I have been reading in Judges lately, and over and over you find verses that read, "And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord..."
Oddly enough, I found great comfort in those words. You see, there were seasons in my life when I would have read those verses and thought, "Seriously?! When will they learn their lesson?" But this past week, I just kept thinking about how thankful I am that we serve a God we can cry out to each and every time we fail...because that is something we do again and again.
I have some perfectionistic tendencies and I strongly dislike making the same mistake twice. And, sometimes, I find myself putting that same pressure on my children. "How many times should we have to remind you...throw the snack wrapper away!" or "Be careful with your tone of voice," or "Think of others more highly than yourself...honor and prefer."
Truthfully, sometimes I feel like, "And the children of the house again did what was evil in the sight of their mother..." Anybody?
I was reminded of a story I heard several years ago. A mom, at the end of the day, began to unload on her husband...the kids did this, and the kids did that...she was venting, getting out all the challenges and frustrations of her day. Her husband...very brave husband...responded, "And just when did you stop sinning?"
I remember hearing that and thinking...I am expecting a level of perfection out of my children to the point of growing impatient and frustrated with their sin...but the truth is, I am well aware of my own sin and my need for grace on a daily basis.
As a Mom, I have been feeling challenged by the way God responded to the Israelites' "again" and "again" moments...sometimes there were consequences, sometimes there was supernatural deliverance and grace, but He always heard their cries and He was always with them.
I want my children to know that I will be right here for every "again" and "again" moment in their life. I will love them in and through it...
When we have the thought, "I can't believe they did ________! Again!" How will we respond.
“On this day…the first day of 2019, I am reminding myself that it doesn’t matter how much planning, preparing, or prioritizing I do…365 more days are going to pass by, and they will hold moments I could never see coming.”
Those are words I typed on January 1st of this year…turns out it was true.
On January 9th, I woke up with a sickness that has had me out of commission for almost six weeks. Nope. Didn’t see that coming.
We certainly didn’t kick off 2019 the way I thought we would. Instead of jumping back into life full steam ahead…everything slowed to a screeching halt.
Some of us may be wondering how it's even possible that it's January 1st ...others of us are wondering what in the world took it so long to get here.
Each of us experienced 2018 in a unique way.
Most likely, the year brought laughter and tears. It held dreams that became a reality and dreams that crumbled into pieces. We saw wonder in the eyes of a new Mama as she held her baby for the first time. And we saw the tenacious way a heart holds onto memories as we let go of loved ones. We witnessed the miracle of life...both beginning and the end.
We saw adventure and we saw mundane.
We watched children learn, grow, and accomplish incredible milestones...and then we reminded them to say "thank you," pick up their socks, and throw the trash away at least 2,728 times.
"Because a thankful heart is a happy heart. I'm glad for what I've have, that's an easy way to start..."
Does anyone else hear that VeggieTales song ringing in their ears this time of year? I seem to start humming that little tune every November...#momlife. Leftovers from the toddler years.
Such a simple phrase but so true. A thankful heart is a happy heart.
Thankfulness is the remedy to discontentment, and gratitude will fight off self-pity every time.
As parents, we have the beautiful responsibility of teaching our children what it means to overflow with thankfulness. We get to help them see the world through a lens of gratitude. Yet, as usual, it has to start with us. (Oh, joy.)
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures…” Psalm 23:1-2
Have you ever stopped to imagine what those green pastures would look like?
I've always imagined an inviting scene…beautiful, rolling hills covered in green, plush grass. A gentle breeze would be blowing, and you could see the waves of grass swaying back and forth. It’s a serene, peaceful, and welcoming image.
That was the picture in my mind...until one day when I watched this video. The image in my head was completely challenged...and changed.
This place called “green pastures” in Jerusalem looks much more like a dessert wasteland than rolling meadows. It’s a hillside covered in rocks. How could thatbe “green pastures”?
This is not the image I had in mind.
The guide explained that interspersed among the rocky hillside were moisture filled pockets where grass would grow. I watched as a shepherd led the sheep across the hillside right to the specific places where they would be able to eat.
The sheep had to follow the shepherd if they were to find the grass.
I was reminded of the Israelites who were given manna from God. He gave them manna each and every day with the instruction to take only what they would need for the day. They weren’t supposed to store it up.
I thought about the scripture that says His mercies are new every morning. We are given mercy for the day we’re having…right now.
Our Father gives us what we need for the present moment.
The guide in the video says, “Green pastures are not everything you need for the rest of your life.”
Life doesn’t actually look like frolicking around in a green pasture without a care in the world for the rest of our lives.
