“Heeeeeeelp!”

“Mama, heeeeeeeeeelp!”

My reaction? Depends on the tone of voice. Parents know. Some cries, you come running. Others, you calmly stroll, because perhaps your little one can resolve his problem by the time you get there. And yet even others – you roll your eyes. Maybe even stop to take a picture! The predicaments that kid gets into! He’s too quick to ask for help – he could totally handle it himself. Or couldn’t he just have the better judgment not to get into that mess in the first place?

And then, as what often happens, the parenting predicament causes my mind to flash to my father. My heavenly Father.

How quick am I to yell, “Abba, heeeeeeelp!” Probably not quick enough.

What do you suppose his reaction is? Quick to run? Waiting for me to solve it on my own? Rolling his eyes? Sighing because I landed myself in trouble…. AGAIN.

The book of Jonah has come up in various ways in my life this summer. And I think of it again. It really cracks me up that Jonah – after being called as a prophet to go to Ninevah – basically whined to God, telling him he didn’t want to go, because he KNEW God was gracious and compassionate, and there was NO WAY ON EARTH Jonah wanted to see God relent and not give Ninevah the big shove-off they deserved. So he ran.

Do I run? Do I whine? (Ha!)

And when I run, do I run TO God, or FROM him?

And when I whine, do I stop and listen for the gentle rebuke, or do I pridefully ignore him, not wanting my Father’s help, even though I desperately need it.

Praise be to God! Who as my Father, graciously gives me all good things. Who listens to my cries for help, and does not turn a deaf ear (or roll his eyes) but helps and disciplines me with patience.

He is God my Helper.


Writing with the fantastic Five Minute Friday community, who spend 5 minutes writing once a week (when we can!) on a one-word prompt. This week’s prompt: “help.”

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dreaming…

Lately I have been sensing a call, a change in direction for my life. So I have been asking God a lot of questions, doing a lot of pondering, and attempting to listen best I can. Here are some of my ramblings, and then God’s answer to me, inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt, “protect.”

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I try to sit in contentment, which is hard, because my heart is a dreamer, made for a longer journey – eyes on the final prize and never completely comfortable in a world that is not my home.

I love the Church. It is beautiful. God’s people are beautiful. And yet we are so broken. God’s kingdom is so much greater, his vision so much beyond what the church looks like in America in 2016. My dreams for it are so much bigger. So great that trying to make a chip in that iceberg seems like an effort in futility. Foolish. Not worth my time, money, energy. I am just one person, and the cynicism (wisdom?) of my 32 years has left some naivety (optimism?) of youth behind.

Can I dream again? Can my heart stay whole, knowing now that “chasing a dream” of obedience to God is right and good, though it may be hard, difficult, confusing, and still leaving me feeling incomplete in this world? Knowing I will still be broken, still dealing with anger, depression, jealousy, pride & selfishness, because I’m human and those things in me won’t completely die until I’m resurrected?

Can I rest in Christ and run his race at the same time?

He says to me,

I will protect you my child. I am your strong tower. You may run to me and be saved. I give you the shield of faith, to extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy. I give you my Word, to be your weapon and sword. I give you the gospel of peace, which lets you rest in the middle of war. I have fitted you with what you need – my Spirit, a helper. I am your shepherd, so you have everything you need. You can run your race. The path will include some still waters. You can climb mountains, because I will make them low for you. I will straighten your path, not let your foot stumble. You will fly on eagle’s wings, just as I shelter you with mine. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart – I have overcome the world.

Amen.

I pray you may know God’s protection as you let him fashion your dreams.

losing my life

Joining Five Minute Friday, where we write freely for 5 minutes without second guesses and encourage one another. This week’s prompt: “lose.”

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“I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,” sings Toby Mac, the old song reverberating through my head.

But I do want SOME of the world. Can I keep some of the world without losing my soul?

I want to take hold of all God wants for my life. All he wants for me. But that is scary, because it means surrendering everything. All my will. All my desires. Emptying myself of the things that I think will fill me up – and trusting that he will instead.

As I grow older, I discover there are layers to my surrender. I use to think that as I grew older as a Christian, I would become stronger, “better,” more faithful, perhaps finally reaching the next “level” of maturity in my faith. Because of course I want to be the best, excellent in all things, especially my faith!

But as God calls me, as he leads me forward, as he gives me hints as to what surrendering to him might really mean for my life, I am terrified.

What if I lose it?

