Wednesday, January 1, 2014

JUST ONE for 2014

And, we're off to the races!  2014 is here and... seriously.  It still feels just like 2013.  

2013 was stellar.  Likely the greatest year of my life, to date.  So how am I supposed to top that?  How in the world can I expect anything more from 2014?

Well, for starters, I won't be making resolutions this year- shy of this one:

Love God.  

Oooh...  

Wait.  What?

You mean, I'm not going to try to lose weight this year (for the 34th year in a row)?  You mean, I'm not going to read my Bible more?  You mean I'm seriously not going to resolve to love my husband more, to try to be a better wife, mom, etc?  You mean I'm not going to resolve to work harder, to hit the gym more, to (FILL IN THE BLANK)?

Nope.  I give up.  

So does that mean I'll become lazy (lazier)?  Does that mean I'll totally neglect everything I need to improve about myself?

Absolutely not.  

What it does mean is that I'm tired of resolving to do all of these things.  Tired of working hard for about a week, and failing. Tired of getting back on the horse 862349781264 times every year and telling myself that it will be okay because tomorrow is always a new day.  This has NOTHING to do with self improvement or weight loss.  This has nothing to do with being churchy or trying to sound uber spiritual.  

I think I've finally discovered the key to becoming who I always felt I was meant to be- LOVING GOD.

Matthew 22:36-40 shows us this interaction between Jesus and his disciples: 

“Teacher, which command in the law is the most important?” Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command.  And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’  All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.

Did you see that?  It's THE MOST IMPORTANT LAW- to love God with ALL of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Period.  That's the single most important thing that Jesus taught us to do.  In verse 40, He says that all of the law and writings of the prophets depend on this.

Wait.  So when the Bible gives us instructions on how to live- like, for instance, when it is written that we wives should submit to our husbands... you mean, that is dependent upon this, on me loving God?  

Yes.

I used to read Proverbs 31 and think to myself "Well, crap.  I'll never be her...  I hope he'll settle for less because that's just impossible."  I've actually encountered this mentality several times throughout scripture.  One of our life verses for our entire family is 1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whatever you do- whether you're eating or drinking, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

That's an awfully noble goal, right?  Well, what if, perhaps, I loved God more than I loved Facebook?  What if I loved God more than I loved my own body?  What if I loved God more than I loved texting or shopping or spending time with friends, more than I loved ministry or writing, or my husband or my children?  What if...?

I'm fairly certain that if I TRULY loved God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength, all of these amazing things that I want to accomplish- all of these tremendous (and seemingly impossible) goals would happen as a byproduct of simply loving God.

So, you read that right, folks. This year, I'm not going to resolve to do anything more than I was created to do- to love Jesus, and to be loved by Him.  I think I'll be quite surprised with the results and with the lack of let downs on my part.  

So as I bid you adieu, here's my toast to 2014:

"Happy New Year!  May 2014 be the year you experience God in new and amazing ways.  May 2014 be the year of freedom for you- freedom from trying, freedom from striving, freedom from unrealistic expectations and goals.  May 2014 be the year you truly understand how wide, how deep, how high, and how great His love is... and may that one simple truth set you free.  Bless you, brothers and sisters!"

-The Real Life Mom

  


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Dream

I don't write much anymore because I don't feel like there is anything I can say that hasn't already been said in a million other ways by a million other people.

Except this.

2013 = IN.SANE.

On January 1, 2013, a dear friend prayed that I would encounter God in ways I'd never before thought possible.

Check.  Multiple times.

This year has been the single most extraordinary, fruitful, challenging, productive, and amazing year of my entire life.  And no, I'm not exaggerating.  Not even a little.

But I won't walk you through each and every encounter or event because... well, I'm exhausted and I'd literally be writing for countless hours, just to even hit the highlights.  So instead, I'll just share with you this one story that I've been dying to share for approximately six months now.

It was an evening, I believe this was June.  The wives from my home group met with another group of ladies from a sister church in the area.  The goal of the evening was to spend some much-needed time just listening to God and pressing in to anything we felt that needed more prayer.  During the course of the evening, about twenty of us gathered and sat quietly as we listened to some worship music and waited for God to speak.

And then I saw my first glimpse of what previous experience had taught me was God speaking directly to me.  You see, He created me, so He knows best how to speak to me in ways I understand.  Most often, it's either a word that looks like a Powerpoint, or it's a single image.  This time, it was a few single images, followed by a sort of dream.

In the beginning of said dream, two of my close friends were locked arm in arm, one on either side of my hospital bed.  They were weeping as they prayed over my belly (in the dream, I was nine months pregnant).  I could see them, but it was as if they couldn't see that I was awake.  As they prayed, they wept even more intensely... and then a flower started growing up out of my belly.  It was almost as if they were praying life in to this lifeless thing.  It was sort of a digital flower that just kept growing and growing up out of my womb, or my belly.

Then, that image stopped, and I saw myself holding a little baby girl.  We were standing on the side of the road during a 4th of July parade.  I told her "Wave to Daddy!"  In the dream, my husband was driving a fire truck.

I didn't know what to make of the second part of the dream, but I assumed God showed me the first part to show me that, perhaps, these friends would play a major role in helping me birth something- like a ministry, or something.  I sent a text to each of my friends the night I had that dream.  In the message, I detailed each part of the vision, so they could pray in to the dream to see if they had any thoughts on what it meant.

You see, I am not a prophet.  I am just an ordinary girl.  In previous prayer sessions, I had seen simple things, but they always made sense.  This time, they did not.  For what I have not told you was this- at the time of the dream, my husband did not have a job as a firefighter, and I was not pregnant.  These two events (which occurred simultaneously) did not take place for at least another six weeks after the night of prayer.

In late August, my husband was hired with the same fire department that was in the dream, and about the time he got that job, we became pregnant with our sixth and final child.

No, I don't have special powers.  I'm not a fortune teller.  I have no idea why God chose to give me those images, except to bring hope and encourage me to trust Him.

When I was about eight weeks pregnant, I began to bleed heavily and was certain I was losing this baby.  My friends all prayed over me that night at church and I surrendered the baby to God.  I told Him that if He wanted to take her, then I trusted in His sovereign plan.  After that, as I was sitting in worship, He again showed me the second part of that dream.  He showed me the parade scene, where I was holding my baby girl, telling her to wave to daddy.

I felt like He showed me that to remind me that He has a plan for her, for both of us.  He reminded me that He indeed, is in control.  SO from that moment, I chose to trust Him, and trust what He showed me.  Even though all signs pointed to miscarriage, I trusted Him.

And the next day, I saw her for the first time- very strong heartbeat.  Perfect.

Several weeks later, I was again able to see her- this time to confirm what we already knew to be true- this little angel is, indeed, a girl.

