Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thankful on a Thursday

I am thankful that God knows my every thought and need, even when it feels that I have no words in me to convey what's on my heart.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Catching the Sunset

I hurriedly walked through the gym to pick up my little man Friday evening. I greeted him with a huge smile and we quickly made our way back to the car. "Why are we rushing," he asked with a look of confusion on his face.  I turned to him and exclaimed that I had a surprise for him and his sister; an unexpected drive to the coast to eat dinner, drink hot chocolate and watch the sunset. His whole face lit up and I could tell that he was beyond excited. So we piled back into the car and began the drive out to the coast.

Even with it being Friday, which meant end of the week, everyone wants to get home, don't get in my way, kind of traffic, it took less than an hour to make it into Half Moon Bay. As we drove into this quiet little ocean town, I rolled down the windows and we breathed in the cool air.  We stopped briefly to grab dinner, hot chocolates and a coffee to go and then we made our way along the coast.

The air smelt of salt and sea. The wind carried the sound of crashing waves singing a song of a world out of view.  My oldest scanned the ocean, hoping to catch a glimpse of a whale, a dolphin or maybe even a shark he happily said.  I recalled that same eager hunt for the sight of a fin or a tail when I was little, refusing to take my eyes off for a second in the fear that I might miss something.

We made it to Pigeon Point Lighthouse, with plenty of time to walk around and enjoy our warm drinks before the sun sank below the horizon line.  Their little legs carried them swiftly across the ground, taking in the lighthouse, the rocks, the ocean and the sky.

After exploring every inch of the lighthouse grounds, we picked our spot on a bench above the beach to enjoy the final sips of our drinks and to watch the sun paint the sky a gorgeous array of colors as it said goodnight to this Friday.

I pulled my coat tighter as the temperature began to drop and I watched my two little ones take in this sight that spoke of God's handiwork, power and glory. As my littlest battled the fear of the roaring waves that seemed so much bigger up close, I listened as my oldest hugged her and said, "we don't need to be scared, God is taking care of us." In that moment, I was completely overwhelmed by my love for these two who had stolen my heart the moment I laid eyes on each of them.

I had thought of this spontaneous trip earlier in the day while sitting in my cube. I want to be doing the things that make memories. The things that don't require a lot of money, stuff or planning, but where we are connecting as a family, enjoying each other's company and taking in all of the amazing sights so close at hand. When five o'clock rolled around, and I felt wiped from a long week of work, driving all that way didn't seem like the brilliant idea it had at 10:00am in the morning. But my desire to live this life right now, to show my kids as much as I can and to be fully present pushed me to make the trek. And it was so worth it!

We waited until the sun finally sank into the ocean and out of sight before climbing back into the car. I snapped a few shots, attempting to freeze in time the soft pinks, bright oranges and lazy yellows of the sun's beams dancing across the sky. In order to capture the vibrant colors, the other details of the picture would turn out dark and indiscernible. Looking at the photos, it made me think that our lives can be like that. When we allow God's light to shine through, the problems, the mistakes and the pain can fade into darkness and we are left with the beauty of what God is building out of the ashes.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thankful in All Things

“When God gives you a 'no,' give Him a thank you.
He was protecting you from less than His best.” 

To be thankful for the here and now is an important lesson that I am learning.  I've been consciously reflecting on both the every day big and small things I have to be thankful for.  But what about those things that I didn't ask for and that don't seem to be blessings initially? How do I learn to be thankful for those as well? 

I think that a thankful response to the difficult things can come from trusting that I was created with a purpose and that God will work all things together for my good. His heart breaks for me when I go through the deep hurts.  Thankfully, it doesn't just end there; He uses those painful moments and circumstances to continue to weave together a beautiful story for my life and His glory.

I have already seen how "no's" can in the end bring about better things in my life than I could have imagined for myself.  I also know how difficult it can be to trust when I am in the middle of the storm and the answers I'm seeking are not the ones I'm receiving. I've soaked my pillow with the bitter tears of disappointment and I have angrily pleaded with God to fix what I firmly believed needed to be fixed.  In those moments I am thankful for God's grace and for His patience with my doubts and fears.
I am also learning that a heart humbled in gratitude can help conquer fear. When I say thank you for all that He has done in my life; I am replacing the worries with trusting that He is in control. When I offer gratitude in place of anxiety, calling to mind when God has brought me through in the past, it can act as an anchor and a reminder that I will reach the other side of this valley.

