbs, say to his friends on the playground, "Guys, come!" It reminded me how God showed me that he has the heart of a leader pounding in his little chest. Oh, how I want to cultivate that!

Today I fed my baby girl twice for over an hour straight and then heard her smacking on her fist for more when I put her down. Sorry, kid, you're going to have to wait before you get another course.

Today I was scolding little man for climbing on baby girl and when I actually looked into their faces, both of them were grinning at me. Oh no. It dawned on me for the first time that now my mischief-maker will have a cohort...and it looks like she'll be a willing one.

Today I played soccer with my boy who couldn't stop eating the soccer ball. Is this normal behavior?

Today as I was feeding baby girl, when little man came into the living room with a cup and a pitcher of far more iced tea than would fit into that cup, I heard myself say, "Don't pour. DON'T POUR! DON'T POUR!!!!!!" To no avail. 

Today on my way to an impromptu meeting for the non-profit I work for I realized on my way to drop little man off I hadn't even looked in the mirror before I left the house. I smiled when I saw how messy my hair was and remembered that it got that way when he hugged me from behind and got his hand stuck in it. 

Today as I was feeding baby girl, her little fingers tickled the underside of my arm as she grasped for something to cling to. I love her love of the cozy things in life. 

Today the boy dumped an entire bottle of not cheap natural baby shampoo into his bathtub. The. Entire. Bottle. For the second time in the two months his sister has been on the planet. He's the cleanest little boy in town tonight. And our bathtub is the slipperiest one in town too. 

The thought has been flitting in and out of my mind lately: 

They're not going to be like this long. 

As I followed little man around the public swimming pool the other night making sure he didn't drown himself at the church party (literally - no joke and no exaggerating momma here, folks), wishing I could be chatting with my mom friends on the side of the pool, it came to me in this form: 
One day he's going to be diving off the diving board and being a daredevil capable of not killing himself inadvertently and I won't have to hold his hand or catch him when he comes down the water slide. And that day is going to come all too soon. 
And so I smiled and kept following him around, more contentedly this time. 

Being a mom is no joke. Add in extra work, whether that's work from home or outside the home or church ministry, or whatever else, and life gets even zanier (is that possible?!). Creating a routine with two littles got difficult quickly, and now adding in my work from home I've felt easily overwhelmed in the past two weeks. 

My violin teacher would always say something like, "Excellence is the sum total of a lot of little things done well." I don't feel like an excellent mother most days. Or an excellent childcare provider, or an excellent pastor's wife, or an excellent administrative assistant. But maybe it's more about the little things done well throughout the day than the overall patchwork of how I think excellence should look. (My life feels like a crazy quilt right now!)

Am I living in this moment, fully living? Full of gratitude, of contentment, of dependence on God?

Then I can laugh instead of cry in the motherhood moments that shock my socks off.

And then I can rest in God's definition of excellence rather than my own.

After all, he's the one I'm living for in the end.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

When it's hard, worship.

Tonight someone told me that my life looked perfect from the outside and they asked if I have anything hard in my life. Besides wanting to slap that person, who I was going out of my way to help (pride alert here, sorry...), my mind flew to about 6:00 pm today when I was lying on my bed crying after disciplining my son because he had deliberately wrecked up all the covers on the bed on which  I had just changed the sheets, thoroughly exhausted, completely done with discipline for the day, and dreading the task that was in front of me (helping said person).

Now I am sitting here wanting to eat literally everything in the house, especially anything chocolate I can get my hands on, just to de-stress from my day.  Being a mom of a toddler is the hardest thing I've ever done - and believe me, I've done some hard things in my life. I'm pretty close to saying I would rather take another year of Greek or Hebrew in college than go through what I do on a daily basis, but I'm not quite there yet. :)

No one tells you that when you become a mom that you're going to face waking up every day to a toddler yelling in your face that he's hungry and wants to watch a movie, and then you're going to fix him his favorite breakfast (which he won't eat a bite of) and then have the most unreasonable discussion of your life about what movie he wants to watch. EVERY. DAY.

No one tells you that no matter how many times you discipline your child he will still treat you like you're his slave and disregard everything you say. ALL. DAY. LONG.

(Nate's dad quote of the week: Don't negotiate with terrorists, honey!)

Motherhood is hard. Darn it.

But the thought came to my mind of something I heard the other day. When things are hard, like King David, refocus yourself by worshiping the Lord. 

