Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why? Part 1: surrender

Yesterday I blogged about the why of my idolatry. Why is it that when God invites me to come feast my soul on the richest of fare I instead run around with my paper plate looking for something quick to fill me up that doesn't nourish me.

I definitely don't have a definitive answer, but I have been getting glimpses into why I struggle with this so much. So I'm going to scribble them down here. Maybe together we'll stumble into something that makes sense.

Here is my why for today:


I struggle with two issues that work together to make me pretty miserable if I don't recognize that they are there.

Issue #1 - insanely high expectations.
Issue #2 - irrational fear of disappointment.

You see my problem? 
I go crazy out of my way to try to avoid being disappointed. I don't do things because I think they won't really be that great so why go through all the effort just to be disappointed? I typically resist going to new places or trying new things because what if they're not everything I was hoping they would be?

My life in Christ has been, in some ways, disappointing. Because I have these crazy-high expectations of who I "should" be or what my Christian life "should" look like. I have these seasons of intimacy with God, I'm feeling him everywhere I go, hearing him in everything I do. But then I find myself in the seasons of silence, screaming at God "what am I doing wrong here?!!!!" 

At the same time my life has been a beautiful picture of God's redeeming love. When I was willfully walking away from His plan for my life, when I called myself a road-kill Christian, when my faith was as small as  (or maybe even smaller than) a grain of sand - He held onto me. He kept holding onto me, he hemmed me in, he guided my path, he brought me to a wide place with green grass and a still river and He restored my soul.

So here I have a choice: surrender

Surrender to the fact that this is NOT going to match my expectations. At points my relationship with God is going to look really ordinary and unremarkable. At other points God has promised to bless me beyond what I could ask, think or even imagine. Am I willing to take the ordinary with the extraordinary. What I think I understand with what I don't?

I blogged this song yesterday, here is another line:

"It breaks my heart 
to know you in part
and not to be with you
where you are"

I love this. 
Here is the rest of the song:

I'm only going to know in part, I'm going to understand in part, only see my little piece of the picture. So I'm going to be longing and yearning and aching for home even while I savor it in bits and pieces here and now - though seriously, the best thing I experience here is like yesterday's doggy bag compared to future glory. But still. I want more.

The world I live in here is upside down to God's kingdom. His ways are not my ways, his thoughts are not my thoughts. He sends the seasons and it's not always my fault when things are quiet and still and I can't quite put a finger on what is slowly shifting inside of me. He is always near. Even if I can't feel it or see it. 

So here is the moment of truth: am I going to hang onto my irrational fears and unrealistic expectations or surrender and come? 

Psalm 42

 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation 6and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Why? Part 2 Stillness

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Worship song of the week - richest of fare

Here you go - worship song of the week!!

Under this song I've got some thoughts - mostly linked to the Bible study I'm working through right now and also a few more Shane & Shane videos.

Download Shane & Shane "Beauty for Ashes" from here
Download the song on iTunes here

I thought of this song as I was doing my Bible study last night, looking at Isaiah 55:1-2 which says

1“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.

and this Shane & Shane song kept playing on repeat in my head.  It's one of my favorites. I especially love the lines:

I delight myself in the richest of fare
Trading all that I have for all that is better
A garment of praise for my heaviness
You are the greatest
Taste all the richest of fare

I totally get the whole idea of "why spend your money on what is not bread... on what does not satisfy." I have been doing a terrible job lately at what I've been eating. I want to eat more healthily and I go through my green smoothie kicks but I don't want to plan, purchase or prep for it - so I'm pretty much living in frustration over food every day. I start my day with a cup of coffee then I hem and haw and stew and brew about what to eat for breakfast that eventually, around ten thirty or so I eat a PB&J out of sheer desperation and promptly get a headache. I made mac and cheese and baked beans for my family the other night and after dinner I sat down next to Daniel and gave him permission to kill me. Right now, please. Just cut my back open and end my agony. A couple hours later and I felt better but really, this type of day is miserable. The other day I pretty much only nibbled on donuts all day and at the end of the day a bowl of chili was like heaven come down to earth. And I just have to ask myself why?!! Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why do I fill up on the junk food with no nutritional value when a good meal is literally at my fingertips?

