A Sweet Whisper

Although our move has been nothing short of God inspired and God ordained we are still struggling with adjusting to Colorado. Everything is so different and yet so the same. These past few months I have been exhausted, mentally, physically and spiritually. I feel like I haven’t had the energy or the desire even to pray. I’ve thought to myself, God, where are you? Why are we here? What is our purpose?

It’s not that I am particularly angry with God, it’s that I am confused. We moved here with such high hopes. Our hopes and dreams, and I am quickly reminded that His ways are not our ways. But God has been so faithful to us, even when we are so faithless.

I have been struggling with being a stranger amongst strangers. Before we moved I liked the idea of “starting fresh”,  getting to know new and exciting people. Although, I have found  it to be very exhausting. I feel so impersonal and for a bit I lost the desire to even reach out and make friends. I felt like there was no point in making friends and that I could just “do life” by myself with my husband and our kids. I know my heart was shut off from the Lord, like a little wall building up, brick by brick. I have been praying for him to open it again and to reveal himself to me. Once again, he has. It’s a humbling experience to have the God of the universe answer a prayer for you. A need ever so sweetly fulfilled.

I opened my bible one morning this past week to 1 Kings 19, I think I should have been reading somewhere else on my read through the bible in a year app but it glitched and lead me here and with out any thought I very numbly started to read God’s word.

Oh my, how did it speak to my heart.  After being utterly exhausted from killing Jezebel’s profits of Baal. Elijah sat down and prayed to God that he might die. He was extremely discouraged, fatigued and was with out hope. He layed down and slept until an angel of the Lord woke him up and fed him. He layed down again, still exhausted and slept some more. The angel again awoke  Elijah, fed him and told him that he must travel to mount Sinai.

It was there on the mountain of God, that the Lord revealed himself to Elijah. It was God who showed Elijah, a distressed, lonely and broken man, his power and majesty. He caused a mighty windstorm, a earthquake and a fire but God was not present in those storms. He made himself known to Elijah in the form of a gentle whisper and reminded him to keep on keep’n on. That God was with him.

I find it  ironic (actually, its not irony, its a God thing) that I came across this scripture at this time. For one, the message of Elijah’s life was a big inspiration and source of encouragement for our move. Second, I was feeling exhausted and broken. Questioning if we made the right decision. I found the answer in my NLT parallel study bible, the notes reference to verse 19:3 and it says,

“Elijah experienced the depths of fatigue and discouragement just after his two great spiritual victories: the defeat of the prophets of Baal and the answer to prayer for rain. Often discouragement sets in after great spiritual experiences, especially those requiring physical effort or involving great emotion. To lead him out of depression, God first let him rest and eat. Then God confronted him with the need to return to this mission-to speak God’s words in Israel. Elijah’s battles were not over; he still had work to do. When you feel let down after a great spiritual experience, remember that God’s purpose for your life is not over yet”

It was as if God was whispering to my wounded heart. “Rest, then get up. I still have great things for you, you are still my girl.” Since God revealed those truths to me, miraculous things have been happening in the coolest, most strangest ways. I can feel my strength rising again, my heart longing to be in His presence. I am so thankful to have such a personal God, who knows me and exactly what I need.

“You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.” -Psalm 139:5

“…And when I wake up, you are still with me!” -Psalm 139:18

 

Do you ever feel discouraged? Like God is not present in your life,  are you wondering where he is and how you fit in to this life? Rest, my sweet friend, and know that God is with you. You need only to be still and listen to that sweet whisper;

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” -Zephaniah 3:17

 

Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart

*Please note this is my first ever affiliate post, which means I will receive a small percentage of contributions if you should choose to purchase materials through my link.

Hey Y’all!

I am so excited to share this wonderful opportunity with you! Connected Families is currently enrolling members for their 2016 online parenting course, Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart, from October 3rd-11th.

