Fahrvergnugen…time to enjoy the ride

It’s not a common practice…me running into the street (Northwest Highway, to be exact). I tend toward predictable and safe. Taking risks? Not so much.

So when Quade yelled with excitement and pointed out his window toward an object on the ground he wanted, I considered saying, “no” and “I can’t get out of the car and get that”…but instead I chose “yes” and “brave” (secretly knowing the serious mommy points I would earn).

Maybe I’m making this sound more cavalier than it was. I didn’t jump out of a moving car into oncoming traffic or anything. We were at a stop light and the treasured item sat only a few feet away. Checking to make sure no cars were coming down the shoulder, I hopped out of the car and grabbed this:

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That’s right…treasured.

You see, for the past week any time one of our clan spotted a Volkswagen, you heard the shout: “Fahrvergnügen”. (German for “driving enjoyment”… remember the VW commercials from back in the 90s?).

Finding VWs has become an obsession a healthy competition. It’s kinda fun to have a “thing” we share as a family…like a secret Fahrvergnugen society.

You know what’s amazing is how many VWs we see now that we are looking for them. I know there hasn’t been a rash purchasing of Volkswagens in the past week. But no joke in a ten minute drive we’ll count like 15!

The counting and searching makes the car rides more enjoyable. There’s something to focus our attention (instead of begging for a different song to be played or whining for a toy someone else has).

The other day I thought about our little game and how it relates to my hard days at home. Those days when the baby unloads every cabinet in the kitchen and the boys can’t seem to remember to sit down at the table to eat. On those days I can’t wait for them to all grow up. Hoping the next stage of development will be better than the one I’m in.

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I’m just hoping and waiting in the midst of my assumed “suffering” (a comparable ‘breeze’ to 99.5% of the world, mind you…but I digress). In Psalm 130 we read,

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the LORD more than watchman for the morning, more than watchman for the morning.”

So what more can I do than “wait” and “hope” during my long days with little ones? 

The psalmist suggests I act like a watchman. A watchman is diligent, learns, studies people. A watchman is also confident that someone else owns the building he is watching.

Waiting does not mean doing nothing…It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion of fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain.”–Eugene Peterson (“A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”)

Pause before you read this next line:

(Hoping) means a confident alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do.” -Eugene Peterson

Confident. Alert. Expectation.

Like the confidence, alertness & expectation my boys have when looking for VW emblems. There is no doubt in their minds they will see one while we are driving. Because every time we drive somewhere we see several.

When I’m home with the boys I need the same confidence, alertness, & expectation, that God will do what he said he will do. There is purpose in this season. And by “wishing” it away, it’s like letting all those precious VWs go by unnoticed. I have to make a conscious choice to see.

I know we’ve heard “sieze the moment” & “they grow up so fast” & “carpe diem”…but if you hear enough older women tell you something, I’m of the mindset that maybe we should listen.

So, for me, confident-alert-expectation means stopping and being present in the middle of a moment. Taking mental pictures. Or actual ones (although sometimes taking the pictures distracts me from really enjoying the moment…you know?).

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Practically speaking, Instagram has given me eyes for these moments (if you want to keep up with our day-to-day on Instagram…find me here). Even if my past motivation has been social, the habit has been formed. I see life in snapshots (and gifts I count).  I pay attention more to the details and the wonder of these amazing boys…like a watchman waits for morning. 

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What are you going to watch for today? 

(perhaps we can coin a new “carpe diem” phrase…”Fahrvergnugen”…enjoy the ride)

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.

Tozer and a Face Wax

The only redeeming value to the story I’m about to share with you was knowing I got to share this story with you. And thus begins the story of the worst grooming decision I’ve made to date.

All I wanted was a pedicure. Yes it’s “winter” and technically no one sees my narsty toes. But I see them and it makes my mommy heart happy to see pretty colored toenails. So when Bruce offered to stay with the boys so I could get out of the house for a couple hours, I slipped on my flip-flops and ran to the nearest nail salon.

The experience was going just as I hoped. With ear buds in place I listened to lofty music letting the massaging chair knead away any “baby on my left hip” knots. The girl next to me flipped through the latest InStyle magazine, while I cracked open “Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer. (I’m weird.)