SO what does this mean?  I have no idea, except that if I ever doubted God's desire and ability to speak, I certainly would doubt no longer.

If you had asked me at the beginning of 2013 whether or not I thought God spoke, I'd have told you yes.  If you asked me whether or not I thought He spoke to me, I'd have told you no.  I've always felt like I could love Him, but I always felt like I had to earn His love because there was no way that He could love me.  I have been such a mess and made so many mistakes.  Because of my past, I never felt like I was "good enough" to receive His love, and definitely not "good enough" to hear directly from Him.

But in so many more ways than this, God showed up in 2013 and reminded me that He created me with a significant plan.  He loved me long before I ever made any of the mistakes I made.  He saw through time and space.  He knew the decisions I would make long before I even drew my first breath- even when I chose to walk away from Him... multiple times.... and He loved me the same then as He does now.  In 2013, I learned more than I could ever write in one single blog.

But I had to write tonight. I had to share this.  Because if I had to sum it all up, I'd say this- I'm no prophet.  I'm nothing special.  I'm just a girl, who finally took a step of faith and got out of the boat.

And God moved in ways I could never, ever have imagined- not because I'm special.  Just because He loves me, and I FINALLY learned to believe it.

So, dear friend, I pray that 2014 is a year where you experience God like never before.  I pray you are able to receive His love, His forgiveness, His friendship, His hope, and everything else He has to offer.  Because, trust me- this is just the beginning...  it only gets sweeter from here!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Twas The Night Before The First Day Of School...

Twas the night before the first day of school, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring (because we have an awesome exterminator) not even a mouse.

The children are nestled, all tucked in to bed.  Visions of sugarplums are likely not dancing in their heads...

Heck.  They don't even know what sugarplums are.  Come to think of it, neither do I.  So perhaps this next statement will surprise you.

My kindergartner will NOT be starting school tomorrow.

No, seriously.  

And neither will my fourth and fifth grader.

No, they aren't sick.  And neither am I.

It's high time I come clean with this fun little secret that I've been keeping to myself...

This year I will be embarking on a new journey and will be home-schooling my kids.  And before you start with the "what if"s and the "how to"s let me tell you, I've heard everything from "Aren't you worried about their social skills?" (Um... not so much) to "How in the world will you ever handle schooling four children at the same time!?!?"  Seriously, people.  I watched Little House on The Prairie- I've got THIS!  (That was a joke, folks....  it's okay to laugh).

No, I know for a fact I am not smarter than a fifth grader.  I have a feeling I'll learn so much during this adventure.  And yes, I'm well aware of the fact that it won't always be peaches and roses, and there will likely be days when I want to throw in the towel... and hopefully, I'll press on.

But why?

No, there is nothing wrong with our local school.  On the contrary, pulling my children out of this school was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make.  Ever.  The faculty and staff are some of the most precious, most supportive, most encouraging, amazing people that I have ever met.  We are so, so SO blessed to have had five years with them.  And honestly, if I hadn't felt like God was calling me to home school, I would be so honored to send my other children there as well.

But God has another plan.  I have no idea what this year will look like, or the next, or the next.  But I do know that when God tells me to do something, when I obey, He moves in ways I could never have even dreamed.  So when it came to home-schooling, I wrestled with God at first.  Like I said, we love this school, we love the AMAZING teachers and principals, we love everything about this school.  In fact, we chose to live where we live now, just so that we would be closer to the school.

But I know I'm being called to do this.  So I'm obeying.

Do I think I'm a better teacher than the teachers at this local school?  Absolutely not.  Seriously- they are PHENOMENAL.  But I do know that God knows what my children need, and if He's calling me to do this, He will absolutely equip me for the journey.

So, all of that to say, I'm excited.  And giddy.  And nervous- all at the same time.  I'm looking forward to walking through this with dozens of other home-school families.  I'm expecting amazing things from this season with my family, especially with my children.

And let me clarify- this task, this journey on which I am about to embark, this is a calling.  It isn't for everyone.  Some families are public school families.  Some are private school families.  Others are home-school families, and you know what?  All of those are great choices and you should feel no guilt or condemnation, whatever your decision regarding YOUR children.  I say- you have to do what is best for YOUR family and not listen to what anyone else has to say.  :)  (just my two cents)

So anyway, I may have to use the spelling and grammar check a bit more than I'd like to, but even still- I'm reminded of David when he faced Goliath.  He knew that he was sent by God, for God's own glory, and David trusted that God would take care of him in the face of this giant.  In the same way, I say to the challenges and hurdles that come with home schooling, BRING IT!  God has called me to this tremendous task, and it's my honor to walk in obedience and watch Him slay these giants, one by one, for his glory.

Now where was I?  Oh yes... the children are nestled all snug in their beds... and now I will be too!

So happy "end of summer" to all, and to all a GOODNIGHT!

-The Real Life (homeschooling) Mom


Thursday, June 13, 2013

PRINCES AND PAUPERS

The Prince and The Pauper.

Great story.  

Because I have small children, I have (a) no memory and (b) no idea how it actually ends, because they tore the pages out.

Even still, stay with me...

I have these friends (no, not "those" friends).  These friends I am referring to are warriors.  What I mean is, if  prayer were a movie on the big screen, when they open their mouths to pray, you would see an epic battle scene from Braveheart.  These girls pray with no fear, no hesitation, no doubt and it blows me away to see them go to war- especially when they go to war for me, or for someone I care about.  

So I started to think about what makes their prayers seem so much more powerful than the prayers of other people.  I started to wonder what it was that they "had" or "said" or "did" that made me feel so much more protected than other times when I had prayed a simpler prayer.

And tonight, while visiting with my husband, it hit me.

The Prince and The Pauper.

We're all walking around in pauper's clothes and I think we've all started to believe we're paupers.  We've forgotten that we're actually royalty,and, therefore, have the authority of royalty.

What I mean is- when we pray, it seems like we've forgotten a couple of things.  Here I have been playing church for so long, I've forgotten that prayer is simply talking to my father... THE KING.  So that makes me... a princess.  I do not love the idea of being a princess, but I do love the idea of being royalty.  I love the authority that comes with the title.

So when my friends pray and they speak with all authority, it's because they've not forgotten who they are and whose they are.  Friends, we are NOT paupers.  We may be walking around in the clothes of a pauper, but ladies and gentlemen, we are royalty.  Period.

Just a thought for tonight...

Monday, June 3, 2013

MAY-WIDGE... IS WHAT BWINGS US TO-GEV-UH, TOO-DAY.

So, you're getting married!

