Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What a trip!

Well, it's official: our vacation is actually coming to an end. I mean, yes we left Florida on Sunday morning and arrived home safely last night...but today was still vacation day for Dave, so if he's home it's still vacation. Oh well. The end was inevitable. We were blessed with amazing weather (Florida had cold/rainy weather before we got there and after we left, but was just about perfect every day we were there). And even though we didn't "do" a whole lot other than whatever we were in the mood for, we still managed to create lots of great memories and take lots of fun pictures. I've come home much more refreshed and energized to re-enter our busy schedule. I was going to put busy "routine", but I've decided there isn't much routine about my life.

So, I have to share a story from our trip home. You know I'm always looking for the lesson in everything and wondering what God wants me to learn next. So, of course there was such a moment (well, many actually) on our vacation. We had a very uneventful drive home until we got a few miles north of Lafayette, Indiana on I-65. Now, let me take a moment here to tell you a couple details about this location. First of all, our GPS did NOT take us this route on the way down. We had entered Indianapolis via I-69 on the way down. For some reason that only our GPS knows, it decided to route us out of Indianapolis via I-65 on the way home. And secondly, we were given fair warning of the impending situation we were about to be put in. But, because we hadn't been on I-65 much this side of Indianapolis on the way down we (quite mistakenly) assumed that would also be the case on the way home. So every time we saw warnings for what was awaiting us at exit 201, we noted them and then proceeded to say, "Well, that doesn't matter. We won't be on this highway that long." Duh. Should have taken more time to investigate the GPS's brain on that one. But, since our brains were tired from the many hours of driving, we didn't. We just trusted the GPS to lead us quickly to our destination: home.

So, now imagine this. I'm tired. Dave is driving. And I have gotten all comfy in the passenger seat and fallen asleep. Now, mind you the last thing I knew we were many miles south of exit 201 on I-65 and my brain was under the illusion that we would be directed to another route long before that time. I was completely not worried about the "situation" at exit 201 since I figured it had absolutely nothing to do with me. Well, imagine my surprise when I woke up to find lots of brake lights ahead of us and my wonderful husband joining in the red light brake pedal party. We were at this point at about mile marker 195 on I-65. Upon seeing what was ahead and also that we were just approaching a rest area (and knowing we had 3 children in the back seat), we decided it was prudent to make a pit stop before entering the parking lot (also known as northbound I-65) ahead. Well, let me take a side rabbit trail here a second to let you know what awaited us inside the rest area (keeping in mind that at this point, the thought of using one more public restroom is just about enough to make me want to cry or scream or jump into a hot shower the second we arrive home...which was supposed to be at 4:45 PM according to our wonderful GPS). As we get inside the doors of the rest area, here is what we read: "We're sorry, but the water at this rest area is not suitable for drinking or washing hands. Please use hand sanitizer." Gulp. Huh?! I mean, I've heard of not suited for drinking, but not suited for washing hands either?! Oh my. What kind of horrible sanitation nightmare have we gotten ourselves into?! Thank the Lord we had Shaklee Basic H2 wipes in the van, or I might have gone into a full blown panic attack.

So anyway, back to the other story. After sufficiently relieving ourselves and NOT washing our hands (thank you very much), we proceeded to enter into the joys that lied ahead on I-65. We had less than 6 miles to go before our exit. In fact, maybe at this point it was more like 4. I don't know exactly, but you get my drift. How long do you suppose it took us to get to exit 201 (which, by the way, wasn't technically "our" exit...but the highway was closed due to the accident and they were routing all the traffic off the highway at this exit)? It took us about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Yep. Really. As slowly as I run, I could have run back and forth between that rest area and exit 201 during that time. Back AND forth. It was sheer misery. Now, I have to say a few things quickly here. For one, I know that the reason the highway was closed was probably due to someone in that accident either losing their life or becoming seriously injured. I know no amount of sitting on the highway can compare to that. And, our children were totally entertained by the "Brady Bunch" on DVD. And, not one of them had an emergency potty need during that time. For that, I guess I can thank the disgusting rest area that began this whole thing. So I'm not necessarily complaining here, because compared to lots of others in this situation we had it pretty darn good. But I'm sharing the scenario to share the lesson that God taught me in this.

(I'm getting to that one...hang with me here.)