Before I go into detail about the course let me back track a bit and tell you how I first heard of Jim and Lynn Jackson. Last year I attended a MOPs group at Church of 4messagespng-1024x825the Open Door in York, PA. It  was there, the MOPs coordinator spoke on the framework Jim and Lynn designed for discipline. Which is as following, you are SAFE with me, you are LOVED no matter what, you are God’s workmanship-CALLED and CAPABLE and last you are RESPONSIBLE for your own actions. These four concepts really resonated with me and I began to apply just these simple truths in the way that I responded to my sons during a conflict.

Later in the year while listening to this podcast at God Centered Mom I found out that Connected Families was enrolling for their Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart class which offered grace-filled tools for effective discipline of every child. I LOVED the idea of it but life was so crazy at the time that I was unable to sign up. Although, my sister-in-law, took the course and she highly recommend it.

Since I missed out last September I had to wait until now to enroll and I am beyond excited for this opportunity to learn more ways to connect to my boys and to discipline in a way that effectively demonstrates grace.

Ok, the diagram is cool and all so how will this actually help me and my spouse be better parents? In my opinion, this course offers very valuable principles to have pre-established. You know, in the rare case that you accidentally expose them to bright light, get them wet or feed them after midnight. Oh wait, just kidding that’s only Gremlins, not children. Ha. In all seriousness though, if you have never heard of some of these concepts like respond, don’t react. Or, don’t come in with a hot, loud and fast temperament (foundation, you are SAFE), then this will be pure gold for you.

14462820_10154169338143025_3416022886963660756_n-1So, will you come along side me and enroll today? Parenting is hard and we all know that precious little bundle of joy didn’t come home from the hospital with a manual. Although, God did bless us with a framework for life in the form of the Bible. Thankfully, from it we can draw knowledge and insight on how to love and nurture our children. Which is exactly what Jim and Lynn Jackson used to develop their concepts for their ministry and this course.

This is a fantastic opportunity for you to gain the wisdom you have been looking for and how to effectively apply it to your family. Even if you are a very new parent or a parent-to-be please consider this course. I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful I am for some of the parenting courses and material Brantz and I have stumbled upon and how its usefulness has already come to fruition in the short 2 1/2 years since we have become parents.

Once again, you can enroll  here, with my affiliate link, to secure your spot in the October class. Don’t miss out on this excellent opportunity to grow your communication skills as a parent. Remember, enrollment BEGINS October 12th but registration is STILL OPEN until October 17th!

If you would like more information about Jim and Lynn Jackson you can read their bio below. Also, keep scrolling for some FREE resources from Connected Families!

Since 19jim-lynne-jackson-connected-families-250x25093 co-founders Jim & Lynne Jackson have worked in the trenches with parents of all kinds – single parents, adoptive parents, parents of teens, parents of kids with intense behavior challenges, parents in blended families, parents of wealth and parents in poverty, and any other kind of parent you can think of. Jim & Lynne and their growing team are committed to bringing you content that will challenge, encourage, and equip you to be the thoughtful and confident parent you long to be.

 

FREE Resources!

Free ebook download of When Your Child Misbehaves  – Four Strategies for Lasting Change

Free subscription of Connected Families weekly newsletter 

 

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Settling In

It has been a whirlwind of a summer, and yet with each passing day it seemed as if it crawled by. God took our little family of four (six, if you include our two dogs) and moved us from Lewisberry Pennsylvania to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Although, technically we are residing in Fountain.

I can’t even begin to explain the way God has provided for us in this move, the extra money that came in just in the nick of time. How our home was given three full price offers (two of which over asking price) while only being on the market for three days.The way that I was able to hop the same flight as my brother’s girlfriend traveling to college (she had her flight booked since May). Her help was immensely appreciated and I don’t think I could have survived that 9pm flight out to Denver with out her. Lastly, how we pretty much rented a house sight unseen and that it meets all of our needs (not necessarily all of our wants).

