The name I want listed in my movie credits

Apparently I have a reputation. After a full weekend of activities & birthdays & flat tires & sports games & conferences, while heading upstairs to put the boys to bed my husband yelled down, “Your award show is starting. Did you tape it?”

It’s true. I’m a bit of an awards show fan. Part of the obsession is the beauty…the gorgeous gowns & jewels. I also enjoy celebrating the art of great storytelling. And of course I love watching some of my favorite “famous” faces share one space. (Like seeing my best friend 😉 Jennifer Garner cheer on her hubby Ben Affleck.)

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photo credit

Last weekend, like I mentioned, I attended a local mom conference. A conference with a few “famous” authors and speakers hanging around. One author, the beautiful, Melanie Shankle, just wrote a book which debuted #27 on the NY Times Best Seller list (if you watch her promo video have tissue ready…I’m not kidding).

Something inside me puts one human above another because of these statistics. Even if that person doesn’t assume this position and is kind (& humble & full of grace…) success still moves people into high positions. The desire to be close to those of high position to pull & push my way to the top.

God knows the heart. He knows the temptation to make my name great, instead of His.

As I drove the 45 minutes in Friday evening traffic towards this mommy conference, I tried to use the time wisely by calling college friends to catch up. But no one answered. So I drove and absent mindedly sang with the Seeds Family Worship CD (cuz sometimes I forget I can listen to grown-up music when my children aren’t in the car). My brain started to realize the message God had for me when I sang these words:

“All men are like grass,

and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;

the grass withers and the flowers fall,

but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

(1 Peter 1:24)

All the “famous” fades away, but the word of the Lord remains. Cling to what stays not the fleeting Twitter feed & Facebook status updates. 

I walked into the main ballroom of the conference just as the session began. Settling my purse in the chair I stood to join in this song,

“Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!
And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.”
(Chris Tomlin)

God is stronger and higher. If He is for me what does it matter how many followers or retweets or likes or comments one gets. We are unstoppable if He has a plan for us to fulfill. We don’t need to befriend the famous to create a platform…because He holds the world in His hands. We need only rest in Him. 

When I wondered “Who am I Lord that you have called me to scribble out my story? Just a mom. Only a speech-language pathologist. Not a writer”, Then I read, in His word that lasts forever, when Jeremiah had his own “who am I” moment saying, “I am only a child. I do not know how to speak”. The Lord answered,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a child’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.  (Jeremiah 1:7)

I fill in the blank with my modifiers, “I am only a mom”. “I am only a pre-med Biology major.” “I am only 35 years old.” “I am only….”.

But He answers, “Don’t say that. It doesn’t matter what you are. It only matters who I AM. And I am who I AM. And as the great I AM, I will accomplish what I set to accomplish.”

In the book of Job, after losing it all, despite his faithfulness, and having friends fail in their attempts to comfort him, he cries out to God. God answers with a list of questions of about who Job thinks he is compared to the almighty God. Job answers,

“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.” Job 42:2-3

People will fade away (the yearly Oscar tribute to past “famous” entertainers reminds of this fact). To pursue the fame of man is to leave behind the glory of God.

When Quentin Tarantino accepted his award for best original screenplay (aka writing a movie from scratch), he apparently only had one name in his movie credits…his own. He bragged, “I actually think that like…. if people are knowing my movies 30 or 50 years from now it’s gonna be because of the characters that I created, and I really only got one chance to get it right. I have to cast the right people to make those characters come alive and hope they live a long time… and boy, this time did I do it.”

At the end of my life when the credits roll, I desire one name to be displayed: Yahweh. (Maybe some of His other names: Jehovah Jireh (my provider), El Shaddai, Elohim, Lord, Father, Adonai….but you get the idea).

Lord, keep my eyes focused on you. Following your lead. Waiting on your timing. Promoting You more than myself. Amen.

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What We’re Reading {William Bradford}

(I know I didn’t post a book last week, but I didn’t want to interrupt your Pinterest perfect Valentine’s Day. Hope you enjoyed time with loved ones instead of reading blogs about books.)

On to the topic at hand…I started the new series “What We’re Reading” and shared a fun picture book to take on a picnic. To shake things up a bit, this week I’m going to share a chapter book…a non-fiction chapter book. I know…I know.

