Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mom Moments

Mom. It's the title I'm most proud of. The biggest blessing I've ever experienced.

My daily prayer is that I don't screw this up.

Well, not exactly, but I most certainly want to get this right! Life is fleeting. Time with these precious beings living under our roof will be gone before we want it to be. God has given us these little blessings, and therefore we have a responsibility to train them up according to His will.

I do NOT recommend taking this motherhood thing lightly. God's Word has a lot to say about training up our kids and not leading them astray. Some days, the whole thing can feel pretty overwhelming!

Today, I'm just enjoying my kids. Preparing to spend time in the pool as the heat index reaches 100+ this afternoon. Thinking about some fun mom moments from the past week. Wanting to just savor some of the recent blessings just a little bit longer.

Here's one of my favorites: last Friday I was at the Speak Up! Conference and left the house around 8:15AM and did not return until after 10:30PM. On my way home I was thinking that even though the kids would be in bed, I was excited to go down to their rooms and just check on them before I went to bed myself. Well, I was in the house no more than one minute before all three of them came bounding up the stairs altogether to give me a hug and tell me about their day. Nevermind that Daddy had sent them to bed long before. They just had to have a couple of minutes with their Mom.

Awww. My heart melted. GREAT mom moment.

Yesterday, all three kids had a friend over in the afternoon/evening. I was especially struck, as I was listening to their interactions, just how much my twins are growing up. The boy/girl twin thing is starting to create some interesting dynamics when they each have a friend here. I don't think I'm ready for this. Remember 6th grade? Remember beginning to care about (and be nervous around) boys? I see some of that changing. What's funny to me is that I now have a son that age who is relaying things from his boy perspective. If only I knew when I was a 6th grade girl just how those 6th grade boys were thinking! I would have saved myself some embarrasment for sure. Hopefully what I learn from my son will help me teach my girls some of what I had to learn the hard way.

Take this interaction from youth group last night (where they were playing baseball with the bases in reverse order). Girl comes over to my son and says, "Are you into sports?" Luke: "(hesitation)...yeah" Girl: "Well, isn't 3rd base normally over there?" Luke: "(hesitation)....yeah" Girl: "I thought so! I tried to tell that to my friend. Thanks!"

Luke tells me this story and he's thinking: "what a dumb girl!" And I'm thinking: "that girl thinks my son is cute and just wanted a reason to go up and talk to him!" Thankfully. He still has no clue. Or interest.

Oh, but that day is coming.

So I write this today to ask you, how is this motherhood thing going? Are you living out these precious years with your kids with a God-focus? Are you enjoying these precious little beings and savoring your time togehter? They are going to be grown up and gone so soon - are you being purposeful about what you're teaching them?

I get a little anxious when I think about how quickly my kids are growing up. I love interacting with them. Teaching them what it means to live a life devoted to Jesus. Seeing them grow into some pretty amazing little people. Laughing with them. Hearing their hearts. Just enjoying their company!

But never forget: no matter how much you love your children, God loves them more.

And not only that: our love for our children doesn't even come close to God's love for us.

Wow. Let that one sink in.

No matter where you are today, if you have children, will you do one thing? Enjoy them. Love on them. Pour out encouragement and blessing onto them. Thank God for allowing you the privilege of being called their Mom.

Oh what a gift this Mom thing is. Oh that we would never take it for granted.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bashful Beginnings

"Lord, are You talking to ME?!"

I've been saying this a lot lately. Trying to discern if the promptings I'm feeling are actually God trying to direct my paths - or just me trying to create them.

It all started when I said "Yes!" to the Speak Up! Conference.

I love to write. I have a passion for God's Word and allowing it to make an impact in my life. I want to encourage others with the things God is teaching me.

But it might all just be a pipe dream. This might not really be anything God wants me to do.

Two summers ago is when all this really started. I was able to be part of Lysa TerKeurst's "Made to Crave" DVD filming. (You can read my initial thoughts on that here.) Having not even known when I said yes that the study was about turning our food issues over to God, is just one of the many reasons I knew God was up to something big. It was only THE biggest roadblock of my life.

Well, in a nutshell, that experience was the catalyst for major change. Not only did it help me flip the switch on my "overweight head stuff", but it introduced me to some ladies who were doing what I hadn't had the courage to do when it came to writing/speaking. And what would that be? They were actually attending writing conferences and allowing God to use their talents to His glory. They weren't just writing for fun or for their own personal processing, they were actually using their writing and speaking to encourage other women. It just hadn't occurred to me that was something I could do. I guess I thought only special people with specific degrees or upbringing or pastor's wives could do that.

Long story short - Cindy Bultema shared information with me on the Speak Up! Conference in Grand Rapids. I didn't make it there last year. Nor did I make it to She Speaks in North Carolina, but my heart just kept telling me this (attending a Christian writing/speaking conference) was something I wanted to do. So, this spring I finally did it. I signed up for my first writer's conference. Scariest thing I've done in a while. I really wasn't sure if I had any business calling myself a writer. Not sure if I was going to completely be out of my league. But I just felt I had to go.