Today I was reading Hebrews 13:5-6
God has said: ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’.
We, therefore, can confidently say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’

So right now, I just want to say, Thank you, God, for being my defender. Thank you for not treating me with disrespect. Thank you that I'm YOUR child and can be the one running to YOU for comfort and kisses and snuggles, so to speak. Thank you for always being with me - when I'm cleaning salsa off the toilet seat, or chasing bunnies with my two-year-old, or soothing my baby, or popping popcorn for our picnic, or changing the tenth poopy diaper of the day, or resting in the quiet after the kids are in bed. Thank you for the confidence I have that I'm not alone. 

The person I was with this evening also asked me how you apply scripture when times are hard. How do you get through the difficult things. I told them this, and I know it's the truth. Only by choosing to be content no matter what the Lord allows into your life. 

I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me. (Phil. 4:11-13)

Once upon a time I thought marriage and children were the perfect life and if I could only have those, I'd be happy. I'm so glad God started to show me then the secret of being content was in finding my home in him alone, and not in any place or person. Being married and being a mom are wonderful blessings for which I am incredibly thankful. But they are nothing I can find true satisfaction in without being first content in the Lord. 

No matter what your life looks like, choosing to worship God rather than yourself (in self-pity) is the only way to endure the hardness and be at rest. 

What are you thankful for?   

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Anniversary time!

3 Years with my Nate.

5 changes of address.

2 children (one coming within two weeks still counts).

2 1/2 years of church ministry as a family.

12 1400-mile round trips from Iowa to Kansas.

Countless Brewers baseball games on the radio.

Maybe just as many meals at Asian King Buffet. ;) Almost.

9 jobs changes between us.

5 seasons of Community.

Lifestyle overhaul for the healthier.


How do you encapsulate marriage in a few words? It's easy to rattle off a list like that, but when you look at each thing and just think about it all added up... It blows my mind.

It's amazing how God writes your story and how it's YOUR story and no one else's. No marriage but Nate's and mine could look like ours. It's as unique as the people who make it up.

There have been things so far in our story that I haven't loved, but I'm thankful that there has been so much that I have loved. There have been many hard times. Many. Stress that prevailed far too often. But we've worked together through the stress and let it draw us closer to each other and closer to Christ. And I love that.

3 years is not a long time in the grand scheme of things. Each year goes faster than the last. But 3 years hold a lot of memories already and I look forward to what the future brings because I can rest in God's love and sovereignty and I'm thankful for the man I married 3 years ago on a Kansas ranch in the summer sunshine and his faithful heart. 

What does your story look like?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


So I need to write. H.a.v.e to write. I'm pulling my hair out from motherhood and 8 1/2 months of pregnancy (which technically could be classified under motherhood I suppose) and the micromanaging of some people in my life. I'm sick of resorting to Facebook for entertainment and even the good blogs I read are starting to blend together.

Solution: go to one of my favorite blogger's sites and look up last week's Five Minute Friday, where she gives a word and challenges women to blog about that word for 5 minutes. I go to the site and laugh.

Because the word is GRATEFUL.

So here I go.


Oh the irony. Earlier this morning I sat outside writing a thank-you note to the Lord while my boy and his buddy played in the sunshine. I kid you between every sentence I had to hoist up my 8 1/2 month pregnant body with all its aches and pains and Braxton Hicks contractions and solve some problem. My son chasing his friend with a plastic shovel. His friend wanting to swing and needing help. My son tripping on the sidewalk and bawling his eyes out. My son grabbing my hand and begging mom to "come," because he so desperately wanted to go outside of the yard either through the front or back gate.

I sat down again. I had been just about to pen the words, "Thank you for spiritual rest," in my journal, and as I sat from making my boy apologize for something, I asked the Lord, "Really? Spiritual rest? Do I really have it?" And I knew without a doubt that I did.

The thought came to me, "You don't have to feel something for it to be true."

And so I penned it, and thought about rest. The quiet in my soul even when I want to explode. What grace does within my soul is a pure miracle.

So grateful this morning for fresh beginnings. After a snack and Cars movie, my boy is in so much better of a mood and here I sit sipping red grape juice from a wine glass just because it feels right and sometimes you just need the sugar (if it were tonight believe me it'd be my Riesling...). But God is so kind to me.