Congratulations!  The sun is shining, the birds are singing...  the dress is altered, the tuxes are ready for pick up.  The photographer is booked (shameless plug for my new business), the cake is ordered, and ready to go, the location has been selected, the flowers are in bloom.  The preacher is ready, the singer is ready, the flower girls are ready.  Mom is trying to keep it together and dad is trying not to cry over the amount of money you've just spent on this whole shabang....

But all in all, it seems like everything is ready.  So let's go!  Let's jump in and do this!

Right?  Isn't that the way it works?

Uh... yeah.  In far too many marriages, this IS the way it always seems to go.  But aren't we forgetting a few things?

In the midst of wedding season, I am sad to say that I am faced with several friends who are contemplating divorce.  It's what I refer to as the divorce epidemic....  It seems that so many have forgotten all about their beautiful day- their $20,000 day that was supposed to seal the deal on the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, many couples spend all of their time focusing on the wedding day, and they forget to spend time investing in the marriage itself.  I'm not a counselor by trade, not even a little bit, but my friends know our past struggles and have reached out to me to ask how we've come so far.

Eleven years isn't a marathon by any means.  My grandparents were married almost 55 years- THAT's a marathon.   As I prepare to celebrate eleven years of marriage to my precious husband, I'm looking at the end of a 300M dash.  I can only fathom what this will all look like in hindsight if I am blessed to be able to do life with this man for another 40+ years.

None-the-less, I've tried to learn from each of our struggles- hence, this blog.  Like I said, I'm no expert.  I'm not judging or condemning.  Whether you're newly married, on your second or third marriage, single, contemplating divorce, considering engagement, or somewhere in between, this information has radically changed my life, so take a few moments and listen up!  These are in order as they come to mind- not necessarily order of importance.

1.  Think back to your wedding day.  Whether the event was a lavish, extravagant event with hundreds of spectators or a simple moment between you, your spouse, and the JP in Vegas- it was still your wedding day and it still matters.  Why?  Because you spoke vows on that day.  I know, in all likelihood you were just excited to get to the honeymoon- and there's nothing wrong with wanting to go on the honeymoon, but did you really consider what you were jumping in to?  When you say I DO, you're saying I WILL-

  • I WILL stay with you, no matter how difficult life gets.
  • I WILL commit to doing my part to make this marriage work.
  • I WILL stay with you no matter how much, or how little we have.
  • I WILL stay with you in sickness and in health (in depression, in obesity, in the midst of your struggle with cancer or diabetes... NO MATTER WHAT).
  • I WILL honor you at all times.
  • I WILL strive to work through each of our problems as they come, and I will not allow these things to divide us.
  • I WILL exhaust every single measure possible to save this marriage- DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION.
  • I WILL NEVER seek fulfillment outside of this marriage (including looking at pornography, extramarital affairs, even emotional fulfillment from another).
  • I WILL NEVER give up on you- no matter how I "feel".
*Please note that I understand there are extenuating circumstances, such as physical or sexual abuse and I realize the need at that point to separate for safety sake.  I'm referring to the rest of the marriages, here.

2.  FYI- DC Talk said it best when they penned the words: LOVE IS A VERB. Look at what it says in The Bible: "There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another." John 15:13. Seriously, folks.  "I just don't love you anymore" is why you break up with your boyfriend- NOT why you break up with your husband or wife.  I'm sorry if you don't "feel" in love, or if you don't "feel" loved.  Suck it up.  I know that sounds harsh, but you didn't commit to stay with that person until it wasn't all peaches and roses. You committed to stay with that person until death do you part.  Period.  End of story.  I know my grandparents argued.  And knowing how strong willed they both were, I'd be willing to bet some of those fights were doozies...  But even still, after 55 years of marriage, he kissed her every day and spun her around the kitchen blissfully in a beautiful display of adoration and affection.  

Likewise, I watched my husband stay with me in and out of depression, in and out of my choice to look for affirmation and attention outside of our marriage (even after almost having an affair), in and out of my struggles with weight, in and out of feeling loved... and truthfully, HE is the one who said "I'm not giving up, period."  Even when I contested "But it's just too hard!"  Or how about this one "This is just not a healthy environment for our kids!" Because... you know... it would have been so much healthier if we had divorced, right?  

Taken from Ephesians 5:
"21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.  25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."

Folks, I don't know any other way to say this, so I'll just come right out with it- ladies (and men) we need to put on our big kid panties and realize what we're looking at here.  Marriage isn't a game.  It isn't always easy, but it's always worth it.  Marriage is about sacrificing, laying down your rights to your own life, and giving up everything for the sake of the commitment you made in front of God and in front of your spouse.  We saw it right there in Ephesians 5- you are UNITED as one when you marry.  Not when you date, but when you marry.  So saying you don't "love" someone anymore just doesn't cut it- nor should it... because love isn't a feeling- that's where so many are confused.  Love is an action- love is staying even when there has been infidelity (and I have seen this works out multiple times for God's glory), even when you are bankrupt, even when you just can't see how you will ever be happy with this person again.  Love is setting aside what you believe you are entitled to, and walking in obedience- because God said so....  not because it  "feels" good at the time.  Love is looking at another person's flaws and choosing to love them, to build them up, to encourage them and walk along side of them EVEN IF THEY NEVER CHANGE (all the while hoping and praying for God to move in their lives.)  Love is seeing your spouse in quicksand (like depression) and instead of walking away to save yourself, you grab the nearest branch or rope, and you never. leave.  NO. MATTER. WHAT.  

You are not entitled to happiness.  You are not entitled to an easy life.   None of us is entitled...  

But there is a beautiful truth to all of this- a freedom that comes from knowing God.  And that brings me to point number 3:

  • 3.Marriage apart from God may last because you "will" it to, because you endure.  I'm pretty sure even I could run a marathon if I committed to training and not giving up. But Jesus didn't come so that we could just "endure", He came so that we could have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).  God desires to lead us to marriages that are fulfilled- not always easy, but always worth it.  He desires to use the difficult times to strengthen and mold us.  I heard of a book once called SACRED MARRIAGE.  The authors of the book emphasize that the purpose of marriage is to make us holy, and not happy.  I agree.  God never said "Get married and ride off in to the sunset.... and live happily ever after."  He did say several times that we are to trust Him- trust Him when it's good, trust Him when it's not so good, trust Him when it seems impossible.  He has a plan to use your marriage- whatever state your marriage is in- for His glory.  I don't always understand why things don't work out.   I don't understand why some people seem to have it so easy, and others seem to live in a perpetual state of struggle.  But I do know this- God is God, and God is good.  He will use all of this to shape and mold us in to the people He created us to be.  So whether our marriages are good, bad, or ugly, if we trust Him, if we cling to Him, He will carry us and He will bless us.  