So as we finally get to the top of the off ramp, we (of course) choose to go the opposite way of what they're directing all the other thousands of vehicles. Because, for one, we aren't that stupid. And, for another, they were re-routing them back onto I-65 by heading west...and we already thought that I-65 was west enough of our final destination. So we hauled out our trusty atlas and saw a much smarter (and more easterly) route home. So here's where we get to the lesson part. As we're driving east and heading to the route that our map has shown us is the best route home, our GPS keeps telling us to turn around. Do you have a GPS? Imagine the GPS lady continuing to say, "Calculating route. When possible, make a legal U-turn." And which way was the GPS trying to lead us? The same way all that traffic was being re-routed. The same way that we had just seen was a horrible way to go and NOT the direction we wanted to be headed. Every time we passed another crossroad and another chance to "do a legal U-turn" the GPS would say it again, "calculating route...when possible make a legal U-turn." It got downright funny after a while (and then it got annoying and Dave had to mute it). And even though Dave was trying to tell the GPS to exclude that route, it still kept trying to lead us that way. Ah. There's the lesson.

How often are our family, or peers or the world acting like that GPS? Trying to lead us down a path that just isn't the right way to go. And I'm not even saying that all these routes are necessarily dangerous or bad...just not what's right for us. And hey, why not just follow them? I mean, that GPS is pretty darn smart. It knows every single road out there (so it can keep telling me to do a U-turn in them)! It can even tell me which lane of the highway to drive in! How could I ever think to question that wonderfully intelligent GPS? And when it gets huffy with you and keeps telling you to smarten up and listen, could you be so daring as to not follow it's way? And then there's the map...the book that knows the right path and shows you which way to go. (God's Word, of course.) Are you going to pull it out and know what it says, or just trust the GPS? I tell you what...I'm sure glad we had that map in the car with us! If the only thing we had to go on was that GPS, I think we would have come home from Florida via Chicago. Not the right path for our destination. And you know what else? That way home we ended up taking was full of lots of pretty scenery and fun surprises. It wasn't the path we thought we were going to take, but it turned out to be a good one. Just where we were supposed to go. Even though we didn't pull into the driveway until 7:45 PM. (Three LONG hours after we thought we were going to be home.)

So the next time you're on this journey called life, and you're tempted to follow your GPS without first consulting it's intelligence with the Map...don't do it. You might be very disappointed in the path it takes you on. Follow the road less chosen. The narrow road. You won't regret it for a moment.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Over Processing

It's hard to believe that our vacation is at the half-way point already. I'm finding it interesting how much my brain has been working overtime the last couple of nights. I've been having dreams that are full of people I know and full of drama too. Do you ever have dreams that are so realistic that when you wake up your mood is altered because of what you've been dreaming? Well I've had a lot of that the last couple nights. And me, being the introspective deep-thinker that I am, is thinking that it's a sign of some things God is trying to work with me on. I mean, why in the world would I be having dreams full of jealousy, unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger while I'm on vacation?! I should be having dreams full of fun and laughter. As I was awakened last night and pondering my latest dream, I was thinking about the possible reasons that this could be occurring. I'm thinking it has something to do with the fact that when I'm at home, I'm so busy being homeschooling mother of 3 that I don't have time to think. I think I've become really good at stuffing things down and hoping they'll go away. Well, could it be that God's trying to help me on this vacation to "process" some of this stuff and get it out of my system. After all, haven't I been asking God to do just that? I just never thought it would happen in this way.

Did you notice how I said I was going to "process" it all? I say that a lot. "I need to take time to process that." I think it's the curse of my personality. I process (aka: overthink things) all the time. Last night God brought this thought to mind. If I was about to skid off the road and off a cliff, would I take time to "process" what the next best move was? No, I'd be more like the Carrie Underwood song "Jesus, Take the Wheel". Could it be that with some of these buried emotions, God is asking me to do just that? Stop thinking about them and trying to process my way to the bottom of the issue. Maybe I just need to recognize the emotion, admit that it's sin, and ask for forgiveness and then choose to let it go. Anytime those same thoughts come into my mind, since I've recognized them as sin, I should stop thinking them and just choose to think about what God would want me to.

Philippians 4:8 ~ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

There you go. That verse is exactly what I should be spending my time thinking. Do I? No. I definitely do fill my mind with a lot of other thoughts that aren't quite so true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable. Can my dreams reflect this? I believe they will if my daytime thoughts are full of such things.

So, as I enjoy another day of sunshine and family time, I know it's a new chance today to fill my mind with things that are honoring to my heavenly Father. And if I have another night of not so wonderful dreams, I'm going to choose to let them go and re-focus my mind on what Philippians 4:8 talks about.

