Posted in Everyday Life, Faith, Family, God, it's me., Motherhood, Thankfulness

God, it’s me.

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Good morning, God. It’s me.

I’m up a little earlier than usual this morning. I’ve made my coffee. I’m seated in my office, at my small black desk, to meet with You.

As usual, the house is quiet this time of morning. All I hear is the ceiling fan above my head, an occasional car passing by my front window, and the faint snore of our favorite Jack Russell sacked out in the living room. No doubt he is curled up next to one of my littles who are sleeping soundly after last night’s late movie – a fun, relaxing way to spend a Friday night with family.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t keep my eyes open. Not long into the movie, I retreated to my room to find sleep. So here I am, awake at 5:30 a.m., sitting in the calm of the morning with you, Lord. Exactly where I need to be.

As I think back over the past couple of weeks, I am thankful.

Going to two doctors’ appointments, my imagination convincing me something may be wrong. Wondering what effect it would have on my children. Trusting even the worst of scenarios would somehow turn out okay. Then, very much relieved with the news that all is well. Thank you, God.

Seeing all of my children crowd around the dining room table to play a game. It seems trivial, but in reality, it is not. They are here. Present in this life. Present in this family. Present in this home. And they enjoy being together. In this age of technology and busyness, what a blessing!

As they play their game, the grandbabies are also in the mix. Too young to play, but very much a part of these sweet moments. The almost two year old climbing from one lap to another, trying hard to swipe a game piece as he goes. The baby, passed around the table, coddled by her people as if it’s second nature – because it is.  Another blessing.

I watch my children…

As a mother, I am keenly aware of my mistakes, remembering many of them too well. Saying yes when I should have said no; saying no when I should have said yes. Trusting others with my children, only to realize they were not trustworthy. Making decisions based on others’ opinions rather than my own convictions.

I could go on and on, God, lingering on my past failures, yet I know that is not the answer. Oh, how I long to get this mothering thing right!

Should I learn from the past? Of course. But should I live there? Absolutely not.

So once again, I am thankful. Thankful for your forgiveness. Thankful for the extra chances you give me to grow into the mother -and the wife- you call me to be. Thankful you didn’t expect me to get it all right the first time, nor do you expect that of me now.

I still have so much to learn, so many mistakes to make. But I must tell you, picturing my children crowded around that worn-out table brings hope and encouragement to my momma-heart. Just as you knew it would… thank you. 

 

Posted in Family, Motherhood

This is My Motherhood

I didn’t awaken that morning expecting my life to change. I knew some things would be different. There would be diapers to change, extra laundry to wash, another mouth to feed. But true change? As in a shift in perspective change? As in a how-did-I-ever-make-it-without-you change? Yet there it was, covering me like a warm sweater. Fitting perfectly.

And I almost missed the significance of it.

My first day of motherhood.

Like many young girls, I had often dreamed of marrying my prince charming. Together we would create the perfect family which would, no doubt, include an adorable baby girl with a closet full of pink dresses and lacy hair bows.

In this dream, my prince charming and I never disagreed. The sweet baby never cried. Money was never scarce. I always looked put-together in my career suit, high heel shoes, and polished fingernails.

It now occurs to me how this childhood fantasy skipped from the start of marriage, family, and career and sprinted straight into a never-ending state of bliss. Never once did I consider the life destined to take place between the beginning and the end.

So there we were, my beau and I, planning for parenthood as best we could. Early November would bring with it a small bundle of joy. I would stay home with our baby girl for two months, and then return to work. Life would carry on much the same as it had.

And then she arrived.

To this day, I’m not certain exactly what happened.

This everything-must-go-according-to-plan woman was knocked off track by a 7 pound, 5 ounce baby girl packaged in pink.

I never saw it coming.

Not through years of dreaming and planning. Not through nine months of loving her through pregnancy. Not through hours of laboring to get her here. Not until I held her in my arms for the first time.

I had become a mother.

It was within that moment I began to see life differently. I began to sense the call to motherhood, and in accepting that call, new experiences became the norm.

