Friday, January 25, 2013

My Top 12 of 2012!

With the new year of 2013 moving forward in all of it's hope to bring something new and exciting, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on 2012 and do a 'year-in-review.' I have chosen the top twelve of my favorite articles. I have so loved sharing my life with all of you, sharing my ups and downs, insights, blessings from God, and new found interests. So, without further ado, here they are:

Number 12: My Sister is Moving  Well, I will say, as much as I loved thinking about my sister, Rebekah, I wish I didn't have to think about her moving. What I love about this article is how I show how very different we are to the world and yet how truly close we are. I couldn't go wrong in writing about a best friend, and that is what she will always be.

Number 11: Rejection... it Hurts... Deep.  Can we all say that everyone has people or at least a person in their life that we kind of expect to be judged by? Some relative that is strongly opinionated and says whatever pops into their heads? Well, for me I not only have that, but this year rejection came in a different form and it hurt. It's been a very difficult year in regards to this, but taking time to write it out, talk about it, and ponder the Scriptures for truth brought so much healing to my heart. I was reminded that I am accepted by the King of Kings! I forgive those who have hurt me and have moved on. This was a great article for open honesty and healing truth.

Number 10: The Best Job of All and  Undeserving Mom. I am sorry to cheat here, but these two articles go hand in hand. I wrote, Undeserving Mom in May and a few months later wrote, The Best Job of All. I have felt completely undeserving of this call to mommyhood. It has it's up and down moments, but all in all, God has given me six amazing children to love and to raise and I see it as a complete honor.

"The Best Job of All," came after a conversation Ben and I had with the children over breakfast. My husband asked me to share with the kids all of the jobs I have ever worked. I began telling them about how I worked at Carvel, and Dominios Pizza.  I could see their eyes light up and it made think about all the things I have done, but how much more exciting mommyhood is over anything the world had to offer me. It was fun thinking and writing out my 'resume' of jobs on the blog and how being a mom truly is the best job I have ever had. If you would like to see the huge list of jobs I worked -check this out!

Number 9: He Came! This was the first article I wrote about one of my children. It was the first time I opened up and shared about their own time with Jesus. I work hard at protecting them and allowing them to feel free to say and do whatever the Lord wants them to without them feeling worried about mom blogging about it. But this story touched my heart so deeply that I couldn't hold it inside for my family and I alone. This story is so real and so true. It talks about how Jesus came to my little boy and I will say that God is so real to  him now because of it.

Number 8: Look Up! This article was inspired by an irresistibly, cute picture of my youngest daughter. I am a very visual person and when I saw this picture I saw myself as I must appear looking up to God. It is a story of surrendering to God. Read it, I think you'll love it!

Number 7: Through the ROOF!  Growing up hearing the phrase, "Through the Roof" did not evoke joy, but now it does! This is a wonderful new twist on an old saying.

Number 6: What God Forgets and What God Remembers God forgets our sin, but remembers us! Our sin does not define who we are to God. Yes, the world defines us by what we have done, but not God. The world labels us with some kind of label, if you will, that is so sticky it never comes off! It is very hard for people to forget all the terrible things you may have done at one time in your life and allow you the freedom to live a new and different life, but with God, who you might think is even more judgemental, He is not. He forgets it all when we confess our sin and ask for forgiveness.

Number 5: Child-like faith and Adult-like Faith  Okay, yes, I have cheated three times, but I love these two articles too. They are a part 1 and a part two of a long thought I had about my own faith. As an adult I want child-like faith not the faith I see in other adults. I want to love Jesus openly and freely as a little child. This was a good reminder to me to live out my faith as a child.

Number 4: A Kings Ransom I have never been kid-napped or needed a ransom to be released, but I have been, at three different times in my life, 'cut-off' from my family and had the desire of being ransomed. Looking into the Scriptures and seeing how Jesus ransomed from the enemy was liberating. Seeing how I am God's child and how very much He wants us to be His, brought peace to my heart.

