Be where you are

My husband sent me a text one day with a quote, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be.” He thought this was quite fitting in reference to our current location, as we never intended to end up living where we are now, at least not long term. We moved here with a plan to live here 2 to 3 years and then move on to the next adventure. But, we have now been here 10 years and it doesn’t look like we’re leaving anytime soon. We are so happy here, even if we never expected this to be home.
I started thinking about how this applies to other parts of my life as well. I never in a million years saw myself as a mom of three boys. I’m an only child, so to say I had not idea what to do with a boy would be an understatement. Seven years and three boys later, it feels more natural than anything I’ve ever done. I spend at least 2 nights a week at a ballgame, countless hours with hot wheels and legos, and too much time cooking to even count. I drive around with a baseball bag, a first aid kit, and at least a handful of action figures in my car at all times. This is all uncharted territory for me.
I also never thought I would end up working in ministry. This is not because I had a path already chosen (I still don’t feel like I’m grown up enough to make those kinds of decisions), but I just didn’t feel quite qualified for God to put me in this field. I felt like children’s ministry was a job for people that knew all the answers and always did everything right. But here I am, not knowing the answers and messing up a lot. I’m trying my best to listen to what He has to say and following my path.
I guess my point in all of this is that you may not end up where you thought you were going. That doesn’t matter. God knows where you’re going and how to get you there. Instead of trying to make your life look like you thought it would, spend your energy in being where you are. You just may find yourself happier than you ever imagined.

Be you.

Today is a special day, and not just because it’s Groundhog Day. That’s not really as special as the fact that this is my Mama Libby’s Birthday. She was my great grandmother and would have been 98 today.

I can’t even remember all the stories I’ve been told by and about this wonderful lady.  She loved to travel, sometimes not even sure of her destination. She went where the wind blew and had a good time, wherever that was. She would leave a note written on a wooden block to let visitors know she was gone and they’d have to try back another day.  She was always smiling, no matter if life was good or not. I didn’t know her as a younger woman, but as far as I can remember she was happy. She made everyone laugh by asking for practical gifts, like toilet paper, for Christmas. She didn’t need all the extras. She collected postcards from all her travels, and all her many children, grands, and great-grands. She made some of the most beautiful quilts out of what looked like useless fabric. To sum it up, she was good at life.

I’m so happy 2 of my boys, her great-great- grands got to meet her. I’m also happy that I had her influence in my life. I want to work hard to keep her memory alive, but not by trying to be like her, or do what she did. I want to honor her legacy by being me. She was unapologetically original, and I will always believe that’s what made her so happy.

So, in honor of today’s holiday, be happy. Be you.

Taking off the cast

Happy New Year! I hope 2018 is treating you well so far.

My first big deal of the year was getting the cast removed from my middle’s left arm.  He went off the side of a slide instead of down the right way back in November and spent the Christmas season in a bright green and red cast.  At first he complained a little, but then he got used to having it there.  The week before we were set to go have it taken off, he decided he wanted to keep it.  He didn’t want to go through the process and he thought it might hurt when it came off.  After much reassurance of how great it would be to have it off again, he was willing to go but still nervous.  Once all was said and done, he was happy to have both arms useful again.  He was also happy to have his independence back (as was I).  He can now put on his shoes, socks, and shirt without my help.  He can also carry the whole menagerie of items he deems necessary for leaving the house each day.  He sees now that he really is better off without the cast.

How often do we struggle with the same fear?  We develop a cast of our own very easily.  Maybe it’s a bad habit or a avoidance of a good one. We know that it is limiting our mobility and independence.  We know that we would be much more useful to God without the burden of the cast we’ve created for ourselves, but much like my injured middle boy, we think we need it.  We think, in some way, the cast is helping something heal.  It’s helping us manage our stress or it might hurt to try.  Someone might think we’re weird.  We might feel weird trying it.  Whatever the excuse is that we’re using, we are holding onto a bulky, burdensome weight that we don’t need.

Let’s all try to take off the cast this year.  Look at your life, your daily routine, and your thoughts throughout the day.  Where is the cast?  Is it weighing you down and keeping you from being as productive as you can be?  Take it off.

 

Take the help

We all do it.  When a friend is sick or has sick kids or a crazy long to do list, we say, “Let me know if you need anything” or “Let me know if I can help.”  We mean it and we’d be ready to come to their rescue at any moment.  And if we all say it, that means we all hear it too.  When life is tough, someone tells us just to let them know how to help.  But if you’re anything like me, you just tell them thanks and never ask.

Well, I had a super graceful moment at the beginning of last month and really screwed up my ankle while stepping down off a step. (I’m still mad there’s not a more fun story to go along with this injury!) This was in early October, which may be my busiest month of the year.  All I could think as I lay in my bathroom floor trying not to cry or throw up was, how on earth am I going to do everything now?! So many events and projects were depending on me to be completed and completed really well. I wanted to cry more because of that than the pain.

Fast forward past the xrays and doctors visits and I spent two week on a knee scooter (those are a little crazy in a house with three little boys) and I’m on my third week in a walking boot.  All of this to say, I had to take the help.  When a friend said, “Let me pick up kids,”  I didn’t say no.  When people came to help with events, I didn’t turn them down.  I normally would, but not this time.  And to my surprise, I didn’t feel guilty for taking the help.  I actually felt good that it was there.

This all got me thinking, how many times does God tell us that he’s here to help? Countless scriptures tell us that God is always there, willing to take our burdens, and give us rest.  But do we take it?  I’m always asking for it, in an under-my-breath “God, help me” kinda way, but do I even see it when it comes around?  Do I take God’s help and let him ease my troubles? Or do I read the promise of help and just nod thinking “Ok, thanks” with no real plans of accepting it. Probably more often than I should.