Even when I am unsure of the next step or my heart quells with the thoughts of "what if," I will pledge to be thankful. I will be grateful that I can be given wisdom when needed, sight to see what needs to be seen and courage to make the decisions that need to be made.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Love and Grace

The clock blinked 2:00am (or maybe 3:00am, those first few nights at home all blended together with late night feedings and little sleep) and the TV let off the only light in the living room. The little man was nestled up against my chest, finally asleep after a feeding and a clean diaper. It was our first night home after several days in the hospital.

I watched his chest rise and fall with each little breath; he slept so peacefully and comfortably in my arms, as if he knew that was where he belonged.  I was amazed by how instantly my heart could fill with love for someone and how quickly the mothering instinct kicked into high gear. I knew that I would do anything for this little boy sleeping in my arms. I also knew that I was terrified, fearing that I had no idea how to be a mom.

This baby who had captured my heart so completely was depending on me and I felt very ill-prepared for the task set before me. What if I fed him too much or not enough? Did I dress him warm enough or to the point that he was he overheated? What if I didn't wake up when he needed me in the middle of the night? Was it okay that I gave him a pacifier or was I already creating a bad habit in him?

There were also the bigger fears of how did I know how to be everything that he needed me to be? What if I wasn't going to be a good enough mom? What if I messed up at times; would I ruin him?

I celebrated my seventh Mother's Day on Sunday, now the mom to two and a little more experienced. Those initial worries of how much to feed, how to dress them, sleeping habits, etc. have become distant memories and I feel more comfortable in my role as mom.  However, the larger fears can still rear their ugly head at times.

As I watch them both grow, my desire is to help them become confident, joy-filled, compassionate people who love and serve the Lord and others. But as my youngest throws a tantrum or my son struggles with bullies, I can find myself worried that I won't know how to do this job correctly.

One of the most important things I'm learning so far though, is how far reaching love and grace can be.  There is no denying that I love these two more than life itself and that love has the power to drive out fear. And when there is love there is also grace. I want my little ones to know that when they do make the inevitable mistakes, there are open arms waiting to tell them to try again and that they are always deeply loved, no matter what.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers
over a multitude of sins."
~1 Peter 4:8

I also need to offer myself grace because I do mess up as a mom sometimes. I lose my patience, don't always feed them the healthy meal, let them stay up too late or don't implement the correct punishment to fit the crime.  And I will continue to make mistakes because I am not perfect and never will be. So I will try again each new morning, attempting to do the best I can and refusing to listen to the fears telling me I am not cut out for this job.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thankful on Thursday (Just a Tad Bit Late)

Sometimes I am running from one thing to the next, attempting to get everything done, and in the hurry I can lose sight of all of the little things that I have to be thankful for.  Attempting to jam pack as much as possible into these past few days has made this week feel a bit like that.

So this afternoon I am focusing on those things I can often overlook in the rush and I am feeling very grateful for the blessings found in the small stuff:
  1. The smell of vanilla flavored coffee wafting through the kitchen as it percolates in the coffee pot.
  2. Rain drops gathering on small purple petals.
  3. Lungs burning as I hike, reminding me I'm alive and breathing.
  4. Vibrant reds, golden yellows and soft oranges splashed across the sky as the sun sets on another lovely Sunday.
  5. The sound of laughter, the smell of pancakes cooking, the sweet taste of perfectly ripened fruit coming together to create a picture of friends enjoying each other's company.
  6. The warmth of a soft blanket as I curl up with a good book.
  7. The kindness of neighbors to take time out of their own busy day to help me out of a car jam.
  8. Enjoying a scoop of delicious ice cream with the little ones on a hot Saturday evening.
And this week's list could gone on and on.  But it took me pausing from the hustle and bustle to be reminded of the simple pleasures I have to be thankful for in this life.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Little (Forced) Rest and Relaxation

I hadn't been feeling well at all last week. I think it was a sinus thing or bad cold or whatever it was, it had seriously knocked me on my butt. My head felt groggy  and painful and I was So. Dang. Tired. And I mean just about every hour of those few days, I was plain wiped out.
The most frustrating thing was that I felt like I shouldn't be so thrown off all because of a silly head cold. If it had been the flu or strep throat, I'd have allowed myself the luxury of feeling miserable and whiny and not felt the least bit guilty about it. But last week, I only wanted to say to my sick self, "woman pull it together already." 