Good food, like really good food can be an amazing metaphysical experience (a transcendental - physical, but more so, spiritual or soulish experience) I remember one year when we got our tax return - it was the first year we had more children than adults in our family and our return was really nice. Amazingly we weren't moving or in desperate need of fixing anything and we had a little bit of money to do something nice and so we went out as a family to O'Charley's with no budget just the goal of enjoying a nice meal as a family. Now we were, during that time in our lives, pretty much McDonald's people and there is a huge difference between McDonald's and O'Charley's. The food was so seasoned and it was satisfying. I remember that as an experience beyond just filling bellies.

A similar thing happened the first time we went to the local restaurant Frog Hollow. I had no idea what to expect, had never heard of it, thought the name was weird, the menu sounded gross but we were there for a company event so I ordered what I thought would be the easiest thing to eat with a baby on my lap and hoped Daniel wouldn't mind swinging by Little Caesar's on the way home. Now if you've ever been to Frog Hollow you are probably chuckling to yourself right about now because you don't go to Little Caesar's after you've been to Frog Hollow - you just don't. I got what was probably the best meal of my entire life (except for maybe my brother in-law's quail egg salad - that was pretty high up there too) the flavors and the textures and proportions had me in awe. I did not know simple ingredients could taste so amazing. And this brings me back around to why? Why do I spend money on what's no good and eat what won't satisfy?  Sitting here this morning I honestly don't have an answer.

Which got me thinking about this song:

Put down your paper plate
come to the table laid
with deep blue china
found the table by the wine so fine
it brings out flavor like
you bring out color in life

I find myself doing this with God all the time - He's like "Faith, put down the paper plate and the dollar menu cheeseburgers and come to my table. Come, let your soul feast on the richest of fare." 

Yet somehow I still manage to crowd out and fill up with fluff and nothing.


I don't know why but there it is.

But I do know this: when I come - He satisfies. I might have to sit for a bit, he may not answer the way I want him to - it might be with whispers and scriptures or sunrise and a song but he does satisfy - he does come and fill. He comes in and suddenly everything I've ever known to be satisfying is empty compared to Him. I'm blown away by his love for me, amazed at the depth and height and lavishness of His grace.

But here's the catch - it doesn't feel like that every day. So I get impatient and wonder where is God in the middle of my mess. I give up and move onto the next thing, frustrated & doubtful. I struggle with filling up on God.

I don't know why
I run to Netflix when I feel overwhelmed with my life
or to coffee when I feel inadequate.
I don't know why
I run around with my paper plate when there's china right there
sitting on my bedside table getting dusty.

Maybe you'e walked through this before me - if you have any insight into this feel free to share in the comments or send me an email.

And because I'm in a Shane & Shane kinda mood - here are some more songs.

and here's something more upbeat. LOVE this song!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mom-tip Monday

Yay! A Mom-tip on a Monday (only because it's actually Friday as I'm writing this.)

Today's Mom-tip is super-simple:

Laugh with them!

I had already made up my mind to have this tip come next when my sister left this comment on my (personal) Facebook page: Busy fingers and time with momma solves a lot of fussing at my house! Oh, and a good tickle session never hurts! I could not agree more. The other day as our morning was quickly spiraling out of control I took Eli out into the sunshine. I tickled him and made him laugh. I chased him and we giggled as we ran around in a circle and jumped on the trampoline. We laid down together in the sunshine and had a little snuggle and suddenly everything was okay again. I felt a million times better and Eli's attention was redirected towards something more positive.

This is true of a lot of relationships. One of my favorite parts about going away on retreat with the ladies at my church (and especially my small group girlfriends) were the laughing-till-my-cheeks-hurt moments. It brought us together as friends. Same can be said of watching a funny show or movie with the family or just the Hubs, or our strobe-light dance parties in the dark (one of our favorite fall activities when Daddy is home!). Giggling with my girls, wrestling with my boys. Laughing with them turns our day around in a hurry. Trying to make my kids laugh also takes the focus off of me - how I'm feeling at the moment, what I want to accomplish right now - and helps me focus on my kids. I'm doing what makes them happy right now. Not just what makes me happy. 