It's time to stop "processing" everything and just start running it through the filter of God's Word. But right now...it's time to hit the pool.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Seeing Life Through the Eyes of our Kids

(This photo is of Hannah the last time we went to Florida. She was only 15 months old. Wasn't she adorable?!)
As I finish up the last pre-vacation chores, I'm taking a moment to contemplate. I'm little by little, getting everything packed and done and checked off my list. But, I have taken my fair share of pauses today. Partly because it helps me to think (and make sure I'm not forgetting something), but also because I'm not wanting to even rush through the vacation preparations. Why? Well, because even they are noteworthy. Not necessarily the kind of noteworthy that the day at Disney will be, or the trip to the ocean or even the 22-hour long road trip. But noteworthy just the same. Why? Because with kids, even the mundane is momentous. Now, of course, I don't always acknowledge that or act as if it's true. But it is.

You know how they sell those little cameras that you can put on your pet so you can "see the world through the eyes of your dog" (or whatever they say)? Well, I think we should spend a little more time trying to see the world through the eyes of our children. It's so easy to get caught up in the worries of the grown-up world. But I think God reveals Himself a lot through our kids. Not to mention that we get our socks knocked off with blessings because of it.

As I'm focusing on raking more of the yard, the kids are drawing sidewalk chalk flowers on the driveway. As I'm running over in my mind the to-do list (and checking it twice), the kids are making sure Shadow feels loved since they won't see him while we're gone. As I'm overwhelmed with everything that is going to happen in the next 24+ hours, the kids are making sure they've packed just the right treasures for the long car ride. They're doing a lot of really great things that exemplify the values we're trying to instill in them. They're showing love. They're being helpful. They're being imaginative. They're doing what comes naturally to them.

So I don't really have the brain power to think about this topic too much right now ('cuz I'm so consumed with my to-do list), but I can tell you this: vacation is the perfect time to see the world through our kids' eyes. It's for sure easy to do when you get out of the house and leave your worries behind. I look forward to being renewed, and refreshed, and re-energized. (Probably all the same thing but, as I said above, my brain isn't on full power at the moment.

As I get back to business here, I hear kids singing, kids busy cleaning, kids excitedly chattering about life. I pray we (Dave and I) do a great job of showering our kids with love and attention on this vacation...and that we see the world through their eyes for the next 10 days. I know the blessings that come from that are many. Oh, and the chance to be re-focused as husband and wife isn't a bad idea either.

Until next time...be blessed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How's Your "Chi" Doing?

I'm having one of those unsettled kind of days. Supposedly nothing is really much different today than yesterday, but my "chi" sure has changed! All day today I've been a bundle of nerves and my mind has been infiltrated with thoughts. Not that thinking is the problem, but the thoughts that are filling my head are full of: condemnation, self-loathing, fear, worry, etc. I've been praying a lot today, in God's Word today, and asking for peace to replace the stress. But here it is almost 5PM and my anxiety level is still high. I'm definitely feeling attacked!

I shouldn't be surprised. I mean, really, I should almost laugh at the enemy's pitiful attempts to get me off track. Then again, how pitiful are they if I've succumbed to them once again? But the enemy's timing is of no surprise. Yesterday was a really good day. So it only stands to reason that today he'd be trying to knock the wind out of yesterday's sails. Why, oh why, have I fallen for this again?!

How do you react when you're feeling like this? I retreat. Or at least I try to...as much as any busy homeschooling mom of 3 can. I'm not answering the phone today (unless it's Dave or my Mom, in which case I am). I'm trying to distract myself from thinking too much too (which is hard for an introspective, deep-thinker like myself). Why do I have to distract myself from thinking too much? Because my negative self-talk is a majority of my problem. Honestly. If someone else talked to me the way I do, I'd never socialize with them again. That's kind of a problem when I can't get away from me.

So here I am trying to process these feelings and sort them out into something that makes sense. Something that I can overcome. Put to a plan. Aha! Maybe that's my problem? As much as I say I'm asking for God's help and wanting to change, the fact is I'm still holding onto it (or I wouldn't be a big bundle of nerves right now). I'm wanting God to tell me what to do so I can do it (not so that I can let God do it all). I'm wanting to be in control somehow. But God is asking me to give it all to Him. Whenever I catch these negative thoughts coming into my head, I should hand them over to God and praise Him for who He is. Praise Him for loving me. Praise Him for His faithfulness and goodness and gentleness and mercy. Take my attention off of me and my supposed "problems" and turn them onto God and all of His wonderful promises.