Although God paved the way it doesn’t mean that our road here was not rocky and with out fault. At times, tensions were high between Brantz and I. Our emotions very often running on empty. I can tell that my children also suffered from anxiety as we uprooted our lives. We were “homeless” for a little over two months. Thankfully, we had some awesome family who took us in.

My prayer through out this move was that we would go boldly and confidently in the presence of God. That fear, anxiety and regret would not creep in and steal our joy. It was so very hard of letting go of all we had. Family, friends and a home we built together. My heart still tinges with sadness as I think about those we have loved along the way. But before us is a whole new adventure. With unbridled territory to explore and a ground work of kingdom that needs built for God’s glory.

I don’t know our purpose here yet. I know the real purpose is not Jenkins Restorations. Honestly, I’m not sure we may even know while we are still on this earth. But I have seen and experienced God’s goodness and grace.He has tested me, uplifted me and refined me.  While it is a hard place to be, for those who may have never been, it is a place I will never forget and long to be in always. In His presence, in His divine plan and His will.

All too familiar words spoken by the Apostle Paul come to mind,

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:12 & 13

While I do not consider my circumstances anywhere near the life and trials Paul faced, I do feel blessed to be given a glimpse and greater sense of depth to these verses. God is good, in all things and through all things.

The Ugly Truth.

Anger. An emotion we all have experienced. No, I am not referring to a type of “frustration” either. I am talking about the kind that wells up from somewhere deep with in. The kind that makes your skin crawl and you face flush with heat. The kind of anger that you can feel the tears burning behind your eyes. As pressure builds you can feel yourself coiling up like a Cobra, your mouth teams full of venom, ready to spit, ready to strike.

Selling this house is showing the ugly side of me. The side of me that I stuff down deep and like to pretend doesn’t exist. The stress is exposing my sinful nature. Through out this process I have been praying that God’s thumb print would be all over this move, his presence beyond evident. I have seen His grace and His blessings at work but the second my circumstances get uncomfortable I am so quick to falter.

This past Sunday we had a guest preach about faith in action, he shared from James 3:1-12. He warned against the tongue,  “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things…” James 3:5. Although it is such a small body part, it is like a bit in a horses mouth, it  guides the entire body. 

Why I did not heed this warning I do not know. Maybe it’s because you really don’t understand these passages until you experience them first hand, you internalize them. Or maybe I am just a fool. These past two days I have been letting my anger burn, never stopping to douse it, only feeding it with fuel.

“…See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” James 3:5-6.

I could literally feel this situation and my anger consuming me. Thankfully, a dear friend gently spoke truth in my life. God was in this, our house will sell, don’t let Satan steal your joy and ruin your relationships. Instead, focus your mind on what ever is pure, honorable, lovely, and true. (Philippians 4:8)

After our conversion I prayed that God would forgive me and take this anger from me, that I would not listen to the lies I am telling myself. I wanted to stop before more damage was done. Hopefully, I have learned my lesson and will be able to proceed with caution through the rest of this move. But I can not say for sure, as I know I am merely human and I trip over the smallest pebble.On my own I am weak and prone to make mistakes. It is only God working through me that I am able to draw my strength in the face of adversity.

Have you ever faced a similar situation? My prayer for you is that you seek wisdom from God when faced with anger. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” James 3:17.

The little Things…

This past week has been crazy, on Saturday our realtor came over and we signed the papers to put our first home on the market! We spent the rest of the weekend de-cluttering, cleaning and staging our home. The for sale sign is sitting in o
ur yard and today the photographer stopped by to take photos to post on the MLS with our listing. It should be ready by tomorrow, so hopefully we will get a few showings this weekend!

To say we are tired is a huge understatement but God is sustaining and providing for us during this process! There was a moment this weekend when I was feeling so overwhelmed that I just had to stop and pray and ask God for help.I knew there was no way I could do all of what needed done by myself. I prayed, “God, I need help.” A sweet and simple prayer although the words I uttered couldn’t even  describe the landslide of emotions I was going through. But God knew exactly what I was saying and what I needed.