What if I lose what I want? What if I am not happy? What if it’s hard? What if it’s painful? What if it means financial insecurity? What if it means personal insecurity? What if it means sacrifice? Brokenness? Exposure?

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. ~Matthew 10:39

It’s such an upside down kingdom. God leads me by the hand, beckoning forward, asking him to trust him yet again for just the next step ahead. I trust him. He’s led me this far. His dreams for me thus far have been greater than I have imagined. Rather than being a “giant” I am now just more aware of my self-righteous pride and deep need for my Savior. Feeling so inadequate, he calls me forward, to lose my life.

So I might find it. In Him.

STOP

this stage

Yeah, I’m making time to write a Five Minute Friday post today! If you need a few minutes to process your week, I highly recommend joining us for this encouraging, fun exercise!

This week’s prompt: “miss”

Disclaimer: If you don’t want to read about a momma venting/boasting/processing life regarding her 2 year old, stop reading now.


I miss ordinary tasks taking an ordinary amount of time, without interruption. Holy cow.

In the process of just sitting down to write this (in which I THOUGHT my toddler was occupied with Curious George), he politely asked me for the fifth time this morning if he could have more raspberries. I cut him off at breakfast, hoping to prevent stomach cramps and diaper rash. But I finally said yes, and before I could get to the fridge to help him, he had taken the half-full gallon of milk out of the fridge and dropped it, in a valiant effort to be independent and reach the raspberries that I had “hidden” behind said milk. SO. He calmly grabbed a towel (I grabbed 3), and we sopped up the milk and he proceeded to delight in some fresh raspberries. Once we started Curious George again with raspberries in hand, I went back and wiped up the sticky mess with a soapy rag, and then started a laundry load of kitchen towels, because low and behold they have all gotten dirty in the past 3 days cleaning up liquid spills of some sort!

So, 10 minutes later, let’s get back to what I was trying to do, which was… I don’t remember…. Thinking….

“Mom! More raspberries please?” We get more raspberries.

Thinking again… oh yes, I should do some writing… Go to my computer…

“Mom! More raspberries please?” Oh for heaven’s sake. We negotiate for crackers and cheese this time. Another Curious George episode.

And yeah, I’m writing! So yes, I miss ordinary tasks taking an ordinary amount of time, without interruption.

But I am also going to miss this stage, I know I am. Everyone tells me so. You know what I’ll miss? Our conversation at lunch yesterday, a rare moment when it was just him and me chowing down on our grilled cheese together.

“God changed my heart!”

“He did?”

“Yeah, he gave me a new one. A small one!”

“Yes, God can change our hearts, can’t he?” (Context: I recently made up a song about how Jesus changed Saul’s heart and he became Paul. So he’s on a Saul-became-Paul kick.)

“God is big!” (in a voice of wonderment.)

“Yes, buddy, God is big.”

“I love God, Mom.” (insert heart-melt-all-this-parenting-stuff-is-worth-it-the-mind-of-a-child-rocks moment)

Yep. I will miss this.

My friend Rachel shared a great reminder on Facebook yesterday… that as parents it’s so easy to fall into the trap of wishing for the next stage. I easily think, “Oh, I can’t wait until he’s potty trained,” or “I can’t wait until the baby can walk.” And doing that, I fail to see how they have grown, what they have accomplished, realizing that not too long ago, I was wishing for THIS stage. So my resolve for the near future is to be content with THIS stage. When they leave this nest I want to say (like the wise Angie Schmitt commented once) – EVERY stage was my favorite. 🙂

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Levi snapped this portrait of me writing during Curious George.

 

“somebody to divide it with…”

“Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.” –Mark Twain

I know that having community and bearing pain with another at your side is helpful. Beneficial. Healthy. But I love this quote. Because it is true at least for me, that in my dark moments, my instinct is to bury my head in my pillow and throw the covers over myself in tears. But when there is joy…. I just gotta tell someone! Share it!

I see this all the time in my 2 year old. “Mom, come and see!” “Mom, watch this!” “Mom, oooh, look at that!” My Levi is a constant sharer of joy. He and his buddy Henry cause each other some tears… but even more beautiful is the laughter and good times they share.

We have to teach our kids to share their toys. To share their space. To share their life,  their will, their priorities. But joy… it is freely given. And then multiplied! I cannot begin to tell you how many times my kids make me laugh during the day. Many times when I shouldn’t be! But I love this reflection of God in us.

