it’s all for his glory

One of the most beautiful things about the love of Christ is how he transforms our lives.
It’s beautiful how he will literally breathe life into a broken, dead situation.
How he puts joy and songs of praise in our hearts in the midst of and after great loss.
We value and celebrate that growth… count on it and expect it.
….. while at the same time, we’re ashamed of the need to grow.

WHY?

I have to admit that when my girls received the Most Improved award at their end of the year program last year, I was embarrassed. Even though I knew they’d matured so much over the year, knew that there was no doubt that they’d grown, and truly improved in so many areas from not losing their shit during drop off to potty training to using more words…. they blossomed! But, what I wanted was for them to be the best from the beginning. The foolish and judgmental stigma of “most improved” that I had was that they literally sucked and they’ve gotten better……… as if growth wasn’t something to be proud of, that it should be expected, and that it should be a goal to attain. Truth is, I was very proud of how they matured, I just didn’t “like” that they received an award for it. So silly.  Their hard work should be been celebrated instead of something to be ashamed of. Lord knows if it was up to me to get them potty trained, they’d still be in diapers. lol. Their teachers for the past two years have been incredible and I’m truly grateful for the leaps and bounds they’ve accomplished since they’ve started their preschool program.

How is my perfectionism and shame of their growth teaching them?
Is it pushing them to cover their struggles?
Am I teaching them to be insecure about their weaknesses?
Or that I will only be proud of them if they are “there” instead of celebrating them and enjoying the journey of becoming?
lol… I am more ashamed of myself and what my actions (even though I never told them or showed them how I felt) communicated than their growth. Clearly it revealed multiple areas I needed to grow in.

A friend of mine recently posted about the beauty of golf courses and how, in all of their well thought out beauty, they are man made. That space, those acres of plush grass, sand dunes, lakes, trees, and pathways, was not natural. But, the awe we feel doesn’t decrease and we don’t look down on them because they needed work.

But, we do this to ourselves daily. Or….. I know I can beat myself up about not having a certain trait or not quite yet getting control over that flaw not realizing that growing into that trait and becoming better over time is still something to be grateful for.

The disappointment, frustration,  or shame comes from comparison…. from looking at another person and thinking that the way the Lord naturally created someone makes them better than how he naturally created us. It minimizes the sin issues they have (whether you’re aware of them or not) and maximizes ours. It compares what could be the later chapter in their book to the earlier chapters in ours that are still being written. It ignores how the Lord is molding, shaping, improving, and creating you to be.

Lord knows there are days I wish the issues and flaws that I have didn’t exist…… that I could have come into this world as the person I’d like to be. But, that’s boring. That doesn’t tell a story of how great our God is and how he truly works things out for our good. Beauty is beauty…. formed by the words of our God or thought up in the imaginations and created with the gifts that the Lord has given us. It’s all from him. All for his glory. All of it tells of how the natural things the Lord created come together to honor him.

It’s the same. 

Over the last few years, I’ve learned how important it is to not allow a flaw to cause us shame. That sin issue may truly be a hard one to swallow, it may seem worse than any other, and it may have caused you some serious consequences and broken relationships….. But, guess what? When Christ died on the cross, he gave you victory over that sin. He forgave you of that sin. He gave you access to a relationship with a God who wants you to get that Most Improved award and tell you “Good job, my good and faithful servant!” when he greets you in heaven. He gave, he gave, he gave…. so that he could take away the hard and ugly and (again) give you something beautiful in return. A life free of guilt, a life full of hope, of salvation, of opportunity, or wisdom, and growth. He gives you a story your life will tell that will cause everyone around you to see that something about you different and wonder how it was possible.

And, you get to say “Jesus”.

Remember when I would post songs that I had on repeat?? Let’s bring that back!
Hillsong United – So Will I (100 Billion X)

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If I could teach them anything…

My girls are my most prized possessions………………………….. next to Jesus. And, it’s my God given responsibility to teach them to be responsible, productive, God fearing little ladies. There are sooo many things I’ve done horribly wrong, some things have gone better than expected, and some things have gone really right. The good and bad of life can’t always be controlled, but they are dependent on our choices and how we view ourselves. Good choices and a strong, positive mindset will determine their quality of life…

Our quality of our lives depend on the quality of our choices.

Most people don’t come into the world making good choices and operating awesome habits. It has to be taught. Like many of us, I haven’t always made good choices. I’ve done some reflecting and there are quite a few common themes that I believe have impacted my choices. While there are many things I want to intentionally teach my babes, these six lessons are at the top of the list. (and, yes, I’m still learning myself.)