And so I did.

Blessed. Inspired. Encouraged.

Scared. Out. Of. My. Mind.

Yep - that about sums it up!

I am now doing a lot of processing and praying about where God wants me to go from here. I very clearly know two things:
1. He doesn't want me to do anything unless it's first been covered in prayer (I am going to be asking some special prayer warriors if they'd like to join me on whatever this new journey will be)
2. He is always glorified and honored when we use our talents and passions for the betterment of His Kingdom.
I also know that whatever this entails has to fit around my calling as a homeschool mom of three kids.

And yet - I do feel called by God to do something. Something involving the words "speaker & author." Yikes! Did I just say that?!

I do not feel worthy of being used by God outside of my little family and circle of friends. In fact, I often wonder if I'm even doing what I should there. Yet I just can't deny the fact that I feel God is asking me to do more. To trust Him. To be bold enough to step outside of my little world and allow Him to use me for more. Even as I type this, I'm finding all kinds of reasons why this can't really be something God wants me to do. All kinds of reasons of why I must be mis-guided and naive.

This summer, along with preparing for our next year of homeschooling, I'll also be doing lots of praying, researching, writing, and more praying as I try to be obedient to the call I think I'm hearing. Trying to discern if I'm really hearing Him correctly - and just where in the world He first wants me to be bold enough to step out.

Will you pray for me? I would love prayer for specific direction. For peace. For courage. For confirmation that this is God's leading, and not my own idea. And, if this is really going to be part of my journey - prayers for time management would be wonderful too.

What about you? Have you felt God asking you to step out of your comfort zone in any specific areas this summer? I'd love to pray for you as well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time...

Blessings Friends!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Friendships: Part 2

"Like a Garden"
by Anna Holden King
                   
Friendship is like a garden,
Of flowers fine and rare,
It cannot reach perfection,
Except through loving care,
Then, new and lovely blossoms
With each new day appear,
For friendship, like a garden,
Grows in beauty year by year.


I found this poem on friendship and thought it was good enough to share. Seems very insightful, doesn't it?  Friends are like a beautifully maintained garden. Such a great visual. Gardens, when given the proper time & care, are gorgeous! So is the promise of our well-invested friendships. Really the garden analogy could be carried on quite far. (I'm thinking of pesky weeds, and how the novelty of the garden can wear off once the hard work of the weeding sets in.)

So, even though my search through Scriptures on friendship was a fast one, I thought I'd share my insights so far.

Here's a smorgasbord of verses & my personal thoughts:
    Friends can cause great pain (Psalm 55:12–14)
    Friends love during difficult times (Proverbs 17:17)
    Faithful friends are not common (Proverbs 18:24)
    Friends influence you (Proverbs 22:24–25)
    Friendship is marked by sacrifice (John 15:13–15)
    We can be friends with God (James 2:23)
       
  • Friendship is a good thing. When we see Jesus living a certain way, we can always be certain that it is something we should try to emulate. Jesus had a close circle of 12 friends. The Bible references the extended families & circles of these 12, whom I imagine Jesus would also have considered His friends. We know about how much His relationship with Lazarus meant to Him. We know friendships were important to Him. It also seems like even Jesus had a smaller group of "best" friends.
  • Friendship is full of grace. Again, I go to Jesus' relationship with His disciples. He knew Judas would betray Him. Yet He befriended him. He knew Peter would deny Him. Yet He befriended him. He knew they were going to regularly screw up and disappoint Him. Yet...well, you get the idea. How quick can we sometimes be to write someone off as a true friend because they disappoint or hurt us?
  • God should be our best friend. I think that anytime I've gotten my nose out of joint over my friendships (or lack thereof), it has been because I have been trying to get my friends (or my husband) to fill a hole in my heart that only God can fill. When I have my relationship with God in the correct place, all my other relationships run much more smoothly. We see Jesus going off on his own to pray to God the Father. It's very important that we do the same.
  • Friendships are meant to be personal. Not electronic. Yes, this one is directly for all of us Facebook fans. Facebook has created such a false sense of relationship and I think it is really messing a lot of us up! I am trying really hard to limit my time on Facebook. And to limit my # of personal posts. I have also started narrowing down my friends list to those people I feel like I have an actual (non-Facebook) friendship with. Why are we friending people on Facebook that we wouldn't otherwise talk to?! Just to be nosey? Just to have a huge number of friends on our list?! As my kids are getting older, I'm realizing more and more that I need to set the tone of how we utilize technology in our home. I sure won't let my kids spend all kinds of time on the computer. Therefore I don't need to be either. I wouldn't want my kids friending all kinds of people just because. So I better not be doing it either. I think it's time to get off of Facebook and pick up the phone. Invite someone over. Go out for coffee. Invest in quality friendships instead of wasting time on superficial nosey-ness. (I'm preaching to myself here.) I think Facebook can have it's place...but I think many of us have allowed it to become first place.
  • Friendships should be uplifting. I know there are Scriptures on this, but I don't have a specific reference (search out Proverbs for some great ideas on true friends). Here's what I know for myself: life is too short and my time too precious to waste it on investing in people who are negative, sarcastic, demeaning, or just plain "downers." I believe I am called to be a light to all people who I interact with. HOWEVER, it doesn't mean I need to choose to spend my time around people who bring me down. Be a light...and then move on. Spend our time investing in those quality relationships that will have a forever value. Just like we shouldn't become unequally yoked with our spouses, I also believe we shouldn't be unequally yoked with our friends. Remember: friendships take time and energy. Let's surround ourselves with people who lift us up and encourage us. And, on the same note, let's do our best to be that same kind of friend (again, I sometimes need this reminder too).
  • Well, that's my initial mini-study on friendships. I know I'll continue to search and God will continue to reveal more. I guess what it boils down to (in reference to my previous post), is that I can only give to my friends what I have to give. So, if I currently have only enough time/energy for a smaller group of friends...then that is OK! My first responsibility really does need to be to God and my family.

