Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When Hope Gets Dusty

**I wrote this three years ago.  I woke up with it on my mind today and thought there might be someone out there who needed to hear this message.
It's time-Dust off your hope and let's walk this thing out.


I was dusting yesterday-a job LONG overdue-and on our bookshelves we have a little plaque made up of black letters that says HOPE.

The dust just clung to the black and was hard to get off.

It got me to thinking about the Hope in my life.

Sometimes it gets dusty.


There are lots of reasons why, but mostly it usually comes from a lack of faith or circumstances have worn me down.
Sometimes my hope can even feel forgotten by The One who I put my Hope in.

Surely,  I'm not the only one?

We talked allot about this at Bible study yesterday and maybe that is why it was on my mind.

Or maybe it was because of those I see struggling with finding a job, wayward kids, unloving marriages, infertility, sickness that doesn't feel like it will ever end. Disappointment after disappointment.

Waiting. Watching. Waining.

It can wear you down after awhile.

 When you feel like maybe peace, joy, stability. . those are for others and not yourself.

Sometimes you've got to take your HOPE down and dust it off.

Let's pour these words of hope into our weary hearts.


______________________________________________________
You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. Job 11:18

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Ps 25:25
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, Ps 38:18

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.Ps 39:7
______________________________________________________

Today if you need to dust your Hope off-do it. Take it to the Lord, tell Him you need to shake the dust off.
And remember, WHO your Hope is in.
It's not in this world or the rulers of it. It's not in circumstances or people.
Our only hope is in Jesus.

If you need to, write these verses of hope down. Post them throughout your home, in your car, in your cube at work-wherever you  might see or need  them most.

Let them rest in your weary heart for awhile.

Then dust off your hope and let's do this thing called life-and do it well.

Remember our Hope is in Jesus, and with that hope comes the knowledge and faith that he sees us, he

knows our every circumstance and his timing is always perfect.

_______________________________________________________

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31



Hoping with you in Christ Alone,

Monday, September 22, 2014

#Blessed #thankful

It's coming.

That time of year.

Oh I'm not talking about pumpkin lattes and scarves, bonfires and hayrides and the Instagraming of

them all.  . .

although that's coming too.


The past few years it's become a 'thing' to do, to post your blessings/what you're thankful for, for

the month leading up to Thanksgiving.

And even when it's not on the calendar to be thankful (grin) there are always lots of pictures of cute

kids, beach vacations, couples having dates that are hashtagged #blessed or #thankful.

After all we want every one to know what we have or what we're doing, but we cushion it with

#blessed or #thankful so we don't look so crass. (If I had a tattoo, it could say GUILTY right across

my arm right now)

I've done the 30 day thankfulness challenge and I've posted those very same pictures.

It is always a good reminder to be grateful for what you have, for the people in your life, for

the blessings that can overwhelm us.


____________________________________________________________________


This past weekend our oldest son had some same day surgery at our local children's hospital.

{Let me say from the beginning, that we are fully and completely aware that many families

could only dream of something as simple as same day surgery.}

This is his fourth surgery.  One of those included a heart procedure.  He's been through a lot in his

soon to be 16years.

Our middle child has had two simple (HA!) surgeries.

And our daughter had major kidney surgery.

I say all that to tell you this: We have spent some time in waiting rooms.  We have spent some

time wondering, worrying if our precious ones will wake up, if the surgery will work, if there will

be side effects, changed wound dressings, watched for infections and handed out countless medicines.


_____________________________________________________________


Here is what I have observed, and what I am learning along the way.

Those time. Those trials.

In those very moments.

I am blessed.

Not often the first thing you tend to think of in these situations, but it's true.

Why are we blessed?

Because we know the Blesser. And when your eyes are stay focused on him instead of

circumstances we can remain or even become thankful.

(I fail at this everyday, in no way am I saying I am perfect. I could tell you about the fit I threw

when we recently purchased a minivan. Thankful was not the word I would use for how I was

behaving.)

______________________________________________________________


Let's be perfectly honest with each other.

We can do that, right?

Sometimes in the middle of those thankfulness challenges or when we are  hashtagging the

heck out of the word blessed, it's because we want others to see what we've got.

As if somehow because of things we have done, or just because of how great we are-

we are blessed.