After praying, I went outside to work around the house. I was trying to think of someone I could ask for help, someone available and I wouldn’t be burdening too much. Then a sweet friend of mine, Justine, came to mind. I hope everyone has the opportunity to have a friend like Justine in their life. She is one of those people who is willing to drop everything to help a friend in need. Truly I admire her SO much for her servants heart.

So, I figured I’d give her a call and see if she was free. I went inside to find my phone but upon picking it up I realized I already had a text message from her saying “So, what time do you want me to come over tomorrow to help you?” What?!? I was floored, not just by her amazing generosity but the fact that God had answered my prayer.

Most people would look at this 1463405293950_imagesituation and think it was just a coincidence, but this certainly was not. God heard my distress and answered my prayer . The creator of the universe heard my little prayer for help and he answered. On days were I feel insignificant or that God doesn’t care I recall the little blessings in my life and I am reminded how valuable I am in His eyes.

You want to know something? You are valuable too, God cares about you and knows exactly what you need. Even the little things, the simplest of prayers, he hears.

 

 

My Blue-Collar Man

Dirty boots line my back porch along with a beat up red Igloo lunch box. Far too often I have to check his stiff, mud laden jean pockets for wire nuts and electrical tape is always in abundance in our home. (Sorry if I’ve ever gift wrapped your present with it, ha) These items belong to my husband, my blue-collar man.

Each morning he gets up before the sun even dares to break the horizon, eats breakfast, packs his own lunch, and kisses my sleepy self good-bye for the day. Later, in the evening, a low hum of his van rolling down the road lets me know he is home. Our toddler anxiously pulls up a chair to the dining room window to watch him as he pushes open our squeaky gate and travels the path to our house.

You see, this man I love, my best friend, comes home with dirty hands and often needs to wash them before he picks up our babies to kiss them. They are calloused from long days of hard work and are often mended with home made band-aids from electrical tape. He is unlike many men these days. He is coordinated and strong. He carries heavy spools up and down ladders and stands on them while tugging wire through narrow spaces. He uses a drill and a hammer with ease, as if it were an extension of his own body. He endures long work days and it is not unusual for him to have to drive an hour one way to the job site. He is also extremely intelligent, he can look at something and know how to fix it. He reads dizzying, color-coded prints on a daily basis and understands crazy codes.

He works hard each day to provide for our family, so I can stay home with our boys. There are days I feel guilty sending him pictures of the kids at the park because he is not there to make those memories with us. I can’t imagine the immense pressure he feels bearing the financial responsibility and the role as the leader in our home. I thank God each day for him and his sacrifices, for doing a job that flat out sucks some days.

When he comes home wet and cold from the frigid winter I try to have a cup of hot cocoa ready and waiting for him to warm up. In the summer, when he comes home burnt from the sweltering sun, I put aloe on the back of his arms, neck and ears. I do these things because I love him more than words can describe and because he deserves it.

Far to often I feel there is such a struggle between the sexes of who works harder. Yes, my day is exhausting too. I am on call 24/7 and often covered in somebody’s boogers and or bodily fluid. But we are a team, he could not do my job and I could not do his. God knew exactly what he was doing when he created man and woman, how we compliment each other so well. Where I fall short, he picks up.

Now, that’s not to say every day is easy. It’s not. Especially because we are two sinful people who vowed to make a lifetime covenant before God. But my, I would not want to do life with any one else other than my blue-collar man.

He Goes Before Us

What if your husband was offered a great job, but you had to sell your house, leave your family, friends, church and move to a location of their choosing? Would you do it? Does it sound completely absurd?

