Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I am NOT a tree.

I'm one of those people who are easily motivated. Not. Kidding. When I was younger, I'd watch a cereal commercial and suddenly be convinced that I NEEDED to go make myself a bowl of cereal... the chocolate kind... or Lucky Charms... or...  I better stop before I decide I need some of that sugary goodness.  Is it sad that I just drooled a little? (ADD...)

Anyway,  I'm not typically a hard sell. I can see an image like this one and think to myself-  "Yep! I'm getting back in the habit now! I AM going to work out and I AM going to follow through with this! THIS TIME I WILL NOT FAIL."  It really doesn't take much- it never has.

Getting motivated has never been my issue (seriously- just typing this while that image is sitting there is making me want to hit the treadmill)- it's the follow through that has really been my downfall. But I saw this quote today, "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree." ~Jim Rohn. 

 It sounds so simple- silly, even. It's almost too simple, right? Not really... I mean, the last time I checked, I wasn't a tree, so I CAN change, right?  My roots aren't forcing me to stay who I have always been.  There is, in fact, NOTHING holding me here- except me. So why don't I change? I'm filled with every good intention of changing. In fact, good intentions pretty much define me on any given day.  

I have good intentions of following through with that next diet and losing all of my weight. I have good intentions of getting my house cleaned and paying each of my bills or loans on time, every time.  I tell myself every day that I will go to bed early so I can wake up early, spend some really, truly, quiet, alone time with God and then shower, put on some make up so I don't scare the natives, and make a hot breakfast and lunches- All BEFORE the Hottie and kids even start to think about waking up.  (Yes, I am aware these expectations are a little unrealistic.)  And then each day, I have some thing that keeps me up until way too late and the Hottie and kids usually beat me out of bed, helping themselves to whatever cereal or cold breakfast choices can be found in the pantry. Then I am discouraged first thing in the morning and I think to myself "Fail. I guess I'll try again tomorrow."  

And the cycle continues. (Maybe I need therapy?)   :)

Anyway, I have the best intentions of making these amazing new year's resolutions and following through with them- each of them... and I never do (who does?)  I have these amazing intentions that I tell people about- like writing this book and starting this ministry, training to run a half marathon a few years back, becoming a speaker... all of these great dreams and intentions. And yet, here we are at the end of another year and I'm somehow disappointed in myself... again.

And for the record, I must say I sincerely DISLIKE New Year's resolutions. I love the idea of having a clean slate and starting over from scratch. (Don't we all?)  I like the idea of starting new- as if just because I was a screw up the year before, this year will somehow be different.  But why should 2012 be any different than 2011 or 2010 or the 30 years before that?  (Yes, math whiz, I'm 32.)  

I read this earlier today- "Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow."  ~Fernanda Miramontes-Landeros  Huh.  She (I think this is a she) has a point.  What I am now is not all bad.  I'm not good at follow through, but I'm gifted in several areas, I'm passionate, and I'm occasionally funny.  I'm good at teaching, good at loving on people, and organized (in my mind, folks... not in my house).  For those parts of me, I am thankful.  I guess I will just keep fighting to become this person that I want so badly to be.  Not that my expectations are completely realistic (another growth area for me) but I know who I want to be and right now, I'd say I have quite a road to travel.  But I'll keep fighting.  I know I can't do it all on my own or in my own strength, but I know I am responsible for making the choice to change and taking the necessary steps to get there.

Within each of us is the capability to become the person God created us to be. He knew we'd all face struggles and He gave us the tools we'd need to overcome those struggles.  Time to tap into those tools and "man up" as the Hottie says.  Time to recognize I am NOT a tree, so I can change it... and I WILL.  I recognize that I'm feeling dangerously inspired at the moment, so I won't write out a long list of resolutions (yet).  Instead, I think I'll go have some cereal while I wrap myself in my new Snuggie and contemplate the new me I'd like to try to become in 2012.  

Still growing...  still learning to let go.  