When you show me the picture of your new boat and say #blessed, I think we're doing it wrong.

Your kid just scored three touchdowns and you're #blessed.  Maybe, but maybe not.


Could it be we have confused the blessings with the blesser?

Could it be that our Western idea of thinking has taken over and  we equate physical things/people

tangible, material things with blessings?

I can't speak for others, but I know in my own life I have found this to be true.

______________________________________________________________


Whether I am sitting in the hospital waiting room, or I am waiting for the test results to come back,

having the hardest parenting day- I am blessed.  And I should be thankful.

Whether my marriage is thriving or I am trying to decide if a jury of my peers would really

convict me (oh I kid-cut me some slack we are in the middle of a renovation project)

I am blessed.

Even when I am alone.

Even when I am broke.

Even when I am being unfairly judged.

Whatever you're 'even when' might be.

We are blessed.  We should be thankful.
____________________________________________________________

Not every day is your kid getting a 100% or win an award or making the winning goal.

Not every day finds you and your spouse, toes in the sand and all the warm fuzzies.

Not every day is good health.

__________________________________________________________

We've got some stuff to walk through you and I.

Some rocky roads to take, where there will be some miles we feel like we are walking alone.

Some things are going to happen and it's not all going to look good or pretty and we won't be

taking pictures to share with our friends lists.

But, if we allow ourselves to look away from circumstances-

to truly focus our eyes on the Giver-instead of the trinkets

Then we will find ourselves ever so thankful and amazed by the blessings.

_______________________________________________________

The blessings of peace in the storm

of knowing no matter what comes our way, we are the sons and daughters of God.

That this world is not the end.

_____________________________________________________

In this coming season of focus on gratitude, thankfulness and blessings

can we make a promise not to confuse pumpkin spice lattes and new boots

with real and eternal blessings?


__________________________________________________

Whether we are at the beach or in a waiting room (physically  or metaphorically)

that we will KNOW that we KNOW that we KNOW that, grace and mercy and the

peace that comes with them are the greatest blessings all of.



I am so #blessed and #thankful for each of you! (see what I did there ;) )


Blessings to you,









Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cheerleaders and Trophy's

   Fall schedule is in full swing at our house, and I'll bet it is at yours too.

We were so excited when our church offered, for the first time ever, an Upward Soccer and 

Cheerleading opportunity this year.

At first I thought both of our younger kids would pick soccer, but the princess heard cheerleading and 

saw shinny pompoms and that was it-we had one soccer player and one cheerleader.

Which really was alright by me-I'm all for a cute uniform, complete with giant hair bow and 

of course the POMPOMS. 

Last Saturday was our first game.  Sisters hair was curled, uniform pressed, bow placed just so on

top of her head.  I'm know I'm just we bit biased  -but she looked adorable.

We were running just a bit behind, so I didn't stop and take a picture, thinking I could do that once 

we were there-maybe even a cute action shot-I could post on Instagram  and share the social media 

heck out of it.


We caravanned to the soccer fields, and Sister was in the car with my folks. . .and my mom being the 

amazing rock star grandma that she is, had packed a goodie bag for each kiddo, complete with a 

thermos of hot chocolate.

You can probably guess what happened next.  

Sister opened her thermos in the car, spraying hot cocoa all over her very WHITE cheerleading skirt.

Yes, we were 10 minutes away and her outfit was already ruined.

I would like to tell you that when she got out of the car I handled the situation with grace.

But, that would be a lie.

I was not happy with her.

Of course, I didn't 'yell'. . .we were in a church parking lot full of people.  I just discouraged and

demeaned through gritted teeth.  

(That last sentence was difficult to write, but it's the truth. There were several 'what were you thinking' and 'I can't believe that you just did that' being tossed about.)

She was devastated and I was aggravated.

No Instagram worthy photo now.

How will others see how cute and adorable she looked today?

That's when it hit me.

I was embarrassed.  

Yes, I was embarrassed others were going to see my daughter show up

with a stained skirt.  What would think of a mother who couldn't even wash her daughters

skirt? 

 I was aggravated I wouldn't get to post a picture.

(I hope my pettiness isn't shocking you. This is just the truth and there is really no way to sugar coat it to make me look good.)

That's when it hit me.  I was upset of what others would think of her and me. And if I'm truly, deeply

honest more me than my dear little one.