In a month or less our baby will be here. Until then, and hopefully as the summer wends on, I look forward each day to rest - soul rest - because of what Jesus has done for me.

And I'm grateful.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When Life is Not OK

Have you ever woken with the realization that things in your life are not OK right now?

Maybe it's grief overwhelming you - the loss of a loved one, or a broken relationship.

Or some pain or suffering in your life that haunts your days.

It could be stress from being too busy - overwhelmed with just life in general. Nothing in your family feels under control or restful anymore.

We can't change circumstances. We can't make pain go away. We can't banish trials from our lives just by wishing they would leave.

Life isn't always OK. I don't like that. I want to be OK. I want to feel composed, in control, and settled. To have that balance of hard work and rest, or of joy and sorrow, or of trials and relief. To know when things are going to settle down or when the pain is going to leave.

But the reality is that we live in a fallen world, where stress and setbacks and pain and grief fill our lives at times. Yet the better reality is that it's OK to be not OK. Circumstances don't have control over our lives. God does. And God's mercies are new every morning.

Andrew Peterson writes,
They walked in the rain of His mercy
Let it soak them down to the bone
And they splashed in its puddles
And danced in its streams as they'd go.

The rain of his mercy. What a picture! Every day God's mercy rainstorm pours down on us. The question is - am I moping inside the house or am I splashing in its puddles, dancing in its streams?

Do I recognize God's mercies every day, even on the days that aren't OK? Am I taking time to thank him? Am I resting in his strength to carry me? Even in the hard times we are surrounded by blessings. But if I don't notice them, humbly accepting his gifts with outstretched hands, acknowledging how much I need him and his mercy, I'm going to stay miserable in the middle of my not OK.

The Lord is at hand;  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-8

Do you see it? Thanksgiving ties directly to peace. 

Today pour out your heart to God - all of the ways you're not OK. Dump it out at his feet, but mingle it with thankfulness. Thank him for his mercies. Feel the refreshing quiet raindrops on your face. It may not take the pain away, or lessen the stress, but it will bring the desperately needed peace of his presence.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Moment by Moment

Lately I've been thinking about living in the present. I'm a very "in the moment" person, so you'd think it would be easy for me to enjoy life since I'm not usually worried about the future. However, I'm so goal-oriented that I often get caught up thinking "What am I accomplishing right now? How am I making this day count?"

Reality looks different from the blueprint in my head. What I consider accomplishments are usually just ticks off a to-do list. Are getting the dishes done or folding the laundry or running errands really accomplishments? What is "accomplishment," anyway?

A definition of the word says it is "an act or instance of carrying into effect; fulfillment." So what am I trying to fulfill? Where do my priorities lie? 

Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. 

This. This should be my aim. Fulfilling this would be true accomplishment. 

I can best glorify God by giving my life as an act of spiritual service. Dying to myself daily and following Christ. Sacrificing my own will and desires moment by moment to my Savior. And I can only enjoy him as I spend time with him, or as I notice and thank him for his gifts. 

I think that the biggest accomplishments are the little sacrifices. Laying aside my work to play with my son. Putting aside my comfort to discipline him. Ignoring the whining of my weary body to serve my husband. Refusing to believe the lies or give into the temptations of the enemy. Taking time away from my housework to just watch my son at play, or to point out to him the beauty of the winter sunshine and snow. Making a conscious effort to thank the Lord for his gifts, like the fragrance of coffee, or the baby kicking inside me, or the mercy of a situation working out better than I hoped. 

It is a sacrifice for my busy mind and body to savor the moments God gives. I accomplish my "chief end" when I glorify God and enjoy him daily. 

Our baby is coming in June. Before then we will be finishing a remodel of the home we're renting and then moving in there. We'll be visiting Kansas for my sister's wedding. We'll be taking the youth group to a conference. We'll keep working our tails off day in and day out. Several people have asked me, "Are you so ready for the baby to get here?" I'm not a huge fan of pregnancy, I'll be the first to admit. However, I've decided that I really just want to savor life. I want to enjoy being the only one to hold this little person for another 4 months. I want to love the moments with just one little boy running around. I want to settle into a new life in our new home (and with a second family vehicle -hooray!) with joy and not frantically. 

These things are richer accomplishments. 

Just glorifying God and enjoying him today.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Small Victories


This word makes me think of small steps. Little victories.

Like gradually making a habit of doing dishes once a day instead of letting them pile up until I can't see from under them anymore.