There was a season, just a few short months ago as my postpartum depression kicked in, when my laughter was harder to come by. And so these days I am so grateful for the easy laughter that comes to my lips, shared with my son and daughter. And especially those grins and snickers shared through meaningful eyes with my hubby-love 🙂

I praise God for his word in Job 8:21 –

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.”

Here is to laughter and joy, easily shared!

(Written as a part of Five Minute Friday, this week’s prompt: share.)

We are not to forget

It’s the weekend! It’s the middle of February and we had the windows open today, played with sidewalk chalk, and went to the store without coats! We all seem to be healthy today… Woohoo! Praising the Lord for the hope of health and spring. In the meantime, here’s my five minute free write on the prompt “forget.” See a bunch more at the Five Minute Friday link-up.


 

“Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten… After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:8, 10

This passage came up in our family devotional reading the other day, and it was another reminder to me of one of my favorite passages in the Bible. No, it’s not a happy one. It’s a sad one. But it serves as I reminder so that I do not forget…

My mom sent me an encouraging note a few weeks ago, at a moment she knew I needed it. It says “Motherhood is not for wimps… You are making a difference every day.” She added her emphasis afterwards, “You are! You are!” She did not want me to forget.

Our pastor is challenging us with fasting from various things in our life that keep our attention away from focusing on God. When we have desire to go do that thing, we are to remember Jesus, and what he did for us. We are not to forget.

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” Luke 22:19

We are not to forget. Not to forget our God, and the ways he taught us.

We are not to forget. Not to forget the huge cost to save us, because of the Father’s even greater love for us.

We are not to forget. Not to forget to teach our children about the Lord and what he has done for us. Teaching them by being an example, by demonstrating his love, by disciplining as he does for us, and by extending grace and unconditional affection, so that the next generation may not forget.

We are not to forget. We are not to forget that our life and our meaning are significant. Not because of what we’ve done or our great strength, but because he has called us to BE A PART OF HIS STORY… and if we are not, then the world might forget.

“Time”

After a much too long hiatus from blogging over the holidays, it’s time to get back to the routine of joining the Five Minute Friday gang, writing every week for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt.

This week’s prompt: “Time”

5 minutes, ready, GO.

Ah, “time.” Such a loaded word in our day and age, is it not?

“Not enough time.”

“I didn’t have time.”

“Couldn’t make time.”

Time goes so fast!”

All things you hear, way too much of the time. (haha)

But there is time for everything, “a season for everything under the sun,” Solomon wrote.

Have you ever stopped to ponder that if our planet didn’t revolve around the sun, we might not have a concept of time?

It occurred to me yesterday how God set up our world to go through routine.

As a mom of young kids, you get to be an expert on routine. Routine is helpful, and feels so familiar to little kids, that they seem happier and healthier when there is an expected routine. More compliant, too!

Did you realize God made our world (and us) that way? Think about it. The earth revolves around the sun, and also spins on an axis. That creates a predictable routine of seasons, and 24 hour days. We have a routine of being awake during the day and asleep at night. Most of us have a routine of breakfast, lunch, and supper. We have created a routine of the business world functioning in our country from approximately 8am-5pm for 5 days a week. We still take a “Sabbath” as a nation, with a weekend of some fashion every week. Even annually, we have a routine of when our routine is disrupted, for holidays and vacations.

God gave us a way to mark the time.

I guess all that to say, I should embrace God’s marking of time. It’s not going too fast, or too slow. He designed time to go just as fast as it should, with the right amount each day as it marches along. So I don’t need to wish for it to be any different.

I’m so glad he’s in charge and I’m not.

STOP.

A season with a crack in the door

I’m not sure how to start putting into words what it means to have Christmas truly be my heart’s season of hope.

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The world is a dark, dark place, tainted by sin and the works of its tempter.

Terrorism. War. Murder of babies. Mass shootings and bombings of civilians.

Divorce. Brokenness. Unfaithfulness. Corruption. Deceit.

Loneliness. Depression. Illness. Suffering. Death.

Anyone feel like rejoicing and singing a cheesy song about how Jesus is the Reason for the Season?

It is easy to look around in the world and miss that God is still sovereign. It’s easy to forget who ultimately wins the war.

A great Needtobreathe song played on the radio yesterday as I drove in the dark at 5:00 pm to get groceries. I cranked up the chorus to Rivers in the Wasteland…

In this wasteland, where I’m living

There is a crack in the door filled with light

And it’s all that I need to get by

In this wasteland, where I’m living

There is a crack in the door filled with light

And it’s all that I need to shine

 

That crack of light? It’s Jesus. Pure and simple, the radiance of God, who Himself is Light.