So, Bridezilla, let me challenge you.  Before you make life a living Hell for all who surround you, consider that maybe the day you're starving yourself for, the day you're working so hard to perfect, the event you're pouring all of mommy and daddy's hard-earned money in to isn't the day you should be focusing on.  Yes, it can be beautiful and wonderful, a picturesque event to be remembered for years to come.  But if that's your focus, I am fairly certain your marriage will not survive.  So stop pouring every bit of time and energy in to making that day perfect because trust me when I say- it's not the uniform that defines the runner.  It's the level of commitment that runner has chosen in his training and in his decision to finish the race set before him.  I used to be a swimmer.  When I swam laps in the pool, if I just swam with no goal, no end point or focus, I would run in to other people or other lanes every single time.  But when I focused on the cross in front of me, I was able to finish the race successfully... without too many collisions.  

So let me ask you- where is your focus?  Are you just kind of floating through this race, hoping to get to the end, or are you running fast and hard with your eyes fixed on the one who created the course?

Today, I am so, so thankful for the challenges and struggles we have been blessed to endure.  I can see how God has radically transformed (and is still transforming) both of us.  Our marriage isn't perfect, but we are both equally committed to honoring God and staying the course... no matter what. 

So, dear friend, congratulations!  Thanks for letting me jump on my wedding day soap box, momentarily.  

How about tomorrow we discuss the "after-wedding" or the honeymoon?  ;)

That's all for now!


NO LONGER I,

The Real Life Mom... and wife.  






Monday, May 13, 2013

To Whom It May Concern... A Word On Large Families

To Whom It May Concern:

Yes, there are five children.  

Yes, they are all mine.  

No I did not give birth to one of them, but none-the-less, all five are mine.

Yes, I do know what "causes" "that" (the children)...  His name is God.

No, I do not feel like my hands are full.

No I don't think your questions are funny... I think they are sad.

No, I will not jump on your bandwagon and continue to further insult my children by condoning your jokes.

Yes, I will defend these angels.

Yes, I LOVE being a mom (even when they are misbehaving).

Yes, I know they look exactly like their father... and I LOVE it!!!  

No, I am not exhausted from being a mom- I'm exhausted from being a woman.

And no, I wouldn't rather be alone on Mother's Day...  I'd rather be with my babies, celebrating the fact that God gave me five little miracles to live with, to laugh with, to play with, to have sporadic dance parties with, to teach, to guide, to challenge, to be challenged by, to grow with, to snuggle, and to do life with.  

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sincerely,

The Real Life Mom...

Oh, and P.S., to the 5 of you, THIS WEEKEND who chose to make your comments OUT LOUD and in front of my babies (who were all behaving EXTREMELY WELL, mind you)...

Seriously...  let's talk about manners.  Even better, let's have a chat about the little people you are unknowingly insulting.

Because, you know, they ARE people.

Did you know that when you crack a joke about the number of children in our family, that we, as parents, have to continue to explain your lack of understanding, or your prejudice?  Whether or not you, personally, prefer large families should really be a thought you keep to yourself.  I dread the thought of my children thinking they were "accidents" or unwanted.  Yes, we were surprised by each of them, but that doesn't make us love them any less.

My heart has been on a tremendous roller coaster ride this past year, and as a result, several things have changed about the way I view families- my family, in particular.  I used to crack jokes all of the time about my weight as a sort of preemptive strike- my way of protecting myself from the thoughts of others.  In the same way, I made jokes about the number of children we have and how crazy life is with this many, and whatever other unintelligent comments came to mind.  I was protecting myself from hearing what I had heard so many times before- that large numbers of children are not normal, and not okay.

But that is a lie.  A horrific lie.  It was a lie that kept me dreading pregnancy each of the four times I got pregnant.  It was a lie perpetuated by Satan Himself to keep us from enjoying the amazing blessing of children.

I owned this lie for way too long, and was ashamed to be pregnant, even all the way to the end of my final pregnancy.  John 10:10 says "The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it to the full."  What kind of life have I been living???  Up until recently- certainly not a full one.

A friend taught me that putting myself down allows Satan to take those thoughts and make them truth in my mind.  In the same way, if I am constantly making comments about the size of my family, or taking away from the value of their little lives, then what message am I sending them?

I believe when I jump on that bandwagon, I'm telling my children that these are truths- there are just too many of us and I don't desperately love each of them.  I'm telling them that large families are a curse, which is the TOTAL OPPOSITE of the truth.  I'm telling them that they aren't valuable- another horrific lie.  I'm telling them that I agree with the ignorant, the rude, the selfish who insist on making comments IN FRONT of them.

Another lie.

Yesterday, I was celebrated as a mom.  By our church, by my family, by our friends... I was celebrated... because I'm a mom.  And I can think of no other job title I would rather hold, than "mom".  I'm filled with tremendous honor to think of the task I have been given, of the way God has entrusted their little lives to me. And I'm reminded, that without these five AMAZING gifts, I wouldn't be a mom at all, would I?

I have friends who would give ANYTHING to have even one child... just one.  I have friends who have lost children....  so of course I recognize the value of these precious gifts.

So when I hear someone comment, my first instinct is anger- that protective momma wants to let her claws out and defend this amazing family that has been through Hell and high water together... and come out stronger.  I wanted to scream and rant and put those "well meaning... people" in their places.  But somewhere deep inside, a small voice reminds me that these people are guided and molded by what society says.  Some of the people who comment (or worse those who just stare their ugly socialite judgmental stares) are hurting, because, perhaps they wanted a large family and never had one.  Or perhaps they really are ignorant to the truth that large families are a tremendous blessing.  (Who says ignorance is bliss??)  Or, more likely, they are prejudiced by what our world says about children:

In America, we are supposed to have 2.5 kids, a white house with a white picket fence, and a dog.  But "kids" are not "things" to be thrown in to a list of possessions.  I mean- have we completely forgotten that we were all kids at one point, too?!?

Children are people.  Children are extremely valuable.  They have hearts and minds, and tremendous amounts of potential.  These children that you are insulting- they could grow up to be world leaders, they could be teachers, or missionaries, or doctors fighting to save your life, or lawyers fighting to save your rear when you mouth off one too many times...  Just sayin'.

So perhaps, in the future, you can take a deep breath... and hold it until we walk by (I'm kidding... sort of.)  Or maybe you can try to view all of these kids from a different perspective- one grounded in truth- and maybe, just maybe you'll see these children as I do- gifts to be cherished, not possessions to be counted and ridiculed.

Just my two cents...

But thanks for noticing our larger than life, amazing, fun, goofy, loving, hilarious, PRECIOUS, wonderful family...

Happy Mother's Day!