Number 3: A God Encounter at Wal-Mart I will never forget this day at Wal-Mart and I don't think my children will either. It was the very first time we asked God in prayer who He wanted us to pray for as we went shopping. He showed each of us something different, we put the pieces together and found her. Our faith increased as we obeyed. Love this day!

Number 2: I'd Love to Have You Over for a Cuppa Couffee, but First You Need to Know...  I was truly surprised at how many people read this article and yet only a few of you called to come over. I happen to love this article because it's just so real about me and the kids when we have a guest over.

Number 1: I Have a Hope and a Future This marks the new year. I have a new hope and a new future. I can look back on 2012 and see all the good and sad things I have gone through and know that in this new year I have the hope that if sadness comes my way again God will see me through. I have hope that God will never stop leading me, growing me, loving me, changing me. I have hope for a good future because He is in charge.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk down memory lane. I would LOVE to hear from you on what article you liked the most or what article touched you. As we move forward into a new year it is always good to look back one more time and remember. I'm excited to see all what God has for all of me in 2013 and I look forward to sharing it all with you. May God bless you and your life this coming year.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bitter? Brave? or Broken?

Bitter, brave or broken... I believe those are the choices we have when facing a trial. We can go through a trial being brave, or strong. Or we can go through a trial with bitterness, anger, and resentfulness. Or we can allow ourselves to be broken, humbled and changed as we journey through a trial.

Looking back over my life I have found that I have not taken the bitter road. I'm not trying to sound pious or anything, but there is absolutely nothing good that comes out of bitterness. I've seen bitterness in the hearts of people (family) since I was a child. They live a lonely, sad, depressing, and angry life. Bitterness keeps the injury or offense alive every day. If you so much as ask a person carrying bitterness, "So, whatever happened between you and so-and-so?" The story will pour of out them like water from a pitcher. Every detail of the situation exactly explained. All the quotes sound verbatim, with inflections and emotions as if the argument had happened yesterday. The story is alive in them and very real even though it may have happened years ago.

I remember the extended family split when I was a kid - one Uncle "cut-off" his brother-in-law. From that moment on, every time there was a wedding or funeral they had to sit on the opposite sides of the room from each other. All someone had to say was, "Uncle Johnny why don't you be the bigger person and reconcile?" The next thing you could hear was the complete reenactment of the fight that had happened years ago. It was a sight. And honestly, for my life, I want the opposite. I want to move on from whatever the trial was, forgive, and hopefully forget. I don't even want the 'stink' of the trial on me or around me. Please don't misunderstand me to say that every time someone has hurt me or I've gone through some trial that there hasn't been a negative effect on my heart - there has been, but it's just not been bitterness. I have a lack of trust towards those who have hurt me, but never bitterness.

I will say the road I chose for most of the trials I went through as a young child, teenager, and young adult was that of being brave. I'd weather the storm, ride it to its end and then jump back into life. I didn't hang out in the pain of it all for very long. I was like a charging horse with blinders on. I had to keep moving, keep reaching and working toward my goals.

In the past, choosing bravery as a way to get through a trial I was also like a soldier. Marching forward no matter what grenade was thrown, or what bullets were flying by, I marched on. I 'd see the problem, but wouldn't allow it to slow me down or even take the time to look at the collateral damage. My job was to march and for that time of my life I think that was the right thing to do. There was so much sadness around me that I think if I had stopped for a moment I would not have had the strength to press on. The sadness would have made me sit and cry, and at that time I didn't have the hope of Christ in my life to get me up on my feet again. It was a season of bravery. But as with all soldiers in a battle, if they make it through physically unscathed, and if they've had to march past the bodies of fellow comrades, there is a great deal of pain to be dealt with in their heart when the war is over. So, yes, I made it through trials like a soldier, but once I made it through I had to take time for recovery, that is, after asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. Before knowing Jesus I journeyed on as if nothing had happened.