Maybe the light bulb just went on after all. The whole "Let go and let God" saying has always seemed so cliche. Well, maybe that's because I wasn't fully letting go. Hmmm...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Leaving My Comfort Zone...Again?!

After all the things I heard last night at the homeschool mom's group I went to, my brain is still stretched almost beyond capacity. Well, that's not true...I mean, if I'm being accurate here, our brains can hold about 94% more than most of us ever use. That's a whole other interesting topic (like why would God make our brains so big and able to hold so much when even the smartest person here on earth uses only a fraction of their brain power? could it be so that when we get to heaven we're able to absorb and learn all we're going to throughout eternity?). Anyway, back to my point here: of course what I mean is that my brain is just working overtime to process it all. So here's the part of all the information that I'm struggling with ~ before going last night, I felt pretty good about what we're doing in homeschool. I felt I was in the zone...the comfort zone. But as I sat there listening last night to all the ideas these other moms were sharing, I was overcome with the feeling of "oh my goodness, we're not doing that" and "wow! I'd never even considered that!". It was quite overwhelming. But isn't that just like God? Just when we reach a comfort zone, He throws more lessons at us and makes us stretch ourselves again?

There are times where that kind of frustrates me. You know, I find myself questioning why I'm always having to be stretched. Why can't God just let me stay "comfortable" for a while (as if my idea of comfort holds a candle to the comfort that God has in store for me)? Especially if I start to compare myself, I don't normally have to look too far to find a non-Christian and think "But God, look at me! I'm a pretty good person! I've come a long way already, haven't I God? Look at all the things THEY have going on in their life...compared to them, aren't I OK? Can't you just let me be for a while?". Of course, that's a silly thing to do. Comparing ourselves to others for one, and thinking we're OK because we're living more Christ-like lives than non-Christians are. Well, duh! I hope so! I think since I've been a Christian since 1st grade, I sometimes feel like I missed out on something by being "good" all these years. (Again, that's the world's crazy ideas filtering in.) It's sometimes easy to forget the whole point of our time here on earth. It's not to live the wildest, craziest life and have tons of big stories to tell. It's about having fun God's way...and I think we do have a lot of fun. Sometimes the world's way looks enticing, but I usually snap back to reality fairly quickly. (Especially when I say it out loud and hear how ridiculous my argument sounds.)

So as I drag my feet to what God's trying to do in my life (sometimes it's more than feet dragging...sometimes it's me throwing a full temper tantrum), I have begun to realize a couple of very important things. First off: God's just doing what I asked Him to do! Yes, He really does hear our prayers and answer them directly. He really is the same God of Abraham and Moses and David. Amazing, isn't it? Well, one of the last times I was kind of whining to God about how I wasn't ready to have to grow and change AGAIN, He very clearly laid it on my heart that I ought to be careful what I ask for then. I mean, didn't I ask Him to do an amazing work in my life? Didn't I ask Him to show me what the next step was? I think God wants all Christians to be continually transformed and made more and more into the likeness of His only Son. Yet, I also believe that sometimes, we (Christians) get lazy. Get our focus off of the right place. Maybe even get a little rebellious. So maybe we're not feeling challenged by God to leave our comfort zone. Well, it's not that God's will for our lives has changed any. It's just at that point, we're not being very good listeners. God's blessings aren't going to fall so freely on us during those points in our lives. But that moment we are fully present in our relationship with Christ and we are really trying to become the person we know our heavenly Father wants us to be...then BOOM! I think God starts doing some BIG things in our lives.

The other thing I know is that we are all on a journey here on earth. A friend told me that her mother used to always say, "You can either be comfortable and happy, or growing and happy...but you can't be comfortable and growing at the same time." Wow. Read that again. I hate to admit that it's true (because I don't like what it's suggesting), but I have to say it's right! If you don't want to be a status quo Christian (or a status quo anything, for that matter) then you have to be prepared for moments of uncomfortableness. In fact, I'd venture to say that the bigger the places are God is planning to take you...the more feelings of uncomfortableness you should expect. It's kind of humorous how much I dislike being "uncomfortable" yet how often I ask for growth and improvement in my life. Hmmm. I feel Dr. Phil's voice in my head: "How's that workin' for ya?". So I guess I better stop being suprised when God answers so specifically. I should embrace the growth...because that means my Father in heaven really hears me and is answering me and helping me to become more like His Son! That's pretty incredible. Can you grasp that?! The God of the universe, who created the world and has it all in His hands is actually listening to you! He wants to be in a 1-on-1 relationship with you! Wow. Takes my breath away.