    However, having said that, I believe I can't take the cop-out that I don't have to be "friendly" to everyone. I never know who I might be interacting with. How my level of friendliness might make a difference in their day. Even though I may be busy or tired or just not in the mood to be social, it only takes a little smile and friendly gesture to possibly make some one's day. I think this is the area I need to focus on a bit more. Forcing myself out of my inward focused tendencies and make a more concerted effort to reach out to others even in those "small talk" scenarios. Yep. That's an area I can certainly stand to improve in.

    In short, my opinion is: let's be friendly to everyone...but save our energy for investing in those relationships (no matter how few) that are the most healthy for us. After all, our friendship gardens take time and energy. I'd rather have a small & beautiful one than a huge one full of weeds.

    What do you think?

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Friends

    I have a little time to reflect, on this cold & rainy June 1st day. Seems nice to actually have some time just to sit and think. The big kids are relaxing with Mikayla's friends downstairs, and lil' Squirt is at a sleepover. The house is clean. The dishes are done. That means I can write!

    I've been thinking a lot lately about friendships. I have realized that my outlook on "true" friendships has certainly evolved over the years.

    In school (I went to a tiny K-12 Christian school - with a graduating class of 18), since I wasn't part of the "in" crowd, I just assumed people didn't really like me. My closest friends constantly changed because people kept coming and going (moving away or just switching schools).  I couldn't wait to graduate and get away from feeling like an outcast. I was very surprised when nearly everyone in my class showed up at my graduation open house though. Turns out I must have been more well-liked than I thought I was.

    I couldn't wait to start college and have a fresh slate. Of course, it didn't take long to feel left out and lonely there too. My biggest regret from college is that I didn't have the courage to join a sorority. (Before you judge me, I think there were one or two that would have actually been a good experience...filled with good people that I could have really had fun with.) I was involved in orchestra and symphonette over my time there...but I have so few close friends from college that I really have no desire to ever go back for a reunion.

    My years PC (post-college) and BD (before Dave) were filled with lots more of the same old feelings. My social calendar was mostly empty. My biggest dream was to have the kind of friends like they did on the show of the same name. Oh what I wouldn't have given for close friends like that. Unfortunately, the television and food became my closest companions. I had lots of good talks with God during those years though, so at least that's a good thing.

    Finally, after about a year of being married, Dave and I joined a new church. Suddenly, I had friends. There was a Moms group that met regularly. I felt like I finally had that closeness I'd always wanted. We were at that church for 9 years. I tried to be social and outgoing. I tried to get over my shyness and insecurities and just be that fun person I thought would attract others. I thought I had lots of friends. But, when God moved us on to another church, I quickly realized those friendships were just as fleeting as all the ones before.

    It hurt. I cried. I clammed up. I decided that too many friendships just meant too many hurt feelings. I vowed not to let that happen again.

    Don't get me wrong. I do have some really close friendships now. A handful of people that I feel like I can be totally open and honest with. I treasure those friendships. And, I recognize just how much time and effort it takes to maintain them!

    But...

    I feel like just staying right where I'm at with those group of friends. No more. No less. Call me content.

    That's what has got me thinking. Is this really the way God wants me to look at friendships? Is He asking me to "get over it"? Am I being disobedient by trying to remain "protective" of my feelings?

    This isn't something I am going to try to answer in one post. (No time to sit and reflect THAT long!) But, I at least wanted to share my thoughts on it. I do feel justified in my friendship feelings. I mean, my relationship with God, my relationship with Dave, and my relationships with each of my children have to be priority. Then there is my growing extended family (another new niece-in-law to be added in September). Plus the parents of my kids' friends. I mean...all that takes time! It takes effort!

    But, I get the sense I need to not be closed off to new friendships. I get the sense that God is asking me to trust Him to bring some new people into my life. I'll be honest: I don't want to. I want to keep the circle of friends right where it is. I want to keep others at a distance. I really don't want to open myself up to the same old hurts again.

    What do you think? Have you had any of these similar friendship experiences? I really need to move on with my day for now, but I plan to keep contemplating this topic. I will make it my homework assignment to search the Scriptures for some of God's answers this weekend.

    "Talk" to you again next week...