Motherhood brought with it much learning. I quickly realized not every little girl is fond of pink and lace. And that some two-year-old boys can easily outrun their mothers despite their tiny legs. That even the youngest of children can struggle with shyness. That some toddlers have a will stronger than their adult counter-parts. And that an ordinary rock or weed can become a special gift when given from the lovely heart of a child.

If not for mothering, I may have never become an expert at capturing crickets, toads, and frogs. I most certainly would have never owned a pet rat (affectionately known as Mr. Rat), nor would I have willingly housed lizards, guinea pigs, or hamsters (or the babies they were never supposed to birth).

I’m sure I would have never carried on a conversation with the one lone fish who lived on my kitchen counter. Nor would I have taken on the large number of dogs and cats we’ve loved through the years. No, my entourage of pets would have been much less if not for motherhood.

Living as a mother has also stretched me in more important ways. It has caused me to question, at times, much of what I thought to be true. It has forced me to think hard, and to pray more. What has worked with one child has not worked with another.

And the heartaches, oh how deeply they hurt. I wonder whether a deeper pain exists than that felt by a mother whose child is struggling, or rebelling, or hurting, or leaving, or one who has already gone.

From the first child of my dreams, to the two boys who followed, on to a second daughter, and then finally, a baby boy. Five children. Five blessings. All with similar traits, yet uniquely themselves. All very much loved. Each one an important, vital piece of the life nestled between my start and finish. The in-between part I never considered as a dreamy little girl.

This is my motherhood.

Yours may look completely different. Regardless of how it looks -whether your expression of a mother’s love is given to your own children or to others who need it- please know you are making a difference. And, in turn, you are being made different, too.

Posted in Faith, Family

When More Is What We Need

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Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

I love that saying, and I believe in its message. So much so that I have it displayed on a shelf in my sitting area. As I glance at it each morning, I am reminded of the importance of being thankful.

When I am thankful, I am more aware of God’s love for me. The assurance of His love enables me to be more content in my relationships, more capable of carrying out my daily tasks, and better at handling life’s ups and downs.

But sometimes I need more.

Not necessarily more stuff. Although another cup of fancy coffee is always welcome. No, sometimes I simply need more of the best things in life.

More time with the man I love.
Another hug from my children- wow, they grow up fast!
Extra snuggles from my grand baby.
One more smile. One more good belly laugh.
A bonus visit with a dear friend.
A fresh heart connection with a loved one.
A moment to slow down, to notice those around me, to meet another’s need.
A minute longer to sit quietly with Jesus before stepping into my day.

Yes, sometimes I need a little more.

Perhaps you’ve had a longing in your heart lately, too. Perhaps something doesn’t seem quite right. Perhaps some adjustments need to be made.

Let’s be content, yes, but let’s not become so comfortable that we fail to notice when change is needed. When improvements are overdue. Let’s not fall into the trap of believing things are as good as they’ll ever be, or that there’s no point in fixing what has not yet broken. Let’s take the initiative instead.

Let’s bravely look into the fabric of our lives and take notice of the places where it’s beginning to rub raw, where tiny holes have already formed, where the seams are barely holding. And let’s do something about it.

Let’s take our need for more to Christ. That is key.

Let’s ask Him to show us what we need to do differently, who we need to extend his love and grace to, and in what ways we need to become more intentional with our time and in our relationships.

As we seek to experience God’s best in our lives, may we be the light that shines His goodness into the lives of those around us as well.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

 

 

Posted in Family

A Letter to My Mom

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Dear Mom –

Sometimes I get the feeling you’re not so sure you were a good mother.  You probably recall every mistake you made, every word you wish you had not spoken, every “yes” that should have been “no”, and every “no” that should have been “yes”. Like most moms, those memories tend to stand out the most when we ponder our role as a mother.

But please allow me to reflect on my growing up years and share with you what I remember. 

I remember feeling loved and valued and protected.

I remember a mom who allowed me to sleep on the floor of her bedroom when the darkness in my own room scared me.  A mom who never humiliated me during those years of bedwetting (even though you must have thought it would never end).

A mom who was always watching from the kitchen window as I made my way home from the bus stop.  One who listened – really listened – as I chattered non-stop about my day. 