So as I process all the things that I learned last night and think about how God wants me to implement some of them, I'm comforted (no pun intended) in knowing that God's once again taking me out of my comfort zone. Is it possible to find comfort in the fact that some uncomfortableness is coming? It is if I'm aware of just what that means. God's taking me to some higher heights. He's opening my eyes to some new lessons. He's got great plans for me. And, if I do say so myself, He's a pretty awesome tour guide.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Confident in Who I am in Christ!

I think I'm finally starting to grow up. No, not that I'm really immature (I think I've always acted older than I was...maybe a whole other issue I need to work on). I think I'm finally starting to achieve a mild amount of spiritual maturity! Now, God might disagree, but here's why I say this. I am finally getting to the place in my life where I care more about what God thinks of me, than I do about what others think of me. For me, this is huge.

I've spent most of my 38 years caring about what everyone around me is thinking. Never feeling like I fit in anywhere but wanting to fit in everywhere. Can you relate at all? I have always been super-sensitive to the opinions of others. Even if the message others were sending wasn't directed right at me, I took it personally if the intended recipient had any similarities to me. Like if someone was making fun of some overweight person, every word they said about that person I knew they must also be thinking about me since I was overweight too. Or if I heard someone (probably in high school) making fun of someone for the clothes they wore, I knew they must say that about me when I wasn't in the room because my clothes came from the same store. See what I mean? Can you imagine how living like this has caused an immense amount of hurt and insecurity over my life? Well thank you Lord that He's starting to teach me how to not care about all of this. Oh, but it "ain't easy" my friend. Not easy at all.

I know God's been working on my heart in this area for years. And I've really been trying to hear His Truth and ignore the lies for years too. But it's only been in the fairly recent past that I am feeling like I'm finally outgrowing this horrible "stage". I am trying to figure out what the turning point was...both so I can apply it to other areas of my life and so I can help someone else who might be struggling with the same thing. One reason is I think I finally got my feelings hurt enough times that I stopped "going back for more." Know what I mean? It's like when you spend so much time hoping for approval and acceptance from others, and then you realize that even the people in your life who approve of and accept you 100% still let you down and hurt your feelings...you start to realize that there's not much point in leaning your ladder against the tree of others. Not that I've become cynical, mind you. I just think I'm finally comfortable enough in my own skin that I am not going to be dependent upon what others think of me.

And the other key thing here is that I realized that if my #1 goal in life is to live to honor and glorify the King of Kings...and if sometimes doing what brings glory to Him might not be the most "popular" thing to do...then why am I trying to be "popular"?! It seems so obvious now, doesn't it? I think after so many years of wanting to have lots of friends and be liked by everyone (and in turn being constantly let down and left out), God finally got me to realize that it was His way of getting my focus put primarily on Him. God has promised to "never leave me or forsake me" (Hebrews 13:5). Well I've certainly felt left and forsaken by a fair number of people over the years. Some of them were intentional (they just didn't like me) and many times I believe it was unintentional (they were just human and the inevitable happened). But Who is it in my life that has never once left my side? Why God of course.

So have I really gotten to the point of not caring, or am I just saying that? I believe I'm FINALLY getting there. Most days, when my focus is in the right place (God's Word), I believe I'm there. The days I feel those pangs of "feeling left outis" or "why isn't my phone ringing-itis", I know it's because I've once again fallen into the trap of wanting approval and acceptance from others instead of finding my self-worth in God.

Our pastor has often said that what we do in moderation, our children will do in excess. That can be both good and bad (depends on what your habits are). Well this is one area that I'm really hoping my kids can take what lessons I'm learning now and apply them at a young age. Both Dave and I have struggled our whole lives with this issue of acceptance and self-worth. I really hope that our kids learn this valuable lesson of finding their worth in God's eyes now. I pray I can speak blessing into their lives of how much God loves them and values them. Of how much WE love them and value them. That they will be so in love with the Lord and confident of who they are in Him...that they won't care if everyone around them isn't supporting them 100%.