NO LONGER I (right?),

The Real Life Mom.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


THIS is exactly what I needed to help me refocus 3 days before Christmas.

Don't Miss It

"1 God, you are my God. 
       I search for you. 
    I thirst for you 
       like someone in a dry, empty land 
       where there is no water. 
 2 I have seen you in the Temple 
       and have seen your strength and glory.
 3 Because your love is better than life, 
       I will praise you.
 4 I will praise you as long as I live. 
       I will lift up my hands in prayer to your name.
 5 I will be content as if I had eaten the best foods. 
       My lips will sing, and my mouth will praise you. 

 6 I remember you while I'm lying in bed; 
       I think about you through the night. 
 7 You are my help. 
       Because of your protection, I sing.
 8 I stay close to you; 
       you support me with your right hand.

Psalm 63 

Or, as I heard it in a Jami Smith song:

"Oh, God, you are my God!  Earnestly I seek you!  My body longs for you, my soul thirsts for you.  In a dry and weary land, where there is no stream.  You extend your gracious hand and give life to me..."

People don't speak this way anymore- not most people, anyway.  You might hear language like this in an overly dramatic love story or in one of those awkward yogurt commercials "My body longs for you... oh chocolate goodness!"  But rarely will we hear people praying like this or even speaking OF God like this, let alone TO Him like this.   

Here we have David- in the desert of Judah- crying out in desperation for God. There aren't too many times I've cried out in desperation for God when I wasn't seeking His hand.  Here David is simply saying "God- it's YOU I want- all of YOU!"  Not God's hand... His heart.  

David's words made me blush a bit.  I mean- I've honestly thought this way about the hottie... (I'll spare you the details).  I've felt like my body longed  for water or for food... but not too often have I thought how my body was longing for God.  And it makes me a little sad, and really almost jealous of this wonderful relationship that David had with God.  I want that.  

I have spent much of my life seeking the favor of God or the hand of God and I want to be back in that place where I first fell in love with Him... where all I wanted was His love.  I know we've been through seasons of physical need and have been learning to trust Him as our provider.  He's proven Himself time and time again.  So I think it's time for us to continue to grow as we get to know Him.  Yes, we will always need and depend on His provision and His direction and guidance to get us through life, but I want to hunger and thirst for Him.  I want to know Him so intimately that the times when I am not alone with Him, my body longs for Him and my soul thirsts for Him...

As we continue to get closer to Christmas day, I've been visiting with the kids about Christmas, about the birth of Christ and why it's so important.  We've talked about Jesus coming to save us, but I want them to know and understand this as well.  It was never just about us being saved.  It was about God's love- coming down to earth.  He wanted to separate the great divide so that we could know Him here on earth and experience His great love in an active relationship with Him and to know Him intimately BEFORE we get to heaven.  Yes, He did come to save us, but to love us as well.  "For God so loved the world..."  He loved us.  In spite of our sin, He still loves us.  Even though we've gotten away from the meaning of the season.  Even though we've commercialized this day.  Even though we've been hand seekers, rather than heart seekers.

I cannot help but stand in awe of this love- this amazing love that He has for us- for me.  He knew I'd be one of the greatest screw ups to ever live.  He knew I'd lie, cheat, steal, and gossip.  He knew I'd lose my temper with my kids and be a glutton.  He knew I'd go through seasons of only seeking His hand... and still he loved me.  In spite of it all, HE. LOVED. ME. He pursued me.  He never, not for one moment, did not love me- or you, or any of us.  

I saw this morning that a world renowned pastor said on national television that the true meaning of Christmas was making memories with your family.  I'm not here to bash anyone, but dear pastor, you're way off base... and I hope you figure it out sooner rather than later, because dear friend- you are missing out.  The true meaning of Christmas is love.  God's love.   

And so, as I sip my cup of warm morning goodness, I thought I'd share my thoughts with you.  In the midst of memory making and holiday traditions, baking, shopping, lights, wrapping, and giving- don't miss it...  it is, after all, the reason for this season.