I remember a mom who always believed in me, long before I believed in myself. My biggest cheerleader. My greatest supporter. One who often told me I could do anything I set my mind to and believed I really could.

I remember a mom who was my greatest advocate, whether it was trying to talk dad into buying me the latest name brand jeans or making sure my sleep was not interrupted after a long, stressful first day of work.

And then there’s that mom, the one who let me go when letting go was the hardest thing ever.  One who delighted in giving me my fairy-tale wedding, then secretly mourned when I moved hours away with my happily-ever-after. The one who opened her heart – and her home – to us when we returned to Arkansas a few years later.

The mom who was there for the birth of every grandchild and great grandchild, regardless of how long the wait. The one who continues to hold a special place in the hearts of her grandchildren because her grandchildren first held a special place in her heart.

This is the mom I remember. This is the mom who remains today. This is the mom who still makes me feel loved and valued and protected – and that alone is proof that you’re a good mom. 

I love you, mom.

Posted in Faith, Family

Grandma Didn’t, and Neither Should We

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I remember vividly my grandma cradling me as we rocked back and forth, back and forth. I must have been only four or five at the time. While the words she spoke and the songs she sang escape me, I recall feeling loved.  Safe. As if I belonged there, in her lap.

I think back to when I first grasped the idea she was sick.  My cousins and I were sent upstairs while the adults awaited the arrival of paramedics.  We peered out the windows, hoping to spy the emergency vehicles as they pulled in front of the old house built years before by grandpa and his boys.

As they wheeled grandma out on a stretcher, I was one of the few children allowed to venture downstairs to see her.  They paused long enough for me to look into her eyes, into the heart of this woman who meant so much to me.  I wondered if I would ever see her again.

My grandmother only lived a short time after that day.  At my young age, I was unable to fully understand what death meant. So I just continued on, living in my own little six year old world.

It wasn’t until many years later that I began to see the role my grandmother played in my life.  You see, although I can’t tell you specifics, I believe with all my heart my grandma prayed over me as we sat in that old rocking chair.

I am certain her prayers were answered the day I started attending church as a young teenager.  They were answered again when a cute boy at that church took notice of me, eventually becoming my best friend and later my husband.

I had no idea God was using that boy to keep me in church. I had no clue I needed God, nor did I realize the path I was walking would lead me to Him.  Through God’s goodness, I believe grandma’s greatest prayer was answered on a beautiful Sunday morning when I committed my life to Christ.

Thank you, grandma, for loving me enough to pray. Your prayers have indeed made a difference in my life. And because my life is different, my children have also been impacted by your prayers, as will their children someday. There is no greater gift you could have given us.

Friends, what we pray today will benefit those we love for years to come.

May we not become so busy, so complacent, so satisfied that we fail to prayFor our husbands. For our children. For our friends and co-workers.  For our extended family.  And most of all, for those who have yet to know Christ. 

May we never stop praying.  Grandma didn’t, and neither should we.

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The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:16b

Posted in Faith, Family

In Search of Me

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Somewhere along the way I’ve lost myself.

It seems my identity is deeply hidden beneath what I do and for whom I do it.

I proudly wear the title of friend, daughter, sister, wife, mother, and Mia to my first grandchild. I’m very comfortable in these roles.  I love being these things to my people. I am very much aware of the blessing of family God has gifted to me, and I wouldn’t desire life any other way.

Yet when asked who I truly am outside these roles, I find it extremely difficult to conjure up an intelligible response.  Truth be told, when the labels are stripped away, I am quite uncertain of who I am.  And that scares me.

So I’ve decided to take a little journey.

  • To peek into my past
  • To ponder where I’ve been and where I’m headed
  • To revisit the beautiful portions
  • To recall the heartaches, however painful – and the good I’ve known because of them
  • To identify my struggles – and to allow myself some grace as I work through them
  • To dive deep into God’s word as I uncover the camouflaged path set before me
  • To know my Creator more intimately
  • To understand more clearly what it is I mean to Him

All in hopes of finding myself again.