When Eli was smaller peek-a-boo was his favorite activity. We'd laugh and laugh and it didn't get old. We also did patty cake a ton it produced gales of laughter over and over. These days Eli likes me to gobble his face. He calls it "cobble cobble" and it always makes him laugh.

So how about you - what do you do when you're trying to turn your day around? Can't wait to hear your tricks and tips!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mom-tip Monday (on a Wednesday)

Out takes

I thought it would be fun to write a quick mom-tip for each week. So here is one for today:

One of the things I struggled with a lot with my first child (and every one after her - but especially the first) is that it feels like they are crying all the time!! They cry if they are hungry, cry if they are uncomfortable, cry if they are bored, cry if I do something they don't like. It's emotionally exhausting. So here is my tip for those going-to-loose-my-mind days.

Play music all the time. 

It doesn't need to be toddler-tunes or lullabies (although this one is definitely a good CD to keep in the car) - praise music is fantastic and classical music can also sometimes be awesome background music. When my firstborn was having one of her epic meltdowns I would sometimes just sing a song. I had no clue what was going on with her and we both needed a minute to calm down. It would at least help me and keep me from blowing a blood vessel. There are tons of resources for when the iPod is just not cutting it. Pandora and Spotify are both great ways of getting a variety of songs - just plug in a favorite worship song from church or a tune from the radio and you're good to go for hours. I enjoy putting together playlists on YouTube this is my quiet praise playlist and my other worship playlist and the playlist I put together for my girls to listen to while they are getting ready for school and one that has some favorite Christian music I've heard on the radio. You can also listen to a radio station by streaming it on your phone or computer. Air1 is one of my favorites - it broadcasts all over the country. My local Christian radio station is one of the best I've ever listened to, I especially love listening to it on Sunday mornings as I'm getting ready to go to church.

So there you go! My mom tip. If you've got one to share please email me or if you have a question or situation you'd like help/perspective on feel free to send it my way. Love ya!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Worship Song of the week

I am home from my retreat and still processing. It was such a different experience from previous years - not so much the spiritual mountain-top experience of last year but so much joy! It was fantastic to have such a nice long time with my sisters in Christ, talking about stuff that Mommy only gets to talk about when little ears aren't near - which is pretty much only once or twice a year.

I want to post five or six worship videos for this week but I'm limiting myself to the one I woke up Sunday morning with on my mind and in my heart.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Worship song of the week

Thank you Naptime Diaries for sharing this!

a fun song for your Wednesday

I have a YouTube playlist for my girls - we get through four or five songs every morning and more in the afternoon. This is one of my favorite songs to wake up to!!

For the rest of our playlist click here

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This is hard

This moment. Right now. Is hard.

My kids have fall break and my husband has had meeting after meeting and been out until bed time but Josiah and I've had the flu. 

My house has been SO loud, my kids are restless. I'm exhausted, on edge. Trying just to be nice. Keep us all alive one day at a time. It can't be that hard, right? Except that it feels hard. It feels almost impossible.

It's funny, the things that speak to us. 

I was watching a show on Netflix the other night and these two characters were struggling to become domestically independent. The father says to his daughter, at the very lowest of low points, "but your grandma made it all look so easy!" 

The next day as I struggled to keep up with my dishes (and really everything else) I had this thought - the good thing about my apparent inability to keep my act together is that at least my girls get to really see that this is hard.

Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to "set a good example" for my kids (and consequentially get buried under the mother-load of mom-guilt) that I forget that they need me to set a good example in other ways too - cuddling on the couch with a book even though I'm horribly behind on my to-do list, baking cookies in my finally-just-got-it-clean kitchen, it  is  asking for help when I need it (which I am terrible at by the way).

I think it's good for my kids to see me angry and hurt and disappointed and stressed (well, that last one is pretty inevitable) and it's good for me to be willing to let my kids see me apologize, forgive, make up and make things right again. I think it's good for my kids to see that this life that I love and that is 100% worth everything I could ever "give up" to be a mom, is hard. Really really hard. 