Halfway through my pedicurist, “Lydia”, asked if I wanted the paraffin leg wax. Wisely I asked how much it would cost… five dollars extra. I told her “no, thank you.” She persisted and so in my typical people pleasing ways, I explained why…”no, that’s okay. It’s winter and no one really sees my legs.”

Appeased with my reasoning on the seasonal use of paraffin wax, she continued with the pedicure while I tweeted the following:

“The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems.”             -A.W. Tozer

As I sat getting my feet massaged the world all made sense with His words. He captured the essence of being God-centered. In order to not be swayed away by the mundane in life, one only needs to focus on the right belief of God.  Oh Tozer, you are one smart guy.

Then with the skill of a surgeon the pedicurist slid flip-flops back on my feet. I looked up as she gestured towards her eyebrows and asked, “Would you like to get your (pointing to eyebrows) wax?”

Self-consciously I brushed my own eyebrows, considering what was being implied. Apparently I had walked around with caterpillars for eyebrows and never been told.

I mean, I had glanced in the mirror while hastily putting on my makeup and noticed a stray hair in need of a pluck. I do own tweezers, but there usually isn’t time for such frivolity.

Given my uni-brow status and the money I’d saved not getting the $5 paraffin wax, I made my first mistake by saying, “Okay let’s do it.”

Immediately she led me back to a little room. A bright floral patterned sheet covered a bed of some sort to which she gestured for me to lie down. After examining my horrific hair situation through a giant magnifying glass, she gestured to my upper lip and asked in broken English if I wanted to get it waxed as well.

Seriously? Have I been walking around like a Neanderthal and no one has mentioned it?

Here I made my second major mistake.

So I nodded “yes” let’s do the lip while we’re here and you’ve got the wax. And I thought, “How nice for her to consider my facial needs and offer to wax my lip for free?” (Public Service Announcement: “nothing in life is free”).

Well, everything went downhill from there. After the upper lip waxing she continued and waxed. my. chin.  Before I knew what was happening, she tilted my head to the right and slathered hot wax on the left side of my face… quickly placed the strip of cloth on top of my cheek and RIPPPP! Searing pain.

I would have walked out right then, but how could I with only half a face wax?

So more ripping and burning. My entire face was on fire.

I was bamboozled. 

Finally she released me to greet a room full of women with my bright red clown face. To add insult to injury when I checked out I discovered my little torture session cost  $30!!!

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My face hurt. My pride hurt. My wallet hurt.

Now I got to face my husband and admit to handling our money poorly…not that he would make me feel bad mind you (When I told him the story he responded with, “Well, I have been calling you Zach Gallifinakis behind your back.”…thanks honey.).

As I dealt with a bad rash on my face and relived my teenage pimply angst, I couldn’t help but think about that Tozer quote…temporal problems removed with the right belief of God. 

You can’t get more temporal and shallow than a botched face wax.

What did this problem reveal? My continued struggle with worrying about what people think.

Yes, God loves me no matter how much hair is on my face or how blotchy it is after attempting to remove my apparent beard. Do I really believe He loves me no matter what? 

Nope. All I cared about was covering up the bumps with layers and layers of makeup. Searching for the perfect lotion to heal my face as quickly as possible…

So I’m putting this puzzle back in your hands.

How we handle these little “bumps” in life, if our reaction reveals our deepest beliefs about God? How do you stay God-centered when you get bamboozled into a full face wax?

(Pst…and also feel free to share any moments you have made similar unwise grooming decisions.)

How a Change in Tense Changes Choices

Y’all there are so many thoughts spinning in my head and I’m having the hardest time getting them to come out “perfectly”. So I’m throwing off perfection and gonna do the next right thing…which is tell you what God is telling me.

Last New Years when bloggers wrote about their “one word” for 2012 I scoffed and sarcastically claimed “survival” as my word. At a time when everyone made fun plans for the year and talked about their trips and projects and God-dreams, I knew my year held one major life-altering event…a baby.

Given my wuh-wuh, Debbie-downer state of being last New Year’s Eve, I decided to celebrate for reals this year. There would be laughter and smiles and excitement. Since my parents were in Dallas for the holidays (thank you Lord) Bruce & I headed out of the house for a fun night on the town…downtown, in fact.

