Friday, December 9, 2011

for when the clarity never comes

A friend asked me to pray for wisdom and clarity for her. And so I did, and I am. But as I pray, there is a strong sense of familiarity to my words. That's because I pray for wisdom and clarity all the time.

And to be honest, I get frustrated with this prayer a lot,
because most of the time it feels unanswered.

I usually pray this prayer when I have a decision to make. I pray for wisdom and clarity because I want to know that I'm making the right choice, the choice the Lord wants me to make. But so many times, the decision has to be made and the clarity is not there. And I get a little annoyed. "God, I prayed and asked so nicely for clarity. I even begged. What's the deal??!"

At that point, I usually just move on with my life and go through the cycle again. But today, I decided to stop. And listen. I listened to the Lord's answer to my frustrated and annoyed question. And what did I hear?

Trust me.
I have already given you the tools you need to make this decision on your own.
I have a plan, I know what I'm doing, and you might not be able to see it and understand, but I do.

Several scriptures came to mind immediately. Verses that we quote all the time, but important words from the Father. Verses that I have memorized but as I began to go over them in my mind, I realized that He is spelling it all out for me.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
He has a plan for you. And it's a good one. He tells us that right here in scripture so why do we ever question that? It's time to just trust.

And speaking of trust, Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and he will make your paths straight."
We must trust Him. Even when we don't understand. He's gonna take care of us.

Romans 12:1-2 (yes, I know I JUST blogged about this verse, but it's back!)
"Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing, and perfect will."
So many times, I pray for clarity, and then I sit and wait for this magical "aha!" moment. But I'm beginning to learn that it doesn't always happen that way. How are we able to test and approve what God's will is? Worship. Sacrifice. Renewing of your mind. Sometimes God doesn't have some brand new revelation for us because He's already given us the answer in His Word. However, we have to go there to find it.

To my sweet friend- I am continuing to pray for wisdom and clarity. But if the clarity never comes, trust that He has a great plan for you. He already knows what's gonna happen. He's seen the future, in fact, He planned it out for you. Even if you don't know that you're making the right choice, He knows.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

pleasing to HIM

Isn't it great to get a new perspective on things?

I have a Bible that I love. It's maroon leather (classy, of course), not too big, not too little, it falls open and stays open just perfectly, it's NIV, and it has all my notes and underlines from the past few years. However, over Thanksgiving break, I left that Bible in my dad's truck after church. I realized it about 30 seconds after pulling away from my parent's house but considering the fact that we have a whole shelf full of Bibles at home, and I knew I would be seeing my parents soon again anyways, I knew it wasn't worth turning around for.

So, when I got home, I pulled out another Bible from the shelf. I don't use this Bible often so it won't even stay open, which is annoying because I always lose my place. It's also in the New Century Version which I've never even really heard of, and I have become quite the lover of NIV. Needless to say, I haven't been thrilled to be using this Bible but figured it could get the job done until I get mine back.

Then I actually read it. When I get my Bible back, this other one will still be going back on the shelf, but it has offered some great new perspective! I'll probably be pulling it out a little more often now to get a different view on things. Let me share with you a big one I learned the other day.

I was reading Romans 12:1-2. I have this verse memorized (in NIV of course), and we just got done studying Romans in Sunday School so I probably normally wouldn't be reading these verses AGAIN, but I was reading a devotional that my dad gave me and it was in Romans. I was blown away with the way this other Bible worded things. It was saying the same thing, of course, but I think I had read it over and over in the NIV so much that I had become numb to the message. Romans 12:2 really jumped out at me.

Here's Romans 12:2 in the NIV:
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- His good, pleasing, and perfect will."

And here it is in the NCV:
"Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect."

Doesn't the NCV offer a great new perspective?! There are so many things I could touch on but let me tell you about the biggest one for me.

In the NIV, I was always reading the end of that verse pretty selfishly. I read the end of that verse thinking God's will was good FOR ME, pleasing TO ME, and perfect FOR ME. And I do believe it is all of those things...BUT the NCV pointed out something I was missing. Did you catch it up there? It says "you will know what is good and pleasing TO HIM."

And this is one of those moments where I learn, yet again, that it's not all about me! God's will is not for me to live a life that is good and pleasing and perfect and wonderful for myself. He has transformed me into a new being, a new creation, and His will is for me to live a life that is pleasing TO HIM.

Yes, this is one of those lessons that we all know and have heard a million times... but I have shown time and time again that I need to be reminded of this often. And God is always faithful to find ways to offer a new perspective for me. Maybe I didn't leave my "favorite" Bible in Mount Pleasant on accident... :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

commitment

Today is one of those days that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I woke up early and cooked a good breakfast for Weston and Leeland and packed both of their lunches for them to take to work/school today. (I know this may be a usual occurrence for most people, but for me, that was a supermom moment.) It is cold and rainy outside and I am sitting in my nice warm house, sipping delicious hot coffee, wearing my furry boots, listening to music and blogging in the warm glow of the Christmas tree. And since Weston is at work and Leeland is at school, the rest of the house is calm.

I'm usually always going and doing. Even on a day with nothing on the agenda, I usually find somewhere to go. But I decided ahead of time that today was going to be a day at home. I'm going to finish decorating the tree and take care of some things at home that have been neglected. Also, my soul needs a day to just breathe.

As I sit, breath, and enjoy the warmth of the calm, my mind is dwelling on commitment. We talked about commitment in Sunday School yesterday- about how commitment is one way to avoid the pitfalls that the enemy puts before us. We discussed the consequences of breaking commitments (in marriage, in our relationship with the Lord) but as I dwell on it this morning, I'm realizing another pitfall- not breaking the commitment, but neglecting the commitment.

These things are similar and they both have consequences but I think they are a bit different. Most of the time, breaking your commitments is a conscious decision. But neglect tends to happen subconsciously. We don't even think about it but we let our commitment slip from the forefront of our minds, and then in turn, end up breaking our commitments without even thinking much about it.

This morning I'm thinking about my commitment to my marriage. No, I haven't done any of those big, bad things to break my commitment- I haven't cheated on my husband or lied to him or shamed him in public. But am I truly, daily, consciously committed to loving, serving, and respecting him?

I'm talking about the little things like the way I talk to him or the things I expect of him (annnd the way I treat him when those expectations are not met...). Commitment is costly, and it's not always easy. However, when my commitment is in the forefront of my mind, it is a little easier to remember the things that commitment requires of me.

I know things are busy right now. I know not all of you may be able to get your kid and husband out of your house and have a quiet morning to relax. But I encourage you to find some time (maybe while you're in the shower? If you're lucky enough to get to take one...) and let your soul breathe. And while you're breathing, think about your commitments- to your family, to the Lord, and whatever else you are committed to. You may have to search deep for some of those commitments that have been neglected. Recommit yourself to those things and those people. Remind yourself why you're committed and what that commitment means. Write it down if you have to so they don't get neglected again, because as we learned in Sunday School yesterday, "Commitment is costly, but breaking the commitment is costlier."


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

as unto the LORD

It is so hard to get back on the blogging bandwagon after you've fallen off! I'm searching my brain for something to write about and there are a million ideas whirring around like race cars!

So as I was on this journey of finding a topic for today's blog, the Lord brought this verse to my attention:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."
Colossians 3:23

I know we've all heard this verse a million times before but God just showed me that this verse really applies to every area of my life that I'm struggling with right now.

I started feeling a little bit guilty yesterday. I just felt like I wasn't giving enough to Weston and to Leeland. I'm pretty crazy about my house being straight all the time. I can't go to bed with dirty dishes all over the kitchen or toys all over the living room floor. If I leave laundry in the dryer, it will be on my mind until it gets folded and put away. When I walk into the kitchen and the counter is littered with junk mail, shoes, water bottles, keys, jackets, and who knows what else, it's pretty much the equivalent of hearing nails scratch a chalkboard. Now, don't get me wrong, my house is not clean all of the time, but I'm pretty much in a state of anxiety about it all of the time and the second Leeland is down for a nap or asleep for the night, no matter how tired I feel, I am cleaning machine!