Or like the little boy obeying the first time I ask him to do something.

Maybe the little snatch of sunshine or the quiet thank you I whisper instead of a grumble.

I used to think everything had to be perfect. All had to be great. If you can't do something well, try something else.

Now I'm finally, finally starting to get that even the small victories count for something. God doesn't ask perfection. Ever. He just asks for obedience. And "those who are faithful in that which is little will be faithful also in much."

Last night I read, "Every man will proclaim his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?"

I want to be a faithful mom.

Even in the small steps. Especially in the small steps.

Every day I can faithfully do one small thing to make my husband's day lighter, my boy's day more fun, and my own body stronger. Those things will build on each other. Victory comes from God.


This post is done as a part of Five Minute Friday, an initiative started by Lisa Jo Baker.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sometimes Correction...Sometimes Mercy

Just a thought from this morning...

Our little man came to the steps of our bedroom this morning at 6:30, an hour before Nate or I had to be up. Early mornings may be one of my least favorite parts of motherhood. It's not fair that I not only have to care for my son 12 hours out of the day, but that he also gets up long before I'm ready to start my day and I can't even get the sleep I deserve. That's a rotten attitude, but it's what I feel every morning I have to rise before I'm ready.

Today I tried to settle him back in bed. We rocked, and sang, and even looked at books, but he wouldn't go. I disciplined him, but he didn't even care. He just wanted me. Just wanted me to hold him, to snuggle, to be with him.

"I have to teach him that he can't just get up and bug us when we're trying to sleep," the thought kept coming to my mind.

But then like a whisper, the thought filled me: What if he doesn't need a lesson right now? What if he just needs his mommy? What if he doesn't need correction, but mercy?

Sometimes God doesn't convict me with a scolding. Sometimes he teaches me by his mercy. He's there for me when I need him to just hold me, just like he's there for me when I need discipline and correction. He allows me to face trials that shape my character. He also gives moments that are so full of grace I can feel his closeness.

Momma's the boss but Momma doesn't always have to be bossing. Sometimes she can just give herself away to wash little man's feet by snuggling with him at 6:45 am before the sun comes peeking over the horizon.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Motherhood = Servanthood

Just a simple thought I had this evening...

Our days at home have been full of defiance and declarations of independence lately. They leave me worn and discouraged and feeling like I could care less about discipline and good manners. They're also full of just plain childishness that, while not particularly driven by naughty motivation, would still exhaust even the most energetic of moms.

This evening our little guy turned from a happy camper into a growling bear right about supper time and wouldn't let me put him down while I tried to saute zucchini and set the table. He didn't want to eat and then didn't want to play. But I got him involved in his Mega Blocks, which kept him happy for a little bit, until I discovered as he rolled around on the carpet, that his whole back was covered in poop. Literally. (No wonder about the grouchies...must have had a tummy ache.)

So we had a good rinsing off and scrub in the tub and got back to our blocks. Then he pulls out his giant white teddy bear which is his playing companion for everything from basketball to cars to Mega Blocks. Before I knew it, he trotted off, bear in tow, and dumped him headfirst into the still full bathtub. I wanted to just leave the bear in the bathroom to drip dry but he begged me for it, so there I found myself rubbing down his bear with a towel and blowing it dry with a hair dryer while he "helped."

I have to admit, the thought in my head was, "Why am I sitting here blow drying a teddy bear? What is the point?"

Not long afterward, we were snuggled up reading from our favorite "The Jesus Storybook Bible," which, incidentally, he calls his "buh-bye." We were reading about Jesus washing the disciples' feet in John 13:

One by one, Jesus washed everyone's feet. 
"I am doing this because I love you," Jesus explained. "Do this for each other." 

That's when it hit me. I do these things because I love my 21-month-old son. Love is sacrifice. Love does the seeming silly things because they make others happy and takes care of the gross messes because others can't take care of them by themselves.

Being a mother means being a servant. If I can't reconcile myself to that, I will spend the rest of my life being miserable, expecting rewards for thankless jobs and being discontent with the hardships of this servant life.

My Jesus loves me enough to clean up my messes and fulfill my simple requests not unlike blowdrying teddy bears. He came to earth as the Servant King to die for me. Thankfully, just like vacuuming crushed popcorn from the living room and dealing with temper tantrum after temper tantrum is all in a day's work for me, saving the world is in a day's work for him.