Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Thoughts on my birthday

It's my birthday. 26. Old to some, young to others......and no matter how you view it, its always a reason to celebrate! Even my daughter, who is 3, has been asking all day "When are we going to your birthday mommy?" Obviously she thinks there is always a party involved........hated telling her that all we were doing today was laundry. She had the same reaction I had when I stared at the mountain of responsibility I had for the day......yuck.

I can honestly say though that I am glad for the ability to have clothes to clean (*gasp!!* Did I really just say that?) and dishes to do, and toys to clean up. It means that all my needs for clothing, shelter, provision, and love have been provided for. Yep, I am blessed.

Do you ever think about what will be said at your funeral? (Woah Rachel, you just took a morbid turn from birthdays to death, all in a few short sentences.....) Do you ever imagine who will speak? Hoping that all that is said is a true testament to the wonderful character you assume people see? I do, I hope people want to speak on the fact that I loved Jesus with every fiber of my being, and not speak on the fact that my daughters favorite thing to do is to discipline her stuffed animals for saying naughty words.......naughty words that I might add, are words she has heard me say countless times in moments of weakness. (Can I just say that she is smart? She somehow thinks she can get away with saying the naughty word if it comes out disguised as her stuffed kitty's voice......where in the world does she come up with this stuff?)

I was brought to a passage today in Genesis 9. At the end of the chapter it talks about a weak moment for Noah. A moment where he did not use the best judgement. A moment when his children had a front row viewing of his failure. (I so feel your pain Noah. Its as if our kiddos know right where to be when we fail.)
20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded[a] to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers.

Poor guy. The man called to be the "crazy guy who built a big boat" and was faithful to that calling, the man who was in charge of thousands of animals in a tight confined space (its enough to make me crazy just thinking about it), the man who was responsible for re-populating the WHOLE EARTH, the man who worked hard to establish a living for his family by planting a vineyard.....couldn't just sit back with nice glass of wine, without it ending tragically. I feel for him. Bad judgement on the drunkeness and nakedness part......but still. Bummer. You know what it says after this passage?

28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.

Really? Thats it? He died. No grand eulogy. No going out party. He died. Thats it. HELLO! This guy is responsible for the most popular themed nursery and baby shower to this day. His boat has been recreated by fischer-price for pete's sake. He has a childrens song written after him (**God said to Noah there's going to be a floody floody**.) That is big stuff! I seriously laughed at the irony of how the last story written about him is about a slip-up in character, and then he dies.  

All joking aside......that is exactly how God wants it to be. He doesnt want us to be sought after for how great we are, He doesnt want us to be honored for obedience, He may not even want the last story told of us to be about how spotless our character was........He wants His will to be done, and He wants us to be a part of it. Its not about us.....because His way is going to happen whether we are apart of it or not. Of course people know that Noah was obedient, that he was a part of saving mankind, and that animals came to him two-by-two........but the last story also shows that he was human, and it was a reminder to me that God did it all, not Noah.

I am real with people. I want people to know that I screw up......mostly because if they see any good in me at all, they will recognize its God in me. I cant be good on my own. I am not good on my own. My daughter is a ever-present reminder that I am not good on my own (does anyone else's kids only repeat the bad words they say and not the good ones?) Of course I still want nice things said about me at my I am not crazy. But I really hope the residing theme in my life is the visible way God's will was done. And that He used me to do it. And that despite my shortcomings, He still saw me worthy to carry out His task.

Dear Lord- Thank you for another year. Another year to make mistakes and realize I need you. Another year to have many successes and realize I couldn't have done them without you. Another year with You. What a blessing that is! I realize my reactions to the stories found in your Word are less than typical, but I thank you for finally bringing me around to what you are saying. Its all about you. So while I am humbled completely by the well wishes of family on this day of my birth, I pray you constantly remind me that its not about me, ever. Amen

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

So tonight Jason took Mikayla out to a local basketball game just to have some bonding time together. Mikayla was so excited to go out! In fact, as we were talking at the dinner table we asked her what her favorite part of the day was and she said "When Daddy takes me to the basketball game!" (Which had yet to happen but she just knew that was going to be the best part of her day!)

So with the house to myself, I turned on some worship music and sat down with my bible and journal to have some time with God. I am beginning to really love our weekly dates! As I was reading, I became so intrigued by the specific song that was playing on was a song by Selah, and the harmonies were wonderful! Then, all of a sudden....mid-song.....the darn station changed! I verbally vented my frustration with the non-responsive Pandora station, as it picked the most inopportune time to change. The song that came on as the interruption was "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." Awesome song. This rendition was not nearly as harmonic as the song that was so rudely cut off, but talk about a song with enticing lyrics! My mom used to sing this song to us when we were ill, or struggling to fall asleep after a nightmare. I didn't realize the power of the words then, as I do now. I feel like the fact that the station changed mid song was a call for me to "look full into God's wonderful face."

