MMMMM! Smell that bit of Sunshine?
Did you know close encounters with a little bit of sunshine bring astonishment…
And a wee bit of amazement?
Go grab yourself a handful!
Change is difficult especially when it isn’t something we ask for or desire. Big changes are looming in the future for our family. And I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t bothering me. Honestly it has me tied in knots. I can’t wrap my mind around what this change is going to mean for us. It scares me, the not knowing. I’m afraid that life as I know it is going to be twisted, turned and manipulated into something absolutely and drastically opposite from what it is right now.
I know that the Lord sees all, knows all and cares for all. I know that he cares for the littlest sparrow and watches over the very flowers in the fields. But, I still find myself wondering. Considering every possible scenario of how the days ahead are going to play out.
The future, the unknown, it is vast. It’s hanging over my head like a cloud. I am clinging to these words…
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3
I’m praying for the peace that only God can give. I am lifting up my eyes to the One who can strengthen me and soothe me with His love and care. When I keep my eyes on Him I do feel His peace. I know that even though the time ahead is going to be difficult and uncertain, He is going to be holding our hands the whole time.
But, when I get distracted by the possibilities I feel weighted. There is a heaviness in my chest and tears threaten. Without Him I am scared. When I take my eyes off Him I am afraid of what I am going to have to give up.
I need to look outside of myself. My eyes must seek His face. Only then do I know with utter assurance that He alone is enough.
Look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always. I Chronicles 16:11
I’ve thought a lot about Super Mom over the weekend. She keeps making appearances in my mind. She won’t leave me alone. She even pesters me at one in the morning! The more I think about her the more I realize how important it is for each of us to be our own version of Super Mom. God made us who we are. He wants us to be the beautiful creation He designed us to be. And to be that to our full potential. He doesn’t want us to desire to be someone else. That would be coveting.
COVET~ to want ardently what someone else has
ENVY~ discontent and ill will over another’s advantages, possessions, etc.
The green-eyed bug didn’t begin to plague me incessantly until I began to blog. Blogging opened up a whole new realm. Through my computer screen I saw mom’s who were amazing. Perfectly perfect it seemed. They could write like nobodies business. They fed their children wholesome, awesome meals. They were crafting geniuses. They took the most gorgeous photographs. All while being the best mom to their children and looking gorgeous while doing it. I wanted to be just like these women.
I wanted to write and have my readers be in awe. I wanted to feed my children without feeling guilty. I wanted to make money crafting. I wanted to take amazing photographs. Soon I was so involved in doing and desiring to be, that my children slipped into the background. I became obsessed with keeping up and being just as good, if not better.
I became someone I didn’t want to be. I became someone opposite of what God designed me to be. He created me to be first and foremost devoted to Him. Living a life full of love and selflessness. Only then can I be the best. The best wife. The best mommy. The best writer or best photographer (in my own little realm).
I may never be remembered for my writing, photography or nutritional prowess, but my children will remember what I placed my focus on and I will be their Super Mommy!
Besides having deep, moving thoughts about who I am, this weekend, I also got to do a bit of gardening! YIPPEE!
Joel disked the garden and prepared it for me to be able to get some of my seeds in the ground.
Yah, can you believe it! I can think, make straight rows and plant seeds all at the same time. It was really quite a feat!
Honestly my boys helped me. I needed a little assistance in stringing the binder twine and pounding in posts. I’m not known for the straightest of rows! Actually, I was quite surprised Joel entrusted this job to me. He usually lays out the rows for me, because the first year I did them it was a sight! I stood behind my work until seedlings started to come up in the most crooked rows I have ever seen!
Little did I know that we were going to have torrential rains on Sunday. UGH! I think I may be replanting when it dries out…just to be on the safe side. I want lots and lots of spinach and lettuces and I’m not letting the rain ruin my plans for a humongous salad.
There she stands picture perfect. Her clothes are immaculate. Her hair styled in the latest fashion. Her nails show nary a chip or tear. Her make-up is most flattering. Her children are angels in small bodies. Her home, a replica of the latest layout from Better Homes and Gardens. Meal time exhibits only the most nutritious foods in a most appealing presentation. She plays with her children and entertains them perfectly. A breeze gently lifts her cape and it floats elegantly behind her. She seems to be a super hero.
There she stands, in pair of faded jeans and a T-shirt from high school. Her hair is pulled back in a simple ponytail. Her nails haven't seen a manicure or nail polish in years. Her make-up, a bit of concealer to cover the dark circles under her eyes and a slick of lip balm to hide her dry lips. Her children are children. They are precious and adorable. They are maniacs and monsters. Her home resembles life. A trail of toys wind their way from room to room. The laundry is piled thigh high in front of the washer. And every corner in the house is missing drywall. Her menu plan runs the gamut from boxed macaroni and cheese to roast herb chicken. The wind forcefully lifts her cape and it flaps furiously behind her as she faces the reality of life. She is the super hero.