Well, call us crazy, because that is exactly what we are doing! Before I go into too many details let me rewind a bit and briefly fill you in on the back story. Since this past September we feel God has placed a stirring in our hearts. Although, we were “content” with our life we could feel as if something bigger was on our horizon but, at the time we were not sure what exactly it was. We prayed about it as a couple and separately. The possibility of him applying for a new job had crossed our minds but we really were not ready to move or even consider it. As time went on we were felt pressed and more uncomfortable.

Which, leads us to yesterday, after a few months of the application process and several interviews he was offered a position at a restoration company. And today, my husband gave his two week notice to his current employer. He has invested six years into building his career with his current employer and they had equally invested six years of schooling, training and experience in him. It’s all around bitter sweet.

I know all the previous hype makes us sound like we were planning on jumping ship and moving to Africa, but to us it really feels like we are moving to Africa! We are so totally ordinary home bodies. I mean we BOTH lived at home with our parents until we got married, and after that only moved 15 minutes away from them. To say that we are the safe type of people is putting it lightly, all of our “risks” have been meticulously calculated. Which is why this move is so earth shattering to us.

After much prayer, wrestling with the idea, very long country road drives to talk about it (driving is kinda our thing,or at least my husbands…I actually get car sick pretty easily, haha) we concluded we were going to “make the move” literally, and figuratively. We could have chose a safer option by going through direct hire to a branch office but we chose to do open hire and give it all to God.

Are we nervous? You bet’cha! But I have great faith that God is with us. This is so beyond us, so stretching for us that I don’t see how God can not fill in the gaps and take the reigns. When I imagine our future it is literally a blank slate, but I know our God is faithful to those who love Him. He knows our motives, our hearts and our intentions to serve Him. Which, in and of itself is pretty cool if you ask me.

In the mean time, we are laying it at His feet and praying that He goes before us and prepares the way.

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Growing Pains

Growing is painful. In the literal physical sense and in the spiritual sense. I remember my first pregnancy with Levi. As his little body grew with each passing day my body stretched and contorted itself to make room for him. I remember on several occasions feeling such sharp pain in my lower abdomen that I thought for sure I was in labor. But upon calling the OBGYN and describing my pain to the nurse she sweetly and ever so calmly told me it was most likely round ligament pain from my body expanding. I’ve come to the conclusion after two pregnancies that the medical professionals call it the round ligament because it just hurts, all around (haha). Darn you, round ligament.

Anyway, growing spiritually can be painful as well. Sharp tinges to the heart as the Holy Spirit grows and convicts you. Lately, I’ve been asking God to reveal my sin to me so I may confess it, grow from it and flee from it. Let me tell you, when you ask the Lord to reveal your sins to you He doesn’t have to look to hard to find some.

Recently, I have been noticing that I am hurting people. Not intentionally, I mean well, really I do. But i have NO FILTER, ask my husband, he’ll agree. I have no discretion no discernment. I so badly long to be like the women I read in the bible. How they were wise and knew exactly when and how to say exactly what needed to be said. Like Ester, Ruth and the wise woman at the wall in 2 Samuel.

But so often I feel like Paul in Romans 7:15 (NLT)…

 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.

I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. My thoughts exactly, Paul. I want to say what is right, what is holy, good, with wisdom and conviction from the Lord. But, instead it comes out like word vomit, raw and full of uncensored emotion. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t bad to express your feelings and where you struggle with someone. But it’s all about the your technique, gracefully expressing your situation and maybe not exploiting every. gory. detail. Unlike, ahem, me?

I just experienced a situation this past week where I vented my heart out to two people. I say vented lightly, it consumed most of the conversation. After they left I felt even emptier and rotten than I had before my laments. I went to bed feeling totally unsettled. Enter my little ol’ friend the Holy Spirit and his conviction. I woke up the next morning still feeling raw, sorry for what I had said, how I said it and how much I said. Not only had I revealed too much about my problem in the process I know it hurt one of the persons I was talking to. I knew what I had to do to make it right, but how badly I didn’t want to.