From my mid-twenties and thirties to the present, I have fought against being brave and have chosen the road of being broken. I am now and have been for quite some time in a season of brokenness. When a trial comes, I face it full on. I don't try to go around it, or dodge its bullets. I deal with it and yell, "INCOMING!" but I don't duck. I am not actually choosing to be broken, it is though, what happens when you allow the trial to be used by God to change you. Brokenness and waiting go hand-in-hand, I think. The impulse is to run, to dive, to hide, but also to wait...wait on the Lord to bring the answers. Waiting on Him to bring the healing also brings brokenness. I don't feel like I'm being 'remolded' per se, it's more like a breaking and a rebuilding. As the vase of my life is being broken, God is piecing me back together taking out the parts that are of no use to Him and replacing it with new pieces. I used to like all the 'pieces' that made me, but as God has slowly replaced me for Him, I see how much more of Him I love in me.

Psalm 51:15-17
"Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise."

Psalm 34:17-18
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delievers them from all their troubles.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

Being broken isn't easy. It is a decision as is being brave or bitter through a storm of life. But with brokenness there comes a newness, a compassion for others, a deeper love for God, a spirit of gratefulness and a joy that is unspeakable!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)

*This article was published on the CBN website: Bitter? Brave? or Broken?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Until God Opens the Next Door...

...praise Him in the hallway
(Author Unknown).

I grew up watching, The Sound of Music once a year on television and it was there that I first heard the phrase, "When God closes a door, He always opens a window."  (...and I can hear the Reverend Mother singing, 'Climb every Mountain' to Maria right now, but I digress). But seriously, that saying about the shut door and an opened window has never been a comforting one for me. From it I have envisioned a very small room with one closed door and one closed window. It has made me feel trapped and a bit confused as to why God would open a window for me to 'walk' through instead of another door. Yes, it's more poetic than saying, 'When God closes a door, He opens another door,' but to the child that I was I received the literally meaning, not the spiritual one. So, when I saw this new twist on the old saying, it was perfect.

Right now I happen to be in a place where the proverbial door is shut and I am standing around waiting. I have been told to praise God in all things, to have joy in all circumstances, et cetera, but whenever I saw myself in a closed-in room waiting for the 'window' to open I grew frustrated. My eyes were forever on the window and tapping my fingers on it's ledge waiting for the smallest crack in it or breeze to come in so I would know that the waiting was over. But after seeing this picture of encouragement, I can't really explain it, I have a peace in this waiting season. I can see myself in a flowing white dress, ballet stockings and shoes and dancing in that long hallway praising my Lord while I wait. I get it now. Dance and praise Him while you wait and you won't even notice that the door is already opened!

Truly, when I saw the above picture I immediately envisioned myself dancing. Then as I scanned the picture I noticed that the door is already open! Did you see that? As we wait in peace and in praise, not having our eyes fixed on the 'door' to be opened in complete frustration, the door will open. The door will open because God cares about us and has a plan. So we can either wait in anxiety or in peace. I hope the 'window' or 'door'  will come to me like that-it slowly opens when I'm in the midst of a beautiful dance of praise for Him.

 For now I'm not going to worry about tomorrow, I'm going to sing praises to my God, who totally deserves all my praise, and dance unto Him. And I just bet I will have the company of three little girls dancing with me!

If you are in a time of waiting I pray that you will find a way to focus on praising the Lord for His new plan, for His love for you, and for His complete attention to all the details of your life. Remember, above all else, He loves you dearly.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Livin' the Dream

I have heard the phrase, "Livin' the Dream" quoted in movies by the rich, the handsome, and the 'have-it-all' character. It is always said with a literal meaning-'It was this guys dream to be rich and famous and he attained it.' And isn't that 'livin' the dream?'  Being so rich you never have to clean a dish again? So rich that you can walk into a store and buy the outfit you really want-not the one that's on the clearance rack? So rich you can go out with hubby on a date to the movies AND dinner? Or travel on a week's vacation with the kids to Walt Disney? Well, the other night, while watching a family show on television, the father asked his wife, "So, whattcha bin up to?" The mom's reply, "I've been folding laundry for two hours now-you know me- I'm 'livin' the dream."  She said it in a sarcastic tone and rolled her eyes. At first I giggled, but then I realized what she was truly saying: Motherhood is not living the dream. The dream of changing poopie diapers every day, picking up endless toys, doing three loads of laundry daily, menu planning, and doing dishes, dishes, dishes is not exactly the livin' the dream.'