If I could teach my girls anything, I would teach them to be bold and assertive yet kind.
It’s a balance that some will forever have difficulty finding (my name is at the tippy top of that list) because hard conversations are tough and we, as women specifically, are somewhere, somehow taught that it’s not nice to be vocal and say hard things. But, I believe this is an important lesson to learn because I don’t want them controlled by another person’s feelings when communicating their expectations or desires, but cognizant of them at the same time. Be gentle and caring.

If I could teach my girls anything, I want to teach them to be dreamers. 
How silly is it for me to teach them that with God all things are possible and with him we can do mighty things, if I’m going to put a lid on what can be? There is a great big world with so much beauty and opportunity. They have a God given imagination and heart desires that are there for his glory. I want them to dream big and believe that they can do anything they set their mind to! Lack of dreaming comes from a low belief in what we can do… it comes from not being able to see what is possible. If I can instill big belief in my girls, they will more than dream large, vivid, and audacious dreams!

If I could teach my girls anything, I want to teach them to be go getters.
Go after what you want… with passion, determination, fearlessness, and drive. Make a plan and execute, reflect and adjust, then keep going. Listen for wisdom and guidance, and ignore the naysayers and those that speak negativity and limitations. No one can limit you but you. No one can discourage you without your permission. You hear and see what you focus on, so focus on what the Lord has given you and do everything you can to accomplish what you set out to do. The noise can sometimes be so loud, drowning out the quiet voice that says, “Yes you can.”

If I could give my girls anything, I want to give them the freedom of living out their dreams. 
I can already see my girls bent towards certain things. One loves to sing and picks up on music very easily. She is also a little fashionista in the making. The other loves to flip, is incredibly athletic, and loves to take pictures. And, I want to put them in cheer and I’d love for them to cheer though college… along with whatever else they want to do! That’s my dream for them!  My girls will know that their dreams don’t have to be mine… there is no pressure to be me. They don’t have to be Plexus ambassadors (although the opportunity for financial freedom is a no brainer), they don’t have to want to be mamas (even though I’d love some grandbabies in about 25 years), and they don’t have to want to do what I’d love for them to do. They can’t do what they are called to do if they’re pushed to do what I want them to do. My goal is to shape them to be who God created them to be and watch them to big things! Giving them the freedom and support to follow their own dreams will help build their confidence knowing that they matter, that what they think, and what they want are important.

If I could teach my girls anything, I would to teach them that it’s okay to “not be strong”. 
What’s it’s not okay is to whine and do nothing to fix the situation. I want them to be strong, self sufficient, and capable of handling life’s struggles.  Faking strong isn’t strong. Not communicating, not seeking help, suffering for the sake of appearances,  struggling silently, stuffing emotions is not healthy, nor is it strong. You can be, you are,  strong when you cry and find help to sort through the hurts and hardships of life. You’re not weak because you prioritized yourself over someone else, you didn’t fail just because things didn’t work out the way you wanted and expected them to. You’re strong when you do what’s right no matter what else another person is doing, you’re strong when you walk away from pain inflicting people and situations, you’re strong when you know when to be quiet and when to apologize (and actually do it!)… strength isn’t ugly or hard or unforgiving. Breaking down, ice cream accompanied nights of tears, and shutting life down for a day doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. A strong one.

If I could teach my girls anything, I would teach them to listen to wisdom and make good choices based on facts more than feelings. 
Now, their mama is a feeeeeeeler, which means it can be difficult for me to make choices based on what is versus unfulfilled potential and what is yet to be. So, we’re all gonna have to work on that because this is where life quality is established. When we base choices on short sighted wants versus the long term benefits, we likely won’t end up in good situations later on. I’m totally a feeler, so it takes MUCH effort, time, and self control to make choices based on facts and feet (action) versus potential and hopes. lol. Still at 34.  It’s so important to have a support system of people who have your best interests at heart. Ones who’ve walked though life a little bit longer than you have, who have strengths in different areas than you, and who you trust to help you learn to make better choices. Decision making can be tough… some decisions being harder to make than others. When you consider how much better your life could be because of one choice you made, it motivates you to choose smarter.

I want to teach my girls to be happy and confident people who love others well and follow their dreams. I want them to be happy more than anything. Life is hard and it’s such a blessing for them to have each other to do life with. There’s nothing greater than having people in your corner that are pushing you to be your greatest self who challenges you and holds you accountable. Lots of lessons learned, lots of weaknesses strengthened, lots of strengths sharpened and smoothed out. Thankful for growth and the opportunity to better my babies’ lives because of what I’ve learned!

 

 

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…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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