NewyearseveDuring uninterrupted dinner conversation I shared my excitement about saying “adios” to 2012 and welcoming a new year. My optimistic husband’s glass is not only half-full, it’s overflowing. So he responded with, “What was wrong with 2012? I thought we had a wonderful year. We had Knox & made so many great memories.”

There wasn’t much of a pause before I made sure to burst his happy bubble. “Are you kidding me? This year landed me in therapy? Our house was broken into. I spent 2 weeks on crutches with a newborn. My grandmother died. It was NOT my favorite year…”

Crickets.

Remembering this was my night of laughter and smiles and excitement, I attempted to recover from my rant with, “But I’m really excited for 2013. Some people even pick a word for their year, instead of making lots of resolutions they won’t keep. In fact, a book just released called, “My One Word”. I went to their website, read the info, and decided on a word. What word would you pick?

I don’t know why I ask these questions of my husband. He needs time to process the answers to questions like, “What kind of adults do you want our sons to become?” and “If you could live in any country where would you live?” Yet I still ask him and get the same answer, “I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.”

It may seem silly to think a word can change the coarse of a year. But in the two weeks since I’ve picked my word, the word has come to my mind at least 10x a day. My focus on it actually affected making time to write this post.

So, what’s my word? (drumroll please…)

“Present”.

Not the noun, but the verb. As in ,”to be present”.

But also like the tense, not living in the past or over-planning for the future…but focusing on the present time.

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Here are some of the scenarios which prompted me to pick this word:

  • When Watts wants my attention and says “Mommy” four times before I look up from my phone. Then when I do respond, it’s with an annoyed, “What?”.
  • When I’ve been given the opportunity to write for 3 hours and I’ve spent about 30 minutes writing and 2 1/2 hours on social media.
  • When my brain is thinking about all the things I want to write about and I don’t hear Price telling me about his newest invention idea.
  • When I take the effort to wake up early to spend time with God but end up spending more time thinking about what Scripture I could tweet.

I desire for this to be a year in which I attempt to be fully present.  With my family. With my friends. With God…

“Breaks in the day used to be small windows of replenishment for body & soul-like driving in a car, going for a walk, having lunch with a friend-are now filled with noise, interruption and multitasking…No wonder we feel disconnected from God; we are rarely able to give him our full attention in solitude and silence.

-Ruth Haley Barton

Monks left the “world” to pursue His presence. My goal is to be in the world but not of it. To make space in this place to see Him. To choose His ways over mine. To stop checking what everyone else is doing and pay attention to what He is doing in my moments.

I love to check Twitter and Facebook and to escape the crazy waves of my life. But I was made for my life. I want to live it. So I’m going to make the hard choices to be present in my life.

My prayer,

O God, give me moments when I am fully present to you and to others in love.  Moments when I am connected with what is purest and most authentic within me and able to respond to your presence in that place.” (Ruth Haley Barton)

Did you pick a word for the year? I’d love to hear what you chose (if you are reading from your email, click here to share).

You Never Know the Burden Someone Else is Carrying

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For the past two years the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, we have sat on bleachers and cheered as high school bands passed by & giant balloons shaped like famous characters crowded the sky. Just when we had perfected the plan for where to park & sit, the parade coordinators changed the route.

Street closures and traffic caused a little strain in our marital communication. Finally we found a parking garage which appeared to be relatively close to our seats. Just like last year I brought blankets to lay down on the bleachers. And just like last year  I packed snacks and water for hungry kiddos waiting for the parade to start.

Strapping the Baby Bjorn on Bruce, I awkwardly slipped in Knox. Then in sherpa-like style I carried the diaper bag, snack backpack and three blankets. The boys’ appropriate excitement led them to run ahead of us and get too close to the street. Yelling out “STOP! Boys stay on the sidewalk. Slow down!” as blankets slipped from my arms. With each block we walked I felt my attitude slipping. It didn’t take much. I was already in a grumpy place, remember?

We arrived at our bleachers a few minutes before the parade started. This was good news considering we had little boys to keep entertained every moment until the first float arrived. But the flip side of arriving so late…packed bleachers. Finding room for a group of 6 adults and 8 children proved to be difficult.

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So we spread ourselves out among a section of seats. Price and his buddy chose to sit together. Unfortunately sitting together meant pulling santa hats over their eyes and kicking their legs with excitement. The worst part of their choice…the couple sitting in front of them repeatedly getting kicked in the bottom by two silly, squirmy boys.