Nothing bugs me more than when I am talking to someone and they are looking makes it seem as though their attention is makes me feel as though they don't really care to hear me fully.

When I am trying to get my daughter to hear me fully, I have to CONSTANTLY tell her "look at my eyes." So much so, that sometimes we spend more time talking about the importance of paying attention to Mommy than we do addressing the reason for why she was needing to pay attention in the first place!!!  Mikayla has even picked up on this cue to the point that when she knows she needs to be listening, she puts her hands to the side of her eyes as blinders so that she can't see anything past them. So funny, so smart, and so something I need to learn.

Tonight, I sat down to spend time with God in His Word. I sat down with the intent to hear Him clearly. Then I became completely distracted by the beautiful harmonies of the music I had on. Yes, it was worship music, but God was calling me to "look at His eyes" meaning that He wanted my undivided attention. I communicated to Him that I didn't really care to hear Him fully......but that harmonies of music were more important at the time. I should have taken the cue from my three-year-old and put my "blinders" up to the distraction.

We are human. We are fleshly. Our thoughts carry us away from the task at hand. But it is truly amazing how when we turn our eyes to God how our thoughts, concerns, and cares all become truly dim in His presence. It was not wrong that the music was on, and most times, worship music plays a huge role in my time with the Lord......but today it was a distraction. Instead of giving Him my undivided attention in the beginning, possibly to hear Him on any number of things in my life, I was distracted.......and the time was then spent on reading about the importance of looking at Him fully. Still a good lesson to hear, and a sweet time spent with Him.......but I wonder what I maybe missed tonight because of my distracted self.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his WONDERFUL face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

God, this is my prayer. As much as I want this earth to be dim, I more so want your grace to be bright, in my life, in my vision, in my heart. I want the constant reminder of you grace, I want it to be in my dreams, in my waking thoughts, in my memories. God please allow that to be all I desire. Allow me to always turn my eyes to you. Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2013

It's been a while.....

Its been a long time.....almost a year! Let's pretend that did not happen, and pick up where we left off......shall we?

Its been quite the month for me. LOTS of pain, physically and emotionally, ending with a complete meltdown that sent me straight into the arms of God. Definitely a good place to be, but the way I got there was less than desireable. Every night for the last week I have had un-interrupted, focused, intimate dates with God (thanks to my wonderful husband for shouldering our parenting burden known as bedtime by himself!) It's been such a nice treat to snuggle up with a blanket and some yummy tea, and dive into several books that have taken me on an in-depth dive into The Word......for hours each night. I think I have spent more time with Him in the last 5 days than I have in the last 5 months! That is both a sad and exciting realization. It has been comforting, heart breaking, romantic, thought provoking and........exactly what my soul has needed.

I was brought to a huge realization last night of how much I need to meet with God in the morning before my day begins. I have always fought the idea, because well I am not a morning person, but more so because I have more focus during the hours when Mikayla naps, so that is when I dedicate my time to prayer and devotions. But then I read this in my book last night:

"Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instruments afterward. Begin your day with God." -J. Hudson Taylor

Every day is to be a concert.....especially as a mother, there are PLENTY of sounds throughout the orchestra of my life. Why in the world do I let myself believe that I can go even half the day on my own strength?

Now, does that mean I have to spring out of bed with a bubbly disposition? Goodness I hope not. Do I have to wake up hours before dawn to dedicate that time to the Lord? Maybe.....if dawn is when the chaos begins. Mikayla is typically my alarm clock, and she then proceed's to "wake-up" by watching cartoons and eating her cereal for about 45 minutes every morning. SO this morning I decided to use Mikayla's "zombie" time of day to pray and seek God's plan for my day.....and then use her nap time to read and study.

As I was journaling this morning, I noticed that I was on the second to last page of my journal! Such a cool feeling to know that I filled a whole book with my conversations with the Lord. As I turned the page I noticed that my dear-little-artist-of-a daughter, drew pictures all over the last page! Determined to finish out my prayer (and have my last page be filled with words to the Lord and not scribbles) I just wrote around the scribbles. Then I laughed at the irony. Even in my private devotional book I am having to work around my child! The thought then occured to me. God wants our devotion. He wants us to push through our distractions of life to dedicate time to him. He wants us to "write around the scribbles" of our life in order to begin and finish with Him. Its not about filling a certain quota of the day.....its not about having hours and hours of prayer in order to mark something off the check-list. Its about loving Him with dedication and devotion........and I am now convinced that my dedication and devotion must begin in the morning, and finish with Him at night.