So I put a picture from our wedding day on this post, because I think that is the one day in my life where I have felt the most acceptance from others. I felt like a princess that day. I was so excited to be living every moment of that day and excited for every moment Dave and I would share from that point forward. Feeling like a princess that day because my new husband was making me feel that way. Feeling loved and accepted by so many others and all the attention the bride gets on her special day. And guess what else? Looking back now I can see that my Prince of Peace, wants me to feel that way every day. He wanted me to know that day what it's like to not only be the daughter of the King, but what it feels like to be the bride of Christ! And when my focus is on Him...I do! I truly do. That's what makes it easy to be secure in my skin, regardless of what others around me think.
So even though there is a part of me that still loves to feel included (I mean, who doesn't?), I can truly say that the times I feel "left-out" happen much less often. Because I know I'm accepted and loved by my Father, and (most days) my husband and children think I'm pretty awesome too. Now if only I can conquer my negative self-talk...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Britt Nicole "Walk on the Water"


I am someone who is moved by music and its lyrics. Whether it's because of my 30+ years of playing the violin or just the creative side of me, I hear God speaking through music on a very regular basis. As I've been praying for direction in certain areas of my life recently, I heard this song. It's message spoke to me loud and clear: don't be afraid to go after your dreams...God is right there with you. So, I just had to add this you tube link to my blog. Enjoy!

Enjoying the "Son" Shine!

It's been an amazing first week of March here in Michigan. We've had sunshine for seven straight days! Spring is always such a wonderful reminder of God and His abundant grace and mercy...but this year it seems He's offering us so much more. As winters go, this one here in Jenison was a fairly mild one. Not too much snow or even much extremely cold weather. Unlike our neighbors to the south (my hometown of Watervliet in particular), we skated through winter fairly easily. Yet even though the winter wasn't too harsh, it still seems forever since we've enjoyed the sun and warm air on our faces. So what a joy it has been this last week.

To have the sun shining into the house and warming up everything (including our hearts) has been actually pretty distracting. I'm not complaing, mind you, just saying. This last week it seems that my desire to stick to the schedule of homeschooling and housework has gone right out the window. Of course it's probably spurred on by the fact that our vacation to Florida is quickly approaching. Florida. The place we haven't been able to visit since 2006. Hannah was just learning to walk then. She has absolutely no memory of Florida and Grandma & Grandpa's house or the pool or anything about it. Florida! We're about to embark on a trip full of memories. Memories of my childhood and the vacations we took down there to visit my Grandparents. Memories of the vacations Dave and I have taken down there (three in all) since we've been together. New memories to be made this year. Florida. I just can't hardly concentrate on anything else!

Oh, but I can. There's the list of things I need to get done before we leave. There's also the list of things I'd wished were true right about now (the weight I was supposed to have lost, the new wardrobe I was dreaming I'd own, the bank account I was hoping would be more fully funded). So how do I take all that's rolling around in my head and focus it into clear direction these last few pre-vacation days? Prayer. Quiet meditation. Listening to God's voice in the midst of my hurried, hectic, homeschooled household.

The kids are outside enjoying the beautiful weather and I just finished my shower. My shower is the most peaceful and focused time I sometimes get all day long. I asked God this morning to take all the things going through my mind and to organize them for me. To make them focused on His priorities for my day/week/life. I know He has great plans for me...His Word tells me so. I also know He has blessed me with certain gifts and passions. I know that at some point in my life, He's going to use these gifts to the fullest for His glory. But what's my focus right now? today? at this moment? I believe it's this: to show my kids how abundantly our Father loves us. To fill my kids with words of blessing and love. To take this day to love on them and encourage them and brighten their hearts...just like the sun is doing outside.

Hannah just came in to have me tie her shoes and I was reminded once again of something else. These children are a gift to Dave and I from God. They are a daily reminder of God's love for us! Hannah woke up this morning with a smile on her face and a conversation on her tongue (is she really my daughter?). Even though I wasn't quite in the mood for talking, I was struck by her joy. The smile and laughter that so easily come from my youngest daughter. She brightens my day! (Can't you just see her personality shining through the picture above?) She's a very visual reminder of what my role is in my children's lives right at this moment. But then again, maybe they bless me and encourage me as much as I'm praying I bless and encourage them. What a fun road I'm on: this road called motherhood. There are lots of things to see and do along the way. Lots of detours (some good, some not so much).

Here's my goal right now: to be filled to overflowing with the fruits of the Spirit. Only then can I be blessed. Be truly used by God. Be a blessing to others. Time to go soak up the sun and the chance to just be with and love on my kids. What a great Monday this is!