In apologizing for the boys and moving them down a few rows (with more “leg” room), I started chatting with the “kicking” victim. One conversational topic led to another. That’s when she pointed out the people in the bleachers across the street from us. In my flustered state I hadn’t yet noticed they were all wearing the same shirt, just in different colors.

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“They are with the Snowball Express program. Children (and their parents) who lost a loved one in military service were flown here for free by American Airlines for fun weekend…Six Flags Amusement Park, Fort Worth Stockyards, and the parade.”

My mouth gaped open in disbelief…All those people lost a family member in military action?”

I found this news story:

“The Snowball Express is in the air, making the holidays brighter for military families who have lost loved ones in the War on Terror. 1700 children and spouses of fallen military heroes are being flown to Dallas/Fort Worth. …American Airlines flight crews are donating their time to make the trip possible.”

While complaining about inconvenient parking, over-crowded bleachers, sweating from the blankets I had carried in 80 degree weather, I looked across at the sea of faces who have a legitimate right to complain. In that moment the parade took on a whole new meaning.

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I stood with them saluting the flag. A symbol of what their loved one died to protect. Freedom to attend a parade in Dallas, Texas in the United States of America.

I cheered when they cheered for balloon carriers to spin the balloons. I wanted a good show more badly than ever…for them. Thank you Dallas Tap Dazzlers in sparkling costumes & cowboy hats for kicking your 65-year-old legs and amazing us with your energy & joy.

The biggest cheers came not for the Nickelodeon superstar or Batman, but for the Navy Seals marching with the “Carry the Load” organization. Created by two Navy Seals as a way to remember our veterans in a tangible way on Memorial Day. “It’s a life-changing journey for participants as they walk or run as long as they can in the 20-hour period (carrying heavy backpacks) . . . Like the service members they honor, they carry more than they have to, longer than they think they can.” 

Watching these bleachers full of those left behind, I see the joy on their faces as the “Carry the Load” banner passes. The salutes. The honor.

I had a high school teacher who once told me, “You never know the burden someone else is carrying.”

Focused on my comfort & convenience I never would have considered such enormous pain & suffering could exist in those sitting just across the street from me at a Christmas parade. Someone pointed it out to me. It was an intentional choice to see them. 

This Christmas season I have the opportunity to “bump” into a lot of new people/strangers. At the post office. Toys ‘R Us. The craft store. The grocery store. Visiting Santa. I want to try to stop and consider life from their perspective.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

If the Starbucks barista doesn’t give me eye contact & seems to need a strong cup of coffee, I don’t want to take it personally. I hope to pray for her (in the quiet of my mind). While checking out at the grocery store, I don’t want to just scroll through Facebook on my phone. But to look at the face of the cashier and ask him/her about a favorite Christmas memory or how he/she will spend the holidays.

In replacing “me” with “He”, I must consider the burdens of others. To see them the way God sees them.

What burden are you carrying today? Share below so I can pray for you (or feel free to email me: GodCenteredMom@gmail.com)

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Check out the “Light ’em Up” website. 100 ideas for random acts of kindness this holiday season. love it!

When the zipper is stuck on your grumpy pants

My plan was to get 7 hours of sleep. Uninterrupted. Well, that’s usually my plan. But I don’t remember the last time I closed my eyes at night and slept until my phone alarm went off in the morning (you are thinking, “why even set an alarm?”).

Typically another alarm…a sweet baby cry…breaks my REM sleep. Leaving a blurry brain, dark rings under my eyes, and the zipper stuck on my “grumpy pants”  (no matter how hard I’ve tried to shake ’em off they won’t budge).

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture in some countries. I read once that sleep is necessary to break down proteins that build up in your brain. When you don’t get enough sleep those proteins interrupt the ability of your brain to function normally. For me the proteins make me grumpy. Really. really. grumpy.

On this night I stumbled out of bed once at midnight for a date with baby Knox. Then around 4 a.m. I heard Watts’ cries because of a nightmare. He only needed a kiss & a pat, but those required me getting out of bed…again.

I had just pulled the cold sheets over my weary body and settled into the body-shaped indention of my sleep number bed, when my 5:30 a.m. alarm went off. How can an hour & a half seem like only a few minutes?