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Remember how I shared my MOB Society post (sorry the link was broken…fixed now). I wrote about casting a godly vision for our children. One way to inspire our children to do great things for God’s glory is to read biographies of others who have followed & been used by God. This week’s story is just that…

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William Bradford: Young Pilgrim

Synopsis:

“Orphaned at a young age, he was formed by forces which were providentially preparing him for the great call upon his life. Follow his life from his boyhood in Scrooby, England through the years when he led the Pilgrims as the first governor of Plymoth Plantation.” (200 pages)

–Read aloud for ages 4-6 (may be hard for them to keep attention…but if you take time to talk them through the chapters…rephrasing for little ears they will enjoy it);

–Chapter book for ages 7-9 (depending on child’s reading level).

Why I love it:

The first time I heard about this book was when I observed the school my boys now attend. As I entered the 1st grade classroom the teacher just finished reading from the chapter book, “Squanto” and asked the children to get out paper & pencils for spelling. Then she paused and looked at one of the boys, asking him, “Are you okay?”.

The little boy started to ask about what will happen to Squanto. Apparently in the chapter they had stopped reading, men took Squanto from his village and sold him into slavery in England.

This teacher calmly & patiently reassured this young boy, “I know it seems like Squanto is suffering greatly. But God will make it right. Remember William Bradford? How his parents died & God provided William Brewster as a mentor? That relationship brought William Bradford to the new world. God will use this trial to bring about His purposes in Squanto’s life. You will see. It will be good.”

So when my son brought home this chapter book, I looked forward to reading this redemptive story…God making right the wrong of William’s life.

I also love the mentorship relationship. Just like I wrote about with casting a godly vision for your children, W. Brewster guided W. Bradford to seek God in his life.

“You have a good mind & an earnest one.  We don’t know yet for what purpose God gave it to you.  But let us make it ready for whatever work He gives you.”

Enjoy!

**Disclaimer: we may be a little biased in loving this book since we discovered my husband is related to William Brewster. 😉

Seeking God’s Plan for my Boys

Only God knows what kind of men my boys will become. And so I seek Him and ask Him to give me wisdom. Wisdom to know His plans. Eyes to see their uniqueness. And then words to direct their hearts towards His calling.

Today I’m writing over at the MOB Society about casting a Godly vision for your boys (also true for girls…but the site is for mothers of boys afterall…). Click here to read the article.

To go along with the theme of my post I wanted to share a video of my two oldest boys we made last week. The only prompt I gave was: “Do y’all want to help me tell others about HelloMornings? Lots of ladies will see it and maybe want to join me in waking up early. You have one minute to talk about why you like when mommy wakes up early.”

This is the result:


So I speak this vision over my eldest son…”God has gifted you with the ability to craft words. You perform well in front of others…with passion. You have a wonderful sense of truth and share it well. I can’t wait to see how God uses these talents for His glory.”

What gifts do you see in your children? Have you sought God for wisdom in how He could use those gifts for His glory?

Such a high calling to take the raw material God has placed in my hands and shape it for His purposes. 

The Time Her Deafness Taught Me to Listen

There are so many stories to share with you from what’s been going on in the Mac home ; funny stories, injurious ones, happy-news ones… But first I want to share this particularly story from my past (my pre-kids, pre-Dallas days).

Susan stood out among my graduate school speech-language pathology clients. Each semester we were assigned 3-4 clients. By graduation we were required to have seen a variety of cases; adults, children, speech, language (yes there is a difference between speech & language…).

I had never treated a case like Susan’s.

Her speech-language disorder started at birth. Born without the ability to hear sound and given the official diagnostic label: “deaf” (or less preferred, “hearing impaired”).

As an adult, against research and doctors’ advice, Susan underwent surgery to receive a cochlear implant. A modern miracle, this technology gave her the sense of hearing. No sound–>sound. In a moment.

But let me explain, just because sound came in her brain didn’t mean she understood what she heard. There were no “files” in her brain for sound. A therapist taught her associate meaning to sound. And to hear the difference between a knock on the door and the doorbell.

My job was to help her use her voice correctly; to adjust her intonation to match the intended meaning. To learn the importance of a pause. For instance, without a pause these sentences take on completely different meanings. “It’s time to eat, Grandma.” (pause with the comma) and “It’s time to eat Grandma.” (no pause)…a life or death difference (excuse the dark humor). In speaking and reading, pausing is important.

She taught me pausing was important in living, too.

Working with Susan I felt I never really used all five of my senses. She opened my eyes (and ears) to experiences I rushed passed.