I mean really, nobody wants to admit they were wrong . As a teenager I used to think I would eventually grow out of these awkward and embarrassing situations. While they are fewer and far’er between they still happen as a adult. Looking back, I think they were easier then. Like when you are a child and you fall down, your bones were just softer, they absorbed the blow better. I recall a time when I was able to get up from literally falling out of a tree with nearly a scratch. Now, I bang my knee on a chair and I have a deep ugly brown-yellow bruise for weeks. But then again, maybe my past is hazy and the times I’ve had to admit I was wrong were just as painful then as they are now.

So, with a pounding heart, I called my two friends and apologized. For how much I complained, how I said it, for exploiting every.gory.detail. Although it was true, it truly wasn’t all necessary. Both persons graciously accepted my apology.

The one who I knew I hurt was beyond gracious. She went above accepting my apology  by also exemplifying a Godly characteristic, she told me she was not only was going to forgive me she was going to “forget it” as well. Like in Hebrews 8:12 (NLT),  “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” By her saying this, she released any apprehension I had about my transgression against her making our relationship not tense or awkward in the future. Lastly, because this person is wise. Wise like the women of the bible who I aspire to be. She reminded me not to hold on to the guilt of my mistake. To let this be a situation that I grow from and to not let Satan run wild trying to guilt me over the event.

Then, to drive His lesson home God revealed this verse to me today.

“He who guards lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3 (NIV)

I know God is really working in me, He is constantly revealing His truths to me. Growing, stretching me to be a more godly woman. Like my body experiencing sharp pains from pregnancy God is sometimes teaching me difficult, but necessary lessons to make room for the Holy Spirit to work in me and through me.

I recently, heard the two of the most amazing sayings,”I’m your girl, God. I’m all in.” So, here I am, I’m your girl, God. I’m all in. I pray you use me in a mighty way. I pray that those around me see Christ in me and  through me. Even if I have to experience the sharp sting of lessons learned. I pray that my growing pain is beautiful (thank you, Rachel) and is evident of your work in me.

The Dollar Store

On an overcast, semi-cold January day I was bored. Like really bored. So bored I packed up the boys and put them in the car and drove to the Dollar Store. Let me tell you, the Dollar Store is NOT the place to go when you are bored, lonely and feeling empty. Although I am not proud of the first part of my story I am thankful for the ending…

Upon entering in the store one of the Cashiers said hello, and made a comment about how I reminded her of Jennifer Lawrence (which I actually have heard this before). I was super thankful for her comment because I had a baby strapped to my chest and not a stitch of makeup on, hair pulled back and was wearing yoga pants covered in more dog hair than I’d like to admit. We had some small talk (which I don’t remember) and then I went on shopping.

Levi, Emmett and I strolled around the store, made some majorly unnecessary purchases and headed out the door to the parking lot.It was there I was stopped by the same cashier as she was coming in from her break. She looked at me and said “Can I ask you a question?”. “Sure”, I said. She proceeded to ask, “Does the morning sickness ever end”? I replied “Oh, you’re pregnant?!? I think mine subsided about the second trimester”. I am guessing she thought I had experience in these departments since I was toting my two under two (ha, ha). She then told me how far along she was (17 weeks or so) and that she was hoping she would be over it by now. We talked a little about eating something before getting out of bed in the morning but other than that I didn’t have much more to offer her. The kids were getting impatient standing still and I was afraid Levi was going to jump out of the cart. So i ended our conversation by telling her I’d be praying for her. I glanced down and saw her name badge pinned to the bottom of her sweatshirt “Hannah”. Easy to remember, I had a friend in elementary school who’s name was Hannah and I used to think it was so cool that her name spellt backward was exactly the same forward. (Funny the things you remember as a kid right?) She said thank you and we parted ways.

Immediately,  in the car I prayed for Hannah. That her morning sickness would subside and also that if she did not know the Lord that He would place people in her life to point her toward Him. That He would be working in her heart and soften it to Jesus and she would come to know Him as her Lord and savior. From then we drove off to the Library and went about the rest of our day.