Still learning.  Still growing.  Still becoming

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

See What Had Happened Was...

I'm a klutz.  Yep.  In the words of Fresh Prince, see what had happened was...

I was visiting with one of my dearest friends (and my mentor) and was looking for something in my room when she announced that The Hottie was calling.  And like any star struck teenager, I turned to run for the phone because, you know... this is only 2011- and it's not like I could have called him back or anything.  Anyway, as soon as I turned around, I tripped over a hope-chest-type piece of furniture that resides at the foot of my bed.

First the big toe, then the shin...  (and no wordy dirds this time).  In the midst of it all, I somehow twisted or did something odd that caused massive pain in both my hip and my knee.  So, here I sit, watching my movie marathon and drowning my pain in chick flicks.  Awesomeness.

But I was thinking... I can remember a few years ago when I used to ignore the call from The Hottie.  I can remember when he wasn't The Hottie to me, but more of someone I was stuck with- someone I loathed.  When things were like that between us, I never would have broken my leg to catch his phone call.  But God is a big God who answers big prayers and changes big, prideful people... and He changed me.

Not that our marriage is always blissful and perfect.  Perfection is only in the movies.  But we have hope and a future...  Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the plans I have for you' says The Lord 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future."  It's funny how time flies and how God's word is so full of truth and promise...  hope, and a future.  Who would have thought?

So today, this last day of November, I'd like to say I'm thankful- thankful for the amazing man God has blessed me with, thankful for a mentor who pushed through the hard times and who is, in fact, the very reason we are still married (as God used her to breathe life into us).  Thankful for a God who loves us so much that He sent His son to die so that we, in the midst of all of our selfishness, pridefulness, and drama, could be saved and could experience His plan for our lives- a plan that includes joy and the ability to laugh together as I hobble to the door to greet him underneath a mistletoe that our daughter hand picked just for us.

A line from one of my favorite songs "What joy, what joy for those whose hope is in the name of the Lord."  Thank you Lord for giving us hope and giving us joy.  Thank you Lord for changing me and beginning a good work in me.... in all of us.

Anyhow, I better run... er... get off of the computer.  The Hottie is calling...

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Monday, November 28, 2011

Food For Thought


Yeah.  I thought I'd jump on to blog because.... well... it's been FOR.EV.ER since I last wrote.  And I feel like I should at least try to write something.  The thing is, I've got nothing.  Those years of drugs must have really done me in.  (i'msokidding).  I never inhaled.  Okay, I better be careful.  This is how rumors get started.  for the record-  I was a D.A.R.E. kid.  I remember one time when the D.A.R.E. officers told us we could die from trying any drugs one time... so I never did.  Seriously.  That's all it took.  And no, I'm not a nerd- well, at least not anymore.  I was super afraid.  Even with all of my friends who occasionally smoked pot or did... whatever else they did.  I was afraid to die, so I "just said no".

Yeah... thanks to that pretty little logo, I was brainwashed for the better.

But I was a good kid.  Well, that's a lie.  I did get in to my fair share of trouble at home.  (And trust me when I say, it was NOT my fault.  I have a sister named Amy.  We'll blame 99.9% of it on her).  But outside of the house, I was a good kid...  at least, according to my memory.  My parents might tell a different story, and I'm certain my sister would, but since this is MY blog and MY story, I'll tell it MY way.  ;)

Annnnnyway, I was thinking today as I listened to a message from Dr. Chris Zaino.  He's a chiropractor here in the area.  Anyway, Dr. Zaino has some great insight about how the human body works.  I haven't committed to being a patient of his just yet, but I'm definitely a believer in what he had to share regarding getting through the holidays..

There was a point... and it was interrupted by ADD.