Do you compare yourself to other mom’s around you? Do you see their lives as perfect and yours as a mess?
I fall into this trap often.
I see someone whose house looks picture perfect. Envy. I read how someone is feeding their family organic and wholesome meals. I’m failing. I watch another families perfectly behaved children. Guilt. I see beautiful mom’s in the latest fashions, perfectly styled hair and manicured nails. I wish. I see others buying the latest and greatest. I want.
After a time of feeling miserable, I climb out of the pit of my own making and take a look at who I am.
I am not these people.
I live in a house with furniture that is well used. My house often has toys scattered from stem to stern. Laundry is never fully accomplished. And every corner has been a back stop to racing trucks and whipped by gun barrels as my boys race through the house. I am usually wearing a pair of comfy jeans and T-shirt. My hair is pulled back and make-up is at a minimum, if any at all. My children can be angles and monsters. Sometimes I play with children, sometimes I don’t. I sometimes feed my family boxed macaroni-n-cheese and hot dogs(gasp). I’m laid back and live a simple life.
However, just because this is who I am doesn’t mean I live in complacency. I have my goals. There are things I wish to change. There are also pieces of my life that I believe are just fine the way they are. I just need to remember who I am and not beat myself up when I feel so ordinary and lacking.
I am who I am with just a little tweaking added in for good measure!
Seven years ago it wasn’t unusual to find me each morning surrounded by 3 warm, wiggly boy bodies. As soon as my boys would wake up they would burrow under the covers with me. Sometimes, if I had been up all night nursing. I would put cartoons on the T.V. so I could catch a few more minutes of sleep. It didn’t matter if there was squirming and chattering, I was so exhausted, I slept through most of the noise and motion. Unless of course it involved little bodies heaving themselves up on my chest, nose placed to nose and big brown eyes imploring mine to get up for feeding time.
Other times I would be less sleep deprived and there would be minutes stretching into half hours when we would snuggle and giggle and chatter. I would bury my nose in little boy necks and try to lock the fresh scent of boyhood in my memory. I would Eskimo kiss and butterfly kiss. I would hold soft, warm bodies close, until little boy bodies heaved themselves up on my chest, nose placed to nose and big brown eyes implored mine to get up and feed them.
Nowadays it is different. There is a little girl who joins me in bed in the mornings. We snuggle nose to nose. I bury my nose in her neck and breathe in her sweet little girlness. She tells about her dreams and I listen. We giggle and tickle. Sometimes I close my eyes and rest with her soft body next to mine. Until she wraps her arms around my neck, places her nose on mine and implores me with her big blue eyes to get up for breakfast.
Only once in awhile do I find a bigger boy body climbing into bed with me to enjoy some talk time. I wrap my arm under those big boy shoulders and bury my nose into the hair on his head. I breathe in big boy (hopefully washed the night before) freshness. I miss my cuddly, squirming, chubby, fresh little boys. I miss all those arms in legs hitting me across the nose. I miss the child sleeping diagonally in the center of the bed with toes anchored in my back. I miss being surrounded and hemmed in by my sweet little boys. So, it is with great joy that I receive the one who silently slips into my room and under the covers to have time to snuggle and talk. Eventually though they tire of the talk and snuggling and look into my eyes with the ever present ravenous look of a hungry and never full boy.
*To every young mother, I implore you, take many moments in the mornings to snuggle your children. Before you know it they won’t be climbing up into your bed, wrapping their chubby arms around your neck and smothering you in their sweetness. Take each and every day and relish in the times of adoration, they flee before we can catch our breath.
The past couple of days were so BEAUTIFUL! The weather was perfect and we took full advantage of it. The boys thought a picnic in the front yard was a great way to enjoy the warm temperatures. We broke out the PB&J’s and bananas and Grandma supplied the treats of Kool-aid and Oreos. We enjoyed listening to the birds sing in the trees and the frogs trilling in the swamp. The breeze that was blowing brought the sweet scent of spring to our noses and the sun on our faces was divine!
We decided a trip to the park would be a good addition to the day. We loaded ourselves into the truck and headed to a park that is about 5 miles away from our house. It is located in a little village, which consists of a small gathering of houses, a church, a township hall and this gorgeous little park. I have wanted to stop at this park for the last 8 years and never have. I’m so glad we finally took the time to explore.
This park was so peaceful! The best part was the winding, bubbling river. Obviously a major attraction to my children. We went down to the edge of the water and Lauren and the boys found some pebbles to toss into the water. Until a swarm of black flies forced us back up into full sun.
There wasn’t much equipment, just a swing set, merry-go-round, a couple of bars and two metal, springy, animal thingies. But that didn’t matter we still had a great time! Can you tell I had some happy kiddos! Look at that smile on Caleb’s face!