Multiple thoughts enter my mind in one quick second: “Do I really need to get up? Maybe I can just sleep for 15 more minutes? What good is 15 more minutes if I’m  already awake? This next hour is the only time I have today without kids needing me, I don’t want to waste it sleeping. If I don’t spend time with God, then I’m going to be even more of a grouch.”

My fingers fumbled to turn off the alarm as my legs carried me out of the bedroom and towards the stairs. Using my phone as a flashlight, I glanced down to see this on the lit screen:

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I’m not even kidding.

As I walked down stairs toward the light of my office, I was looking at this picture of Jesus walking upstairs towards a light. 

The two words at the bottom of the screen confirmed I made the right decision to wake up that morning: “Follow Me.”

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

My morning ritual varies slightly. Often I open the email on my phone and read the portion of scripture our church sends out (called “Read, Listen, Respond”).

On this particular day the passage was John 21. In these verses, Jesus has resurrected. The disciples are fishing when Jesus appears to them on the shore. Near the end of the passage Jesus is having a chat with Peter. Here are His words I read on my phone that morning: 

  • Do you love Me?
  • Feed my sheep.
  • Shepherd my sheep.
  • Feed my sheep (yes a second time)

THEN Jesus says, “Follow Me” (seriously).

I almost fell out of my seat. Two times that morning this same message appeared on my iPhone screen. Two words: follow & Me.

I’m also reading the “She Reads Truth” YouVersion reading plans on my phone. The Scripture for that day was Psalm 118.

“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.
 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes…

I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, his love endures forever.”

The God who calls me to “follow” stays with me, by. my. side. Most human leaders don’t walk by your side as you follow them.

But God is not a “normal” leader. When He asks me to follow He also gives me strength to do so. He protects me. He delivers me (out of my grumpy pants).

Thank goodness He is good & His love endures forever. No matter how long my grumpy pants stay on, His love for me never ends. He is worthy to follow because ultimately He is good.

Finally after two weeks of being “stuck” I’m squeezing out of grumpy pants and claiming:

“THIS is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice & be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Have you ever been “stuck” in a bad mood? Then you get madder because you can’t stop being in a bad mood? What have you done to break free?

linking up with Emily Freeman’s Tuesdays Unwrapped

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How to have God-centered {humble} Holidays

The real-deal holidays are here. It’s time to get serious about this God-centered thing. Choosing to replace ‘me’ with ‘He’ sounds nice when I sitting in my leather chair, in the comfort of my home. Add in the stress of traveling with children, sharing small spaces with extended family, being off my routine, AND trying to be God-centered. Oi vay!

I’ve spent time thinking about how to stay humble this holiday season. There are a few things I’m going to put in my tool box for handling the crazy with grace & love. Here we go:

1. Pep talk phrases

Sometimes I just need a little perspective. I get caught up in the chaos of the moment and my blood begins to boil and then I blow it.  So I’m going to keep a list of pep-talk phrases handy in my mind (or maybe even written down) to keep me on track. Some of these came from the book, “Unglued” by Lysa Terkeurst (highly recommend it):

  • “It’s only ____ days. I can do anything for ______ days” (insert length of time…”It’s only 4 days”)
  • “The relationship is more important than being right.” (this comes from Lysa’s statement: “Am I trying to prove that I’m right, or improve the relationship?”)
  • “Does this matter to God?” (looking down at my life from 24 miles up helps give perspective on whether I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.)
  • Say it to her/his face. (don’t talk about another family member unless he/she is present).
  • Pray more, say less. (Lysa says, “The one who holds the tongue holds the power.”)

2. Memorize & Dwell on Truth

A few years ago I decided to memorize the passage Philippians 4:4-7 during Christmas break:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Anytime I started to get sassy or frustrated I went back to those words, “let your gentleness be evident to ALL” or “do not be anxious about ANYTHING” or “by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING”. The holidays were much more joy-filled when I went back to His word and meditated on His truth.

This year I want to memorize & think about these words:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

3. Have an escape plan

Even with pep-talk phrases & Scripture, it’s unrealistic to think I will never be overwhelmed or frustrated  during the holidays. When I start to feel the tingling in my toes and my mouth filter thinning, I need to:

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I’ve decided in those moments where I may say or do something I regret, I need to just slip out of situation and go to the bathroom…with my iPhone. Sit on the toilet (lid open or lowered…your call. ;). Turn on Pandora and listen to one worship song (examples: Hillsong, Christa Wells, All Sons & Daughters, Christ Tomlin). When the song ends, say this simple prayer, “Lord, help me to stay focused on You. To love others as You love me. Help me be a minister of Your grace. Amen.”