The Real Life Mom




Monday, April 22, 2013

Everything I Need to Know (for today), I Learned in The Kitchen

I cook now.  Who knew this "pop-tart", "microwave-momma" would actually ever enjoy planning and preparing things that took longer than sixty seconds in the microwave to prepare?  But, alas!  It's been about a year since we made the big change, and I couldn't imagine ever going back to the way things were before.  One of the things we now make on a regular basis is home-made taco meat.  We use ground turkey and we make our own taco seasoning from our most beloved recipe book.  

The first time I made the taco meat, I was hesitant because the recipe included some things that I (in my inexperience) didn't think would make for a good flavor.  I was truly convinced that these ingredients would, in fact, make the recipe disgusting.  

So there I was with the decision to add the garlic and oregano, or make it the way I think it should have been made.

I have a tendency towards being a prideful, occasionally rebellious person, but you will be surprised to learn that I made the taco meat (originally) as written.  (Yes, my friend- people can change.)

And it was good.  So, so good...  

And the other day, I was thinking about my husband's (now year-long) search for a firefighting position. I didn't understand why we had to go through this, or why God would leave my husband feeling so desperate, so frustrated, and at times, forgotten. 

During this season, I have felt angry.  I have felt bitter towards God, and towards others who seemed to receive answer, after answer, after answer to their prayer needs.  And I wondered if maybe we were being punished for something that we didn't realize, or if this was actually the path we were supposed to be pursuing.

And as I contemplated this, God reminded me of the night I made the taco seasoning.  He reminded me of my hesitance towards adding everything, as written, to make the mixture.  And He showed me that this season, this year-and-counting is like one of those ingredients.  We may not understand or appreciate it at the time, but it's an absolutely essential part of the recipe.  

Did I mention that I attempted to make the recipe again one time and accidentally left out one of these key ingredients?  And it was gross, bland, un-exciting...

God knows what we need.  He wrote the recipe and is masterfully working His beautiful plan for His glory, and ultimately, for our good.  Even though we don't see it or always understand it, we can choose to allow this season... and choose to be thankful, or we can choose to take a different path.  

My encouragement comes from knowing that the recipe He is working right now in our lives is tremendously more amazing than anything we could have ever hoped or imagined.  This season(ing) that we are in the midst of might not make sense to outsiders, but we are learning to be thankful and to trust God and His perfect timing.  A friend reminded me that God is never late- He never over-cooks his recipe (although it might feel that way sometimes).  

I have no way of knowing when this season will end- when my husband will find that job he so desperately longs for, but I guess my response to that is this:  God has radically changed our entire family over this past year.  He has strengthened us, He has made us closer as a family and closer to Him.  In our desperation, we have seen God move in ways we wouldn't have ever seen otherwise... and it's been amazing.  

In my inexperience and immaturity, this microwave momma might have chosen an alternative path a year ago.  I tried to speed up the process to get the results that I thought I wanted, but just like junk-food, that process produced un-health and left me feeling worse than I did before.  Just as I'm learning to love and appreciate the timing and the fine details that are a part of preparing and cooking nutritious meals that nourish and satisfy my family, I am also growing in my appreciation and understanding of God's handiwork in the kitchen of my life.  So I say- although it's not easy, or always fun, this part of our recipe is essential, and I choose to trust that God is our master-chef, preparing a delightful meal that will fill us and leave us far more satisfied than anything we could have ever manufactured on our own.  

No Longer in a Hurry,

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom




Sunday, March 24, 2013

Here's To The Man...


Here's To The Man...

And so I thought to myself the other day, as my husband hugged me...

"Here's to the man who saw me when I weighed 307 pounds (with no baby inside) and hugged me the same as he does now.  


HERE'S TO THE MAN WHO LOOKED AT ME, LONGINGLY, WHEN I WAS A SLOTHFUL, GLUTTONOUS WOMAN, AND TREATED ME LIKE HIS QUEEN. 


 Here's to the man who never once made me feel like an object of lust, but, rather, THE object of his affections- no matter my size.

Here's to the man who saw me at 145, pursued me passionately, and never stopped, even when I was at my worst. 

Here's to the man who stood by my side through each and every "diet" I attempted... and ultimately failed.  

Here's to the man who took his vows seriously- especially that one about loving and cherishing...  in sickness and in health.

Here's to the man who gained weight when I got pregnant and called it his "sympathy belly" just to make me feel better... and maybe to comfort himself a little, as well.  

Here's to the man who has been my biggest cheerleader and never once, not one time in eleven years, made me feel ugly, fat, unlikable, unlovable, unworthy of his affections and efforts.  

Here's to the man who didn't turn to pornography or other women when I was "morbidly obese"- but instead, comforted and encouraged me... and never once gave up on me.  

Here's to the man who gets publicly pursued by aggressive women... frequently...  in front of his overweight wife, and chooses to publicly affirm the woman he married, rather than acknowledging the inconsiderate women vying for his attention.  

Here's to the first man to ever make me feel truly beautiful, and to love me for WHO I AM, not what I look like, or what I can do for him.

Here's to the man who saw me push him away in my brokenness and shame, and refused to give up on me.

Here's to the man who consistently brings out the best in me...

And here's to the man who saw a broken woman, ashamed of who she had become, and picked her up out of her insecurities and her depression, and carried her until she was strong enough to walk on her own.

To that man, I owe my love and my life.  He demonstrated the perfect picture of how a husband should love a wife.  He is the perfect example of God's heart for me."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

You Can Learn A Lot From A Toddler

I don't think I ever realized how much I could learn from my children...

And then they got sick.

And I was (am) a zombie.

Because I have barely slept, my brain can't function at capacity- which means that instead of my normal 3684763546354368 thoughts at a time, it's pretty much just the one... or three.  It's much quieter in there, I must admit.

And as such, I have been able to notice some things that might otherwise go unnoticed in my typical hurrying and busyness.

All of my observations have led me to this- you can learn a great deal from a toddler... if you pay attention.

Cue Shepherd.

Shepherd is the baby- my baby and has this way of really melting my heart with just the one look.  Seriously- look at that face.

But Shepherd, unknowingly, opened my eyes this past week.  When he wasn't feeling well, all he wanted was to be held by mommy and daddy.

He didn't want snacks, entertainment, or even his siblings.  All he wanted was to be held.

And in considering this, I realized how many times I have been in the midst of a situation, and what I NEED is to be held by my creator, allowing Him to bring comfort and healing.  But instead of falling on the cross and allowing Jesus to hold me, I often turn to food, to friends, or to Facebook for comfort.  It's not my first instinct to go straight to Jesus and pour out my heart to Him, allowing Him to hold me while I "get better"... but oh, how I wish I was more like Shepherd in this- completely dependent on mom and dad, un-tainted by the internet and the "independence" modeled by the world around us.