Oh yes!  So as you know, I've tried just about every diet known to man.  I've tried to lose weight and tried to maintain control of my physical body. But the funny thing is, I never stopped to consider what I am putting into my body that could be affecting everything else.  It was always about portion control, or eat this or don't eat that.  One of the things Dr. Zaino was talking about in this lecture was eating for life.  He really made me think about the quality of life I want to have.  I'll be on the earth for as long as God wants me to be here.  So if that's another 50 years, awesome. If not, awesome.  However long it is, I want to live a life that honors Him, and I want to be healthy doing it.

I think a life that honors Him includes making choices that honor Him.  1 Corinthians 10:31 says "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  I don't think that making a choice to have an occasional treat is bad, but I do think that by overindulging consistently and allowing my health to go down the drain, I am also choosing 1- NOT to honor God and 2- whatever consequences come with living like that.

I guess what I'm getting at is- when I was younger I was so aware of what I didn't put in to my body.  I didn't want to die form the drugs and so I committed with a firm resolve to stand my ground against drugs- even in the midst of strong temptation (and trust me- the temptation caused by the need for man's approval is tremendous).  So what I'm thinking now is- more than half of the food and medicine I put into my body is toxic.  While it may not kill me immediately, it will definitely kill me eventually... or at least drastically decrease my quality of life.  So why not make the choice to eat for life instead living to eat?  Maybe instead of Drug Abuse Resistance Education, we can start FOOD Abuse Resistance Education?  It would be F.A.R.E...  Catchy?  What do you think?

Just some food for thought.

No Longer I

The Real Life Mom

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's In A Number?

Several thoughts as I sit down to write today- in fact, there will likely be another post on an entirely different subject.

But anyway, I was thinking- each week, I prepare a message, pray over said message and show up on Thursday mornings to teach it.  Some weeks, God really blesses me through the message.  Those weeks are usually when I can feel Him in the room, sometimes even speaking through me.  Other weeks (such as this week) I feel frustrated and alone in the room- like God didn't show up.  I feel like I do the work and hope that the message reaches someone, anyone... and then I hear crickets.  Nothing.

It's somewhat discouraging.  Scratch that.  It can be very discouraging.


I know God is working and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am being obedient and I am in my calling.

So every week isn't life-altering and spectacular. So the numbers have dropped.  What's in a number if I'm being obedient to the call of Christ?  What's in a number if that number is 1 and I am her.  If no one showed up for the study, but God still moved in my heart because I was obedient to Him, then I can think of no greater blessing than being fulfilled through obedience.

Now if I can just let go of the people-pleasing, human side of me and really buy what I'm selling here, we'll be all good.


Working on letting go.

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Life On A Diet... Day 1 (again)

Yep.  I'm dieting again.  I love to diet.  (Note the thick, inlaid sarcasm in my tone).

I watched a show last week where one of the main characters is an alcoholic.  She has struggled with an addiction to alcohol off and on for a while.  In this latest episode, the character had been sober for 30 days and then in a moment of emotional weakness, she drank again.  The next morning she was in an AA meeting and said something that struck an emotional chord with me.  She said something to the effect of  "I'm humiliated.  I'm back to day 1.  I'm starting over from scratch and it's embarrassing, frustrating, humiliating, and scary.  But I'm sober."

Yeah...  I'm back to day 1 of my diet again.  I cannot tell you how many times I have started diets and failed. (And no, I don't want/need to hear about changing my lifestyle instead of dieting, and blah, blah, blah).  I cannot tell you how frustrated, angry, even scared I have been with my life- with the excess weight.  I have read so much that I could likely tell you everything you need to (or would want to) know about losing weight.  I have the head knowledge of how to lose the weight, but the application is quite lacking.

My issue  stems from a much deeper root issue.  I believe that I am addicted to food- or maybe that I use it as a crutch.  When I'm tired, I eat.  When I'm mad, I eat.  When I'm happy and celebrating, I eat.  And sometimes I just eat to eat.  I like food.  Scratch that.  I love food.  I wonder if that's the way an alcoholic feels.  "When I'm happy, I drink.  When I'm angry, I drink... and I drink just to drink.  I love alcohol."  

