Be Thankful: Even When It’s Hard

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I distinctly remember this night from one year ago. I remember that it was last November simply because of how fitting this revelation was for this timing… A time when we tend to shift our gaze off of ourselves, and focus on giving to others. A time when we appreciate the blessings we have, and stop mulling over what we don’t have. Although, that was the polar opposite of my heart that night.

I had been tossing and turning all night. I was wrestling with this voice taunting me in the back of my head. During this time, I had a few friends reach some amazing goals and accomplishments. Goals I wanted to reach, but at the time seemed so far fetched. I was so conflicted, because truly I wanted to be happy for them… And in a sense I was, but at the same time I wasn’t happy for them. I was jealous of them. I was lying awake thinking, Why can’t that happen to me? What accomplishments have I achieved in this life? (Which is such a narrow perspective, y’all. Ugh, so self serving, but I’m just being honest. That’s where I was at in the moment).

So, I did what I normally do when I have trouble sleeping. I prayed. I cried out to the Lord, and revealed the ugliness of my heart to Him. I asked Him for forgiveness, for guidance, for help to refine my heart.

Basically this is how my conversation went: God, you know my heart right now, and I don’t want this bitterness and jealousy within me. What do I need to do so I can actually be happy for my friends?

And then I heard it. That still, small voice. In a gentle tone, He said: Be thankful. That’s it. Two words. Be thankful. So, that’s what I did. I thanked Him for my friends, for bringing them in my life, for their achievements, I prayed He would continue to bless them and lead them. So simple, and yet so profound.

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Y’all, I was in tears by the time I was done. That simple prayer shifted my perspective off of myself, and unto the Kingdom. Thankfulness welled up in my heart for the work being done through my friends for the furtherance of His Kingdom, and truly I was honored to be able to witness their journey.

Ethiopia and Working for God

I had my computer open today and my Inspirational Quote/Bible Verses folder was open. Well, Noah comes along and sits in my lap. He’s looking at the different pictures with quotes and he says, “I think I could live there.” Now I think he is talking about this picture:

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“Oh yeah. This picture? I love the mountains, they’re so pretty.”

“No, mama, not that picture. That picture.”

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He points to Africa, and my heart melts. Not because I have this fear of my kid living in Africa, but because my heart has been breaking and bleeding for Ethiopia for years. The Lord put Ethiopia on my heart before I even knew where it was on a map. I’ve been praying for Ethiopia for over 6 years now, without much direction, just praying for the land and its people. God keeps confirming in different ways every few months… reminding me of my silent faithfulness to Ethiopia. Who knows? I may not ever go to Ethiopia, but I’m already in love the country because of the love God has given me. So I’ll continue to pray for the country, its people, and for their souls.

Once Noah pointed out Africa, I pulled up a world map and got the amazing opportunity to not only teach him a little geography, but share the opportunity of being a missionary. He decided at that point that he wanted to do that: go to Africa and be a missionary. If that is what the Lord calls him to do, that’s great, but yesterday he wanted to be a firefighter (and a daddy!) so… I’m not start packing his bags yet. LoL

This short 5 minute conversation with Noah was a wonderful reminder of each of our missions, no matter our occupation. We are called to do our work unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Whether we are a pastor, firefighter, homemaker, or a mom who sells essential oils; we are called to serve the Lord. Christ should be the center of all that we do, or else our efforts are in vain. For example, when I have an essential oil class, I pray for those people attending. I don’t pray for sales, I pray for their health and guidance towards a healthier life through the gift of essential oils. Another example is when I’m home with my boys, we sing praises together and pray together. The daily grind of life can get harsh if we don’t remember Who we are serving. I love that my 4 year old was able to remind me of my mission today.

What work are you doing? How do you keep God in the center?

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Little Decisions. Big Impact.

I hope I don’t speak too soon, but it’s one of those rare moments in my house when all 3 of my boys are napping at the same time. I thought I better start writing now, because who knows when my next chance will be. I keep thinking back to an instance that happened a few weeks ago; again when God used an everyday moment with my children to speak to me.

It was late. Like 10:00PM late, far past the kids’ bedtime; practically my bedtime. I also remember it was a Wednesday night, because my hubby wasn’t home yet. He works super late on Wednesday because that’s when the youth group meets and college group right after that. Anyho, so it’s just me and the littles. That night we had all gotten home late from church, so the boys didn’t get in bed until around 9:00pm.