This has nothing to do with our picnic or trip to the park, but I had to include it. Yesterday it was near 80 degrees, so we took our school work outside. Another huge benefit of homeschooling, I might add!
Some of us worked and some of us got filled with some Spring Boogey! All that sunshine and fresh air had this girl just groovin’. And the rest of us giggling!
So this weekend go outside and get groovin’ it does a body good!
Every year in late summer we raise Monarchs. We wander through the field and around the pond looking for Monarch caterpillars. We take them home with a healthy supply of milkweed and we feed them and feed them, until they crawl off into my ivy plant to make their chrysalis’.
Last year, while at a friend’s house (whom happens to be a butterfly lady to the max) my boys found some Swallowtail caterpillars. Naturally, our friend sent us home with those and a supply of dill to feed them with. Time passed and the Swallowtail caterpillars wandered off into the ivy. They built nice little cocoons, but weeks passed and nothing happened. I figured they had died. Time carried on and we all forgot about the Swallowtails that had made homes in my ivy.
Until two days ago.
I was folding laundry when I heard Caleb calling to me in an extremely excited voice. He kept telling me to come quickly because there was a black and yellow butterfly in the mud room. I kept saying back, “I’ll be there in a minute.” Finally, the urgency in his voice piqued my curiosity and I went out to see what had him so excited. The minute I stepped into the mud room I saw this beauty on the ivy.
I carefully picked him up and took him outside to my daffodils. Then I ran back inside for my camera!
Yesterday morning he was still on the daffodils. I think it is a bit early for swallowtails. A bit too cold and a bit lacking in floral treats. So, I brought him back inside and fed him! Oh yes! It was a science bonanza in our kitchen. It was so awesome. As he clung to my finger I dripped a sugar/water solution by his proboscis. I didn’t know if he would eat, but just as soon as I placed the drop on my finger, he stretched out his “tongue” and drank and drank.
Today is supposed to be warm, up near 70 degrees so I will place him back outside. Hopefully he will be able to survive on his own. Of course, he has many watching over him and many desiring to take their turns at feeding him.
The science lesson continues!
Lately Lauren has taken an interest in doing her own hair. And mine! The other day she climbed up into the chair I was sitting in and proceeded to twist, pull and yank on my hair in attempts to put it into ponytails. When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I helped her out. This is the hair-do she had in mind for me. And for herself, it was an assortment of her favorite barrettes.
She also likes to pick her own outfits.
She’s growing up. Changing right before my eyes. She is becoming more independent. I see her little personality peeking out more all the time. She’s learning to become who God has created her to be.
Independence to a certain degree is good. It helps us to function in this world. It helps us to step out the door, forge ahead, and not shrivel up in fear. It helps us explore, seek, and find who we are in this great big place.
But it can also be taken to the extreme.
As a teenager, I desired independence so intensely that I pushed, ignored and blatantly disobeyed my parents. What’s even worse is that I turned my back on God. I didn’t want anything to do with Him. In my naive and immature mind He was a nuisance. A big bummer to my free spirited way of thinking.
And so, I went on my way. Did things I wanted to do. And lived a life that I tried to tell myself was blissfully independent of authority. I couldn’t wait to get out on my own. To leave my parents and their rules behind. To do as I wished. To behave as I chose.
I married when I was 19.
For a while I ignored the prodding of God to come back to Him. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t desire to give Him my life. I wanted to continue being the one in control. But He wasn’t about to turn His back and let me be.
It took five years and quite a bit of misery for me to see that I was not created to walk independently of God. He brought me to a place where He was the only One I could cling to in my uncertainty and fear. I cried out to Him and He pulled me close.
He showed me through the pain and fear he allowed in my life, that He loved me dearly. Yes, He loved me too much to allow me to continue to wander through this life without His guiding hand. If He hadn’t allowed these near suffocating hardships, I never would have turned my life over to Him. I would have continued to wander about hopeless and independent of a God who desires me to be dependent on Him.
He wants to carry my heavy load. He wants me to lean on Him. He is my fortress, my strong tower. In return he imparts to me a peace because He is in control.
My prayer for my children is that as they grow, change and become more independent of Joel and I, they won’t try to live independently of the Lord, our Savior. I pray they will choose the Lord’s love and guidance over utter, stark dependence. I know hardships will come into their lives, but I pray they will hand them over to the Lord. Taking up His yoke, which is light, instead of try to shoulder their burdens alone.
Independence, a delicate dance between utter aloneness and beautiful, soothing peace.
“Mommy, can I take my lovey (a.k.a. favored blanket) to heaven?”
Lately Lauren has had an abundance of questions about heaven. And it’s no wonder. We have had three funerals in the past two weeks. Two were elderly. One was the baby of my cousin and his wife, who was still born at 6 months gestation. So hard.