Perhaps you, too, are searching for your purpose, trying to find your way, or hoping to discover your worth.  If so, sweet friend, may I invite you to join me on this quest?  I don’t know exactly what it will look like, nor do I know how quickly the answers will come.  But this I know, when we seek solutions within God’s Word, we will never be disappointed.

So off I go, in search of me ….

 

Posted in Faith, Family

Little Miracles Matter Too

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At six months of age, my grandson has already endured two open heart surgeries, numerous tests and procedures, and countless doctor’s visits. He is often referred to as a miracle baby.

Because of this journey with Elijah, it is not unusual for family and strangers alike to assure us God is still in the business of performing miracles. And I agree whole-heartedly.  God is most definitely capable and eager to perform miracles, and we are so very thankful for the miracles He has worked in Elijah’s life. 

But I began to wonder … how often have we missed beautiful everyday miracles while waiting for the big ones to come along?

Have we lost sight of the fact that every single one of us is indeed a miracle?

Conceived and knit together in our mothers’ wombs.  Given complex bodies designed to function exactly as needed. Placed in an atmosphere perfectly suited to sustain life. Gifted with a sun rise each morning. Given the moon and stars to light our way each night. Oh what delightful, common miracles these are, and how often I’ve failed to see them as such.

Each day we breathe in the amazing miracles swirling around us, yet we are blind to their beauty, barely noticing them.

We trust we’ll awaken healthy and strong.

We expect our homes sufficiently cooled in the summer and comfortably heated in the winter. 

Water should flow when we turn on the faucet; lightbulbs should brighten the room when we flip the switch.

Our refrigerators should always hold our favorite foods; our closets should overflow with shoes and clothing.

We presume these blessings will be a part of life.  So much so we forget to think of them as miracles.  We overlook our very existence — and God’s faithfulness in meeting our needs — as some of the loveliest miracles.

Until the unexpected happens. 

Our health fails. Our security vanishes. Our homes are lost. Our marriages fizzle. Our babies are born in less than perfect health.

Oh friends, the unexpected sure has a way of grabbing our attention.  It causes us to reassess those things we’ve taken for granted. It moves us to seek relief, search out help, and pray, pray, pray for a big miracle.

And although there is nothing wrong with requesting a big miracle, let’s begin to call attention to those small miracles as well.  Let’s point out their value. Let’s intentionally share the joy of those miracles with others. Let’s ask God to open our eyes so we may see vividly the miracles fluttering about. 

Have you missed any miracles today, sweet friends?  If so, take a moment to reflect on them. Take note of them. Pay attention to them.  And do the same tomorrow.  And the next day.  Until you find yourself identifying miracles at every turn and in every situation, recognizing there really is no such thing as a little miracle.

Posted in Faith, Family

Peeking at a Younger Me

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I unexpectedly stumbled across an old journal of mine.  One I had started as a senior in high school, and had again picked up a few years later as a young married woman thinking about starting a family.

Its pages contained prayers I had forgotten I prayed.  Frustrations I had forgotten I felt. Even the treasured details of my husband’s proposal to me so many years ago was penned within its pages. As I flipped through the small book, I was both amazed and surprised by the words and opinions voiced by my younger self. And I wished I had written more.

At times the younger me sounded so mature; my faith seemed so strong. Other entries left me sounding youthful and confused, undoubtedly struggling with the differences in what society expected of me and what God was impressing upon me.

I was searching for answers; trying to figure out life, attempting to find my way. Certain of some things, completely unsure of others. Doing the best I could with what little wisdom and knowledge I had accrued.  Never suspecting there was still so much to learn.

As I look back upon those years, I find myself thinking about what is not written in that journal.  How I married my high school sweetheart and moved out of state with him, breaking my momma’s heart (though she didn’t tell me for years). How, in the midst of all our fun and excitement, God allowed some tough circumstances to turn our hearts back toward Him, bringing us back home, closer to family and closer to experiencing the life He had planned for us.

I remember how God faithfully provided for our needs.  How he placed certain people in our lives to help point us in the right direction.  How he began to bless us with the family we had been praying for all along.  How He was always with us – even when we had no clue He was there, and no idea how much we actually needed Him.