“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.”  Psalm 139:11-12

Today as we’re walking through a dark world (literally and figuratively), I’m seeing a crack in the door filled with light. This season, sometimes that crack of light comes through the twinkling of Christmas lights in my neighborhood. A clear moon on a cold night. The sound of an old familiar carol playing. A jingle bell. Snow crunching under a toddler’s booted feet. The laughter of my children. These are the glimpses of heaven. Of victory here on earth. And I have a reason to sing…. I have a reason to worship.

“All of my life, in every season

You are still God, I have a reason to sing

I have a reason to worship” –Hillsong, Desert Song

Weary…

I don’t feel like writing. I am weary. But five minutes. Five minutes will help. (Because self care is soul care.) Ready. GO.

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Written as part of the Five Minute Friday online community

I am weary. I am weary of the world and the crappy things in it. I am tired of it being broken, groaning as in childbirth, and in pain. Are we really not to the last days yet?

Being a mother is hard. I am finally realizing it’s hard just because it is; not because I’m doing it wrong, as one friend recently realized herself. How right she is. There is nothing like motherhood to help you realize what a hot mess you really are. I think I always was…. It’s just that being a mom strips you down to what really lies underneath all the stuff of fluff you live with on top of your deep down soul, and low and behold… we are sinners. Uck.

I am weary of life being full of hard things. Tomorrow is a hard thing. Tomorrow our church family buries a beloved baby girl, who met Jesus after being on this earth for only three weeks. She didn’t even get to go home and see the beautiful place and people that were supposed to be hers. Today I picked out what my own baby girl would wear to another baby’s girl funeral. They should have grown up to be friends. I know one is with Jesus and she is oh so happy about that. But we are not. That was not supposed to happen yet.

I am weary of the tears and hard days. The hard days that are dark, and you know the darkness will lift, and you know your kids and husband love you and are not trying to get on your nerves, but they just are because it’s a dark day. And guilt comes because you know it’s not them, it’s you. It’s you who are broken, just like the rest of this weary world.

STOP.

Thankfully, I don’t have the last word.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus, John 16:33

Blessings in the Valley

Life is good and I am blessed, currently the roles of wife to an awesome husband and mother to two beautiful children dominating my time and attention. As wonderful as managing these blessings is, the last month I have come to recognize that I am one of many moms who battle post-partum depression. This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, though it is something I dreaded. In it, I will honestly say it sucks and is not fun. But God is showing me that his plan and path are leading me through this valley right now and that is okay. Valleys can be dark, scary and lonely places, full of rough terrain, hidden obstacles, and unknown dangers. However, God is showing me that the valley can be beautiful as well. As he leads me, he is giving me breaks in green pastures and beside still waters, where he says, “Here, child, here is my blessing for you. Receive it.”

This Labor Day weekend we are up in NW Iowa at my in-laws, a wonderful place to be. Three days ago, I was tired, depressed, and the thought of packing up the family, being on the road for 4.5 hours with small children, getting in late and battling my fall allergies was just too much. Didn’t sound like fun. Would rather stay home. But we committed to go and so we did.

It turns out God was leading me to a green pasture.

Though yesterday morning my allergies were a hot mess and I had a bad headache, we were able to reconnect via playdate with some old friends, which resulted in mutual encouragement, camaraderie, and fellowship.

Yes, Lord, I receive your blessing.

Though getting to Grandma and Papa’s late meant the kids were extra tired, they have been sleeping at night and napping beautifully.

Yes, Lord, I receive your blessing!!!!!!!

Though it meant another late night, my hubby and I got to worship outdoors on a warm breezy evening with Rend Collective and thousands of fellow believers, which greatly strengthened and watered my soul.

Yes, Lord, I receive your blessing.

This morning my husband got up with our toddler and my allergies were minor enough that I was able to sleep in a little, then have a homemade omelet and coffee for breakfast.

Yes, Lord, I receive your blessing.

Though it was going to be a hot and muggy day, I had the desire and energy to take my toddler for a walk and explore the town park with him – so fun! Got so hot and sweaty, and the exercise felt wonderful.

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Yes, Lord, I receive your blessing.

While I sit relaxed on the couch nursing my infant, COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS ON TV.

Yes, Lord, I receive your blessing.

Thank you, Lord, for restoring my soul in the valley. I have everything I need, for you are with me.

 

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link-up, this week’s prompt: “Yes”