So maybe the alcoholic and I aren't so very different.  The effects of over eating or, at this point, of choosing not to lose the weight could be just as deadly as an alcoholic who chooses not to stop drinking.

No, this isn't me- but it could easily become me.  So why don't I just go for it?  I do.  I have.  I will.  But at some point, I either give in to temptation or I stumble... and then I find myself right back here again.  right back to Day 1.  I hate that I feel like I'm just going to fail. I mean, that's been my pattern, right?  The Hottie has seen it, my kids have seen it, anyone who knows me even remotely has seen it.  I always start out with such passion, such fervor and then I let them down, or I let me down- which is it?  Likely both.

So for now I won't say "I'm on a diet... again!" I'll just say- today is day 1.  And tomorrow, after not quitting, or giving up, I'll say "Today was day 2."

I know I won't spend my entire life on a diet.  I truly believe that at some point I will reach my goals and will be in the maintenance phase.  Until then- it's not easy being married to the Hottie (with his negative body fat) and having 4 little stick people who can eat all they want and not gain.  It's not easy having friends who can eat entire pizzas and not gain an ounce- when I look at the same pizza and gain ten pounds.  It's not easy, but I know this life isn't easy.  And up until now, I have lived to satisfy my own selfish desires.  But that's not why God put me here.  He put me here to honor Him- to bring him honor and glory, and to "be an example for the other believers in speech and in life."  (just so happens to be my children's memory verse right now).

I want that to be my motivation- to honor Him.  1 Corinthians 10:31 says "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  I heard once that knowledge applied is wisdom in action and knowledge not applied is equally foolishness.  I have the knowledge. I have the truth right in front of me.  I don't want to be a fool.  In my heart I want to honor God, so I commit- whatever I do- whether it be eating or drinking, one day at a time, I want to honor God.

I know the road is long.  I brought myself to this point- no one else did it.  I didn't gain all of this weight simply from having children (but seriously...  they DID contribute... that, and the french toast I HAD to eat while pregnant).  None-the-less, I am here to fulfill a purpose and I can either work toward fulfilling that purpose, or away from it.  I choose toward.

So if I mess up (and there's a strong possibility that I will), I'll get back up on the horse, and knowing that I'm moving closer to my goal, I won't be ashamed to say again "Today is Day 1."

*Sidenote- this was written yesterday.  Today is, successfully, Day 2.

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Legacy She Left

Funerals.  I'm not so great with the whole idea of a funeral.  I'd much prefer for my life to end with a bang- like a huge party in honor of the life I lived- not a group of people all wearing black, crying that I'm gone.  I want there to be a rule at my memorial service, that everyone has to wear a bright color.  I love to make people smile and somehow I just don't get the feeling that black encourages a great deal of smiling (unless I'm trying on clothes in the fitting room and it's between the white shirt that "fatters" or the black shirt that "flatters"- in which case, the black would definitely encourage a smile.  But I digress... yet again.

So yesterday was my grandmother's funeral.  I loved how we had several photos at the funeral. Some were of my grandmother by herself, but most of the pictures had my grandmother with my papa.  When I got the news a week ago that she had passed away, though it was no surprise, I wept uncontrollably for about 45 minutes.  At the end of that 45 minutes, I felt the prayers of my friends as a peace filled me- that peace that you cannot explain...  And in my mind, I saw a picture that made me smile.  I saw my grandmother reunited with my papa (who had passed away almost nine years ago).  And almost as if it were really happening, I saw them dancing, as I had seen so many times growing up.  

At the funeral, I shared the stories of my grandparents.  I loved their relationship- the way they played, the way they laughed.  I loved the way they danced together and always seemed to know what the other was thinking.  They truly were soul mates and best friends.  They had a love like you don't see a lot these days.  Their love was a love refined- a love that has likely been tested through the fire and had come out on the other side, purer and stronger than ever before.  When you were around them, you nearly could not help but smile. There was something super natural, something precious about their relationship.  