Life looks a lot more like needing a Shepherd to lead us to the nourishment we need.
Life looks a lot more like learning to trust the heart of our Shepherd. When we’re following him across a rocky hillside we need to trust that He’s taking us where we need to be.
“Worry is dealing with tomorrow’s problem on today’s pasture.” When we look ahead and wonder just exactly where the Shepherd is taking us…when we strain to see in the distance and, to us, it looks like there’s not a patch of grass to be found…we must trust the Shepherd. (A lot easier said than done…I know.)
“In the dessert you learn that the Shepherd will get you what you need for right now. Ten minutes from now…you trust the shepherd.”
Our Father takes joy in our trust. Over and over in scripture we see people in positions of dependance, trust, and reliance on Him.
The Shepherd wants to be followed. He sets the pace, and He names the destination.
If we find ourselves saying, "This isn't what I thought 'green pastures' meant..." Hang on, trust, and keep following the Shepherd.
I've actually always disliked that word ... "change".
I have vivid memories of being a child, teenager, and young adult experiencing great unsettledness when there was change. I appreciated consistency, routines, and schedules. (In fact, that's still fairly accurate.)
If life is going a long just fine, why do things have to change anyway? Maybe things can stay the same if I hold on tightly enough?
I've been thinking a lot about change this past week. Seasons are about to change. We're in those last few weeks of summer, and fall is just around the corner. It's time for change. The weather will change. The leaves with change.
This morning I was reflecting on how the Lord is gracious to give us seasons. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Like a merry-go-round ... over and over we repeat the seasons. Round and round we go. The earth continually spinning, the days coming and going, and we cycle through the seasons we've come to know so well.
If I'm honest, the seasons are bit like a security blanket. I've come to rely on them.
Eleven years ago yesterday I was "nesting." I remember folding laundry, cleaning up around the house, and organizing baby clothes. I spent all day wondering when we would finally be holding Victoria in our arms.
Seems like those last few weeks of pregnancy that's what I was always wondering! I would walk in and out of her nursery a million times ... trying to imagine what life would look like when we brought our little miss home.
How would it feel? What would it be like? What would she be like?
Okay. Here's the deal. Sometimes you just get in a mood and you need to snap out of it. Anybody?
First, let me be clear. I am absolutely NOT talking about those who are fighting their way through depression, anxiety, or other mental health struggles. I understand that people find themselves in some very real and challenging situations. Please know that you truly are loved, seen, valued, and admired. My heart is full of tenderness, sympathy, and love for you. I am in your corner and I am for you. If that is where you find yourself today, hang onto hope and keep seeking help.
I am simply talking about the "I woke up on the wrong side of the bed feeling."I think we know the difference ... The I just feel down, frustrated, irritated, hormonal, annoyed, overwhelmed, etc...
I recently had a day like that. Seriously, a couple of weeks ago, from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed it was just one of those days. I let every single little thing get to me.
Any other day I would have laughed at the scenarios that kept popping up, but this particular day I didn't find anything funny. (Okay, by bedtime it was starting to get funny but only because of the sheer number of things that had happened all day long.)
I was convinced the day was out to get me. Have you ever felt that way?
Have you had a day that it seemed like no matter what choice your husband made ... it was the wrong one.
Let's talk summer travel! We recently got home from our big two week road trip! I wanted to share just a few travel thoughts for anyone else who has a big trip coming up.
We were driving home from D.C. a few weeks ago, and I said something in passing to Casey that I appreciated about him. It wasn't anything earth shattering or amazing...just a little something small and seemingly insignificant.
I didn't even know the girls were paying attention to our conversation when, all of a sudden, Ellie says, "Mom, what other appreciations do you have for Daddy? You don't give him appreciations that much."
The worst part about it? She was right.
We fly through life, day in and day out. Casey and I both like to get things done...we like efficiency, productivity, and we genuinely enjoy working at whatever is in front of us at the time...but that doesn't leave a lot of room for noticing the small things and expressing gratitude.
It's not that it's not there...it's just that it doesn't come out enough. (Obviously...my eight year old is noticing it!)
What happened next was probably a good forty-five minutes to an hour of the four of us sharing "appreciations" with each other. I loved seeing the smiles on our daughters' faces as they heard us give our "appreciations" to each other. You could see how our love and hearts for each other were filling their own hearts. Then they wanted in on the action and had their own "appreciations" to share with us and each other.
Ladies, could we slow down enough to find some "appreciations" for the man we share our life with?
With Father's Day quickly approaching, maybe we should be asking ourselves what we see, and more importantly what God sees, in the heart of the man we're married to.