At halftime I apologized and asked her to forgive me, and because she really is a precious girl, she 

did so immediately.

But, it's left me with this thought since Saturday: "Am I rearing children, or am I polishing trophy's?"

Because you see, I truly believe that's what our children can become to us if we let our  pride

and arrogance take over.

We want athletic super stars,  leads in the play, academic achievers. And not only do we want them-

we want to tell everyone about them.  After all those accomplishments aren't just theirs-they are ours.

And, in some ways that's true -right?

That 100% on a spelling test, we helped drill those words.

Those Bible verses learned for AWANA-we helped with that.

But, we don't get to polish our kiddos and put them out on the self for everyone to walk by and oh 

and ahh about what great parents we must be because of the touchdown they scored, the hat trick in 

soccer or the award winning art project they just won a blue ribbon for.

My children's accomplishments and failures are theirs.  Theirs to learn from, theirs to find joy in,

theirs to own.

Life is messy and kids aren't perfect- and sometimes you show up to your first game with hot 

chocolate on your skirt.

And you know what? Life doesn't end.

In our American culture it's a battle we must face everyday.  . .am I rearing children who love Jesus, 

love others or am I polishing trophy's -shiny objects that never helped anyone?

More often than not, the battle is inside of me, but it's a battle worth fighting.


Fighting with you,


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Waterfalls

Turmoil. 

That is the word I would use to describe life right now.

For our family that means juggling a new work schedule for me, a new school and schedule for our 

Sophomore and new activities and schedules for our two youngest and for The Hubs a new branch

of the Post Office he's carrying at and learning six new routes and dealing with and preparing for

an upcoming surgery for our oldest.


For friends and family of ours that would include; cancer diagnoses, wayward children, several 

marriages ending, job loss, chronic illness, fractured families, complicated pregnancies and childhood

cancer .

For the world around us. . .well the news is overwhelming.

I would consider myself a news junkie but these days even I find myself needing to turn off the 

news because the turmoil that seems to be reaching every corner of the globe is just to overwhelming.


But, in the middle of the turmoil I see others thriving:  Books being published, kids excelling, 

job promotions, businesses growing and happy family lives, everything seems to be flowing their 

way.


               ____________________________________________________

When we were on vacation just last month I remember looking up at a waterfall and seeing two 

different paths coming off of the very same falls.  In fact, they weren't more than a few feet 

apart.



See the white rushing water coming off the falls?  It's easy to spot.  It's beautiful.  It's powerful.

You can see it, hear it and when standing even a few feet away, you can feel it.

But, there to your left. Can you see it?  Where the cliff is a bit darker looking. . . .there among those

very same rocks is a stream of water.  It isn't always noticeable and certainly couldn't be heard over 

the roar and rush of it's neighbor.  But it's there.

There making it's way down just like the more noticeable water.  There ending up in the very same 

place as the more noticeable water.  There coming from the very same source as the more  noticeable 

water.


                  _____________________________________________________

In the turmoil of your life-whethere it's some huge life altering turmoil, or just the stresses of 

everyday family life-do you find yourself looking at what ease or blessings someone else has

pouring out over their lives and wonder if God left you high and dry?  I know there have been times

in my life where I certainly have felt that way.

But, just like this beautiful waterfall, maybe for right now yours is just a little quieter. . .but also just

like the waterfall-it's from the very same source and working in the very same way and in the end

it ends up in the very same place.


Here's the thing though, that rushing water and the slow trickle. . .the guide told us they never

know where it will be. . .sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left, sometimes in the middle and

sometimes over the entire cliff.

But, the water-the power-it's always there.

___________________________________

I know in the middle of our own personal turmoil and  in  the world around us, it can become

so easy to question if God is really there, working His will and way in us.

We see what appears to be stillness in our own lives but rushing blessings and opportunities and

peace in others around us, and we begin to think we've been forgotten.  At least, I know I can and 

have felt that way before.

But, have faith My Dear Friends, expand your courage.  The very same power that raised Jesus from 

the dead now resides in you if you believe.   No, in the turmoil it may not always feel like it, but it's 

 there.  The key is to take our eyes off the turmoil and turn them right back on to Jesus.

He alone is our safety, our peace, our rest.  