And as I sat listening to some of these stories during the funeral, I couldn't help but think- that kind of love- that's the legacy I want to leave for my children... and their children...  That's the kind of friendship and deep relationship I want to have with my husband.  That's the kind of love that is so much greater than anything we mere humans can produce on our own.  It's the love that comes from God.  

During the funeral, I remembered how every morning, my grandmother would wake up and spend time with The Lord.  She would read her Bible and spend time in prayer.  I didn't always see her doing this, but I always saw fruit- the kind that cannot be produced in your own strength.  The fruit that comes from knowing God intimately.  She loved my grandfather- not in her own strength- but with the love that overflowed out of her relationship with the Lord (which was so much greater than any love she could ever have given my papa on her own). She was wise and gracious and patient.  She was kind and gentle and so very good.  She was a woman after God's own heart and she was a blessing to so many.  

After the testimonies about my grandmother, her pastor read from Proverbs 31 and the scripture perfectly described my grandmother.  Tears came to my eyes as I listened to him speak truth after truth about this precious woman that we had all been so blessed to know. And so I left the funeral filled with joy as I thought about my grandmother's wonderful life, fruit, and love- God's love...  

I'll miss you here on Earth, Grandmother, but I look forward to dancing with you (and Papa) in Heaven.  Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me- and for loving me unconditionally.  But most of all, thank you for setting the standard in your 50+ years of marriage to Papa- showing us what it looks like to live a life fully surrendered to God.  I feel honored to have known you and blessed to have shared in the joy of your life.  You were truly THE quintessential Proverbs 31 woman and I hope to one day share in your legacy.  I love you... oh, so much.  Learning to live like you did...

No Longer I,

The real life mom... and grand daughter.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Goodbyes are so very difficult.  I got some pretty hard news this afternoon.  This week will likely be my grandmother's last week here on Earth.  In some ways I'm excited for her to be able to leave this world and this body that had entrapped her.  I know she wants desperately to be with my grandfather- to whom she was happily married for 50+ years.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she will join him in Heaven after she passes on, so that brings me peace..  But it's the selfish side of me that is hanging on to her here.

I LOVED my grandparents.  They set an amazing example of what marriage should look like.  They laughed together, they played together, they encouraged one another and they sought the Lord together..  They took a three mile walk together every morning and really had a good sense of what it meant to be in love and to really be one flesh.  My grandfather snored like a train so they slept in separate bedrooms, but even still, my grandmother served him, honored him, and loved him deeply.  He was an amazing man, and she was the perfect example of the wife I hope to become.

Not only did she know how to love my papa, but she also knew how to love my sister and I.  We were the only two grandchildren, so we may have been a little spoiled.  But I can remember when I would go to stay with her, she would hide a secret box of Oatmeal Cream Pies in her cabinet- just for me.  She would play with us and talk with us.  She encouraged me and taught me so much.  I knew when I was going through something difficult, that she would always (and did always) have a beautiful bit of wisdom to impart.

Sadly, as life often goes, my grandmother has been suffering with Alzheimer's and dementia for the past 5 years.  The past three years have been her rapid decline and she is to the point where she can no longer remember anyone- not even my father who visits her regularly.  I am so blessed as I was able to visit her a couple of weeks ago, on a whim.  She is in a home in Austin, and I stopped in to spend some time with her while I was in town.  While part of me thinks she did not know me, part of me thinks she remembered me- even if just for a brief moment- and I think she heard me when I told her goodbye.

When I walked in to her room, she was laying down in the bed.  She was about 2/3 of the size she had been at my last visit with her.  Her (normally perfect) hair was pulled back in a  pony tail and she was clearly not herself.  She didn't speak to me and gave me only a few blank stares, but I think somewhere in the back of hr mind, she was at peace with me being there.  I talked to her and told her all about our family.  I stroked her hair and held her hands.  Part of me wished I could stay there with her until she "woke up" out of this state, but I knew, deep down, that this visit would likely be the last time I ever got to see her.