But what does that do for my husband and my son? I'm sure they appreciate having a straight house but is that what they really need? You see, I spend all of the time during Leeland's naps cleaning and then by the time he wakes up, I am exhausted. So what do I do? I get him up, I do whatever I can to occupy him and make him happy, but I pretty much just sit in the recliner trying to recuperate while he plays and usually just fusses because he wants more from me. Weston has been working a lot and usually doesn't get home until Leeland's bedtime. But what am I doing during that time? Cleaning! I go to bed early and can never manage to make myself stay up past 9:00 to spend time with my husband. But last night? I was up until 10:30 folding laundry and cleaning our bedroom and bathroom!

All of this to say, I'm giving my family my leftovers. I am investing more in my house than I am in my husband and my son. And I think to myself, "But I'm pregnant and I have to take care of a toddler all day and I can't COMPLETELY neglect my house. I am TIRED! How am I supposed to do this?" That's when the Lord reminded me:

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

I think if I focused my work on working for the Lord, He would show me how to prioritize. He will give me energy to do the things I need to do and still invest in my family. He will take away my anxiety when the clothes are left in the dryer for a little bit longer. And I think when I focus on doing things for the Lord and not for men, my family will come first. You see, it's easy to say, "Well, I am putting my family first. I am doing these things FOR THEM. I'm such a servant." But let's be honest, that's not the case. Weston and Leeland could really care less about the condition of the house. I think we could edit this verse a little by removing the last letter. Instead of saying "not for men," it could read "not for me." The reality is that all of these things that I'm doing are really just to make myself feel good. To make me feel accomplished. To get rid of my anxiety.

So yes, I may be tired and pregnant. I may have a crazy toddler to take care of. I may have a lot of responsibilities around the house. But I think when I take the focus off of myself and when I "work with all of my heart AS UNTO THE LORD," it might all seem a bit less overwhelming. And I think the result will be that my family will get the best of me, and not just my leftovers.

Now if you'll excuse me, Leeland is still sleeping and I'm gonna go straighten the house a little before he wakes up... Is it bad/ironic that I'm really about to do that? [Ha!] Don't worry, I think God says it's ok ;)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

joy in the calling

I have been attending MOPS (Mothers Of Pre Schoolers) this Fall and I love it! It has been so good to make so many sweet mom friends and it is always so encouraging. Last Tuesday, I had a busy, overwhelming day and I ALMOST decided not to go to MOPS so I would have a little more time to get things done. But I decided to go anyways and boy am I glad I did! The speaker was SO good and every single thing she said really resonated with me. [I was just looking for the notes I took while she was speaking and can't find them. Hopefully my husband didn't throw them away...he's been watching too much Hoarders!]

One of the first things she talked about was calling. I've blogged a little about this before but the way she explained this really turned on a light bulb for me. She was talking about how so many people are always praying that they would discover what they're calling is. "God, show me my calling! What am I called to do?" And she excitedly said, "I don't have to pray about my calling! I already know what it is!"

"I'm a wife! I am CALLED to be a wife. I'm a mom! I am CALLED to be a mom."

That was a big "Hello!" moment for me. When you look at it as your calling, it really makes the tough moments a little bit easier. I have seen that first hand ever since that moment. It doesn't mean the hard times don't come. Nothing has physically changed for me, but my attitude and my mentality have changed, and that makes all the difference.

The very next day after I heard this speaker, Leeland woke up early. Weston was home that morning and was very capable of getting up with Leeland but instead he just turned over in bed and made some grumpy noises. I was so tired, so very quickly my temper began to flare. I was mad at Weston and I was frustrated that Leeland was awake. But then I reminded myself, "This is my calling." My perspective changed immediately. And then I got up and made a special breakfast for Weston and Leeland. And you know what? I found joy in my calling.

This same week, Leeland had been sick. It wasn't too bad- just a virus that gave him a little fever and a little rash, but after that went away, it caused something else... irritability! He would just cry and cry non stop. And not that fake annoying cry. He would stand in front of me with his arms straight up in the air and cry until his face turned red with big tears streaming down his face. He is a big boy and I can't carry him around forever so lots of tears were shed that day. All of that crying can really start to get to me so I was very glad when nap time arrived. I usually just rock Leeland for a minute or two and then put him in bed awake. But this day, I guess the crying wore him out and he was asleep in my arms before I put him down. Thoughts of my crazy messy house flashed through my head and I was about to put him down so I could get to it. But just as I moved to get up, he nestled his sweet little head a little deeper into my chest and I remembered, "I am called to be a mom." I realized that part of that calling is savoring sweet little moments with my son, even when the day is crazy. So I stayed a little bit longer and cuddled with him. And I found joy in my calling.

Maybe you're not a wife and maybe you're not a mom, but I think your calling can be found just as easily. What are you already doing? Who are you already serving? When you realize what you are called to do, and when you look at it in that way, that's where you can find true joy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

31 day failure

Well, not only did I not make all 31 days, I only got halfway through and the blog has been rather neglected since then. October got CRAZY!

I might not have seemed that busy to some people but for me, it was busy. You see, I used to work a job that kept me crazy busy. My life was pretty much consumed with my job which meant other things in my life were sacrificed- time with my husband, time with my family, ministry, service, investment in church, and many other things. SO, when I had Leeland and quit working, I made a decision to be less busy. It might mean saying "no" sometimes, or a lot of times. But I wanted to make my family a priority.

This "less busy" life is rather nice. Trust me, Leeland keeps me busy enough without adding a bunch of other stuff! But now that I've gotten used to this life, when things do get busy it's overwhelming! But it's ok, it reminds me why I made the decision I did, and I am always grateful to get things back to a little less chaotic.

But that's not necessarily a good excuse for not blogging. I'll tell you what I think the real issue is. I must begin by telling you that I LOVE encouraging people. (Especially women, but if a man gets something out of it too, that's great!) And almost a year ago, I finally admitted to myself that I had a passion for writing, I felt like it was a gift that God gave me, and decided to use writing to encourage people. And it's one of those decisions that I made that I knew would start a battle- a spiritual battle. This is something that I really want to do for the Lord, so satan is going to do all he can to discourage me, and stop me. And I think that's what happened with the 31 days. Around the time that I stopped writing, I was really just emotionally discouraged and for no good reason at all. I think that was the enemy bringing me down. And he kept me down just long enough until I just didn't care anymore and neglected the blog. Man, these spiritual battles are tough!

Anyways, hopefully I'm back! I'm about to write a blog or two to post over the next week and hopefully we'll all get back on track. Oh, and thank you for reading. I don't know if I've ever said that. But seriously, knowing that these blogs are read and that they encourage others is SO encouraging to me! So, thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not quite 31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 19]

I know I'm a failure. I didn't make the 31 days. I've been mentally drained lately and the words have not been there. But God's words are better than mine, so this is what I have for you today:

Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Friday, October 14, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 14]

Whoops. Didn't post yesterday either. It wasn't on purpose this time. I think I overdid it yesterday and I was not feeling well last night. Life just happens like that sometimes.

And once again, I was lost, wondering what to blog about today when the Lord reminded me to turn to His Word. More than growing my writing, I think this 31 days is growing me spiritually. God is continually reminding me that when I try to do things on my own, I come up short every time. But when I turn to Him, He is a constant source of peace.

As I was formulating a blog in my brain, I was thinking about my life. It always seems like everything is going really good, or everything is going really bad. And a lot of times I experience both of those feelings in one day. I wondered for 2 seconds if I was bi-polar, but then the Lord reminded me that I'm not. Life just happens like that sometimes.

Then He reminded me of something else. My life is always going to be a roller coaster ride. There are always going to be really good times and there are always going to be really bad times. It's unpredictable, really. Life just happens like that sometimes. Here comes the exciting part. The "But God" part. But God is constant.

I immediately turned to one of my favorite verses, Psalm 18:31-32.
"For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect."