I am reminded of the story of how God blessed the people of Israel with manna every day to sustain them for the journey. They were to collect it EVERY MORNING, because when the sun grew hot, the manna melted away (Exodus 16:21). It was easily accessible but they were commanded to collect what they needed for themselves alone, every morning. They were also commanded to not keep any till the following morning, because it would become maggot infested. IT WAS NO USE TO THEM THE NEXT DAY.......huh. My time with the Lord is not made to sustain me for weeks, or even time with Him is supposed to sustain me for that day. It is made to strengthen me for that day. How can I receive that if I wait to seek him mid-day? Like I said, He showed me good stuff these last few evenings!

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me. Thank you for always continuing to pursue me......even in my denial and sin. It is sinful to not love you with my whole heart, mind, and strength. Help me to recognize your subtle love notes throughout the day so that I may be in better tune with the orchestra you have placed me in in this life. I love you so so much.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Post about the father parenting via facebook.....

If you have not seen the video, go here:

facebook father

While I found this video to be incredibly funny, I am not sure how much I agree with his technique. The girl was extremely disrespectful, completely and undeniably wrong. And, shooting her laptop may have been the perfect message to send (I would have sold it personally, laptops cost a lot of money) but why do it publicly?

I realize that not every parent desires to raise their children up from a Godly standpoint, but doesn't every parent want their kids to speak highly of them? How in the world is this situation going to keep her from talking badly about her parents?

I guess I can just speak from personal opinion here. I want my daughter to find safety in me. I FULLY realize that she is not always going to like me, or the things I make her do. She has already made that perfectly clear at the age of two. But I hope that I only catch her complaining about the things I make her do, not complaining about me, or talking badly about me to her friends. I can say that without a doubt, I never said one negative thing about my parents, only the fact that I hated the things they made me do. My parents were strict, they had rules, they made us do chores, and I hated those things. But I never bashed who my parents were.

What I am getting at here is that harsh and strict discipline should be done in private. I feel like if this father really cared about getting to the heart of why this happened, he wouldn't have posted it for the whole world to see. In my opinion, I think he was just sticking up for himself, or maybe proving to the world that he wasn't going to take that disrespect laying down. But parenting is not about what the world sees. Its about your relationship with your child. I don't see how this is going to build more respect in their relationship.

To be clear. I believe in discipline. Every form. But discipline is for the sole purpose of teaching YOUR CHILD what is right and wrong, to show YOUR CHILD that you do not approve of their behavior. It is not to show THE WORLD that you refuse to be a negligent parent. If your child's behavior changes, the people around you will see that, and will automatically infer that action was taken to change it.

Every parent has a right to discipline/raise/encourage their children the way they see fit, but if you are going to post your parenting on the internet, you open the door for scrutiny and disagreement.

Props to you, facebook dad, for taking action and following through with what you warned your child about. But extreme failure (in my opinion) for making it a public event. I truly hope that for the sake of your relationship, that this does not completely ruin who you are in your daughters eyes, because at 16 years old, the biggest thing that that girl needs (regardless of what a brat she is) is to know that you, her father, love her and have her best interest at heart. Even if it is while shooting her laptop full of bullets.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dear Husbands....

Ok, or the ladies who are reading who have a husband......because I don't think any guys actually read this (well aside from my husband because I make him.)

Here is my Valentines day challenge (of sorts) for you:

Make your wife feel:
Otherwise she is just "too tired."

Come on, I know you have heard that one before. But rather than putting the blame on your wife for why you didn't get laid (yes I totally just said that, but I am married, and I am talking to married people, so that is perfectly acceptable. God said so.) why not give some thought to your interactions with her throughout the day?

Are you skimming out the door with a just kiss on the cheek? Are you complaining that your work clothes aren't clean? Have you called her just to say that you love her? Have you offered to get up in the night with the child who won't go back to sleep? Have you told her that it is perfectly acceptable that the dishes weren't done? Have you called her beautiful when she was wearing her sweats and a ratty t-shirt....for the third day in a row? Have you thanked her.....for anything......not pertaining to your immediate needs? Have you praised her for a creative meal, or a clever way of organizing? Do you ask her about her day? If you are answering no.......eeek. No good.

Stare at her. Appreciate the fact that she has not gotten her hair done for 3 months, and tell her that you still love her natural hair color. Take a look at those stretch marks, and rather than be thankful that she has clothes to cover them up, be thankful that that was what covered up your child for 9 months. Did she patiently clean up the 3rd cup of spilled water from your toddler at dinner time? Tell her that you noticed her composure. Did she sound mature and articulate in a phone conversation you overheard her having? Tell her. Are you blown away by all the delicious meals she has prepared recently? Don't just assume she knows because you ate it all. TELL HER. We like to know that we are admired outside of when we get all dressed up, it shows us that you notice the things that are un-noticeable.