As I kissed her forehead and hugged her tight, I prayed that she would hear my heart's cries while I bid her goodbye.  I prayed that she would know how very much she was loved and that she would be at peace to go home.  I see, now, that the Lord is good and has answered my prayers and I can only say thank you to Him for rescuing her from the chains which have bound her so tightly for so long.  I praise Him for bringing her peace and I will praise Him when he brings her home.  In the mean time, I might cry for a little while because deep down inside of me is that little girl who will always love her grandmother.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Our Place

I sing.  Have I ever told you this?  I love to sing... anything.  I've been known to belt out the Oscar Mayer tune when cooking chili dogs, or songs from the Little Mermaid when I'm making fish....  (that was wrong, I know...)  Anyway, I can remember when I was growing up, my mom was always on piano and my dad, sister, and I would always sing around the piano in harmonies with her.  Those were some of my favorite memories.

As I continued to grow and transform into young adulthood and my relationship with God started to transform, I was introduced to worship- real worship.  I was raised to sing in the church.  From infancy, I'm certain there was never a time when I wasn't singing or in a choir somewhere.  But singing then was just singing.  As I grew up and  learned about the relationship my creator wanted to have with me, I started to realize just how much I loved Him and how much I had to be thankful for.  And then it was born in me- a worshipful heart.

Words are a big part of my life.  They always have been.  Words can make or break my day.  They have the power of life and death.  So words, put to music (one of my most favorite things in the entire world) just sends my soul soaring!  That's where worship comes in.  Worship is one of my passions.  It takes "just music" and turns it in to a vertical connection with our creator.  Worship is the time when I feel like I can just be me- no facades, no masks- just me and my heart, connecting with the heart of God.  When I sing words like "How great thou art" and "I need you more" and "I wanna sit at your feet" I am automatically taken to that place- our place- mine and God's place.

In "our place", there's no housework or bills to pay.  When I'm in "our place", my imperfections seem to fade away and suddenly I remember who I am... whose I am.   When I'm in our place, I am free to relax, to love and to be loved- completely and freely.  I find forgiveness there.  I find mercy there.  I find strength, peace, mercy, and unconditional love there.  No matter what I've been through that week, no matter how much I may have messed up- when I go to our place, my blemishes are washed clean and I'm made whole.

It's almost enough to make me wonder- why do I ever leave our place?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sing It! (Devotional written by Jeff Wells)

I LOVED this so much, I had to share it!  I definitely had no part in writing this, but I will have a part in sharing it.  This is one of my greatest passions!!!  :)  Thanks Jeff!

Sing It!
September 26, 2011
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
 Psalm 5:11a

When you are singing to God, singing is praying. Singing is part of our prayer life. Songs of joy, songs of praise, songs of love. God says to us, "Let them sing! Let them ever sing!"

It's rather surprising, in fact, how often the Psalms mention singing. Consider, for example, this flurry of verses beginning with Psalm 95:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 95:1-2

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his Name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Psalm 96:1-2

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
Psalm 98:1a

Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Psalm 100:2

I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will sing praise.
Psalm 101:1

That's a flurry! And there's more.

But why? Why all this emphasis on singing?

Music is powerful. Music is emotional. Music is passionate. Music so often is the language of love. At time mere words, music-less words, just won't do. We need to sing if we are going to adequately express the love and joy and exuberance we fell. Psalm 98 describes the heart that newly bursts with love and praise: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music (98:4).

I love singing to God. I do it practically every day. And I can't sing worth a flip! But still, sing I do. I love it. And when we sing together, and the skilled musicians are playing and the praise singers are singing, and we are expressing the depths of our grace-filled hearts to God, and the presence of God fills the room, it just doesn't get much better. Our hearts are so full.