Whenever you feel alone or forgotten please think of this beautiful waterfall and remember

even in the quiet-it still flows. And in that quiet you can remember-You are not alone.


Peace,




Monday, August 11, 2014

Camping and Car Rides

We rolled into town about 10pm last night after being on the road since about 10:30 that morning. . .

after being on our family vacation for 9 days . . . 6 of them that were spent camping.


You learn a lot about each other when you spend that much time together.


It's easy to post pictures on Instagram and share them on Facebook and the world might get the idea

that we have some idealistic Ward and June Clever existence.  You travel from destination to

destination while your children sit quietly in the back seat, only speaking when spoken to or sweetly

offering their part of the seat to their siblings.

   Don't get me wrong, we had a great time - a week and half  making memories that will last for a

lifetime.

We had laughed, played games, took in sights that we will never forget and heart to heart talks sitting

 on the deck overlooking the lake and we are so grateful.



We also got on each others nerves, killed more mosquitos than I even knew existed and  Momma

snapped more than once when she should have given grace and there may have been a point after

a twelve hour day of sight seeing that I may questioned all of my life choices as I rolled out of the car

at midnight barely able to move.



Why do I share all that, instead of just letting the social media pictures tell the story?




Because, the whole story is a much more beautiful picture.

Broken, flawed people living and learning together.  We don't have it all together, but we are learning

to love and to forgive and give and receive grace.



Maybe someone reading this needs to know that it's ok that their family isn't 'perfect'.

That kids who stay up until midnight and take long car rides might get cranky and talk back and

pester their siblings and that doesn't make you the worlds worst parents or your kids the descendants

of Chuckie. . .

Love your people-flaws and all. Just like Jesus loves us.

He never once asked for or expected perfection from us.

Let's stop comparing our real lives to others on-line lives.

After all aren't we glad Jesus never compares us to those flannel graph characters we learned about in

Sunday School?


Now, I'm off to wash 100 lbs of laundry and wonder what I was thinking packing all those clothes.



Blessings from this Road Weary Momma,


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Holding Your Breath

I think most moms can agree that we've come to the point of  time during summer vacation where

we have broken up more fights than bouncer at bar, planned more activities than Julie McCoy,

threatened to throw the T.V. away forever and wondered if we should call our own Dear Mother and

thank her for loving us through the tough stuff (and also secretly hoping she might invite the precious

little ones over if she heard the desperation in our voices.).

Maybe that's just in my little corner of the world, but I don't think so.

Let's face it being a parent is  hard.

Somedays are harder than others.

Somedays you just hold your breath and hope 'this' isn't what is going to send your kid to therapy

someday.

Then you make the fatal error in judgment and get on Facebook where Mommy So-and-So is making

intricate crafts and homemade, organic, gluten free cookies with her kids where she then posts a

picture of them all smiling together.

And you scroll down a little farther and another Mom So-and-So is posting pictures of her

'all-star' that they have traveled with all over the country to watch him/her compete and of course

finish first, win the gold medal-because we all know that no one post pictures of the kid who

got the participation ribbon.


You are now questioning your worth and value as a mother as you look over at your kids who are

eating high fructose corn syrup filled 'fruit' snacks and into their second hour of a SpongeBob

marathon and because they are quiet and not arguing, you don't really care.

_____________________________________

When my kiddos where babies and struggling through some virus that had flared their asthma up and

seemingly out of control, or when our oldest had to have heart surgery, or our youngest kidney

surgery, when our boys had their tonsils and adenoids out-I would find myself often-holding my

breath.

In and ER, a doctors office, surgery waiting room. . .holding my breath.


_______________________________________

Maybe your kids don't struggle with their health. Maybe it's emotional or relationally.

And you feel like you're in that place, where if every mother was honest, you find yourself

holding your breath, wondering what to do, if there's is an answer at all.

Or if perhaps the answer is that your children got the wrong mom. That this God's first mistake-

giving you these children to parent.

You are stuck in the trenches and unable to breath.

_______________________________________

Dear Momma, exhale.

Long and deep. Let that air out. And when it's gone.

Breath back in, but instead of holding it in, exhale again-and this time when you do:

1) pray- it doesn't have to be long fancy words.  Sometimes the only word we can get out is Jesus.
And that's enough.

and as you breath in again and exhale

2) remind ourselves of these truths. Over and over again until you can believe them in the moment.