I'm not struggling
because I am weak
I'm struggling 
because THIS IS HARD

And I feel conflicted by this statement because I believe on embracing my weakness - but sometimes it seems like all I can see is lack - everything I'm screwing up, every area in which I wish I was doing better and I'm blinded to the million things I am doing that mean the world to these people who I love.

You know what, today I'm going to remind myself, a million times if I have to, that there really are better things in this life than living up to my own (impossible to achieve) ideals and to let go of the false-hope of getting my act together.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Not just another outfit post

This is about what I've been wearing lately... but also not. It won't have any pictures because it's not about what I've been wearing so much as it's about my attitude about what I've been wearing that has been shifting.

If you have been following my blog for awhile you might remember those "what I wore" posts I used to do until I stopped buying any clothes and it just got really boring - and I started to be too shy to share. All I could see was a not-flat-enough belly, muffin-top hips and too-big arms. All I could see in my pictures was poor lighting and distracting background. So I stopped. And sometimes it's a good thing to take a break, it gives us the opportunity to try again. But sometimes it's just another warning signal that something deep has gone off-track.

I remember, when I first started learning about hearing from God, the teacher said something like "it's not like we talk to God or even expect to hear from God about everything it's not like I get up and ask God 'Okay what do you want me to wear today?' " except some days that is exactly the question I need to ask.

The first time I really remember talking to God about what I was going to wear was during a weekend conference at our church - I wanted to communicate with my clothing that I was there to hear from God, spend time with Him and not primarily to socialize. So I pretty much got out my mom uniform, my jeans and plain t-shirt and out of nowhere I felt a little tug in my heart like God was saying "You're going to wear that?So I put on one of my favorite dresses, and my flip flops and a sweater - and actually felt really comfortable and non-flashy, even though I was wearing a dress.

I was raised really traditionally, wearing Sunday-best to church (and if that's where you are right now I so get where you're coming from), but during those early years of my church-walls falling down and my God-box exploding, and wearing (gasp!) jeans to church I found that Sunday-best wasn't a great way to prepare my heart for worship and I needed to be spending less time preparing my face to meet people and more time preparing my heart to meet God.

Except that these days I find myself falling in the ditch on the other side of the road. These days I wear my jeans and my nursery workers shirt to church every week. Usually without makeup, usually with my hair in the pony-tail-bun I've been sporting for the last year and a half. I feel comfortable like this. I feel invisible.

So now most days I grab a shirt from off the top of my clean laundry basket and my comfy yoga pants but then some days God and I have conversations while I'm getting dressed. I put on a shirt and think "I look so fat in this!!" (My arms! ack, my arms!!) I try on something else and something else. I ask God "what do you want me to wear today?" and then I have a moment when I feel like I'm talking to the wall and maybe loosing my mind a little bit, but then finally there is a moment of peace. Like an okay - this is right. And I think, maybe it's God.

I was asking God about this today, walking into Publix to buy a pack of minty gum. I'm all like "why do you care?! I always dress modestly, what difference does it make to you?" I'm walking around Publix with my sweet little boy holding my hand, we buy our pack of gum, we smile and say thank you to Mike at the cash register. We head back out into the parking lot and I hear it, loud and clear your insecurity doesn't glorify me. 

Sitting here, I get it. At least I think I do. Insecurity has a lot of different faces, and a lot of different styles. I can hide my insecurity behind name brands or the latest trends. I can hide my insecurity while I'm flaunting my need for attention for anyone who has eyes. But I can also hide my insecurity in my fat-jeans and baggy t-shirt.

Whatever I do I should be looking for a way to glorify God in it.
Whatever I do I should remember that God is looking at my heart.

If I believe that I am ugly or insignificant or uncared for - it will show up, one way or another. But if I believe that when God looks at me He sees the person He created me to be, perfect as only His creation can be, precious in His eyes, even though I often twist and distort His creation, still essentially His beautiful work. If I believe that I was made, with a specific job to do, irreplaceable in this time and place and that He delights in me - that will show up too.