It's a gift. A gift from God. Songs of joy. Songs of love. Songs to Jesus.

© 2011 WoodsEdge Community Church. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced for any non-commercial use.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Meet Jacob

I have this favorite face cream that I use.  Perhaps you've heard of it- Mary Kay's Emollient Cream.  I love this stuff!  It feels somewhat like petroleum, but thicker.  I use it on my hands and feet to soften rough edges and around my eyes to help keep (some of) the wrinkles at bay...  not sure how well that is working, but it's definitely worth the effort.

So anyway, yesterday as I was sitting down to write, I sat back for a few minutes to enjoy the serene- which was nap time in my house.  I drank from my cup of tea and breathed in the silence.  Shepherd had settled peacefully into rest and Jacob was fast asleep...  or so I thought.

About 20 minutes had elapsed before I got up to get a book.  As I entered my room, I noticed a very familiar aroma calling me from my bathroom.  I slowly turned the corner into my bathroom (eyes wide open, and music from Psycho playing in my head), only to find Jacob COVERED in my Mary Kay Emollient Cream.  That was the very distinct smell that had called me in there.  And then I noticed what all Jacob had done with this cream.  He painted me a picture in my bathtub, in the sink, on my favorite white shirt of his(the cream is pink... and petroleum), and finally, as I turned one more corner, I saw the toilet... filled with the final drippings from my nearly new tube of Mary Kay Emollient Cream.

Meet Jacob.  The same little turkey who colored all over the wall and floor in our old house.. . with a permanent marker.  the same turkey who thinks that "no" is an opportunity to negotiate.

Anyway, every day at our house, nap time is the same.  We don't typically stray from this routine because it has been working so well, for so long.  The scene normally looks like this:  I lay Jacob down, I kiss and hug him, and he rolls over and lays there until he falls asleep.  It's not difficult or even anything extraordinary.  It's just the way nap time is... until yesterday.

So then, a few moments ago, as I was cleaning the kitchen, I caught the (almost tattling) gaze of my sweet 13 month old, cotton-topped little Shepherd and quickly realized it had been at least three minutes since I'd heard Jacob playing with his toys on the living room floor.  So, once again, I made the trek in to my bathroom- where I smelled another distinctive smell.  This time it was starch.  The entire can of spray starch has now been emptied on to my bathroom floor and Jacob?  He's sitting in time out, watching me write.  I disciplined him and gave him books to read for a little while.  In my frustration, I heard myself say this to him:  "Jacob!  Why can't you just obey?"

The moral?  1- Child locks on the bedroom doors are priceless. And 2- I wonder how many times I've known what God expected of me and gone ahead with my own plans.  How many times have I walked in disobedience, expecting grace and forgiveness, forgetting about the consequences that lay ahead?  My choices may have been forgiven, but they still have consequences.

In the same way that I will always forgive and always love Jacob- no matter what he says or does, no matter how many bottles of face cream or starch he empties- no matter how far away from me he runs, I know that God will always forgive me, always love me, and always be there for me to run to.  But even so, as I was disciplining Jacob, I realized that yes, my plan for Jacob to obey is the best possible plan for him.  I know what is best for him right now because I am his mother and can see things that he cannot see at his young age.  Likewise, our Heavenly father sees the bigger picture in our lives and knows what is best for us right now.

If I tell him to lay down and rest and he does not, it won't kill him, but it definitely makes things more difficult on him (and the rest of the family) later in the evening.  And when God tells me to wait on Him and I choose not to, it likely will not kill me, but it could definitely make things harder on me or my family in the long run.  Knowing this, I wondered how many times God looked at me and thought "Why can't you just obey?  Just obey and trust that I know, ultimately, what is best for you. Just... obey."

Just a thought to ponder as you finish your morning cup of Joe.  I have more thoughts on this but I'm off to play with the little man...  Jacob. Because he's served his time in time out and now it's mommy time!

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom