…quiet the noise

… in the event you were wondering, these people are not just two years old, but two and a half.
a whole half.
I’ve been a mama for 30 months… and, sometimes it’s still doesn’t seem like it’s fully sunk in yet. 

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Life is noisy.

With kids or without kids, with a spouse or without one, life is loud, chaotic and hard. We have so many things fighting for our focus. So many people vying for our attention. We are constantly distracted. Constantly pulled away. Forever engaged in a never ending battle of deciphering what’s important and what’s priority.

I am the teacher that can’t take a lot of noise…. makes for a really difficult day for everybody.  Tapping, running pencils over spiral notebook bindings, all of it drives me crazy. I literally cannot focus in a noisy environment. I don’t typically watch TV.. I don’t even have cable… but even when I did, I could go all day without turning it on. Unless there was a specific show I wanted to watch on at that moment, why is it on? NOISE! YUCK. vomit. Just turn it off. I can’t deal.

Unless there’s background music.

In quiet or chaos, background music somehow helps my brain balance the irritations and the focusing effect it has on me. It helps my mind to focus on something else besides what is actually causing me to be unloving, impatient, and on edge.  My students already know that there’s going to be music playing and they quickly learn the songs. It’s so sweet to hear them sing along (they have no  idea that they’re worshipping!) as they get to know the music on my Pandora stations. But, let me clarify what I mean when I say “noise”. We aren’t talking party noise or baby shower noise, not even chit chat before church noise….. Not the structured class activity noise or even the playing outside nose. I mean the bickering, the fussing, the I’m-not-listening-to-you-because-I’m-so-engrossed-in-my-noise kinda noise…. Not the girlfriends at dinner clinking glasses, laughing, and catching up noise. I mean the tearing down, the comparing, the trying to fit, the feeling unloved, the negative, the unloving, the judgmental, the unsupportive, the lies…

the noise cousins sun

The noise that I have allowed to overtake my Savior’s quiet voice. The noise that kept me burdened and feeling like walls were closing in on me. The noise that kept me from believing in myself, from seeing me for who I really was. The noise that kept me from doing what I love and “feeling like”doing much of anything else. The noise that kept me on this hamster wheel trying to be enough, do enough, be more than enough, special enough, and whatever else enough that would allow (or force or make or justify) me to be accepted, loved, pursued, wanted, cherished… all of that. It was noise and the noise was suffocating me. I couldn’t breathe or move freely. I couldn’t focus.

That soft, barely there background music is my peace and steadies me …. very much like the Lord in this crazy, hard world. When we are bridled with so much fear, hurt, rejection, and brokenness that the darkness of the night is the only place we sense enough safety to truly feel, when we are caring less and less for people but are going out of our way to do more to out do and hurt them, when we’re ignore their pain and choose not to care, when we need “something” but have no idea what that is….. we have a focusing problem. We’re distracted. There is too much noise. Just like outward noise can distract us and cause us to make mistakes and go off course; allowing the wrong things settle into our hearts and minds, it’s what is repeated over and over again. It’s what we eventually believe is important, it’s what we eventually accept as our own identities and put on as our very own qualities that can very well led us down the wrong path.

Unless we have background music.

...He will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will quiet you with his love.
he will rejoice over you with singing…
Zephaniah 3:17

When we are rooted and build our thoughts, minds, beliefs, and lives on something solid, on what will never crack, change, or weaken, we can withstand the noise. We can have something keeping us focused in the midst of the enemy telling us lies about who we are, people being their <intentionally & unintentionally> meanest selves, and our own minds struggling to believe the best when it may be constantly fed the worst. That solid ground makes it a lot easier for the junk to roll right past us. It’s easier to drown out the lies when you constantly have the truth resounding in your mind

The truth is
you can do it.
you are capable.
you can learn how.
you are worthy.
you are enough.
you are smart.
you will do it.
AND….
You are strong enough, patient enough, enduring enough, and brave enough to wait it out until
the Lord brings all of your needs + efforts + sacrifices + opportunity together at the same time
to create the right time.


rhy 30mths

Even in all of the busyness, doing, traveling, working, driving, and mom’ing so hard….. we get lost. We get lost in expectation, in isolation, in fear, in discontent, in frustration, in weariness and we feel alone. Our glorious imaginations (combined with tricks of the enemy) create so many elaborate scenarios that cause us to feel deep rejection when there is none… deep failure when success is on it’s way…. we feel guilt for doing what we know is right (anyone ever try discipling the cutest 2 year olds ever?) … yet struggle with believing who God created us to be and who he promises He to be to us. (He is good, he is good to us, he plans good things for us! and is with us when struggles and hard times come!)

It’s like the Lord is saying,
“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, my sweet girl.
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh, my son.
Can you hear how loved you are?
Do you see how pleased I am with you?
Allow me to celebrate you, simply because I created you & am delighted in you.
Do you know how much I love you?
Do you know how much I value you?
shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….
Listen to me. Focus on me.”

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I wonder what would happen to our self-talk, to our mindsets, to our friendships and our families when we listened more to who the Lord says we did the noise of the world. If we allowed ourselves to be calmed by the voice and peace of the Lord rather than running around like a crazy person chasing down our fleeting feelings with temporary fixes. When we begin speaking life into others because of the life inside of us rather than using our words to respond with hurt or worse, not respond at all.

hello brokenness.

Wonder how much more fulfilled and confident we would be if we looked to the Lord and enjoyed listening intently on his rejoicing and singing over us… if we worshipped, prayed, and read a bit more and allowed the Truth to dictate how we felt and how we saw ourselves. How much more equipped and joyful would we be when the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy our children & their futures, our marriages and friendships, our hopes and dreams, our own self esteem and views of ourselves. I believe they could stand more of a chance……. and, if they don’t. When things are broken and people go astray, we would still be left laying, kneeling, standing on The Rock. Even if we’re crying (really bawling… let’s be honest. If we cry, it’s a bawl.), left alone, feeling empty, and at what we believe is the end of our rope.

Can we quiet the noise?  Sometimes. Not always. Can we shift our focus so that the chaos isn’t as loud? Absolutely. Noise is inevitable. There has been, will, and forever be an endless list of things and people craving our attention and competing for our love. BUT, when we are rooted in the one love that will never end, that will never push us to the side, or hurt us, it is so much easier to drown out the bad and hear the good and see what’s possible.

My prayer for you…. especially us single mamas…. is that we won’t get lost in the noise. That we won’t lose hope or forget how valuable and loved we are. That we will allow our hearts to be captured by the Lord and filled to overflowing with his peace and joy. That we allow the Lord to quiet our fears, sadness, negative thinking, disappointments and worry with his love. I pray that our background noise keeps us focused and able to be wholly who the Lord called us to be in this crazy, dark world. That we allow ourselves to hope and dream big… give those dreams to the most creative Maker of the universe then give him room to gives us the desires of our hearts.

Your mind feasts on what it focuses on (Lysa TerKurst) so focus on the those things that bring joy, happiness, a positive outlook, Godly perspective, and comfort…. those things that are right, noble, true, lovely, admirable, and excellent…..

focus and feast on the goodness of the Lord.

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a little bit

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Sweet Rhyann.

You know, my girls and I are really starting to get each other. The girls are communicating with much more intention, they know how to get my attention and how to get me to do what they want. They’ve learned our routine and as much as they’re learning me and about the world around them, I’m learning them as well. We play, we laugh, we are building the sweetest relationship and I love it. I never thought about how we don’t just wake up at 7 years old and know how our parents are going to respond this way or that way…. we don’t come into this world knowing that our parents will let us get away with this or kill us if we do that. you know? The trust, love, comfort, the satisfaction of being known and accepted begins far before we’re able to even understand what is happening…. I’d literally never thought about that until now & my hope is that I am creating consistent, positive, and warm truths for my babes.

As much as I thought each kid would need about the same amount of this, this, and that from me…. I’m learning that these kiddos each need a lot from me in different ways, thankfully. One needs a few more cuddles, one a few more minutes after bedtime in order to go to sleep. They’re needing a little more guidance and discipline, my voice needs to be a bit more stern more often now. They just need more.

Over the last two weeks or so, the girls’ molars have begun to break through the gum line. Of course, with molars we’re also battling running noses and fevers which means crankiness, loss of appetite – they’re basically having a tough time but they’re such troopers and are handling it really well. One of the many joys of this teething process has been the sleep schedule. It’s off…. completely out of whack. They’ve reverted, they aren’t sleeping through the night, I’m having to rock babies and get up pretty much every hour to soothe a kiddo back to sleep.

That isn’t fun. In fact, it’s quite frustrating.
I’m sleep deprived & exhausted.

But, as I was rocking one of the girls to sleep, I realized how long it had been since the girls needed me in that way…. how much less they’ve needed me because they’re becoming so much more independent. It’s been forever and I didn’t realize how much I missed that time of cuddling, their breathe on my neck, them snuggling against me and (now) hugging me as they fall asleep. This time in their life requires so much more of me but I also know that this is time that will never come again. This is time the Lord is using to create more patience in me, I’m learning different ways to communicate, connect, and accomplish goals. That thick and wide boundary that protects my comfort zone is thinning out and expanding. And, I like it. It’s uncomfortable but so good at the same time.

Most of all I’m thankful for how much more I have to lean on Jesus. The more that’s pulled from me, the more I require of the Lord. And, y’all he’s showing up everytime I need him and revealing more & more of who he is and who he can be to me. He’s giving me a deeper confidence in my ability to parent the girls, the energy, the wisdom in know how to manage my time and how to prioritize tasks. I’m becoming more okay comfortable with being unable to do certain things, and picking them back up when I can. The more at peace I am with what can be done, the happier I am as a mother because the stress of being pulled in so many directions is gone.This parenting solo thing is hard work but it’s good work. I love being the mama to these sweet girls. They bring me so much joy and focus when it feels like the world is spinning in a blur around me. They push me closer to the Lord because I want to be able to respond to to them peacefully, with patience, kindness, encouraging words, and words that are necessary, honest, and important no matter what is going on.