Seriously...  I wish I was like Shepherd in many ways.  I wish I ran to my daddy for healing, for comfort, for rest...  but it's far too often that I have become independent and managed to try to forge my own way.  I see now why Jesus emphasized our need to become like little children.

I mean, have you ever watched a toddler who is being carried by mom or dad?  When picked up, Shepherd instinctively trusts that we will carry him and not let him fall.

I wonder how many times I've run to God and asked Him to carry me, but all the while, I worry about falling, and consequently, I wrestle my way out of His arms...

Think about it.  Your kids can teach you so, so much about who you are, and who you can be...  pay attention and be blessed!

Just my thoughts for today.  I learned much, much more during our week with the flu, but I'm still recovering from a lack of sleep, so I'll keep it brief before this train of thought derails for the evening, resulting in a series of unfortunate rabbit trails.

Growing through parenthood,

The Real Life Mom



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

HERE'S TO 2013!

Worthless.

It's all worthless, and a waste of time.  All of it.

Status.  Power.  Money.  Fame.  Popularity.  Looks.  Strength.

Worthless.  All of it.

I wrote about it before, but I don't think I ever fully grasped it...  I don't even know that I fully grasp it now.

My husband and I started reading this book together last night.  I've started it before, but my heart wasn't in the right place, so I didn't really grab hold of the message.

The book is called CRAZY LOVE.  The author is Francis Chan.  Here is the Amazon link. Pick up a copy if you can.

The first chapter sends you to the internet to watch a couple of videos, in addition to an in depth writing from Mr. Chan.  I was okay kind of doing my own thing, checking my Facebook several times a day (looking for approval- even though I know better).

And then I watched this.  CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FIRST VIDEO. IT'S SHORT. DON'T WORRY.

That one is called "The Awe Factor".  And it literally took my breath away.

Then we read a little more and we were instructed to go to this video: CLICK HERE WHEN YOU HAVE 15 MINUTES TO WATCH. BUT DON'T FORGET TO WATCH IT!

I've heard the "bigness", the "vastness" of God explained before, but I never got it, like really thought I could wrap my mind around even a small portion of who God really is.  Not that my pea-sized brain will ever fully comprehend all of God.  I mean, even the angels, who have access to see Him, have to cover their faces in response to His awesomeness.

And although you might think I'm part angel...  I'm so not.  I'm just me.

I'm not part of some big bang.  I'm not an accident.

Psalm 139 says

"O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.  You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.   Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,  too great for me to understand!  I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.  I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—  but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.  To you the night shines as bright as day.  Darkness and light are the same to you.  You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book!  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!"

Yeah...  I'm still kind of stuck on the AWE FACTOR video...  and then I think about Psalm 139- How awesome God is, and then that phenomenal, awesome, beautiful, amazing, extravagant, tremendous God that created all of the billions of galaxies...  that same God loves you.  And He loves me.  Not "loves" as in "She really loves Chick-fil-A", but as in "There aren't enough words to describe the love He has for us!"  He watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion... He knew every word I would say before I said it.  He knew I would make mistakes and let people down.  He knew all of my bad choices, and my good choices- before I even made them.

And He loved me any way.

In the same way that He loved Peter, who ultimately betrayed Him, and then went on to lead a tremendous life that brought honor and glory to His name.  He loves us.  And He wants us to know Him- to have a relationship with Him.

Not just reading our Bibles and rushing through some prayer time...  but really learning about who He is, and loving Him in response to His awesomeness.

And part of learning to love Him as an overflow of the joy you feel deep inside, is learning to trust Him.

This morning when I woke up, I had some worries and concerns.

And then I remembered the AWE FACTOR and I was reminded that He controls all of those billions of galaxies.  He keeps the Earth spinning at the perfect rate.  He keeps all of the stars and the sun and the other planets from flying off in to orbit.  He is also in the minuscule details- like in our cell structure and our physical make up.  If He controls and cares about even the smallest details about you, regardless of what you have done, don't you imagine that He cares about the things that concern you?  And if He can control all of those things, doesn't it make sense to ask Him to be in control of the things that seem out of control?  Doesn't it make sense to trust Him in the things that seem tremendous, and impossible to us?  I mean, after all, He controls billions of galaxies and their perfect timing, and everything else that is required to sustain the universe, so your problems, and my problems are probably in good hands.

! Peter 5:7 says

" Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."
Yes, He does.

So I won't waste any more time worrying about things I cannot control.   Remember the Puzzle Pieces we talked about a while back? 

He is in control- from the smallest details and concerns, the the most incomprehensible.  I never stopped to worry about what would happen if our Earth spun out of control...  because I never thought to.  I naturally trusted that God made it, so He would take care of it.

In the same way, I think He's trying to show us that He made us, so He will take care of us.

Remember- He saw all of the days of our lives before we were ever even a glimmer in the eyes of our parents.  He knew we would struggle.  He knew we would doubt.  He knew we would wrestle to be in control.  He knew we would suffer.  He knew we would experience unfathomable pain during our lives.  He knew we'd fall...  even when we fell hard.  He knew we'd waste time- even though we don't have tons of it.  He knew we'd waste our talents and our gifts- and He still chose to give them to us.  He knew we'd made a mockery of Christianity and of the way He wants the church to be.  He knew we'd all be in and of the world at some point...

And still, He loved us.  

His love isn't dependent on our performance.  He doesn't function like humans.  His love was perfect before we ever made any choices- good or bad, so how could we ever make Him love us more or less by making the choices He already knew we were going to make?!?

The answer is...  we can't.

So stop trying.

Like I said- all of this time and effort we are pouring in to status, fame, popularity, money, looks, strength, it's all worthless in comparison to what He has planned for us.

So if I could say anything this New Year, it would be this- don't waste it.

Brad Paisley said, of New Year's Day "Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Write a good one."

And to that, I would say- today is the second page of a 365 page book.  Only 363 pages left.

What choices will you make this year?  Will you spend countless hours working and striving for things that don't matter?  Will the pages of your book 2013 all be the same "Woke up.  Brushed teeth.   Fed family.    Worried.  Cleaned. Worried.  Fed family.  Worried.  Cleaned.  Worried.  Facebooked in search of validation.  Blogged and ignored my kids.  Fed family.  Cleaned.  Facebooked again for more validation.  Bathed.  Brushed teeth.  Went to bed."

Or will you, perhaps, let the author of all authors lead you as you seek to write things you've never even dreamed of before?  Will you meet with Him and let Him really show you the greatness of His love for you, and His beautiful, perfect plan for your life?

I'm pretty sure THAT would be a real page-turner.  Just sayin'.