It’s difficult to explain to a three-year-old the tears, the sorrow, the pain. For us, the best was to say, “these loved ones went to Heaven to be with Jesus, but their families and friends are missing them. Sometimes we cry when we miss someone we love. The best part is that Jesus is holding them in His arms right now and they don’t have any more ouchies.”
With each of these who have passed away, Lauren has had many questions about Heaven.
“Will I fly to Heaven with wings?”
“If I take my stickers to Heaven how will I carry them?”
“Will I see angles in Heaven?” “Do they have wings?”
“When do we get to go to Heaven?”
“Is Heaven up in the clouds?”
With each question that arises, I try to answer her as simply as possible so that she can understand. I try to help her see the beauty in Heaven. But, honestly, I think she already intrinsically knew a bit of the beauty of God, her Creator. Her curiosity about all things Heaven, God and Jesus, speak for the human desire, even as little children, to know our Lord.
I pray that her desire to know more continues to grow and blossom. May she never lose her childlike faith. May she come to know the Lord as her Savior, so that she may fly, when it is her time, with wings to her Heavenly home
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Mark 10:15
Four years ago, this month, my husband bought me my first digital camera, a point-and-shoot. I was a month away from having our fourth child, a girl, after three boys. I wanted to be able to capture her birth on a camera that took better pictures than the 35mm film camera, I had had for my boys. As soon as I began taking pictures with my new digital camera, I was hooked. I took pictures constantly and of everything! As the years went by I began to study more on taking creative photographs and getting out of the automatic mode. I wasn’t able to do much with my camera outside of the auto mode, but it once again ignited a fire in me to try to get the best pictures possible.
For over a year, I have been cleaning a neighbor ladies house every other Friday. On the Fridays that I’m not cleaning my neighbor ladies house, I clean at my girlfriends home. The money I received from cleaning has gone into my camera fund. I have been saving and saving. A few times I had to dip into the fund and it set me back a little, but I just kept plugging away.
A couple of weeks ago my dear, sweet husband told me to get the camera that I have had sitting in my Amazon wish list for the past year. I didn’t have all the money needed to buy the camera but, he generously offered to cover the difference. To say the least I was ecstatic! With a little trepidation, I typed in all the necessary information and purchased the camera. Never before have I bought anything that cost that much money. My heart was literally jittering! What a huge decision! Even after months of research, I was concerned that it wouldn’t be just what I wanted.
I didn’t need to worry! I am enjoying my new camera tremendously! I am amazed at the pictures I am able to capture with it.
Take a look…
As a matter of fact, it is beautiful here today. I’m heading outside to take full advantage of it. I can’t wait to see what photographs I can capture!
You know that person. The one who irritates you. The one who so successfully sets you to fuming and ranting. The one you want to knock upside the head and shout for them to get over themselves.
Yep, I have one of those in my life.
At times she makes it extremely hard for me to be kind. I want to shake her by the shoulders and tell her all that is boiling in my mind. I want to unleash the fury that builds up inside me over her callousness.
Yet God calls us to be merciful.
Luke 6:36 says, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”
Merriam Webster defines mercy this way: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender.
Oh yeah, I’ve been offended alright! I’ve been hurt and irritated and frustrated. But, when I calm down and sort through the situation I realize I need to not make it about me. About how I have been wronged. Even if what has been said or done is hurtful, it doesn’t do me any good to pay those hurts back in the same manner. It doesn’t say much about my character either, if I bemoan my situation to others. Of if I dwell on it and become bitter.
When our Lord Jesus was dying on the cross He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. Jesus is the perfect example of how I should respond to those who offend or hurt me. He is the picture of perfect love. It needs to be about mercy, not revenge. The Lord has shown me his mercy many times over. He is willing to forgive me even when I repeat the same sin again and again. He is compassionate and generous with his love.
Love. It is mercy. It is empathy. It is compassion. It is softness. It is understanding. It is meekness. It is forgiveness. If I have love even for those I deem unlovable, the dirty, the immoral, the rude, the hurtful, the selfish, the sniveling, the addicted, the crude, the mean, then I am loving as the Lord commands me to. And as I love I will be merciful.
Today I will be seeking forgiveness from the Lord for being unmerciful to the one who rubbed me the wrong way with her harsh words. Today I will open up my mind and heart. I will remind myself that I do not know completely what is going on in her life to make her respond in the manner that she did. Today I will not harbor any ill feelings towards her. Maybe she just needs a hug. But, while I’m hugging her I’ll have to remember the importance of mercy or I might be tempted to hug the very breath out of her! Today I will show mercy. I will forgive. I will be compassionate. I will have empathy. I will love.
Most importantly I will remember God’s great mercy for me a sinner, when He sent His ONLY Son to die on the cross for me. May I absorb and reflect that mercy in my life.
Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy towards one another, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. I Peter 3:8-9