Her fifth sense laid dormant for decades, only to be flipped on like a switch. Now even the smallest noises seemed important.  The sounds my brain filters out so I can focus on the intended target, were loud and meaningful to Susan.

The Walk

A time which sticks out in my memory is when she entered the therapy room smiling from ear-to-ear. She couldn’t wait to tell me what happened that morning.

Day after day she walked along the same sidewalk with her dog. At a specific spot on their familiar walk she would hear a sound. Looking around she could never pinpoint its source. Until, on this particularly morning, she looked up. Above her head peeking out from a nest, she saw the tiny tweeting beak.

She couldn’t hide the joy from hearing a new sound, a song unheard for the four decades of her life, a simple bird’s song.

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photo credit

Susan’s story reminds me to stop and notice God’s presence around me…throughout the day. The noise of the world will drown out His voice if I don’t stop to listen. If my brain is trained to filter out His voice, so I can focus on what I think is most important, then I miss His whispers.

Yes, I hear Him when I am sitting in my leather chair during quiet moments before the boys’ feet hit the floor. This is my anchor point. Or like in the case of Susan, this is when the sound of His voice is given meaning. In the quiet, without distractions, I can tune in and know truth through the Holy Spirit and reading His Word.

Then when the boys descend the stairs and the crazy waves start rolling in, I can stay centered in His presence. I can hear Him in the chaos because I know His voice. I can dwell on His message because I took the time to hear it.

Interestingly God refers to himself in the present tense when He tells Moses His name, “I AM”. He is present and this is where I want to be. Present in His presence, experiencing indescribable joy…despite circumstances.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

Today take a moment to stop and listen. Perhaps your kids are yelling your name. Listen farther, past the sound of electronic toys. Do you hear the buzz of the refrigerator? The sound of cars driving past your house? A bird’s song in a nearby tree? Can you hear God whispering your name? Do you know His voice?

May we lean in to listen. To love Him, believe Him, hear Him, even though we do not see Him, God is here. He is working. He wants us to join Him and experience the joy of His presence. 

Curious about hearing God’s voice? I did a great study once by Priscilla Shirer called “He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear from God”. She has another study called “Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking.”

The only way to write a book on humility {part 1}

Most writers have big plans to write books. I struggle to even call myself a writer. If you asked me about my “dreams” I would talk about women’s ministry or speaking. But God has a different plan.

God decided I should write a book.

I’m just coming to grips with His idea. This post should have been written 6 months ago. But back then I thought keeping the news secret was the humble thing to do.

Now I realize it was actually my pride keeping the news amongst a select few. I didn’t want to tell you about writing a book, because what if a book was never published. Then I would have to write a follow-up post: “Nevermind. God didn’t really want to me to write a book.”

But you know what? At Allume I was smacked over the head with truth: the calling to write a book has nothing to do with me. Yes, I have to physically type out the words. But it is 100% God’s message. He has orchestrated details in ways I never imagined (just wait…you will see what I mean). It’s my job to follow where He is working. Stop sitting around. I’m failing by not following. 

So here’s the story of how God decided I should write a book.

The Message…

In the Spring of 2011, while sharing my humbling journey of motherhood to my local MOPS group, God gave me the “God-centered” message of this blog. For the past year or so I’ve chronicled that journey here. Little did I know when I started “God-centered mom” how much further I would be humbled. This message of “replacing me with He” was never mine. It has always been God’s repeated voice in my head to share with others.

The agent…

This past April (2012), we unloaded all the boys from the car after a Sunday night Yancy Nancy concert at church. Given the “later than normal” bedtime, there were tears and gnashing of teeth, from both me & the kids. To escape from the crazy, I pulled out my iPhone to check my email (it’s a sickness I’m working on).

Typically opening my inbox on a Sunday night I’d find maybe an email from Gap offering 30% today “only” (an email I get every other day). Usually there is nothing important or interesting waiting for me, despite my frequent, obsessive checking.

But that night I found an email from an unknown address. I opened it to see these words:

Heather, I am Ann Voskamp’s literary agent, along with others of course, but I see you list her book as a favorite so I thought I would name drop. 🙂 Have you ever thought about book publishing? If so would you like to talk about how it all works? Grace and peace, Bill

Wouldn’t you know my first thought was skepticism? It must be spam. Then, instead of googling: “Who is Ann Voskamp’s literary agent?”.  I sent Ann a direct message on Twitter. Seriously. In my shocked state I simply said, “I know your life is full. Just got an email from a Bill Jensen. Is he your agent? Any information you have I would greatly appreciate.”