Happy New Year friends!   I pray that this year is the year God does a new thing in and through you.  I pray that He fills you to overflowing with tremendous joy and passion.  I pray He covers you with His love and that your life, and my life become reflections of His glory, and His planned lived out.

Looking forward to this new year, this new book.  Looking forward, also, to writing shorter blogs.... after this one.  ;)  (It's a resolution- less is more.)

God bless you, friends.

Happy New Year!

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Ministry Affair

Okay, so I may or may not be a control freak.  Maybe...  just a little.

I had all of these ideas and plans about the way things should be in my life (as if it were, truly, MY life.)

For a while, I had things my way.  I was singing every week, or every other week on our praise team at church.  I was teaching women's Bible study.  I was leading the youth and helping out with children's and women's and every other ministry that I felt compelled to be a part of.  If there was an event at church, I was there.  If there was an opportunity for me to get involved, I was first on the sign up list.

Like I said, I'm a control freak.

I thought that I was becoming more "righteous" by helping out, but in reality, I was becoming more self-righteous.  I had everything I wanted.  In fact, because of my need for man's approval, and for control, I would pile on task, after task, after task just so that I could hear what an awesome job I was doing.  (Just being real here, folks- don't judge.)

So obviously I didn't know that's what I was doing.  My children, my marriage, and my relationship with God all took a back seat to my participation in ministry.  In fact, ministry became my idol, and essentially my love.  I turned every bit of my spare attention to ministry and to pursuing a career in ministry and, ironically, I left God completely out of the equation.

When my whole world seemed to crumble, I looked back and realized that I had been having an affair.  As a friend once put it "my affair was with ministry."  It was never with a person, but always with ministry- and honestly, I'm not sure which is worse.  If my affair had been with a person, I would have been able to break it off and hopefully reconcile with my husband and with God.  Instead, I was so blinded by "good deeds" and "serving" that I couldn't even begin to see where I was wrong.



I love that last part- verse 7 where he says "Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord." 

When I had things my way, when I was in control, I was wise in my own eyes and
I had no need for God.

I found every bit of my value in affirmation and attention, thus my "value" was based on performance and the ability to attain perfection.  That could be another reason why He said not to lean on our own understanding...  just a thought.

But after a while of doing things my way, God humbled me.

Through some very necessary changes at our church, I wasn't able to participate and perform at the level I once had.  So naturally, my self-worth, my value completely diminished.  Unknowingly, I had been living out entire parts of my life according to my own selfish ambition and vain conceit and when the opportunities simply were not available to me any longer, my wants, my desires, my hopes, my dreams, my plans all seemed to decrease while my need for God gradually increased.

Once I was "nothing" in my eyes, I was finally able to see God clearly.  It's funny how that works.  When I was desperate for love, for affirmation, and for attention, I had no where else to turn, but to God.  He began to show me that my pursuit of status had left my husband and my children feeling empty and unloved- and had left me completely drained and exhausted- not at all His plan for me.  So through a season of learning to pray and surrender to Him, my marriage was completely restored, and my children rejuvenated.  Our lives were completely changed, for His glory.

He showed me my need wasn't for status, or fulfillment in ministry, the perfect family, or the perfect job.  My need all along, was for Him.

So I get it when James says

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1:2-4

You see, I needed God, but I didn't know I needed Him.  My heart longed for intimacy with Him, and unknowingly, I looked in all of the wrong places to try to find what I thought I was looking for.  During this time, I flirted with bitterness, but thankfully God revealed His desires for me to focus on my family and on Him rather than on what I thought I should be doing and He broke down the half-built walls of bitterness.  Once I was finally able to recognize my need for Him, my prayers became more real, my dependence on Him grew, and my independence shrank.  I started looking to Him to meet all of my needs and I noticed that I wasn't so "thirsty", so desperate for status, for ministry opportunities, for attention and the approval of man.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm thankful for these trials and for a forgiving family.  I'm thankful that God used the past couple of years to radically transform who I was for His glory, and I praise Him for the opportunity to have endured this and to have come out on the other side closer to my husband and children than ever before.

Not that I'd opt to go through all of this again...  because either it was more difficult than it had to be, or I'm just a really slow (stubborn) learner... or both.

Always learning, for His glory.

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom



Our Free Car, Our Christmas Miracle

So we got this car the other day...

Actually, let me re-phrase that:  we were GIVEN a car the other day- free of charge, as in "Here is the title.  It's all yours."

I know...  crazy, right?

It's beyond amazing.  It's fully loaded and better than anything either one of us could ever have hoped for or imagined.  It's gorgeous and wonderful and, almost too good to be true.

Only it's really true.  This really did happen.

Now- to answer your questions:

No.  We don't know who.  We don't know how.  We don't know why.

All we know is that we have been praying for quite some time for a vehicle- a vehicle without a car note.  I know- it seems crazy to pray for something like that, but we've been blessed in the past, and so I figured- why put God in a box?

Luke 1:37 says "NOTHING is impossible with God."

I wasn't sure what that would entail- whether it would be something we would save for over a long period of time,or if God would just show up and provide for this need.  Either way, I knew something needed to happen... something beyond our means, so we prayed.

The kids and I had made a prayer poster with a list of requests- super requests- things that only God could do.  I wanted them to see evidence of God at work.  As we prayed for these requests, some of them were answered- but definitely not in the ways I would have imagined.  God is a creative God, and I like to think of Him as being a romantic.  In all of His beautiful creativity, He reached down in to our circumstances and, for whatever reason, He chose to bless us in some pretty mind-blowing ways.

When it came to the request for the car, however, I began to get discouraged.  I started to try to "fix" the problem.  I began looking on Craigslist for a vehicle.  I thought perhaps I should just buy my husband a "clunker"- something to get him to and from work, and nothing more.  I looked everywhere, but no one seemed to be willing to negotiate down to a price we could manage- and the people who seemed most willing to make a deal were almost all scams.

So I allowed myself to buy in to Satan's lie that I should just give up.

But I had been so convinced that we were supposed to pray for a vehicle without a car note.  So why was I giving up?

Because waiting on God didn't fit in to my timeline.

And then something inside of me changed.  During a quiet time, in Romans 8, I read:

"If we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently." 

After reading this, I was reminded that I needed to continue to wait on God, on His timing, and wait confidently- not giving up.  I tried.  I prayed.  I persevered.

But the enemy persisted.  He continued to try to convince us that this was never going to happen.  I wondered if perhaps I was "doing" something wrong, or if I needed to "do" something different.  My patience was running out, along with my confidence.

Then, last Friday, I received a text from a beloved friend who informed me that the Lord had graciously provided a vehicle for our family.

Seriously.


The vehicle didn't come from this friend- she was merely the messenger.

In spite of fears, doubts, frustrations, and pride, God showed up.