Through out the month of February  Hannah came to my mind. Not often, but a few times, once in a conversation to my husband, another while listening to a book. Throughout this time I had also been putting Em’s baby stuff upstairs to get it out of the way. Things like his bassinet, and two swings he’s out grown. I was planning on storing them in the attic but haven’t gotten a chance to pull off the covers and store them properly.

Then, while folding laundry Hannah came to my mind again. I felt prompted, while listening to Jen Hatmaker’s book Seven, to go back to the Dollar Store and give Hannah the out grown baby stuff. If she didn’t want or need it then maybe she could at least sell it and use the money towards other baby things. I remember when a sweet friend of mine blessed me with a ton of hand-me-downs and I felt so special.

So, today, after Titus 2 I drove back to the Dollar Store to deliver a swing. I honestly wanted to give her all of it at once but the small swing was the only thing that would fit in my car with the kids and car seats still intact. While loading the swing in my car prior I wondered if I was whole-hardheartedly obeying God’s prompt because I was only giving one item but I there really was nothing I could do.

My sweet mother-in-love drove with me (she comes to Titus 2 too) so I could leave the kids in the car and run in. As I entered, I found a kind employee, who’s name was Theresa, and I asked if Hannah was there ( I called the day before to see if she was indeed working so I wouldn’t have to make a ton of failed attempts). She told me no, but she thinks she will be in around 1 pm. I asked her if she would be willing to give the swing that I was holding to Hannah when she came in to work.

I then told her in a very jumbled, not as I planned, story of how I met Hannah. How she doesn’t know my name, nor will she even probably remember me but that we talked in the parking lot once and I told her I’d pray for her.  I asked Theresa to please tell Hannah I had, in fact, been praying for her and she has come to mind several times and how I just wanted to give her the swing. Theresa replied that, “it was very sweet of me to think of her and to keep praying for her because she has seen so much change in Hannah recently”.

I jumped back in the car and thought, ok God, wow! Thank you, for that affirmation about Hannah. So often I wonder why I met someone, or had that kinda-award conversation, that to me had to purpose or meaning. It was then I remembered my mother-in-law’s all too familiar saying at today at Titus 2 “God wastes nothing and uses everything, it is all about Him”. So true isn’t it?

I am leaving this experience not super-proud of myself for something I did, but super humbled for something He did. I know this is not the most significant or profound story ever. But it’s amazing that He didn’t waste anything, instead He used it for his purpose, for His good and for His glory.

God, you are so good, thank you for letting me be your instrument and seeing part of your plan come to full circle.

So today, if you have a seemingly meaningless conversation or encounter maybe, just maybe, God is using it for a reason, for His purpose. I challenge you to ask God “How can you use me today, Lord?”

 

 

When you feel like you can’t accomplish anything anymore.

As my second year of motherhood quickly approaches I find myself doing things less and less for myself. It’s become so much easier to do things for the kids or my husband first and then put myself on the back burner. Every now and then I get a little stirring in my heart to start a project or read a book. But as quickly as the spark of desire was lit it is extinguished with exhaustion and feelings of defeat.

It reminds me of the time my sister-in-law and I went to a MOPs meeting in Colorado. they had a great craft project planned during our meeting, create a personalized sign for your home. The display example was an adorable wooden sign that said “It is well with my soul”.  How cute! I wanted to make one just like it on the foam board they had provided. But as i got started penciling in the font I was lightly tapped on the shoulder and asked “Are you Levi’s mom? He’s been crying and we can’t settle him down.” Humph, up I got from my chair to comfort my upset toddler. A few pieces of fruit, a muffin and a cup of OJ later he had settled down. Where his tears had once been now a smile of satisfaction with his little snack. I have to admit, while I was glad he had stopped crying I couldn’t help but feel frustrated, “there goes my me time” I thought. I tried a few times to continue working on it but to no avail, I was too worried about him running off in an unfamiliar sanctuary. After a while, I did eventually get him to go back to the nursery but by then the craft had lost it’s appeal and my deodorant had failed about a half hour before. I inevitably ran of time and so I gave up. I didn’t even bother to bring the craft back home with me on the flight to PA. To me, just looking at it made me feel like a failure.