Within 20 minutes I received a personal email from Ann. She shared how Bill was in fact her agent, how he was amazing to work with, how he lives gospel, and how he views it as his ministry to help Christians publish the message God has given them. My favorite line (which in only Ann could write): “I am smiling, beautiful friend…God goes before you.”

Then I just sat in silence. Instead of joy, gratitude, and honor, I felt a mixture of shock, disbelief, and fear. I began to project myself as a book author. A pit in my stomach began to form because I had a two-month old baby. Everyone knows moms of newborns don’t write books.

The next day I shared the news with a close friend. Asked for her thoughts on what I should do. She brought be back down to earth. She reminded me how Bill wasn’t asking me to write a book, he just asked if I had questions about publishing. She gave me the wise advice to do “the next right thing.”

The next right thing was to schedule a time to talk with Bill. In classic, new-mom-mush-brain, I arranged our first phone call during the baby’s 2 month doctor’s appointment. But Bill was gracious and we scheduled for another time. While the boys were at school and the baby slept, he and I exchanged our stories and became acquainted.

He told me he loved how God-centered my writing was. He also said he never would have contacted me if he knew I had a newborn, because that is, “cruel and unusual punishment”. Reflecting back, I trust God was present even in this. It wasn’t me who impressed Bill, it was God. Like Ann said, “God goes before me…”

After our conversation the next right thing was to speak again. In that conversation Bill extended me a contract. And I signed it. But again in my publication ignorance I just filled in my name online and emailed it back to him. (forehead slap). Again Bill was gracious. (I took this picture with the hard copy I finally mailed in…unsure if anyone else would ever see it).

Just as he promised, Bill sent me sample book proposals. The next right thing was to study the proposals and begin to write my own.  However, the week after signing the contract to work with an agent towards a book on humility in mothering…I broke my foot. That event launched me into the most humbling season of my life.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good & what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

To be continued

“the only way to write a book on humility {part 2}–click here

Called Me Higher {Allume Lesson #2}

On Monday, I wrote how I can’t fail in motherhood because I am already a failure. We all are. My children can’t fall farther than the reach of His grace & love. So I shouldn’t parent in fear of failure, but in love.

On Wednesday, I shared the message & hope of owning my life. Loud & clear so many Allume speakers spoke of intentional living. Creating before consuming. Keeping my life, so I have a life to write about. Remembering fun.

If claim I don’t want to parent in fear. If I want to own my life. Then I need to cast aside fear and live, following His calling. Because while at Allume, the calling was solidified & shiny, crystal clear. But I’ve pushed it aside because the risk of failure is high. The feelings of inferiority and comparison rob me of confidence.

Darren Rowse, aka Problogger said,

“Acknowledge the insecurity. Be faithful in the next step. Step forward even if you are afraid. Don’t live with regret. God is giving you a message and you don’t want to look back 30 years from now and wonder what would happen.”

Thank you RedLetterArt for the perfect confirmation of His call.

Then Darren quoted Will Rogers:

“Even if you’re on the right track you will get run over if you just sit there” 

I could be right where God wants me to be, but just sitting there hoping things will work out. Not actively pursuing the call. Just sitting.

Monday, during my time with God, I turned on Pandora to hear this song, “Called Me Higher” (by All Sons & Daughters) played:

I could just sit. I could just sit.

And wait for all Your goodness.

Hope to feel Your presence.

And I could just stay.

I could just stay right where I am

And hope to feel you.

Hope to feel something again.

And I could hold on, hold on to who I am.

And never let you change me from the inside.

Here is the chorus that echoed my time at Allume:

You have called me higher.

You have called me deeper.

I will go where you lead me Lord.

He has called me higher. He has called me deeper. I need to get off my booty and follow where He leads!! Enough of sitting around already.

Each woman I interacted at the Allume Conference heard a specific calling from God in some area of her life. The callings were unique from one another because the work is plentiful and too many workers are sitting around. We don’t have to worry about competing with one another for space in His Kingdom (TY Lisa-Jo for this reminder).

One of the biggest parts of my Allume experiences was the re-igniting of a call. He put into place people & situations to reaffirm He has some work for me to do. Next week I want to share with you all the specifics of this “calling”. It’s big. Real big. After last weekend I realize how big.