Truthfully, the girls aren’t the only ones who are growing and experiencing so much newness. The Lord is really challenging me in some areas and he’s being so patient and gentle with me, I love it. It’s the gentleness and compassion that makes me so much more content with how things are going. Reminds me of Proverbs 15:1…. a gentle answer turns away wrath. The Lord teaches us how to interact with each other by example, right? So, if the Lord was impatient with me and showed frustration because of life’s circumstances or when I showed mistrust and fear in what he’s calling me to do (again), how likely would I follow him? Would that irritation make me want to obey and say, “Yes, Lord” with honor, excitement, and integrity? Probably not. The good Father teaching us how to be good….. Hmmmm… pretty sure I’m convicted by that. (Does wine pair well with conviction?)  SO, I’m following the nudge to write more or to do “small” things or act on those thoughts the Spirit gives me with more and more confidence. Things tend to go a lot smoother & I’m encouraged to trust a little bit more with each ask. Discipling myself and training myself to ignore distractions has been so good, too. When you’re used to having time and being able to get things done when you wanted to, is so nice. But, when free moments are hard to come by and have to be carved in your schedule…. Lawd, that takes a lot of effort and adjusting. But, I want to have the time to do the work the Lord is asking me to do.

You know that one student in your class that was pumped about extra work?
That’s me right now.
Excited about opportunities to grow, enjoying the ways the Lord is shaping me, &  feeling hopeful & joyful about the future….
It’s life giving.

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prayers and blessings

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May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

The weekend before my first doctor’s appointment/ultrasound, I went to a sweet retreat, Flourish,  where everyday we had quiet time with the Lord. We could read our Bibles, pray, journal… whatever. During one of those moments, I journaled prayers and wrote lists of characteristics “they” would have. Not “knowing” that there were two sweet baby girls were growing in my belly, yet I consistently used this plural pronoun. Even when I felt so stupid and would scratch it out to write he/she, it felt wrong. So, I kept writing “they” and moved it along. I spent that weekend pouring myself out to the Lord and praying for my daughters.

Most mornings and/or nights, when their heads are on my shoulders and their breath is on my neck, I can’t help but to thank God for these two little miracles. I’m thanking the Lord that they’re finally asleep and I survived another tag team, the best kisses, food spilled on the floor, the sweet sister moments, and the laughter. And, I pray for them…. for every aspect of their lives from their temperaments, personalities, work ethic, goals, friends, boyfriends, husband (one for each! no lol), their relationship with each other, the relationship we would share together and then myself with each individually…… I soak their lives in prayer.

It is up to me to pray for and bless my children…. to trust God with their lives, their hopes, and their dreams. To trust that he has created me capable and is molding and shaping me to be even more capable, more wise, more discerning, and ever loving to raise these girls to have a heart for him and a love for his people. Which means, there’s a lot of praying about who I am, a lot of focusing on the different things I feel the Lord pressing on my heart to better, and intentionally drawing closer to Him.

We don’t pray with our fingers and toes crossed, wishing the stars align and the universe responds to our good behavior. Do we? Or are our hands lifted in surrender, hearts poured out, and declarations spoken of God’s faithfulness, love, and grace? I hope and against hope, I pour out my heart, and ask the Lord for my heart’s desires. Trusting and believing that he will deliver, that his will certainly will be done, and that I will glorify him as we benefit from all things working together.

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The days are long, the years are short…. and, so are the nights… but our babies lives, but most importantly their souls, depend on our faith in Christ and how we lead them to the Lord. A question that has rolled around in my mind is: Am I taking my babies’ souls seriously? Are we? We take their fashion seriously, their hair, and other materialistic, outward beauty very seriously. But, what effort are we putting into their character and souls? Who are we teaching them to please and obey – us or Christ? If we are disciplining and training to make ourselves comfortable and easier for ourselves during the day (which I get!!!), they aren’t learning to look any further than the imperfect, taller person in their lives. But, when we teach them that there is a Father who loves us deeply and desires for us to serve others and love him, they obey us as parents out of respect for their God…the creator of the universe and the redeemer of the world.

Wouldn’t that perspective help foster a relationship between them and the Lord?
Respect for Him first and me second?
… considering they are His before they are mine?

I don’t know, ya’ll…. I’m just 15 months in and there’s more than plenty to learn on parenting children…..but, I’m praying that if I teach them to focus more on the Lord than on me, they’ll be better for it. If we’re a house full of people focused on honoring and serving the Lord, I’m faithfully praying that it will result in a home where fullness of joy, peace, forgiveness, love, service, grace, patience, and all of the goodness that flows from Christ reign…. rather than the pull and force that comes with training someone to please you… oh a house full of offenses, impatience, frustration, anger, disappointment and hurt and sadness is in control. Same people, same sin issues, same disobedience, same mistakes, same frustrations but a different perspective about the ones you share your walls with and your response to them because of who you’re ultimately trying to please.

Lord, be with us as we raise these little images of you. 
Cover us with your grace and love as we walk this tough and exhausting road.
Energize us, equip us, and bless us with your wisdom and peace.
Amen.

In what ways are you praying for your children? Do you have specific areas of their life you focus your prayers on at certain points of their life….  Ministry? Gifts? Character? Faith? Relationships??

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