So when life is a little too much, take the help.  Take it from friends that offer their love and support.  Most of all, learn to take it from God.  Despite what you may think, it will be a good thing.

Say thank you

I have a very busy few months, no, make that year.  It’s been full of changes and pretty good things.  I’m not always the best at handling either of those, but I’m learning.

First, I was presented the opportunity for a new job.  A job that would not only change my routine and my normal, but also my whole family’s life. I have more responsibility now, and more things to do, but I also have the most amazing job.  It’s one of those – I have never felt like I was where God wanted me to be more than I do right now- things.  It’s wonderful.

Second, my family has moved into a new home.  We were five people living in no where near enough square feet.  Now we have room to breath.  It’s a blessing for sure.

In both of these big life changing events, I found myself with lots of different thoughts. Most of them were fueled by anxiety and self-doubt – “What is I screw this up?”  “I am not qualified for this at all!”  “I’m going to let them down.”  And then, “This deal will fall through at the last minute.” ” Something must be wrong with this house.” “We don’t deserve something this nice.” I would pray continually for these things to not be true, for everything to work out. I have been working on giving God my worries, and, boy, did I give him plenty!

I’ve realized over the past few weeks that I forgot something.  I forgot to say thank you.  I was generous with the worry and anxiety of everything, but withholding of my gratitude during one of the most abundant few months in the past years.  In all of my human need for reassurance in the face of blessings, I did not stop and thank God for anything.  I did not ask for my new blessings to be used for his glory.  Although I wasn’t, I acted like I was very ungrateful.  I’m working on that.

So, be thankful.  Say thank you and mean it.  Don’t let the worry of good things cloud the good things.  When God hands you a great big glass of fresh lemonade, don’t ask about the lemons.  Say thank you.

Volunteer

Last week, someone told me the most influential statement about Easter that I think I’ve ever heard. She said, “Jesus was not a victim. He was a volunteer.” I feel like that’s obvious in the Bible, but it really hit me when it was pointed out.

I do find myself feeling sympathy and pain when hearing the story of the crucifixion. And that’s normal, but after thinking about the idea of a volunteer instead of a victim, I find myself feeling a little bit of pride- pride that Jesus was able to do what was needed, pride that He overcame the pain and ultimately death, and pride to be a part of Christ’s family this Easter.

I know this was a short one, but I just wanted to share a new thought about Easter on this Good Friday.

Let Go

As humans, we want some form of control.  Even the most laid back people want control over something.  It’s human nature.  We want to control our clothing, our food, our entertainment, our time, pretty much everything we can.  I think being a parent makes this even worse.  Not only are we trying to control our own lives, but we feel like we’re responsible for controlling our little people’s lives too.  It can get a little exhausting.

I think it’s important that we take a look at how we control our kids lives to get some relief.  For me personally, I let my kids make some decisions, and ultimately, some mistakes.  They can chose their clothes (if it’s not a picture day), they can chose what they want to eat (within reason and nutritionally sound choices), and they can chose what to play (as long as no weapons are involved).  But if anything comes up that could be questionable, I want them to check it out with me.  They should come ask me, talk to me about it, and I’ll let them know my decision.  They may not like it, but it’s out of their control.

As a child of God, I’m not sure I always handle it the same way.  I know when I face hard choices, I pray about it.   I can’t say, however, that I always accept the decision that’s handed to me.  But just as my kids have to accept the fact that I’m in control of their current situation, I should be accepting the fact that God is always in control of mine.

I think if I could learn to do this more graciously, I would have an easier time in life and scramble less for control.  I would be free to decide how to move forward from my new spot instead of pouting about where I wanted to be.  That’s what I expect my kids to do, so why shouldn’t I do the same?

Entitled to my own opinion

We’re all entitled to our own opinion. Right?

But are we really? As Christians, our responsibility is to share God’s love, not our own agenda. We are to further God’s kingdom through our words and actions.

Thats not to say that we can’t stand up for things. Jesus stood up to corruption and turned over tables in the temple.

But I think we should look at why. He didn’t turn over tables because he didn’t believe in tables. Or because the color or shape of the tables offended Him. Or because He didn’t think the tables had rights. He made this loud display because the actions taken place were undermining the purpose of the temple and deterring the worship of God.

I think, as christians, we should look to this example when we chose to take a stand and make some noise. We should ask, is this undermining God’s agenda or mine? Are we demonstrating our personal dislike or standing up for God’s kingdom? Are we bitter because of another person? Are hurt feelings causing our actions?

I think this could help create a way for christians to be heard and God’s purpose be protected, without so many personal issues. If it’s not worth taking a stand by these standards, then let’s just agree to disagree.

But that’s just my opinion.

Be Lifted

My little has recently turned two. And he is very two. He gets upset easily, and when he does, he reaches his arms up for me. I’m not quite sure how picking him up fixes anything, but it’s what he wants.

This got me thinking. As an adult, it’s probably been years since we held our arms up for someone to lift us up. We’ve probably spent a few decades directly connected to the ground in some way. Just that concept feels heavy to me. Gravity is completely having its way with us.

There’s not much we can do about the physical connection to the ground, but what about emotionally? Mentally? Spiritually?

What if, instead of sinking into our problems, we held our arms up to God? What if we really let go of the situation and allowed our Heavenly Father to lift us away from our troubles?  Instead of worrying and stressing and pouting and doing all the things that bring us down and keep us down, let’s go to scripture, music, and prayer. Let’s reach our arms up and be lifted. I bet it would feel much lighter.