I want to be a person who dresses like a woman who is well loved because that it who I am.

Worship song of the week

There is so much more I want to write right now... but still haven't found the right words. So today it's just a song. a BEAUTIFUL worship song that I know you'll love! Put it on repeat.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Big boys sleeping in big boy beds

I wrote this last night, on my cell phone, in the dark of Eli's room, putting him to bed in his own crib beginning the transition out of my bed into his own crib.  

I started co-sleeping with my babies almost right away. Nursing in bed with my baby at my side while we both drifted off to sleep felt like the most natural thing to me. I bonded very strongly with my babies and I feel like co-sleeping was at least a part of that. Sometimes we thought that the kids would never want to sleep in their own beds but eventually they all have. Bit by bit. At one time we would have as many as three kids in the bed with us, snuggled next to Daniel and me and one at the end of the bed. But as they've grown they have wanted to sleep with us less and less. The girls all sleep in their own beds now and haven't tried to get in bed with us for at least a couple years.

Co-sleeping with Eli was, I felt, an act of necessity. I would wake up with Eli on my chest and no recollection of how he got there. I was massively sleep-deprived during those first few months and I was worried about dropping him or sleep walking with him and so he slept, safe and snug, with me in my bed. 

Most nights we fall asleep together. Lately we have been watching music videos in bed on my phone. Eli's favorite has been Ingrid Michaelson's "Maybe" he says "Maybe Future Phone?" Because the lyric of the song is "maybe in the future" and he wants to watch it on my phone. We also watch Landon Pigg's "Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop" over and over.  It's very relaxing. He snuggled in the crook of my body all snuggly and soft. On the nights that he falls asleep early and I lay him in bed, I usually can't sleep until he wakes up and cries for me to come get him. It feels like I need him just about as much as he needs me. 

However, the bigger Eli has grown the more he has been - wiggly, decidedly un-cuddly and difficult to sleep with. This morning, after a particularly difficult night, I said to the Hubs "that was the last night Eli is going to sleep on our bed" I am pretty sure he did a mini-victory-dance while I wasn't looking. I know he is supportive either way but the bed has felt pretty crowded lately...

So tonight I put our big bean bag chair next to Eli's crib and we watched our music videos together, side by side. He in his crib, I sitting next to him. I held his hand. He said "holdjyou me?" I said "no, buddy. I'll hold your hand." "Not holdjyou mine hand." He pouted,  but when I started to trace the shape of his eyebrows gently with one finger on his face and stroke his hair and neck he gave up. 

Once I push past the exhaustion of this moment and the twinge of annoyance at having to sit here instead of in my bed, I feel something deep, deep inside is breaking a little bit. Weaning Eli probably would have felt this way except that at the time I was SO sick I couldn't feel much of anything emotionally. So here I sit in the dark of Eli's bedroom. Letting go. I want to grab him up and hold him tight, will him to stay little and on my hip forever. Sleep in the crook of my arm, smell his hair first thing in the morning. But here I sit, willing myself to let go, little by little.

I'm greedy for the sweet love of my baby. The way he wants me more than anyone else. The way he looks at me when I walk into the room and cries when I leave. I am proud of him when he can kiss me goodbye and let me walk away but I'll be sad when he runs off with just a wave behind him. The way he kisses me and hugs me and wants do do everything I do.

I'm one hundred percent sure that he and I are ready for this next step into big boy-ness. If I weren't I would not have been able to get through tonight, with things like this I think you have to be unwavering, but I'm already looking forward to when he wakes up, sleepy-eyes and sloppy-smile so I can hold him some more, while I can.

It felt so strange climbing into bed on my own. I think I fell asleep in ten seconds flat. Of course he didn't sleep in his own bed all night. He woke up in the middle of the night and I brought him back into my bed and we had a nice cuddle. I'll start putting him back to bed very soon. It's an exhausting process though - and I'm not looking forward to it. So if you see me, ask me how it's going!  Also you are not going to want to miss my next Worship Song of the Week - it is my favorite song ever!

Sign up to be notified about upcoming classes!!

* indicates required