So, then, the age old question of all new moms “how can I accomplish anything for myself?” It’s hard to completely answer that question because everybody’s mothering experience is different with different circumstances. Although, I have figured out a few tricks to try consider myself a ‘productive part of society’. Here’s a few, small suggestions to get your mo-jo back.

My first trick, get up earlier than the kids. Ouch, thought this was gonna be easy? Now, I don’t do this as much as I should (because sometimes the kids decide to never actually go to bed the night before, ha). But on the days I do get up, watch out, this lady is on a roll! Even just the small opportunity to take a bath by myself with out a toddler trying to dunk Thomas the Train in with me is worth the hour less of sleep. After I’ve had my “me time” I am refreshed and ready to start the day. Plus, my boys get a mommy who is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Not a mama who just rolled outta bed with a milk stained tank top and morning breath. My revelation for this came from the verses in Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” As Paul David Tripp puts it in his book New Morning Mercies, God’s love is not tired, stale, irrelevant, worn out, or ill-fitting. Wow, take a moment to soak it all in. God never drags himself out of bed, sits his children in front of the T.V. with Curious George re-runs and waits till the first (…or third) cup of coffee to kick in for him to shed his mercies over me. God is ever present in my life, he is fresh, ready to receive me as I am, in all my sin and defects. Why then, should’t I try to model the same example for my children? Especially when I all I need is that extra hour to be ready and present for my children.

My second trick for feeling like you’ve accomplished something while still remaining productive in your home is listening to podcasts. I love to listen to podcasts when I am doing dishes or folding laundry. It not only passes the time but I find that I draw strength and encouragement to get me through the day. I recently downloaded the app Podcast Republic on my phone which is fantastic, it enables me to subscribe to my favorite stations. Three that I specifically love are Focus on the Family, God Centered Mom and Torah Class. They provide practical parenting & martial advice, encouragement in my walk with the Lord and strengthen my knowledge of who God is. Plus, I feel like i got some adult conversation in my day, even if I’m only just listening. 😉

Listening leads me to my final trick, how to finish a book! Don’t you just love it when someone recommends “this great parenting book that you just need to read!” You humbly take their suggestion into consideration but in the back of your mind you have a running list of things you’d rather do instead of read a book (sleep being top priority, of course). Well, let me re-introduce you to the concept of audiobooks! Now, I know moment the thought of audiobooks comes to mind you think back to those overused plastic bags from the Library with a tape to put in your boom-box and read-long-book. Nope, not anymore, this is not your grandma’s audiobook! With one simple download of an app to your smart phone you can have access to thousands of audiobooks, fo’ free! It’s called Overdrive; download the app, find your local library and plug in your library card number to browse thousands of audio and ebook options! Presto-magic-o! You can listen to it while you do the laundry, drive your car to playdates, or put head phones in as you lay completely-still waiting for the perfect chance to sneak out of your toddlers bed after he falls asleep.  Either way, it feels great to finish a book again. Plus, you’ll be amazed at how much faster you finish it by listening rather than reading. Heck, maybe you’ll even feel like me, smart again! Haha

So, there you have it, three fairly simple suggestions to feeling (and being) productive in your already busy mom day. Since I’ve started doing these little tricks I feel as if I have filled my “me tank”.  Bigger, more labor intensive projects are in my future but for this season of my life I’m starting small.  No, it’s not the equivalent to refurbishing a cute dresser or making that home decor piece that I saw on Pinterest, but it’s something that I did, solely for me. 🙂