Let me warn you right off the top, this blog entry is not going to say that having to do all that work is 'livin' the dream,' cause it isn't. Work is work and you can't get around that. Every day I find myself doing the same exact things I've done the day before: wake-up, make the bed, shower, laundry, make breakfast, tell the children to help clear and clean, sweep, babes down for a nap, little boy in play time, home school, answer a few e-mails, and I'm off to lunch, dishes, tell the children to help clear and clean, sweep, playtime outside, naps, dinner, dishes, tell the children to help clear and clean, sweep, baths, books, singing, praying, ooooodles of kisses, get the idea. It's work and I have to be honest here-I still think the mom was funny in her sarcasm. I'm livin' the dream! lol!

I will say the difference between me saying it and that the mom who said, "livin' the dream' in her untruthful manner was saying it with discontent. She had recently been fired and was 'stuck' at home doing 'housework.' She saw all her work as fruitless, unrewarding, and dissatisfying. I think that is what this world is selling. To the world mom's work- housework, is unrewarding, but having a job outside the home is satisfying. You get to use all your 'God given talents' for the world AND get paid for it. I get that, I do, but there is another side.

Yes, mommyhood is work, no doubt. Mommyhood can even feel unrewarding and all the work gone unnoticed. I remember a time of feeling discontent. I can remember telling myself that any robot could do the things I do.- that I personally didn't have to be the one home-any babysitter could do my job. I would also tell myself that I was created to be doing more, not just changing diapers and cleaning up after others that I had gifts and visions for this world and I needed to be using them. But now I really see how all those words were lies. No one can do my job except for me. My children and my husband actually need me-Ellie.

I cannot deny that I also have dreamed of being rich. I would tell myself that the first order of business would be to have a maid three days a week and actually hire someone to do all the fixing that needs to get done in the house instead of hubby and I doing it ourselves and in my dreaming I'd still want be a homemaker-a stay at home mommy. But honestly, I don't know the two things could exist together. If we were rich I'd probably have to give up seeing my husband as much as I do or I'd have to take on some job or other and that would ruin everything I have now.

Like I said earlier, there are things that the world won't show you. The stuff you miss out on by not being in the home. You see, the stuff  I'd miss if I had a full time job are too invaluable to me to give up: waking up relaxed (cause I have no where to run to) and receiving hugs and kisses from my children as if they hadn't seen me in a year. Picking up my youngest girl and taking the time to smell her Strawberry Shortcake shampooed hair. Sitting leisurely at breakfast with my children and talking with them. Hearing my older kids chase the little ones up the stairs to do their chores. I'd miss out on hearing my little four year old sounding out words for the first time. I wouldn't be around to hear all the stories the kids are reading or be a part of the history class my boy is taking. I wouldn't be around to teach my girls how to do laundry and iron properly Or how to play with their dollhouses or sew.  To teach my boys how to defend the weak and fight for what is right. I wouldn't be home at 2:30pm when my husband walks through the door and hear about his day in the silence of the house as the little ones are napping. I wouldn't be able to have play dates or go out to lunch with a friend if I was working. I wouldn't be around to receive Grandma when she wants to stop by and say hello or do Chuck E. Cheese birthdays at 11am and have the whole place to ourselves.

 No, I would not trade the world's view of 'livin' the dream' to what I am doing-my version of 'livin' the dream.' My dream? Still being in love with the man I married seventeen years ago. Having children to love, teach, and train. Using my gifts given by God Himself in my home and for anyone around me that I can bless. That's my dream and with that dream comes the laundry, the dishes, the poopie diapers, etc. and I'm okay with that because- I am- 'livin' the dream.'