I love that part- "And who is the Rock except our God?" In the midst of life's ups and downs, my God is constant, a ROCK. When I never know where life will take me next, I know one thing- no matter where I go, my Rock is constant and will always be there.

I also love the part that says He "arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." When things are good, I know it is because of Him. When things are bad, I know I can make it through because He has armed me with strength. And when life seems crazy, no matter how good or how bad, I know that it is perfectly what the Lord has intended for me. I know that to be true because He told me so.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 12]

I didn't blog yesterday. I thought about it and decided not to. It's ok. I gave myself a break. I needed it.

I took a break today too. Not from blogging, but from life. Being pregnant and being a mom of an active toddler is exhausting. I've probably mentioned that one or two (or 57...) times before. I'm at the point where pretty much all I can do is the basics- feeding my family, doing the laundry, cleaning the kitchen, picking up all the toys, etc. Then I push myself a little harder to sometimes clean the bathrooms, sweep, vacuum, and other things like that. Not everything gets done and I'm learning to be ok with that.

I'm learning to be ok with that because I have to. I can only push myself so far. Most days when Leeland goes to school, I spend the whole time frantically cleaning and trying to accomplish lots of stuff. Today, I allowed myself to take the day off. I even prepared for it yesterday by working extra hard to make sure the house wasn't a mess so I wouldn't be bothered or burdened about it today.

I sat in the recliner and watched Netflix. I ate a donut and some pigs in a blanket. I opened the blinds and enjoyed the rain. (God must have sent the rain to East Texas today just for me!) I turned off my brain, I ignored the toys all over the floor and I just relaxed. It was so peaceful. I did actually get up and do a little bit of cleaning but it was stuff that I wanted to do, stuff that usually gets neglected.

The dishwasher needs to be emptied, the laundry is piled up in the laundry room, and I REALLY need to vacuum because one of Leeland's favorite new hobbies is collecting acorns and bringing them inside. But I'm not doing it. All of that can be taken care of later. Giving myself permission to set aside everything that normally burdens and weighs me down, and instead enjoy a little bit of peace, was just what I needed. I give you permission to do the same. You can thank me later :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 10]

For those of you that thought I would wake up with a fresh new outlook on life today, you were wrong. I say that because that's what I thought would happen. I didn't feel good yesterday but after writing my blog last night, I had decided that I was going to wake up and today was going to be a great day. Oh contrare....

Leeland, although he NEVER does this, woke up at 5:15 a.m. for some reason. I went in and rocked him and before too long, he went back to sleep. But sleep did not come back for this little momma. And on top of that, I still have this terrible congestion and cough. Oh, and have I mentioned that even at 19 weeks, I still get morning sickness?

So as I laid in bed, wide awake, feeling miserable, I had a very grim outlook on this day. I didn't want to get up. I didn't want to have a good day. Oh, AND Weston is gonna be gone pretty much all of this week. So I already had a bad attitude about the entire week. I just wanted to wallow in self pity.

I thought about my blog. I thought there is no way I will find "peace in the chaos" today. I couldn't think of any fun Leeland story or some big revelation from God. I thought I was done. Out of material. My 31 days of writing fizzled into 9 measly days...

Then I heard that still small voice whispering to me to turn to His Word. I suddenly remembered that this isn't about me. It's not up to me to find peace in the chaos. It is from the Lord! You would think it wouldn't be that hard to remember that one very important fact but I really had forgotten.

So after dropping Leeland off at school, I sat down, turned on some Shane & Shane and opened my Bible. I didn't really know where to turn but the song that was playing was Psalm 13 so I decided to turn there. The first four verses say this:
"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall."

I could definitely relate with these verses but I was beginning to get worried. All of that seemed pretty grim and the chapter was almost over. I thought to myself, "Where's the good news?!" Then I read verses 5 and 6:
"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me."

*lightbulb*

I didn't wake up to a beautiful and wonderful great new day. In fact, I woke up and today started out worse than yesterday. I might have a lot to get done today and I might not feel good, BUT "I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me."

I may be having a bad day, but the Lord has been good to me. And he has been so so good. I wonder how he feels when he has been so good to me, yet I choose to spend my day wallowing in self pity? I'm guessing that doesn't make him feel very good. So today, I will sing to the Lord.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 9]

I don't feel like blogging today.
I don't feel like finding peace in the chaos.
I don't feel good.

But that's the thing about life. Sometimes we just have to do things, even when we don't feel like it. Where would we all be if we only did what we felt like doing?

And to take things a step further. As Christians, there are lots of things that we are called to do, even when we don't feel like it.

Jesus didn't say, "Take up your cross and follow me, if you feel like it."
Jesus didn't say, "Love one another, when you feel like it."
I could keep going but I think you get my point.

I am sick and today I laid around the house in my pajamas all day long. But tomorrow is a new day. I doubt I'll be feeling better but I'm going to change out of my pajamas and put real clothes on. I'm gonna do my make up and fix my hair. I'm gonna make Leeland's lunch and I'm gonna do my grocery shopping. Even if I don't feel like it, I'm gonna do everything I can to impact the world. Because that is what Christ has called me to do.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 8]

The past few days have been oh so busy. And for this pregnant momma, that is exhausting! On top of that, Leeland has been sick and he got me sick. I took some benadryl about an hour ago and I'm totally falling asleep as I'm typing. But to be true to my word, I'm blogging because I must get it in today!

We found out the sex of the baby today. We went to one of those places where your family can watch. Luckily, Weston wasn't out of town, my parents came, and my brother surprised me and was able to make it, along with his girlfriend and her daughter. It was quite the joyous time as it has been a month or two since all of the family was together. Weston is usually gone, Drew is super busy with football responsibilities at his new job, and there always seems to be something going on at the church where my dad works.

I was busy yesterday, I was busy today, I'm sick and I'm tired. But today, I was with family. Oh how I love my family. I often complain that my mom doesn't live right down the road so she can watch Leeland for me anytime, but I realize that I am oh so blessed that my parents only live an hour away and are a very present part of my life. My brother worked late last night so that he would be able to be here today. And he brought me Tyler roses. What a great guy.

Even in the middle of busyness (my parents and my brother are some of the busiest people I know), family togetherness brought peace. Thank you Lord for the blessing of family.



Oh, and by the way, I'm having a girl. (Woohoo!)

Friday, October 7, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 7]

We were supposed to find out the sex of our baby last Monday. I had been looking forward to this day for quite a while. People were always asking me about it and I always excitedly exclaimed, "October 3!" It was a big day. But, to be honest, I had a feeling we wouldn't find out that day. I was afraid the baby wouldn't cooperate and we wouldn't be able to tell. And what do ya know! The baby's legs were closed the whole time and we got no glimpse of those little private parts that tell us the big news.

I was disappointed. I am still eager to find out and we have an appointment to find out (hopefully!) tomorrow. But the odd part is, I had a peace about it.

That is totally out of character for me. Especially about something like this. I don't know if anyone else feels the same way but I don't really feel connected with my baby until I know the sex and give it a name. Then, I don't have to refer to it as an "it." I know whether I should be having dreams of ballet recitals or football games. I know if I should buy pink bows or plaid shirts. So although this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it's a big deal to me.

This is where the beauty of my Lord comes in. He knew it was a big deal to me. So I firmly believe He was preparing me ahead of time. He was the still small voice in my head that said, "Maybe October 3 won't be the big day. And that's ok." He brought peace in that moment, a peace that could have come from no one else but Him.

I don't know what kind of results we'll get tomorrow. I'm praying that we'll find out, just so I can stop wondering and speculating. But I know that whatever happens, it's all in the Lord's plans. Even with something so non-important as finding out the sex of the little baby growing inside of me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 6]

Well, Steve Jobs died. I know that all of you already know that. And just like me, you probably found out about his death one of the wonderful devices he created.

I found out about his death while checking facebook on my iPhone. Do you know how much I hate facebook when big events happen? I mean, sometimes I am thankful that my friends feel the need to share these things, because that is the only way I'll find out about it happening. But most of the time, I already know it happened and I really do not care to read about it over. and over. and over again. I felt that way about Osama bin Laden's death. I feel that way about college football on Saturdays. I feel that way about the Rangers and the Cowboys. I felt that way about the death of Steve Jobs.

Weston, like most people in the world, loves Apple and loved Steve Jobs. He was really sad when he died. He said he really enjoyed hearing him speak at the keynotes, had hope that he was going to get better, and expected to hear him speak once again. But that was all gone.

I was just intent on watching whatever was on TV. But Weston was intently reading about Steve Jobs...for a really long time. Then he says, "Oh, I forgot. Steve Jobs was a buddhist. He died a buddhist." I kind of laughed and said, "Haha, that must mean he's gonna be reincarnated as an iPad!" And Weston said, "No, that means he's in hell right now." I stopped laughing.

When Osama bin Laden died, all of my friends had A LOT to say about it on facebook. A lot of people acknowledged the fact that he went to hell. And some even said they were happy about it. All of my friends have a lot to say about Steve Jobs' death too, but it's weird, no one is mentioning the fact that he's in hell. And if someone did mention it, I don't know one single person that would be happy about it. In fact, I think most would be rather sad.

Why would we be happy/not care about one soul burning in hell yet mourn over another? Just because one of them brought lots of death, pain, and heartache to our world and the other one brought cool gadgets and convenience? The fact is that neither one of them found the truth. Neither one of them had true peace. Being buddhist, I'm sure Mr. Jobs thought he knew what peace was. But he missed the mark. Just like millions of others.

And to me, this is all just a little more motivation to live in peace. To love. To share. To impact. I might not have made a difference in the lives of Steve Jobs or Osama bin Laden, but I'm sure there was someone that could have, and they missed their chance. I don't want to miss my chance.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 5]

When was the last time you sat down and had a good heart to heart conversation with your husband? Before last night, I don't think I could have answered that question because it had been so long.

Weston and I are both busy and overwhelmed. Weston probably more so than me. Last night, the weather got nice and cool and after putting Leeland to bed and finishing The Biggest Loser, we decided to go sit outside and enjoy the weather. We actually had to take blankets out there because it was so chilly!

It was a nice break from the usual. Just being outside with each other, no technology, no distractions. It was blissful. We began to talk and we got past all of that surface stuff. Pretty much all we usually talk about is Weston's job, Leeland, and the occasional random piece of knowledge I have that I like to share with the world. But that wasn't the conversation last night.

We actually talked. Not to get all mushy on you, but we shared our feelings. We talked about those issues in marriage that need to be talked about but often get pushed to the wayside. It was so so good. It wasn't easy. But it was good. And not only was there peace in that moment, but that conversation will continue to provide peace in our marriage.

Try it. Trust me. It's worth it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 4]

I love how God gives me one little glimpse of an idea and then slowly and gradually broadens the scope, showing me new things.

When I thought of the topic "Peace in the Chaos," I was really just thinking of my own little life in my own little world. But in the past few days, I've been expanding my view to think outside of myself a little bit.

I was checking Twitter the other day and read two interesting headlines. The first said something about the chance of retaliation after the death of Al-Awlaki (you know the big terrorist leader) and the second said something about how the world was so much safer now that he (along with Bin Laden) was dead. Immediately, pictures flashed through my mind of some other event like 9/11 happening again. But just as quickly, I felt peace. Because I knew that whatever happened, whether something like that happened or not, God is in control. He has a plan, He knows what He's doing. And because of that, I can have peace, no matter what.

Monday, October 3, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 3]

[Do you wanna know what the hardest part is about blogging every day? Blogging. I thought the hard part would be the writing part but I usually write about 3 blogs a day- in my head. And I feel all accomplished...and then the end of the day arrives and I say, "Oh no! I haven't blogged!"]

I took Leeland on a breakfast date this morning before I took him to school. We decided to go to the McDonald's down the road. I was really looking forward to our breakfast date but going somewhere with Leeland by myself is never easy. It's kind of funny the way your thinking changes when you become a mom. Especially when it's just you and your baby- you gotta go in with a game plan.

As soon as I walked in the door, I scoped out the location of the high chairs. It's just funny to me because before baby, the only thing on my mind would have been the food I was about to consume. After baby, I find the high chairs, I made sure my money was easily accessible so I could get it out with one hand while holding Leeland, then I looked for a place to sit where I could sit Leeland in the high chair and still be able to see him if I needed to get up for any necessities like straws, napkins, and ketchup. All of this went through my mind within 5 seconds of walking in the door. Whew! Being a mom is hard work!

I noticed an open booth that had maximum viewing capacity and was close to the stack of high chairs. It was the last booth left in a small side section and the rest of the section was full of...old people! Old people that clearly all knew each other and all enjoyed breakfast together at McDonalds often. I got so excited about sitting with the old people! For two reasons: 1. I knew Leeland would bring joy to them. 2. I knew they would bring joy to Leeland and I.

I was right- as soon as I walked in the section I heard, "You have the most perfect red headed baby!" Old people are amazed by Leeland's red hair for some reason. An old man that could barely walk helped me get a high chair out of the stack. As we sat down, they went on and on about how good and cute Leeland is, and they all proceeded to tell me about their grandchildren- some red headed and some not. That's always important to mention.

It was so pleasant and wonderful. As they finished up and headed out (I'm sure they had been there for hours), I thought to myself, "This is peace." Things like that just don't happen anymore. Strangers don't just talk and share their lives like that every day. Especially with the technology we have these days, we are consumed by things far off and not the community that is right around us.

I had forgotten the peace and joy the community of strangers can bring. Maybe Leeland and I will have breakfast with our new friends at McDonald's more often. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 2]

Since our pastor left, we have had a series of guest preachers at our church. The guy this morning was your classic old evangelist. He was very dead set on people getting saved. He was very passionate. He had good things to say but he never once opened the Bible. I hope that someone got saved because of his words, but to those of us that are already Christians, it was a little stale(in my opinion). I got a little bored (don't worry, I was a little convicted about that) and my mind began to wander.

I began to think about the church. Not the building, not the service, but the people. I think the church is really the definition of peace in the chaos. This world is so lost and confused. Everyone is searching for something, they just don't know what. The church has the answer but I don't think we share it enough. You know what they want? Peace. Hope. Love. We have these things!!

My attention slowly wandered back to the words the preacher was saying as he talked about a book Billy Graham wrote a long time ago. I was about to tune him out again when I heard what the book was about- peace. He talked about how this book was just flying off the shelves when it came out because, and I quote, "There's one thing that everyone in the world wants and that's peace." I smiled to myself as I realized that I was thinking the exact same thought that this little old evangelist was thinking. :)

We have the answer, we have that peace, but what do we have to show for it? When someone sees me grocery shopping at Walmart, do they see my peace? When I'm standing in line at the post office, do those around know what I possess? You would think we would all live quite differently with this precious treasure of peace that we possess. But so many times, our lives look exactly like those lost people around us.

I'm going to be a little more intentional tomorrow. I'm going to live in peace. And I'm going to walk into the chaos of the world and show others that my God brings peace that passes all understanding. And that makes all the difference.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

31 days of peace in the chaos: [day 1]

This morning started out pretty nice. I got up with Leeland and let Weston sleep since he had a late flight and had gotten home at 2:00a.m. Leeland played with toys. We watched cartoons. We ate breakfast. I even got to relax in the recliner and drink a cup of coffee. I had lots of warm, fuzzy, peaceful thoughts and had already written a nice happy blog in my head.

Then, the fuss monster arrived.

Leeland started to fuss a bit and it was around nap time so I went to put him down, but he was not having that! He started to get worked up and I tried so hard to get him to stop crying because his room is right next to ours and I wanted Weston to be able to sleep. After it was clear nap time wasn't going to happen soon, I decided to bring him back out to the living room and let him play. However, he had already gotten worked up and just didn't want to stop crying. He doesn't usually do this but today he did and every bit of peace was gone.

With pregnancy hormones and being tired from not sleeping well, I had a very short fuse and that was pretty much blown. I was at the end of my rope, as Leeland was too. It was at that moment I realized you have to CHOOSE peace. It doesn't just come in and take all of the stress away, you have to let it in. But that is NOT easy.

I would take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and choose peace. That moment would last about 30 seconds and then it was like all my anxiety, anger, and annoyance came back quicker and stronger. It was a struggle.

I put Leeland in the car and we drove around for about 30-45 minutes. He calmed down a bit. And eventually, so did I. I got home and my wonderful husband had gotten up, straightened up the house, gotten the laundry going, and opened all of the blinds to let the sunshine in. It was a breath of fresh air.

Leeland eventually went down for a nap (with quite a fight) and the house got quiet. That's when the easy peace came. The quiet, calm peace that is natural. The peace streamed in as beautifully as the sunlight streaming through the windows, warming my toes. But I think sometimes the peace that isn't easy is a little more rewarding. The peace that you have to drive around for 30 minutes to find, that peace is not natural. Which means only one thing- it is purely from the Lord. When we CHOOSE that, especially when it's not easy, that's when we have a little victory over the enemy.

When I decided on the topic of "Peace in the Chaos," I had no idea that the very first day was going to start out quite so chaotic! But I think the Lord wanted me to realize these foundational truths right in the beginning: His peace doesn't always come easily. Sometimes we have to look for it, and CHOOSE it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

31 days of...

Emily over at Chatting at the sky said some words that have inspired me:

"One of the best ways to become a better writer is to write. Last October I became a better writer during 31 Days of Grace. Writing everyday for a month will do that to you. But more than just the discipline of writing, 31 Days is an opportunity for each of us to discover those things that make us come alive. And then, to share those things with others."

So I've decided to join in with her and a host of other bloggers and write every day for 31 days. I brainstormed lots of different topic ideas but the one that kept coming back to me was "31 Days of Peace in the Chaos."

Sometimes life just feels like chaos. Right now, my life feels like a never ending cycle of monotonous chaos. One crazy exhausting day after the next. But for 31 days, I will be looking for peace in each of those days. I know the Lord provides it for me, but I just don't always see it.

Writing every day for 31 days is gonna be hard. I actually tried it last year- I just didn't post it on the blog. I think I made it about 3 days. So here goes nothing! I'm hoping to stay committed and make it all 31 days this year. Join me in this journey!

Monday, September 12, 2011

the balance

You know, I've found that life is all about finding that perfect balance.

I have been "busy" lately. And I don't even really feel like "busy" is the right word. So I put it in quotes, because it's just a placeholder word. A word that's there because I don't even know what word to really put there.

Leeland is a VERY active child. He is a sweet sweet boy but he is NEVER still. He doesn't play with toys, he doesn't watch tv, he just crawls around to see what he can get into for a few minutes and then he moves on to something else. So my days are literally spent chasing him around, picking up what he just scattered, preventing him from hurting himself, consoling him when he inevitably does hurt himself, then looking and searching for something new to entertain him for a few minutes. That is my busy. No cleaning the house, very little running errands, no reading, watching tv, or relaxing. Just mothering. It. is. exhausting.

Then there are those precious nap times that are never quite long enough. And honestly, they bring me anxiety. Leeland goes down for a nap and I know that I have maybe one guaranteed hour to do something. Then I go through the list in my head: I'm tired and need to rest, but the kitchen is a disaster, you don't even want to know what the toilets look like, and my feet have been sticking to something on the kitchen floor for days. Then there's the grocery list that needs to be made because as soon as Leeland wakes up, we have to go to the store in that small window of opportunity that he'll be happy enough to endure sitting in a grocery store cart.

And then I stop. For just one moment. And I hear the voice of the Lord say to me, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." I let out a long sigh, my shoulders drop and the tension falls, and I sink into the arms of my Savior.

I need to find that balance. And I think the number one key is to dwell with my Lord. He's not just there when I stop long enough to acknowledge Him. He's with me every step of the way. Yet, I'm working so hard trying to do things on my own. Today, I will remember that He is with me. HE will bring the balance that I need. And that will make all the difference.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A lesson on prayer from an old friend...

There was a lady at my church in Tyler named Nancy Terry. Nancy was such a sweet old lady, very talented, and one of the funniest people ever. She could come back with a witty remark quicker than anyone I know! I had the privilege of working for her the summer after my senior year in high school. She was a real estate agent and was having trouble seeing so I became her personal assistant to help her out! It was a really neat experience for me. I learned a lot and loved working closely with Nancy. Unfortunately, not long after I began working for her, it was discovered that the reason she was having trouble seeing was because she had brain cancer. She began her second battle with cancer and didn't win this time, but her sweet legacy is one that will live on in the hearts of everyone she came in contact with.

There is one particular story I remember about Nancy Terry. Most of the other people there probably don't remember this at all but it has always stuck with me...

It was the morning of the Whitehouse YesterYear Parade. Those not from Whitehouse might not understand, but the parade is a pretty big deal in Whitehouse. The whole city comes out to see the clowns, the princess and the ladies in waiting, the dance teams, the fire trucks, and everything else that comes along with a parade. Here are a few pictures from the year I had the privilege of being a lady in waiting. These pictures aren't from the year this story takes place in but hopefully they'll give you a bit of an idea of the extravagance of the YesterYear Parade.

Now, back to the story. On this particular day, the fate of the parade was questionable. As all of the floats lined up in the high school parking lot, dark clouds gathered overhead and dropped a few threatening rain drops.

My church always provided a water wagon for the parade. We were positioned in the middle of the parade with trailers and wagons carrying ice chests filled with ice cold bottles of water. We passed them out to every single onlooker along the parade route and it was always fun to see the joy that a cold bottle of water could bring to a person sitting and baking in the hot Texas sun. It was a neat outreach to the community that my church loved doing and we did not want to miss out on this opportunity.

So, we all huddle under umbrellas and prayed for the rain to stop, just long enough for the parade to go on. And this is where Nancy Terry comes in. Nancy had some important role in YesterYear and was riding around in a golf cart, making sure everything was going smoothly. As she approached us, she said, "I've never seen so many Baptists huddled under umbrellas! Put down those umbrellas and pray like you mean it!" I'm pretty sure we all just laughed, and stayed huddled under our umbrellas but her words really struck a chord with me.

When I pray, do I really pray believing God will provide? Or do I pray, but remain clinging to my worldly safety net? Maybe God is just waiting for us to take that leap of faith. [There's that faith again. Seems to be a trend in my blogs. God must be trying to teach me something...]

We pray for God to take care of our finances. We say we are trusting Him. So, why do we still worry about money?

We pray for God to mend a broken relationship. So, why are we still trying to fix that relationship on our own? (Which, by the way, I have discovered it always seems to make things worse when I try to fix them on my own.)

We pray for God to bring rain to our dry land. So, why aren't we leaving the house carrying our umbrellas and wearing our leopard print rain boots? [Oh... You don't have leopard print rain boots?? Sorry, that's just me.]

I think my prayer life needs a makeover. So many times, I'll utter a prayer, just to say I did. Then I just hope that MAYBE something will happen. I think instead I need to pray a little more boldly, believing, and KNOWING that God is gonna answer my prayer. It may not be the answer I want and it may not arrive when I want, but He will provide. And I must trust in that.

And in case you are wondering, the rain held off and the YesterYear Parade went on as planned. Probably because Nancy Terry prayed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The stranger on the plane...


When Leeland was just 7 weeks old, I had the opportunity to fly to Pennsylvania to visit Weston's family. Weston was flying one of his clients up there and I was flying commercially, with Leeland, to meet him. I was a little nervous about flying by myself, with a baby, but I had nothing to worry about. This is pretty much what Leeland did the whole time!


I love flying. And not just because my husband is a pilot. In general, I love flying commercially more than flying privately. I love airports. Going through security does not bother me. I love getting Starbucks and waiting at my gate. I love people watching. Observing and wondering. Making up little stories in my head about the people I see- who they are, what they are doing, where they are going, etc.

Except there's one little problem. I like staying inside my head. I don't want to actually talk to the people I'm observing. And the problem usually comes when it's time to get on the plane because I always seem to be stuck next to people that want to talk. And for some reason, I hate talking to the person sitting next to me on the plane. It's just awkward to me. Yeah, we may talk for a few minutes and have great conversation, but then there's the whole 2 hour flight after that when you have nothing to say. Awkward.

Right before my flight in October with little tiny baby Leeland, I got a little convicted. I caught myself praying that I would not be sitting next to people that would want to talk. But then I remembered stories that people told about how they were able to share Jesus with the person sitting next to them on the plane, and I knew I was being selfish. Instead of praying against these opportunities, I needed to be praying FOR them. It was one of the scariest things I've ever done, but I actually prayed for someone to talk to on my flight. Someone to share with.

I boarded early since I had a baby, got all settled and waited in anticipation as the rest of the passengers began to board. I assessed every person approaching my row, wondering if they would be sitting next to me. And then she arrived. She was pretty, clearly a young businesswoman. Probably not much older than me but she seemed to be in a different world than me. She was dressed so nice with her cute purse and work bag. I thought she could have nothing in common with me as I sat there in my jeans and t-shirt, cradling my 7 week old baby. I was just hoping that she didn't hate babies and that we would make it through the 2 hour flight.

After sitting there for about 5 minutes, she realized she was in the wrong seat. She was supposed to be in the middle seat across the aisle. But since she had already gotten all settled in, we decided that she could just ask the person that was supposed to be in that seat to trade. And they did.

As the flight got started, we began to talk. She asked lots of questions about Leeland and about my pregnancy, but that didn't seem out of the ordinary to me- once you get pregnant and have a baby, that's ALL anyone talks to you about. We talked about our husbands and realized that they were a lot alike, and we even got married the same year, just one week apart. I told her about my previous job at ETBU, and most people have no idea what it involves, but she actually had a friend that did that exact same job! It ended up that we had a lot in common.

Then I asked the question. I'm always nervous to ask about couples plans to have children because you just never know the situation. I know so many couples that want to have kids but can't so asking about it can be a sore topic. I had thought about it and avoided it but after talking for a while, decided it was ok. This is how the conversation went:
Me: "So, do ya'll want to have kids?"
Her: *hesitation* "Well...."
Me: *immediately regretting asking* "I'm sorry, is that an awkward question? You don't have to answer!"
Her: "No! It's not awkward at all! I'm actually pregnant right now, but we haven't told anyone yet. A lot of my business partners are on this plane so I didn't want any of them to hear."

And we talked for the whole rest of the flight. Like two little girls at a slumber party, sharing secrets about boys we have crushes on. Except we were two women in our twenties, on an airplane, sharing secrets about our families.

I never got her name. I didn't share "the plan of salvation" with her. But I think she was the answer to my prayer. She didn't sit in the wrong seat on accident. I think God put her there.

We were both a little sad to say goodbye. After leaving, I so wished I had gotten her name so I could look her up on facebook. But that one two hour flight was all we had. From sharing about our lives, I could tell she wasn't a Christian. But I hope that she could tell I was different. I hope that she could see The Light in me. And I hope that something resonated within her. I firmly believe that God had a purpose for bringing us together. And I know that He is working within her. Even if I'll never see the stranger on the plane again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If it wasn't this, it'd be something else.

I wrote my last blog about faith. It was on my mind for a few days but I thought that was it. But boy was I wrong! God wanted to teach me a little bit more. A few days later, I went to read my Bible. I didn't really know where to turn so I randomly started reading 1 Peter. Let me share with you what I read:
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may by proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
1 Peter 1:6-7

After reading these verses, I began to think back. A few years ago, I was the Director of Student Activities at ETBU. I was so blessed to have a job right out of college, especially in this bad economy. I loved my coworkers and I loved the students that I worked with. The job taught me a lot and I grew more than I thought I ever would. But that job was HARD. It was very demanding and time consuming. It was so stressful, and I cried in my office many a time. I put so much into my work that I didn't have much else to give other places- at home with my husband, to my friends and family, or in ministry at my church. I had given so much of myself to my job that I didn't even feel like myself anymore. I was SO relieved when I got pregnant because I had a deadline. Once I had that baby, I would no longer be working.

So, then I had Leeland. I am so blessed to be able to stay home with him. He is laughing and smiling 80% of the time and it is such a joy to watch him grow and learn new things. Also, I am able to devote so much of myself to my home and my husband and I love it. I just know that this is where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing. But this job is HARD. There are days when I don't get much sleep and those days always seem to coincide with Leeland's fussy days. I can't always keep the house clean and I don't always get dinner on the table every night. Not being able to do everything and get everything done stresses me out.

After thinking about all of this, I realized, "If it wasn't this, it'd be something else." I was SO stressed and drained in my job before. I don't have to deal with that anymore but now I'm experiencing a different kind of stress.

Remember in my last post when I said we can't say we have faith when we haven't let go? Well, I've learned it takes even more than that. We can't say we have faith when we haven't even exercised that faith when things are rough. Maybe you've let go of the edge and you're trusting God, but have you held on to your faith in hard times, when things get stressful, or when things seem uncertain?

Sometimes we wonder, "Why is life so hard?" or the famous, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" I think the answer is in 1 Peter. Yeah, things may be hard right now. But God is allowing those things to happen so that our faith may be proven genuine and so that HE may be glorified. If life was always easy and wonderful, why would we need faith? My point exactly.

[Disclaimer: I know that my life is pretty good and that sooo many people in the world have it off much worse than me. This post is not lamenting that my life is "so hard" or anything like that. If lack of sleep and a fussy baby are my biggest concerns, I'm living the easy life! I just think that no matter what situation we are in, no matter how good or easy things may seem, God still allows us to experience trials to give us a chance to test our faith and grow in Him.]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lessons from Leeland: Faith

video
Leeland has been learning and growing so fast in the past few weeks and months! After army crawling for a long time, he finally started getting up on his hands and knees and from there, started pulling up on everything. He LOVES standing. The only problem was that he couldn't figure out how to get down. He would pull up on the tv stand, play around and enjoy himself, and when he was done, he would look at the "long way" down and get terrified. He would scream and cry until Mom would come along to help him down.

Then one night, when all of the family was over, he started doing squats. He was holding on with both hands but going up and down, up and down. I pulled out my phone and started videoing because it was pretty cute. Then, right when I started videoing, he started exploring a little more. He tried to reach down and touch the floor but couldn't quite reach yet. Then suddenly, he did it- he let go. He landed (almost) softly on his bottom and realized it wasn't that bad. He turned and looked at his audience and flashed a satisfied smile. He did it!

I learned a valuable lesson from Leeland that night- a lesson in faith. Faith requires letting go. Letting go is scary. That's why Leeland didn't do it for a few weeks. But then he exercised faith. He could have stayed where it was safe, but he chose to step out. It didn't require much, just one simple action, but it opened up a whole new world for him.

I was reading Matthew 17. Jesus' disciples had tried to heal a boy but they just couldn't. So the boy was brought to Jesus and just like that, he was healed. Later on, the disciples pulled Jesus aside and asked why they had been unable to heal the boy. You know what Jesus said?
"Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20-21

Ouch. I kind of feel like that was a slap in the face to the disciples. I'm sure in their minds, they felt like they had faith. But I think they just hadn't let go. See, you can't say you have faith when you are still clinging to the edge of the TV stand, dreading that two foot drop to the ground. True faith only comes when you let go, take the plunge, and trust God to guide you. And just like Jesus said in those verses, when we have even the tiniest bit of that, a whole new world of opportunities is available to us! (...umm..moving mountains?? what?)

So, today I'm gonna let go and see what God has in store. I will take that leap of faith and see what mountains we can move together. After all, I have seen time after time that God's plans are much greater than mine. I put my faith in that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

the battle.

I've always been honest with you blog readers so I'll just be upfront with this one...

I haven't felt like writing lately because I've just been emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually drained and defeated. When I decided to start writing, I made the decision to always be honest and uplifting with my words. Which sometimes means just not writing at all, so as to not compromise that decision.

In my last blog, I had set out to search the Bible and discover what it truly means to submit to my husband and be respectful to him. I wanted to be on top of my game and make sure I was being a Godly wife. But I didn't see what was about to come.

Weston has been working every single day for over 3 weeks. In just a few days, it will be one month. And when I say working, I don't mean an 8:00-5:00 job. He has been leaving the house at 5:00a.m. a lot of days, and not returning until late at night, on the days that he even gets to come home at all. And he hasn't even gotten weekends off, he has been going non-stop. Needless to say I haven't seen him much.

One of Weston's clients bought a new plane so Weston was going to Dallas for a few days to get some specialized schooling on the plane. Since he would just be in classes in the morning and part of the afternoon, Leeland and I got to come along to spend time with him in the evenings. I was super excited to finally get to spend some time with him, especially since I was going to be so Godly, submissive, and respectful...right? (oh boy...was I wrong!)

You see, quite the opposite happened. I was super emotional and taking everything personally. Leeland wasn't handling the hotel well. He wasn't sleeping which brought on lots of crying which can make people quite edgy after a while. For the first day or so, it seemed all Weston and I did was fight. And I was mostly to blame for it.

So finally, one morning after dropping Weston off at school, I spent some quiet time in the hotel room. I got Leeland occupied for a moment and I just sat down to pray. After spending some time with the Lord, I realized my biggest mistake- I had neglected something very powerful- spiritual warfare.

Our family had not been able to spend much time together and when we finally were together, Satan was really attacking that time. I firmly believe that Satan's biggest targets are families and marriages. Family is really at the core of our society and if he can destroy the family, he can do so much more damage in other areas.

The Bible talks about this spiritual warfare in Ephesians, and to me, these verses are so familiar that I usually just skip over them. But today, I took time to stop and read them again, fresh and new, as if I had never read these words before:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Ephesians 6:10-12

We must be on the defensive. I'm never going to be able to be a Godly wife unless I am aware and active in the spiritual battle going on around me. It is an attitude, a mindset. I need the full armor- truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer. If I'm not daily spending time in truth and prayer, I'll never be able to fight the battle.

So that's why I haven't been blogging. I'm in the middle of a war.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

be still

Weston has his own business, LS Aviation (named after our firstborn child- isn't that cute?), where he manages and flies airplanes. His business has actually been going great and he quit his full time job to be more invested in LS. He wants to hire a pilot to work for him full time.

I fully support Weston's business and have clearly seen that the Lord has blessed Weston with wisdom in business. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself. This is our only income so the thought of hiring someone, and our company being the only income for TWO families raises doubts in my mind.

When Weston got home last night, I shared my thoughts and concerns with him. I said, "Weston, will you just make sure that whatever you pay this person isn't so much that we'll get in a bind and not have any money for our family?"

It was a legitimate concern in my mind, but right after I voiced it, the look on Weston's face said it all. He didn't even have to say a word. At that moment, I realized that my worries, doubts, and fears were disrespectful to my husband. He said, "Do you really think I would do something where I wouldn't be able to provide for my family??"

So, I suddenly realized that the Lord is using this situation to teach me A LOT:
- He is showing me what it REALLY looks like to be submissive, respectful, and trusting of my husband.
- He is showing me that when we take risks, that is when our faith is really revealed.
- He is showing me that "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14

I think I'll be writing a lot more about all of these things. I'm just beginning to process everything. Today, I'll be meditating on these Kari Jobe lyrics:

He is here for the broken and life to the one who is undone
He is peace to the wounded and hope for the helpless one
He is here, He is here

Be still my soul, be still
Be still my soul, be still
Wait patiently upon the Lord
Be still my soul, be still

When the waves rise against me and the wind tries to draw me away
I will stand on the mountain, safe in Your arms I will sing I will sing

Be still my soul, be still
Be still my soul, be still
Wait patiently upon the Lord
Be still, my soul, be still

Be still I know He is God
He is here, He is here
Be still I know He is God
He is here, He is here

So be still my soul, be still
Be still my soul, be still
Wait patiently upon the Lord
Be still my soul, be still
Wait patiently upon the Lord
Be still my soul, be still

dwell.

to dwell.
to sit, to soak, to see, to be,
to be present in this place and time.

You imagined this moment.
in Your creativity
You created me
to just be.
to dwell.
to sit, to soak, to see, to be,
to be present in this place and time.

You sustain me
You maintain me
You ordained me
to be.
to be here.
to dwell.
to sit, to soak, to see, to be,
to be present in this place and time.

throughout all generations
throughout every nation
You are the foundation
for me.
to be.
to dwell.
to sit, to soak, to see, to be
to be present in this place and time.

"Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations."
Psalm 90:1

Friday, May 13, 2011

your story

Stories are powerful. And I think we all have a story to tell. Some stories are long, as long as a lifetime. But then there are short stories. Stories in the every day.

My best friend, Alysha, and I started driving right around the time the first Starbucks opened up in Tyler. One of our favorite things to do was to drive (our parent’s minivans…) to Starbucks and just hang out. We loved the environment. We didn’t go for the coffee. In fact, most of the time we were too broke to buy coffee so we would just get a cup of water for free. Starbucks has good water. It’s triple filtered.

We would sit and talk and people watch and laugh a lot. We always seemed to laugh a lot together. Sometimes we met new people at Starbucks. Weird people. Nice people. Interesting people. Old people. Young people. It was an interesting crew that hung out at Starbucks.

I remember this one particular group of guys we talked to one night. They were a bit older than us, probably in their 20’s. They told us about how they tried to make a story out of every single day. One time they swam across a lake, just so they could tell the story.

Those guys inspired Alysha and me. We always wanted to make a story, and we did just that. We would tell our stories to anyone who would listen- and in fact it was probably very hard to listen to most of our stories because we were almost always laughing so hard that we could barely get the story out. We could make a story out of anything. One of our very best stories was the story about the time Alysha’s calculator fell out of our locker. It’s a classic. Ask me about it sometime, I’ll tell you the story.

In high school, being adventurous with my best friend, it was easy to find a story. But now, it’s a little bit harder. When I see people I haven’t seen in a while, they say, “Hey! What have you been up to?” And I usually reply with, “Ohhh, nothing.” And then there’s that awkward silence where they expect me to say more but I don’t have more to say. Sometimes I follow up with, “Well, I hang out with Leeland all day. And clean the house. And go to the gym….” Lather, rinse, repeat. Or at least that’s what it feels like. Lame.

Here’s the deal. I know the story is there. I just have to find it. It’s all about the way you look at things. I mean, come on… a calculator falling out of a locker? Not quite so riveting. But Alysha and I turned it into a story. And a rather humorous one at that.

What is your story? Find today’s story. If it’s not there, create it. Even if your life feels like it’s following the directions on the shampoo bottle. There’s a story hiding in there.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lessons from Leeland

I love rocking Leeland to sleep at night. It is my favorite time of day because it is the one time that Leeland is actually still enough to cuddle with.

I am a cuddler. Leeland is not. He is a mover. When he is awake, there is not one moment that he is still, and I am not exaggerating. He always has to be going and doing. I thought that was normal until I talked to the ladies that keep him while I work out at the gym. When I pick him up, I get a plethora of comments like:
"Is he always this active at home?"
"We call him Sir Jumps-a-lot!"
"He is gonna be SMART! He is always into things and checking things out."
"Is he ever still?"

Every time I rock him to sleep, I just want to keep him in my arms forever! He is so precious. But I always have to put him down- the time that he is sleeping is the only time I can get things done or get some sleep myself!


Leeland is a great sleeper. For a few months now he has slept all through the night without waking up at all. But teething got the best of him last night and he was screaming at midnight. I was extremely tired that night and had been sleeping hard. I did NOT want to get up. I got Weston up and he held him for about 2 minutes but then he passed him to me and went back to bed. I fed Leeland but that wasn't enough. He was in pain and the only thing that comforted him was cuddling with me. Yes! He was actually AWAKE and was STILL and CUDDLING with me!!

I just wanted to go back to sleep so I was a little annoyed- at Leeland AND at Weston. But in my frustration, I took my thoughts captive and decided not to let those negative thoughts grow. I decided to savor every moment that my sweet son was cuddling with me, even if it was 12:30.

Leeland laid his head on my chest and wrapped his sweet little arms around my arm. We both took a deep breath, and relaxed.

I was reminded of some lyrics to a worship song:
"I wanna sit at your feet, drink from the cup in your hands,
lay back against you and breath, feel your heartbeat."

I love that song and every time I sing it, I get a very vivid picture in my mind. I knew what that looked like but for the first time, I knew what that felt like.

My sweet son,
laying his head against my chest,
listening to my heart beat.
His breathing slowed,
his crying stopped,
his pain was eased,
he relaxed,
and eventually drifted off to sleep.

You see, normally he is too busy to do this, but for this one moment, he sank into the arms of the one that loved him so deeply, and he found rest.

I wondered to myself, "Am I too busy to stop and sink into the arms of Jesus, the One that loves me so deeply?"

He is always there. His arms wide open. Waiting and wanting for us to take a moment to be with Him. If we take the time to dwell with the Lord, lay our head against His chest, and listen to His heartbeat, our breathing might slow, our life might slow down, our pain eased. We can find rest in Him, the One that holds the world in His hands.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:28-29

Monday, May 2, 2011

truth

I was feeling a little down and decided to blog. I began a post about how I've been feeling like the "bad guy." I just haven't been as careful with my words and actions as I should be and in the process have accidentally been hurting others. Or so I think.

No one has come up to me and told me I was rude, or that I hurt their feelings or got on their nerves. But at the end of the day, I just feel like I've been annoying, obnoxious, and rude to those I come in contact with.

I deleted that blog. It seemed awfully whiney and I knew all that read it would comment and say "Oh no! You are so sweet! You're not the bad guy." That wasn't what I was going for.

I had my Bible in front of me, but didn't know where to turn. I thought about privately journaling about it but knew it wouldn't get me anywhere. As a last resort, just looking for something to fill my mind, I went to proverbs31.org to read the daily devotional.

The devotional today was about believing truth instead of believing the lies and thoughts that fill our minds that are not from God. Go here if you'd like to read the whole devotional. It's good.

In the end, I realized two things:
1. I need to place my self worth in the TRUTH that God speaks over me. I need to stop giving in to the lies. Maybe I have been obnoxious and rude lately. Or maybe the enemy is just trying to get me to believe these lies so I think less of myself and shy away from people.
2. I need to spend more time with the Lord in His Word. If I was really walking with Him daily and letting His spirit guide me, there would be no question about my actions. I would be showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Do you ever feel that way? Let's live in truth together.
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lessons from Leeland

I think Leeland was probably about 3 or 4 months old when I learned this important fact:
"You can't adjust your baby to fit your schedule. You must adjust your life to fit baby's schedule."

I distinctly remember this one day. I had decided it was time for Leeland to take a nap. I fed him a bottle and rocked him. But he screamed. I laid him down in his bed and left the room. But he screamed. I picked him up and bounced him. But he screamed. I know people say to let your baby "cry it out" but Leeland doesn't do that. The more he cries, the more worked up he gets. At this point, I had lost all patience. Leeland was supposed to be taking a nap! He was gonna nap and I was gonna clean. That was the plan for the afternoon.

I got mad and finally said to Leeland, "FINE! You don't GET to take a nap!" I picked him up out of bed, set him in the living room floor with his toys and I stepped outside to get some fresh air and recompose myself. (C'mon, I know we've all had these moments....)

I sat outside in the sunshine for just a few minutes but decided I should probably get back inside because my son was most likely still screaming his head off. I walked in the back door and what did I see? My adorable little son giving me the happiest, cutest, most beautiful smile in the world. I think he even giggled.

It was at that moment that I was reminded of the fact that all of the anger, impatience, tears and screaming (Leeland's and mine...ha!) could have been avoided if I had just picked up on his cues instead of trying to make him do what I wanted him to do. It's not really that hard. All I have to do is set aside my own selfish desires and think of him first. And you know what usually happens? I usually end up getting to do everything I wanted to do in the first place. It might have happened in a different order or at different times than I originally planned, but the day goes on and both my son and I are happy.

I realized that the same concept works with my plan and God's plan. When I take things into my own hands, and I'm thinking only of what I want to do, it usually ends up being a disaster. But if I just step back, let go, and pick up on God's cues, things all work out for the better. It may not always look the way I imagined it, and I may take a different path to get there, but in the end, it always works out better than I could have imagined.

"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect."
2 Samuel 22:31-34

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, April 14, 2011

joy, prayer, and thankfulness

As I began my "Words to Live By" project, I came across 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Wow! So much packed in these three little verses. These are the simple truths that I pulled out and wrote down to share with my little man.

1 Thessalonians 5:16
"Be joyful always;"
-We don't always have to be happy but because of Jesus, we can always be joyful.

1 Thessalonians 5:17
"Pray continually;"
-Pray about everything. Jesus is always listening! Listen for Him to speak to you too.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
-Always be thankful for what you have! Even when things seem bad, you can always find something to be thankful for.


And then on Sunday, at the beginning of Sunday School, Jon Newsham shared a little bit about thankfulness and how important that was. We talked about how being thankful can completely change your outlook. Last week, he shared about joy and we talked about joy being an attitude. It is not dependent on our circumstances, it comes from the Lord.

[Are you catching the recurring theme yet? joy... thankfulness.... Just hang on, it's about to all come together.]

Then Janet began the Sunday School lesson. It was from Philippians 4. The lesson was great and there were so many valuable truths highlighted from the text but let me share something with you that jumped out at me:
Philippians 4:4-7
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Did you catch that? Joy/Rejoicing, prayer, and thankfulness. AGAIN. After we read these verses, I quickly flipped a few pages back in my journal and found where I wrote the 1 Thessalonians verses. I almost peed my pants. Well, not really, but the light bulb came on and I got so excited. There they are, all three grouped together, in two different places in scripture!! I'm sure if we did some searching, we could even find it more places in the Bible. I think the key is that they are all three together.

How do we find joy? Prayer and thanksgiving. Our situation might not seem "happy," but through the communication we have with God, we find joy. When we are thankful for the things we do have, the things we don't have fade in comparison.

How are we thankful? Prayer and joy. We are able to be thankful for things in all circumstances because we have the joy of the Lord! That is made possible through prayer and constant communication with him.

Why do we pray? Communication! Did you catch that up there? Communication is key in any relationship, and it is especially key in our relationship with our Father. Joy and thankfulness are made possible through this relationship.

These thoughts all just jumped out at me in the middle of the Sunday School lesson and I so wanted to share them with the class. This happens every now and then and I always get really anxious. My legs start shaking, I shift back and forth in my seat, just waiting for the moment where I can blurt out what just came to mind. [it's actually quite humorous. I don't think anyone notices except me and my husband, who gets a little embarrassed when I get too fidgety. ha!] There wasn't time for me to share it with the class this week, so it gets dumped on you, blog friends. Enjoy!

P.S. Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to be in Sunday School this week (Weston is taking me, and Leeland, and Oliver (?) on some surprise family trip to celebrate my birthday! What a great husband!), but Jon Newsham, I fully expect you to talk about prayer at the beginning of class. I think it just needs to happen. Jesus said so. (I promise, just read what He said.) :)