Yes, I am grateful I found that old journal. I’m thankful for the memories it unlocked.  I’m pleased to have glimpsed the person I once was.  And I’m blessed – so very blessed – in knowing how much God truly loved me then, and how He continues to love me now.

And friends, remember, I am no one special.  God loves you just as He loves me.  He is there for you, regardless of where you are in life.  If you find yourself searching for something more, may I encourage you to search for Him? He is all around you.  He is there for you.  He loves you, my friend.  He truly loves you.

 

Posted in Faith, Family

Even On The Tough Days

 

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Today my grandson underwent his second open heart surgery. 

He is a precious, blue-eyed 5 month old with a contagious smile and a winning personality.  He is quite accomplished at flirting with the nurses and is intent on carrying on his own method of conversation with the doctors.

He was born with a serious heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, better known as HLHS. HLHS is a rare congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped.  Typically, a series of three surgeries is required, with a heart transplant likely at some point.  We are hoping and praying the need for transplant will be well into the future.

One thing I’ve learned through this journey with Elijah is this:  when the news you hear is less than perfect and well, the scope of your emotions can range from one extreme to the other.  You begin to seriously question what you’ve always thought to be important.  You find yourself cherishing moments that otherwise may appear trivial. 

For parents of these special children, such moments may include the first true bottle feeding, doubling a birth weight, making that first trip to Walmart after being confined to home for what seems like forever, or possibly even celebrating birthdays on a monthly basis. Whatever the case may be, it’s noticing those moments that say, “We love this child, and we’re so thankful to have him with us.”

Which gets me to thinking…  Shouldn’t I always feel this way, in all my relationships? Shouldn’t I review my priorities from time to time to ensure I’m placing importance on the proper things? Shouldn’t I celebrate the little moments of my day more often, holding dear those precious people God has entrusted to me?  Shouldn’t I choose to live each day in a way that says, “I love you, and I’m so thankful to have you with me”?

Yes, I should; we all should. Yet we get caught up in the busyness of life and sometimes forget.  Until, that is, a stark reminder comes along as in the case of my sweet grandbaby. I’m so thankful for him and for the prompting to not only love and enjoy being with him, but to carry that same mindset and focus into my daily interactions with others as well. 

Learning to live a little better, love a little more, and laugh a little louder.  That’s a good place to be, even on the tough days.

 

Posted in Faith, Family

Dear Little One, Our Heart Baby

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Dear Little One, Our Heart Baby:

You are so very much loved. And I believe somehow, even at your young age, you know it.

It is evident in your sweet smile.  In your tiny giggle when we play with you. In your inability to hide your excitement when you spot someone familiar. Yes, there is no doubt you are loved, and no doubt you feel that love.  And I am so grateful.

I’m grateful God handpicked you for our family. What a privilege to have been chosen to love such a special child.

If not for you we may have never been introduced to other families affected by Hypo-Plastic Left Heart Syndrome (#HLHS). We may have never realized the magnitude of children dealing with health issues on a daily basis, nor the impact it has on their families. We may have never truly appreciated having a hospital for children right here in our hometown, nor understood the importance of those great doctors, nurses, and other medical staff devoted to caring for children like you.

It has been an eye-opening experience, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes filled to the brim with blessing.  And as hard as it has been at times, I am grateful.

I’m grateful for the many prayers spoken on your behalf when we first learned of your heart defect. We were so broken, yet we found peace and comfort.

I’m grateful for the prayers voiced during your first open heart surgery and the long recovery that followed.  We were scared and anxious, yet peace and strength became ours.

I’m grateful for the continued prayers since then, and for those already whispered on your behalf as we prepare for heart surgery #2. I am especially grateful for those mighty prayer warriors making preparations even now to fall to their knees, lifting you up in prayer at the very time you undergo this surgery.  How could I not be thankful for God’s love displayed so beautifully through His people?

In light of that love, this is our promise to you, our precious heart baby:

We will show up for you, even when the going gets tough.

We will pray for you, even when we’re unsure how to pray.

We will love you completely, even if it causes our hearts to break.

We will teach you of God’s wonderful love for you.

And we promise to do these things not just on surgery day, but every single day of your life. Why?  Because dear little one, you truly are loved that much.