4. Start the day in His Word

I may not have my leather chair & quiet time of #hellomornings while traveling. I’m hoping before my feet hit the floor in the morning, I can open the YouVersion app on my phone. There is a reading plan women around the world are reading together. The plan is called, “She Reads Truth”. Here is the link for the Thanksgiving plan: http://bible.us/r/6N

5. List a gift

For me Thanksgiving isn’t the only day for expressing gratitude. Since reading “One Thousand Gifts” (Ann Voskamp), gratitude has become a spiritual discipline. A daily turning my eyes towards what God has given me in times I want to complain about what I don’t have.

During the holidays when my grumbly voice begins, I want to stop & think of one gift. Right then. Stop & be grateful for at least one thing. Thank God for the gift. Give Thanks. Receive the gift and receive joy.

Okay Chicas, what ideas can you share for staying God-centered (humble) this holiday season? 

Satan’s pants are on fire

I sat on the floor clipping Watts’ toenails when Price marched into the kitchen.

“Mommy, did you know that Satan used to be a beautiful angel? Then he decided he wanted to be God and that’s how he became Satan.” (a direct quote, I swear).

I responded with, “You are so right Pricey. Did you know we sometimes make the same mistake as Satan? We think we can be like God and God has to remind us that isn’t true.”

Price kept going with his thought, “Yeah, Satan wants us to be on his bad team. He tells us lies and wants us to not be with God.”

“Buddy, you got it. Remember Satan’s first lie. He convinced Eve she could be smarter than God. He said, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” That’s like Quade saying, “Did mommy really say not to have a piece of candy?” Sadly, Eve believed Satan’s lies.”

“Remember that song, mommy? ‘Satan’s pants are on fire. He tells you it’s not true. He sells you on the pretty fruit.’ That’s talking ’bout Satan lying, right?”

He’s only five and he gets it. There is a battle going on. It’s not visible. For we are each a soul with a body (C.S. Lewis).

Last Thursday at a faith & culture event, I heard the actor, Max Mclean, speak. His voice may be more well-known than his face. If you have the YouVersion Bible app, you have heard him when listening to the NIV translation. He also done wonderful performances of books from the Bible (here is the link for Mark chapter 1)

Max was in Dallas performing in his adaptation of C.S.Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters”. This wonderful book is a series of short letters written from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew & protegé, Wormwood. He advises Wormwood on how to keep his “patient”, a British gentleman, from becoming a Christian. How to secure the man’s “damnation”. To keep him directed toward “our Father below” (satan) and keep him from “the Enemy” (God).

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In the preface to the book, C.S.Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” 

Either extreme is dangerous:

  • ignoring the existence of evil
  • an excessive interest in demons.

In writing my own book, I cannot ignore the existence of evil. I’m walking into the battlefield. Because Satan is the poster child for “pride” and Christ the perfect example of “humility”.

“Pride can degrade the highest angels into devils, and humility raise fallen flesh and blood to the thrones of angels.”-Cantebury Prayers (1893)

We have the choice each day to humble ourselves and admit God as the supreme authority. Or we can go the path of the fallen angel and “consider equality with God something to be grasped” (Phil 2:6)…which even Christ, who was God, didn’t claim.

As I write this book would you pray with me to keep Satan’s lies from my mind. To stay focused (so many distractions) on the message God wants me to share, a message of humility in mothering. With these words I’m striking Satan right between the eyes. “The devil, the proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked” (Thomas More).

Of course he would have me “feeling not like myself”, keep me from writing these words. He wants to keep me isolated. Alone. Discouraged.

Well not anymore. You chicas are my encouragers. My prayer warriors.

You need a prayer warrior too. If you desire to be a God-centered momma then you are being attacked as well. Can you write in the comments how we can pray for you? Will you pray for the request written right before your own? Like a little bloggy-prayer chain. 