My mind tried to make sense of it all.  I tried to figure out how it had worked out- whether or not I had done something to earn this.

And I could think of nothing.

And then I could come up with no logical explanation for this beautiful, perfect, amazing gift... so I praised God.  During this season, He grew our faith, and taught us how to wait on Him.

People keep asking "what did you DO to earn that?!??!"  Truthfully?  We didn't "DO" anything.  We didn't earn this, or even deserve it.  To my knowledge, God doesn't work like that.  We didn't pray the right prayers, or impress the right people.  We just...  prayed and waited.

I have no idea why God chooses to answer some requests and not others.  I may never fully understand the magnificent scope of His awesome plan.  I mean, we prayed for some pretty incredible requests during this same time period, and they were not answered in the way we thought they should be...  if they were answered at all.  But we had to choose to trust in the goodness and the sovereignty of God.  We had to choose to trust that He moved in HIS time, according to HIS will and HIS purposes, for HIS glory.

Not mine.

And let me clarify- I am not bragging about this- not at all.  Several people have asked that we share the story behind the car, and so here it is.  We aren't favored over other people.  We aren't "more precious" to Him or "more loved" by Him.  We just continue to ask Him and wait with hopeful expectation for Him to respond either by providing or by leading us down a different path.

That's it.

No magic formula.  No special words or sign up sheets.

Just a family choosing to trust God rather than manipulating our circumstances to make us more "comfortable".

So, I'm sorry if it's not the super-exciting story you were hoping for.  For us, it was beyond exciting- it was an opportunity to experience God's love in a way we so desperately needed it.

It was our Christmas Miracle.



So we would like to take a moment to thank all of our friends who prayed for us during this season.   I don't know if you've been praying for something and it hasn't worked out the way you had hoped.  Maybe it's been years and you have yet to see any kind of answers.  I encourage you to keep on praying.  If I had things my way, I would have had this prayer answered a year ago. But God isn't a magic genie, so I know He isn't going to move in my timeline or the way I think He should.  I have a friend who prayed for the salvation of her husband for thirteen years before he finally made the decision to trust Christ.

Thirteen years.

God had a plan and it changed (and I would imagine is still changing) countless lives.  It changed my life, for sure!

He's God.  He's in control.  And our job is to trust him, no matter what.

End of story.

So anyway, thanks for reading and for celebrating with us!

To God be the glory, for the things He has done!

   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Leftovers

Raise your hands if you are still eating leftovers... from Thanksgiving.  Anybody?  

I'm not a huge fan of leftovers.  I know I'm not alone in this- they just don't taste the same... except pie.  Pie is never not good, and I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of pie in my home post-Thanksgiving.  But I digress.  When it comes to leftovers there are some things that are merely "okay" the next day.  For the most part, however, leftovers are dominantly for the kids- and the jolly green giant I married.  

So, as I was re-heating some left overs for lunch, Jacob reminded me that he is also not a fan of leftovers when he whined:  "Maaaahhhhhmmmm...  it doesn't taste the same!"  

I'm not sure why this struck me, but it did.  I started thinking about how much of me I'm giving to the Lord, and how much I'm using on other less-important things.

I know- not where you thought I was going with that... 

So, of course, because this is a recurring theme in my life, as of late, I experience this lesson everywhere.  I read this today in my daily devotion (Jesus Calling) and experienced a similar lesson in a meeting I attended this morning:


And I was convicted.

Especially when she writes: "This practice enables them to give Me money, time, and work without yielding  up to Me what I desire most- their hearts...  the habit forming rules provide a false sense of security, lulling the soul into a comatose condition."  And then she goes on to say "What I search for in My children is an awakened soul that thrills to the joy of my presence!"  (The tears started there) and then I read "I created mankind to glorify Me and enjoy Me forever."

A thousand thoughts, I had.  But just one stood out significantly above the rest.  

It was this- how much of my time, money, efforts in ministry, efforts in life do I offer up to God to appease Him without every fully allowing myself to be open to truly loving and receiving love from Him?  I mean, seriously- when is the last time my soul felt awakened and thrilled at the joy of His presence?  These habits that I have trained myself to do, are they really for God, or are they to make me feel better?

The part of me that I yield trying to "spend time with God"- if I'm being truly honest, that's really just the leftovers.  

Read this:


Deuteronomy 6
“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Looking back at my week filled with "to-do"s and busyness, I think, I certainly haven't been loving Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I've been loving my church, my kids, my husband, and my home, but not God.  At least, not in this way.  

We are being urged in Deuteronomy to commit ourselves whole-heartedly to this, not just to give God our leftovers.

Psalm 16:11 says:
"You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever."

I have often wondered why I spent so much time trying to "do" more in ministry, trying to gain acceptance, approval, and validation from people when God spells it out multiple times in scripture:  We aren't here for our glory, for our ministry, or even for the church as a whole.  We aren't here for our families.  We are here for God-  To know Him and to love Him... and to be loved by Him.  All of that other stuff is just "stuff" unless it becomes the byproduct of loving Him and allowing Him to love others through you.

Maybe you aren't in this same place.  Maybe you "got it" a long time ago and have been enjoying the "joy of His presence" ever since.  For me, I know I've been in a season of change, wrestling with my plans versus God's plans.  Some days I'm uber-focused and really in an attitude of loving Him- not just what He can do.  Those days, I know for certain I experience the joys of His presence and my love for Him grows exponentially.  But old habits die hard.  

I think that because of my past and my personality, I am wired to "do" and to "go" and often lose sight of just being with Him.  I listen to the lie that I have to" do" or to be involved to earn His love, as we often experience with man and I forget that "He so loved the world..."  It was a free gift.  He already loved me- before I ever did anything good or bad.  And yet, I can still see that I'm either trying to please Him or find some sort of fulfillment in status or in other things- even honorable things like ministry, a happy husband, well-educated and well-behaved children, a healthy diet,  a clean home, etc...  I spend far too much time allowing my self to become far too distracted by life in this world and the need for man's approval to concern myself with things like the joy of His presence.  I'm loving "things" and people with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.  So it's no wonder that when all is said and done, I'm completely and totally exhausted and all I have to offer Him is...  you guessed it- my leftovers.

But I don't want to live like that.  So for today, I'm thankful for this little reminder in the form of a whiny toddler- that helped me to regain my focus.  I am reminded that God doesn't want our leftovers any more than we want His.  He wants our soul-awakened to the thrills and joys of His presence!  So I say we throw out the leftovers and start fresh.

Here's to pie!  (I'm kidding...  sort of).  Here's also to another opportunity to learn more about this incredible opportunity that we all have to be wildly loved by the creator of the universe!

Still learning.  Still growing. 

Still long-winded... 


The Real Life Mom