We all know you men have those "adult" thoughts throughout the day. Let us know. But not in a dirty way. Be sweet about it. Make an inside joke about it. And please don't just do it when you catch us getting dressed or stepping out of the shower. DUH. We know you want us when we are naked. Its when we are playing with the kids, or cooking dinner, or doing laundry that we feel the most undesirable, and that is the time when we could use the pick me up. AND, when the kids are in bed, and the day is done, act on those things that you said. A man that is all talk and no action gives way to the "I'm too tired" excuse.

This is a hard one to do. I get that. But give your wife the ability to be inspired. Encourage and appreciate her creative thoughts. Sometimes all it takes is a loving and supportive man to get us through our work day, to push us to complete a project, to force us into a frame of mind to be loving and creative with the kids. We know that listening about how our day went isn't always thrilling, but if you show interest, then you will be the person we look forward to being with at the end of the day.

I realize that these are easy concepts, but they are so simple that they are easy to skip over.

Maybe I am writing all this because I have seen these things in my hubbie lately. He has been through a truly stressful season at work, this week especially. Really long days, lots of problem solving and messes to clean up. And because his days have been like that, MY days have been like that. So rather than just complain about his day, he recognizes that my days have been hard too. He has picked up dinner for us 3 days this week. He has been gracious about the laundry not being done, even though he barely had any clean clothes. He has praised me for the things I have done with Mikayla. He has made me feel desired, even though I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I have looked.....and probably smelled....awful at times. He keeps his mouth shut when I am a crabby grouch in the morning. He bought me ice cream. He is apologetic. He has prayed for me. I love him to death.

So, I can truly say, that even though the long days at work have made him "too tired" lately, it is definitely not something he has heard me say J

Oh, and ladies, I will be writing to you soon, so don't think you are off the hook J

Friday, February 3, 2012

Letter Days

So on Monday I decided to start working on letters with Mikayla. I was bored with our normal day-to-day stuff, so I thought that working on a different letter each day with her would bring out some creativity in me. I think she is enjoying it, and learning little bits here and there. She does get the letters and the sounds mixed up, but I can tell that the wheels are turning. Here are some pictures and some of the activities we did.

Monday: The letter A
Apple painting
Applesauce for a Snack
Making Play-doh Apples and Alligators

Tuesday: The letter B
Painted a Brown Bear picture
Made a TP roll Bumble-Bee
Band-Aid Butterfly Picture
Bounced Balls into a Basket
Played with Bubble wrap
Played with Balloons
Read 'Brown Bear Brown Bear'

Wednesday: The Letter C
Colorful Construction paper Cat
Colorful Cup Caterpillar
Made a Card for Daddy
Built a Castle out of Blocks
Made Crowns
Read Clifford
Watched Cat in the Hat

Thursday: The Letter D
Wore a Dress
Went out for Doughnuts
Bought a new Dance Game for the Kinect:

We definitely had a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to next week already!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Work in Progress.....

How often do you hear that saying? "Oh its still a work in progress," or as my husband at times says about himself, "I am a work in progress." Artists tend to say it when they are showing their un-finished artwork, because they don't want viewers to have a true opinion based on how it looks at that point, because it does not look the way it should or will look in the end, it may even look bad. 

Normally that saying comes as an excuse for the way something or someone is/appears/acts NOW. It lends way to the idea of "I am just human" or "Nobody is perfect."

But what if we reversed the thought to a "glass is half full" mentality. What if "a work in progress" became an indication of the beauty THAT IS TO COME? What if it gave a glimpse into the wonderful-ness (yes that is a word. My blog. My rules.) beyond the point that the "work in progress" comment was made. Suddenly, things are just a little brighter. It gives people something to look forward to instead of giving them a reason to be ok with whatever it is now.

I am tired of hearing people, Christian and non-Christian alike, say "Well he/she is a Christian, they shouldn't be doing that." or "Wow, he/she is a Christian, and they are acting that way? How hypocritical."

Here is the thing:

Being a Christian does not automatically make you faultless on this earth. Likewise, being "of the flesh" or "only human" does not let you off the hook for making bad choices. But we are God's "work in progress" and there will always be beauty beyond that point of disgrace, mistake or shame if we belong to Him. When judgement creeps up in my mind about someone who knows Christ, I hear God telling me "Just think about how much worse this situation could be if they didn't have me. They are still a work in progress, and there is goodness in their future, because I am their future."

Dear God, I will, forever and always, be a work in progress. I know that. But would you remove the negativity and show me the beauty in that statement? Would you allow me to be excited about the greatness in my future, and would you allow me to learn and move on from my mistakes. I am tired of living in a "glass is half empty" world. I want to live in the knowledge that there is goodness in my future because my future, hope, faith, love, and life is in You. Would you remove the judgement in me, and allow me to see myself especially, as well as those around me as you see them? In your righteous, blameless and hope-filled name I pray these things, AMEN.