So, now it’s 10:00pm and Noah had gotten up for about the 27th time that night, probably because he ate some sugar-laden candy with Red Dye #7 in it or something to that effect. I could hear him talking or yelling in his room so I walked that way to give him a piece of my mind (umm, my patience was gone by this point. I know, all you readers without kids would never lose patience with your kids, but whatever, keep reading). Before I open the door, I hear my sweet Noah singing these words off key, “My God’s not dead, He’s surely alive! He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion. My God’s not dead, He’s surely alive!” And I lost it.

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I slid down our crayon colored wall with tears in my eyes, and just listened to him singing. Granted, he’s 4, so it sounded more like “My God’s not dead, He’s suwly alive! Iving on the inside, woawing like a lion!” but they were just the sweetest words. I listened to my son singing, could picture him dancing on the Lego covered floor of his room while Timmy just slept through it all (because that’s what happens when you share a room your whole life. You sleep like a rock.). After a few minutes I walked in the room to actually see him jumping around and singing. He stopped in his tracks and looked at me wide eyed. He thought he was in some big trouble.

“Noah, where did you learn that song?” I asked. I asked him this, because although I was familiar with the song, it’s not one of my regular go-to songs. Trust me, we sing a lot in this house.

He gave me a puzzled look, as if I should already know the answer, and replied, “The car.”

“The car? Oh, you mean on the radio?” I asked.

“Yes! Remember?!” he said excitedly.

After singing with him, saying goodnight again, and kissing him on the forehead; he went to bed. As I left his room I was reminded of the impact I have on my child’s life. I make a big impact on my boys by all the little decisions I make every day: what we listen to in the car, how to respond to stressful situations, what books we read, how we treat daddy, giving to those in need, ect. Every day is an opportunity to teach our babies the values and lifeskills we wish for them. No one is perfect, trust me I get it, but I hope this has been a good reminder for all you parents, teachers, caregivers, grandparents, and influencers that we have a serious responsibility in our hands. God has entrusted us with our children, and we should lean on His strength and do what we can to make a positive impact on our children.

What little decision do you see making a big impact in your children?

Friday Fun Facts #4

1. So the other day I took out the boys’ coloring supplies, which included crayons and markers. I went to clean the kitchen and when I came back Isaac had blue hair.

2. This past weekend as the stomach bug hit my family one by one, at the end of it I wished I would get the stomach bug so I could lay in bed for 2 days. Is that bad? Surely, I’m not the only mom to think this before!

3. Timmy likes to eat the entire strawberry including the green tops. More fiber, I guess!

4. When I asked Noah what he learned at church he said, “Our God is an amazing God!”

5. Peeling paper off of broken crayons can entertain toddlers for over half an hour… but does make quite a mess. Hopefully, I’ll have a post about recycled crayons soon.

boyscrayon  (There they are peeling away at broken crayons.)

Overlooked Miracles

Yesterday in Bible study we started talking about God’s miracles. We talked about the miraculous healings, revelations, and signs and wonders performed throughout the Bible. Some of us had a few personal stories to share of radical healing or deliverance. Then we began to recount some “small” miracles. You can’t really call these miracles “small,” maybe “overlooked” is a more appropriate term. Everyday occurrences that we have come to expect these days, so we tend to overlook the wonder of its brilliance.

For instance, the birth of a baby and all the details that go into that. We had women yesterday with medical backgrounds that were able to spit out medical terms, but I don’t know any of those technical terms, except for the hormone oxytocin. The mother’s body releases the hormone oxytocin during labor and postlabor to assist with bonding with the baby. It’s also released during breastfeeding to further support a healthy bond with the baby. Also, do you know the nutrients in the breastmilk of nursing moms’ changes to cater to the baby’s needs?! Crazy!

I’m always reminded of the miracle of the bumblebee. My sister, Rachel, has a stuffed animal of a bumblebee a beloved teacher gave her to remind her of this phenomena. Based on the bumblebee’s size, its body is too big for its wings and it should not be able to fly, but it does!

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Photo credit: omshantiblog.com

My sisters and I are everyday miracles. We were born when my mom was only 26 weeks pregnant, coming in at a strapping weight of 2.2, 2.4, and 2.6 pounds. Rachel’s and my lungs collapsed, Sarah couldn’t breathe on her own, Rachel was on oxygen for so long the doctors were telling my parents she would most likely be blind, I had hemorrhaging to my brain and as a result have swollen lateral ventricles to this day, ect. My parents were told we probably wouldn’t make it, and if we did, they should expect serious mental delays or intellectual disabilities. Needless to say, we all survived and are completely normal functioning adults. That, my friends, is a miracle and a result of the power of praying parents.

sisters   (See, there we are!)