Alas though, my body had not wanted to listen to my drill sergeant brain order itself into healthiness, and instead felt pretty weak and just all around yucky (BTW, picking up a two year old's lingo is a proven side effect of being sick. Honest, look it up on WebMD, it's right there alongside the side effect of one's voice taking on the unnatural pitch of a whiny teenager).

Thankfully, Saturday morning dawned so much better. I did not feel like rolling over and pulling the covers up over my head like I had every other morning last week and I felt back to my normal self. 

I have the tendency to try to fit as much into each and every day as possible, whether it be chores, work, fun activities or quality time with family and friends.  You can often find me saying, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." I enjoy being active, but sometimes I think I don't take the time to rest that I should. 

The idea of rest has popped up numerous times in the last few weeks - in my devotionals, in bible verses I've read or receive in my inbox, in songs I hear, etc. - which has lead me to believe that this is a concept God is trying to get through to me recently.  And maybe last week's bug was my body's way of telling me to slow down a bit and allow myself to rest.

I know that when I don't find time to rest and seek solitude with God, I can allow life's stresses and worries to erode at my day and my joy.
I need to make a conscious effort to be renewed both spiritually and physically.  I also know that my Type A personality can lead me to believe I need to do it all on my own and I need to do it all perfectly and consistently. When I take on that responsibility, of course I'm bound to feel exhausted and that I just don't have the time to relax.  So one of my desires right now is to learn how to find rest in the Lord. Not just in the physical sense, but I want to learn what it means to truly rest in Him.  How do you find rest?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Thankful Heart (Thankful on a Thursday)

"All I can do is thank You for this life I never deserved
Wanna thank You for the grace I know I don't have to earn
You love me, You love me
Your mercy is proof
All I can do is say thank You"
~All I Can Do (Thank You)

This song by Mikeschair has been on the radio pretty frequently lately. It's one of those songs I didn't particularly love at first but that I also can't help sing along to because no matter what, I sing or hum along to just about every song that comes on the radio. But each time I've heard it, the song has grown on me.  I love the message that our response to all that God has done for us should be to say thank you. 

So today on this warm Thursday evening, I am thankful for God's deep love for me. I am thankful that nothing can separate me from His love and that He lavishes it on me so freely.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

There is No One "Youer than You"

I love music, I mean really love it. I am always singing or dancing along to some song, whether in the car, cleaning the house, in the shower or just have a few minutes to myself. There is something about the power of music that can speak to my very soul and I have been filled with joy or brought to tears countless times, all because of the lyrics, melody and rhythm of a particular song.


I believe that God has blessed some people with the unique ability to create music that touches people and allows them to view glimpses of His love, promises and grace.  I will freely admit - despite the fact that my little ones love me to sing to them before bed - that I am not one of the fortunate few who have been given the gift of music.

But oh If I could wake up tomorrow morning with any amazing talent of my choice, it would definitely be the ability to sing and write music. To have that awe-inspiring voice; the voice that fills up arenas, sells out records, and touches hearts. At times I've found myself day dreaming of the ways in which I could serve the Lord if only He had created me with the ability to sing.

Lately though, as I figure out what I really want to be when I grow up (because I still refuse to believe I'm completely grown up yet), I've been thinking a lot about the gifts God has instilled in me and how He can use me. I may not have a future in the music industry, but that doesn't diminish God's desire to work through me.

I am beginning to discover what makes me feel most alive, what brings me joy and what sets my heart ablaze, and I believe that it is in these areas that I can best be God's hands, feet and heart to those around me.  I think that Dr. Seuss sums it up quite nicely:

"Today you are you, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is youer than you."

God made me exactly the way I am with a purpose in mind, just as He did with you. I may not have a singing voice that will make me famous, but I have been created with a set of talents and abilities that are completely unique to me and that I can use to bless others.

So what wakes up your soul? What are those desires and talents that God has placed inside you that are to be used for His glory?