For today I leave you with the awesomeness of Ann Voskamp’s words on calling:

  • Feeling a little bit raw and a little bit discouraged. Clean underwear in my husband’s drawer. There’s just not enough of me to go around. Am I doing the right things?
  • Do you want to use me at all?Does the creator of all things love me and want to use me at all? Or is He looking at you and thinking, “Well this isn’t going to go very far?”
  • Quit “trying to fit” stop trying to squeeze all your extraordinary into ordinary.
  • Stop feeling failure.
  • Stop fear, God’s artist at work.
  • Tree grows tall by stretching into unknown territory.
  • A call is something one keeps listening for. He didn’t give Abraham a map, He gave him a relationship.
  • We need the person of God more than the plan. Wait in prayer in His Word.
  • God’s call is not that you do more FOR Him, but that you do more WITH God.  Life changes with the prepositions.

Are you pursuing a relationship with God? Do you stop & listen to His voice? If you have heard Him calling, are you held back moving because of your fear of failure? Let’s own this life and the calling He has given us! 

**IF YOU ARE READING THIS POST & ATTENDED ALLUME, WILL YOU SHARE THE CALLING YOU HEARD FROM GOD? BE BOLD & FEARLESS!

***Here is the song, “Called Me Higher” by All Sons & Daughters. So. so. good :

like trying to fly a kite with no wind

Bruce was out-of-town. I thought I would play the role of “fun mom”, at least for one afternoon. The boys had begged me to fly their kite. After finding each boy’s sunglasses (hard to see a kite with the sun blaring in your eyes), we loaded the car for the park. Do they look cool or what?

As I drove towards the park I glanced at the trees. Instead of branches bouncing in the breeze they remained unmoved. Hmmm. Flags hung limply on poles. Uh-oh.

So I prepared the boys, “Hey guys, just so you know, it’s not very windy today. So the kite may not fly.” Immediately Price began whining, “NOOOOO, I waaaant to fly a kite. Whyyyyy won’t it work?”
“Dude, I want to fly a kite too, but we can’t control the wind. I can’t tell the wind to blow. But we will give it a try, okay?”

He settled down as I pulled into the parking lot.

After fighting over who would hold the string and who would hold the kite to help launch it in the air (string being the preferred role), they settled on a solution. Three turns holding the string then switch.

We found a large piece of grass,fairly free of kite-grabbing trees. Quade held the kite while Price took off running in the opposite direction. Low and behold, the kite stayed up. We yelled out, “Let out some string! Let out some string!” Slowly the kite climbed higher and higher.

Price made a quick u-turn as his open space ended in a row of trees. The kite kept flying. That is, it kept flying as long as he kept moving his little feet. Back and forth he ran across the grass until his three turns were over.

Once he stopped running, the kite gently lowered to the ground. He slowly dropped to the ground in exhaustion.

They took a couple of turns. But the experience lost its charm when they lost their steam. Soon the kite lay on the ground while they ran off to play on the tire swing.

Oh the parallels to ministry. And motherhood.

Serving without the Spirit is like flying a kite without wind. It’s possible, but it’s exhausting. I run back and forth. The kite lifts and “things” get done, but it’s all in my effort. I wear down quickly.

The kite gets left in the grass. I get distracted with other amusements. Assuming service isn’t for me since it was so “hard”.

What if I looked for where the Spirit is moving, or where God is working. Wait for the wind to move. Once I see Him moving, join Him. Let out the string and watch the kite soar with little effort. (*see author’s note below*)

My sweet (fellow boy mom) friend, Erin, tweeted this verse yesterday and seeing it was part of His message to me:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30

As I begin today, I want to pray for His Spirit to open my eyes to see Him. The same Spirit who was in Elijah, Moses, Joseph, Jesus...lives in me! God’s power can lift my ministry with ease if I chose to join Him where He is already working.

What “kite” are you trying to fly in your own effort? Are you keeping company with God and resting in His power so you can live freely and lightly? 

(Anyone else have the song, “Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height. Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring it. Up to the atmosphere. Up where the air is clear. Let’s go fly a kite!” Just me? well alrighty then.)

*author’s note: I do understand ministry, even with the Spirit, can be challenging and exhausting. We can’t stand holding the “string” forever. Just like my boys took turns, we need to trade off our responsibilities, take turns holding the line. Not view flying the kite as a competition but as a community effort. May you be encouraged today in whatever “kite” you are flying. May you find others to help you hold the string. *love*