My challenge for you today is to find an overlooked miracle. Comment below to let us know about it!

Submission and Provision

This Saturday will mark my husband, Nathan and my 6 year wedding anniversary.  So, I wanted to re-post a topic from my old blog in honor of this occasion.  This was something I learned the hard way our first year of marriage.  I tweaked the previous post a little, but the lesson is the same.  I hope you enjoy.

This was a lesson I had to learn the hard way in my marriage. But first, a little bit of background to better understand the circumstance… My husband and I are complete opposites: he is an extravert and I am an introvert, he is a feeler and I am a thinker, he voices his dreams and I prefer to only voice them if I can see a possibility of it happening right now (would that even be considered a dream? Or just a wanted reality?). Anyways, it was an interesting first year of marriage to say the least. Fast forward almost 6 years later and we understand each other so much better!

But here is the lesson I want to share. Soon after we got married I can remember freaking out, yet again, over our finances. We had two ER visits in a month and were sick and constantly in the doctor’s office. I couldn’t seem to let go of my tight rein over the cash in our envelope system (we adopted some of Dave Ramsey’s recommendations which works for us, but remember you gotta figure out what works best for you and your family), always asking him exactly the dollar amount spent on things, and constantly checking our bank account online, afraid of an overdraft that wasn’t even going to happen, ect. It was getting ridiculous.

My worrying and obsessing over our budget was definitely sinful, and I realized that at the time… But what I didn’t realize was  another sin I was committing at the same time: my lack of submission that was ultimately brought on my lack of trust in my husband in this area of finances. And then I also realized this later: My lack of submission and trust in my husband was an indicator of my lack of submission and trust in the Lord.

Ouch.

So I swallowed my pride, my sinful desire to control my marriage and my husband, and I confessed to him and to God of this realization and asked for forgiveness. My husband is amazing and full of grace, and we have been so blessed in our marriage to be faced with obstacles that forced us to see that God, not a paycheck, is our Provider. As long as we do our part by working hard in whatever job it may be He has called us to (minister, stay at home mom, teacher, police officer, ect) and stay obedient with our giving, He will provide.

Here is my favorite Scripture to reflect on about this subject:
Matthew 6:25-34 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil, nor do they spin, yet I say to you not even Solomon in all of his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying ‘What will we eat?’ Or ‘What will we drink?’ Or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly see all these things; for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Did you catch the last couple of verses?  You should have, but I emphasized them for you.  This is not a prosperity Gospel teaching by any means, but a reminder that if we truly seek God first He will provide our daily needs.

So, this is a side note, but I love that my wedding bouquet had stargazer lilies in it.  See?

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Ah, how refreshing! What a good reminder! Now I challenge you, truly search your heart and ask yourself: Is there an area I am not trusting God with completely? Feel free to share and I would love to come alongside and pray and encourage you.

Let go and prepare for the journey ahead.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope all you moms out there are having an amazing day! Sadly, I know that’s not a reality. Some moms are truly struggling today, whether it be mentally, physically, or spiritually. Motherhood is an amazing blessing, but at times a struggle. A couple of years ago I wrote a poem for a friend of mine who was a single mom of young children. Children too young to know about Mother’s Day, and all the expectations that come with this holiday. Mother’s Day is bittersweet for many. Children that have lost mothers, or mothers that have lost children, single moms in the trenches, or for the mom that has it all but still battles with depression and is overtaken by the guilt inside. For all you moms out there, I hope this may brighten your day and bless you this Mother’s Day.

For everything your kids are too young to say…

Thank you for the 9 months in your belly
For carrying me, even when I got heavy
Thank you for the sleepless nights
Gently rocking and holding me tight
Thank you for teaching me what to say
What, when, and how to pray
Thank you for learning my favorite things
And making up those silly songs you sing
Thank you for showing me right and wrong
While having patience with me all along
Thank you for all the love you show
Caring for me more than I’ll ever know
Thank you for being the perfect playmate
And for those nights you let me stay up late
Thank you for showing me how much God cares
And how much love He has to share
Thank you for trusting in Him each day
Knowing with Him it will always be okay
Thank you, Mom, for all you do
I hope you know how much I love you…

For everything your kids are too young to say
Happy, happy Mother’s Day.

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