Here is my prayer:

“Lord, keep my mind stayed on You. Don’t allow me to believe the lies that I have “nothing new” to say to moms. Keep me from the distractions of social media. Keep my family safe. May I continue to view this book as your project and not for my glory.” Amen

I wrote this post on Saturday. Monday morning I hired a sitter to watch the boys while I wrote for a couple hours. I had just gone upstairs and opened my computer…literally minutes later I heard Price screaming, “Emergency! Emergency!! Watts is really, really hurt” Then I see the sitter carrying Watts up the stairs. My sweet boy was bawling…and bleeding buckets from his head. Fortunately after 5 minutes of cleaning the bleeding source turned out to be a small puncture wound. Thankfully it wasn’t my first “my-son-is-bleeding-everywhere” rodeo. Unfortunately, thirty minutes of writing time was now gone.

Tuesday during “quiet time” when I planned to write, Knox woke up from his nap early and cried inconsolably for 45 minutes. Tuesday night I went to bed early planning to wake Wednesday morning at 5am to write. Sadly Price was up all Tuesday night with a stomach bug. 

I truly don’t believe this scenarios are coincidences. Please, please stop right now and pray for this project and for Satan to be bound. Quade, amazingly, shared the verse (pictured above) with me. Thank you Lord for a precious son who knows and speaks truth.: 

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Romans 16:20

you love what you know

Marketers get it. Kids love what they know.

The other day Price said, “How come every toy they give at McDonald’s is from a movie?”

To which I responded, “Because if you play with the toy and see movie posters hanging everywhere, when the movie comes out you beg your mom and dad (relentlessly) to see it.”

Quade’s music teacher shared the same idea with me: Children love what they know.  She hoped her students would know and then love quality music. She wanted us to play classical music in our homes. To sing hymns during family worship (wish I could say we have formal times of family worship). She claimed the more quality music they knew, the more they would crave it.  I honestly didn’t believe her.

Let’s call a spade a spade. My husband is a big alternative rock fan. I’m partial to top 40 dance hits. Of course our boys have heard their fair share of pop culture music. After-dinner dance parties occur frequently. But sitting around singing hymns? Choosing to listen to Bach over Muse? Just couldn’t picture it.

Then it happened. While eating Eggos & squeezable yogurt, Quade and Price began singing, “Be thou my vision oh Lord of my life….” I almost dropped my coffee mug.

Soon after, Quade asked, “Mom, do we own a hymnal?” (yes my jaw dropped to the floor).

Having recently cleaned out our extra office/storage/random room, I vaguely remembered seeing an old college hymn book. I dusted it off and handed it to the boys. They immediately sat down and flipped through the pages. Quade exclaimed, “I found it! I found it! Oh for a thousand tongues to sing!”

Price asked, “Mommy will you play the music on the piano for us?” I stood with my mouth wide open. Because before today, every time I played the piano they yelled, “STOP that loud sound! You are being too noisy. Stop mommy. Stop!!!”

In awe and excitement, I securely placed the stiff hymnal up on the piano music ledge, balancing it perfectly to keep my spot. As I pushed down the staccato chords, instead of “stop it!!!”, I heard sweet little boy voices singing gorgeous poetry honoring God. Were these the same boys I had labeled “wild” and “out-of-control”?

A few weeks ago when I came home from my conference, I found this sitting on the kitchen counter: 

Quade had carefully tabbed all his favorite hymns.

So apparently McDonalds and the music teacher were right, kids love what they know.

I argue the same is true for adults.

I didn’t know I liked to crochet until a family friend took the time to teach me. Years later when I picked back up the yarn & crochet hook, I had to study and learn the acronyms for each stitch so I could read a pattern. My love grew as I knew more and could crochet more.

As a little church-going, good-girl, I could list off all the books of the Bible, forwards…and backwards (no kidding). But knowing the labels for the books of the Bible is not the same as knowing the author the Bible. The more I knew Him through reading His words, the more I grew to love Him.

Now I crave time with Him…because I love Him. Not because I have to spend time with Him. It’s not a requirement. I’m motivated because I know Him. I love what I know.

The more you study His plan from Genesis to Revelation you can’t help but be drawn to Him. He is seeking to make all things new. To redeem that which has been broken. To bring us back to Himself. He loves us that much.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

What is something you know and, therefore, love?

We each only have 24 hours in every day to learn and to know, what are you focusing on knowing? 

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 :