*God does not make mistakes.  You are exactly that parent your child needs.  Not the 'perfect' parent-

but the one God knew your child needed.

*Even in the middle of a screaming 2 year old fit, a teenage melt down, a failed class, a phone call

that leaves you embarrassed and shamed. . .your child is who God wants them to be. . .doesn't mean

we don't help shape them, but it does mean we don't need to break them.

A dear friend said something to me a few weeks ago that I pray I never forget.

"It's a mother's honor to walk with her children through the difficult things and learn from

natural consequences"  I repeated this to myself over and over again just last week as I sat on the

edge of one of children's bed as they had a melt down.

This is my honor and privilege -even when it's hard or ugly. Even when I feel helpless and lost as a

mom.

I kept thinking of this privilege and then these thoughts came to mind as well.

Your job is to be faithful, your job is not to fix.  Your job is to love, your job is not to lament.

Your job is Follow Jesus, your job is not to quit-even when it's hard, even when you're sure

your failing.

Take a breathe and then let it out.  Slowly, deeply.  You are not in control-and that's a good thing.

__________________________________________


Can we as Momma's make a pact?  Can we promise to be real and honest with each other?

When you see another Momma struggling, whether it's with her 2 year old or her 17 year old

can we reserve the judgment and just love on her?

Because I promise she is being harder on herself than your judgmental look of condemnation

could ever be.

Instead of tearing each other down, let's lift each other up-encourage each other, pray for each other.

This journey is a difficult one, let's not make it harder for someone.



Walking this road with you . . . now I've got to go turn the TV off and have my lovies read

for a bit, so feel free to pray for me.


Love to you,













Friday, July 18, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow

Like much of the country, we are experiencing an unusually cool summer here in the midwest.

Besides being able to walk outside without immediately feeling like you just stepped into a sauna, some of the other benefits are: our yard doesn't look like a dry patch of fire starter, flowers are in full bloom and vibrant and our shrubs out front had lots of new growth and look green and lush-in JULY.  (July in Kansas is typically when you can tell who pays for landscaping services and who just gives up and gives into the heat)

______________________________________________________________________________

While our kiddos where on a dream vacation with the Grands for two weeks at Disney World, Hubby and I were out working in the yard.  I was tackling trimming the bushes out front.  
As I was using the hedge trimmer to give them a nice little hair cut, I began to wonder if this isn't a metaphor to how we parent our children.  Or even how God parents us.

I wasn't changing the make up the bushes, I wasn't cutting them down to a stump, I wasn't trying to change them from a bush to a flower or tree. . .I was just trimming off some of the 'wild' growth and helping shape them into something more then what they could be if left on their own.

______________________________________________________________________________

In my own parenting journey, I know there have certainly been times when I've been guilty of trying to change one of my wild little  bushes into a flower-or even cutting one them down to the core.  It's easy to do when I decided my agenda is the correct one.

As I try (and fail more often times than not) to model my parenting after how the Lord parents me, and as I stood there trimming those bushes, I realized that never once has the Lord tried to change who I was at the core. Shape me-yes, trim back the wild growth-absolutly -but change me at the basic core of who and what I am-no.
Why would He? After all, He created me. . .my talents, my weakness, my quirks, my mind and my body. . .and then after He did He said I was wonderful.  (Psalm 139)

Just like God did that for me and you, He did that for our children as well.

______________________________________________________________________________


As frustrating as that might feel in the hardest moments of parenting -and trust me I've had a few- but those personality traits that drive you crazy, the quirks that can be difficult to navigate-God gave your precious ones (and mine) all those, not so we could change who they are at the core, but so we could see them for the gifts they are and help shape them to be people who follow and serve and shine for Jesus.
_______________________________________________________________________________


So, whether we're parenting a no frills, no nonsense boxwood


Or topiary crying out to be shaped like a dolphin -that takes more work and patience that every imagined possible-







That our goal isn't to change them, our goal is to shape them, so they can shine just exactly as they were created to do.






{As with most things I write, this was directed to my heart before it was directed to anyone else's -and I will never ever pose as a  parent who has it all together-or somedays, even remotely together}


May you find blessings in your gardening-even on the hot, drought ridden, weed-filled days,