I Just Wanna Be Myself

Let the words of my mouth and the meditationof my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Oh, people.

I have dreamed about blogging for so long and now that I am here, I am struggling. I feel like there are rules I need to be following, but I am not comfortable within the confines of them. Many of my posts so far feel forced, like I’m trying to “teach” or something. I’m not a teacher. I’m more of a come-along-sider. I’m a poster of long Facebook posts to my friends and family when the words just need to come out.

I have recently joined a Godly community of writers who give so much wonderful advice about coming up with plans and editorial calendars. Techniques and narrowing focus. The important first sentence. Picking a topic and breaking it down. I love the things I am learning and I have no doubts (maybe a few) that it will all help me become a better writer.

But I’m not there yet.

So I think I’m going to take a step back for now and just write what I know. This blog may sound like a Facebook post for a while, but I want to keep writing, and I believe it will help me stay comfortable with the writing I know while learning to stretch my boundaries. (Can’t I just stay a Facebooker?)

Hopefully I will grow into this. If not, it will have been a good learning experience!

My prayer today: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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Parenting Trenches

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everythingin the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

 

Having recently gotten our third and final child graduated from high school (yippee!), my heart goes out to young moms who are still deep in the trenches.

I remember the days. The long, long, long days. The tears and loud voices and angry words from my kids…and me.

I see the pain on the faces of moms who just want reassurance that they are doing this parenting thing okay. I see that smile that fades too soon after our polite conversation is over. I can relate to the fears late at night when thoughts won’t shut off as the brain ponders what in the world she’s going to do if her children get hurt or sick or rebellious beyond easy repair.

Of course, the beautiful moments are there also. Those Springtime park days when everyone gets home happy just in time for a long exhausted nap or when those sweet kids are just so darn cute you can’t stand it!

It’s blissful, but it’s not easy. It’s your favorite moments and most fearful moments all mixed up together. It’s breathtaking one minute and slow breathing exercises the next.

Today I want to encourage my young mom friends that God is always there. He’s in every moment as you walk throughout your day. He’s with you in the loud screamy writhing-on-the-floor moments just as much as He’s with you in the blessed teary sweet-sleeping-baby moments.

And I want to also remind you ~ In everything, on the best days and the worst days ~ the words you say, the deeds you do ~ do it all in the name of Jesus. And never forget to give thanks to God for being right there. He never leaves. And when you do forget (which you will unless you’re a WAY better parent than me), there’s always grace.

The tagline on this blog is Running the Race ~ Resting in Grace.

Young mama, while you’re running the beautiful, crazy motherhood race, cut yourself some grace. God does.

And when you remember to keep Him front and center, your reactions in the day-to-day will go more smoothly, and your perspective will err toward the positive.

So in case I haven’t said it enough already ~

The words you say, say them in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The deeds you do, do them in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Busy Hands ~ And whatever you do, in word or deed,

Folded Hands ~ do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

Lifted Hands ~ giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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Pain and the Beauty of New Life

The Lord is near to the brokenheartedand saves the crushed in spirit.

I saw it on my Facebook memories page this morning, and all the overwhelming stress of those painfully difficult days came flooding back on me. Four years ago today, I posted this to my family and friends on Facebook:

Yesterday’s recap:

Early doctor visit with Mom turned into a 5-hour one with unexpected infusions. Errands run for her and Dad while Dad waited with her at the doc’s office. Late-night ambulance trip to ER and early-morning (middle of the night) admit to hospital. Doug worked both of his jobs and had tire trouble on his way home around 10:30 p.m. – on his birthday. Happy Birthday, Dear! We were all on the same road going in different directions – us to the hospital and Doug on the side of the road toward home. Dad came home from hospital to get 3-4 hours sleep and up again early to try and be at the hospital in case the docs happen to be making early Saturday morning rounds. Colin found himself unemployed due to a youthful error (we’ve all made them – don’t judge) which I’m sure he’ll never make again. Mom’s day, though, makes the rest of ours pale in comparison. We all got to sleep in our own beds, help ourselves to the restroom and take deep breaths whenever we felt like it. I pray she gets to do all of that soon! Now off to share a ride with Doug into town since we’re down a vehicle at the moment. He’s back to work this morning and I’m back to the hospital. And by the way, we still serve an awesome God. :o)

“And by the way, we still serve an awesome God.”

We did not know it at the time, but that was the last day Mom would ever be at home. We lost her 3 weeks later while still in the hospital.

I am not a crier by nature, but it seems every year around this time, the tears flow more freely than they did the year before. I still miss my mother terribly but the knowledge that she is pain-free, anxiety-free, and in the presence of the Lord she served and lived for fills my heart with unexplainable peace and joy. She no longer sees “in a mirror dimly” but she sees Him “face to face.” (I Corinthians 13:12) I cannot fathom it.

Fall used to be my favorite time of year. Crisp, cool days after a hot summer. Bonfires and warm soups. Colorful leaves.

But since my mother passed away during the Springtime, I now have a new revelation of the beauty of the Spring season. As we went through those dark days from Christmas Day 2011 through April 19, 2012, the trees that line my front yard changed, seemingly before my very eyes, from bare and lifeless to green and full of beauty.

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The dogwoods, redbuds, and fruit trees started showing off in all their magnificent glory as God brought forth their flowers.

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As the days began to warm, I started to need just a jacket rather than my heavy coat as I sat on my front porch. The birds began their Springtime songs. The iris started to bloom.

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My mother was getting more ill by the day. My stress level and the emotional pain was taking its toll. But the beauty unfolding outside my front door was breathtaking. Peace flooded my soul during those dark days as I began to feel the cool breeze blow across my face in my front porch chair while spending time in communion with my Father.

After the darkness, after the death, after the barren trees ~ new life springs forth as a reminder that better days are coming. We will not live forever in sadness. Weeping only lasts for the night. Joy comes in the morning.

“And by the way, we still serve an awesome God.”

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Count Others More Significant Than Yourselves. What?

 

but in humility count others more significantthan yourselves. (1)

My husband processes thoughts externally. I process thoughts internally.

He talks. I think.

So imagine my angst over the past 33 1/2 years as I am constantly (constantly!) having my perfectly organized and single-focused thoughts interrupted by someone who needs to discuss something.

 

berry trellis

Hey, can you come outside for a minute and look at this?

Sure. (Silent translation: Well, I’m listening to a COMPEL podcast at the moment, but whatever.)

Okay, I’m going to put the blackberry and raspberry bushes here along the back [waves arms] and the strawberries will go along the front in two rows [sweeps hands out across the ground].

Mhm. (Silent translation: Not sure I’m exactly following but sounds good.)

And if we ever need to expand, I can [I am not following the line of thinking at this point.]

Okay, sounds like a good plan. (Silent translation: I don’t know exactly what you’re talking about because my internal vision doesn’t work as well as yours, but I know it’s probably a great idea you’ve got going there.)
But will that interrupt the sunshine for the strawberry plants? (Silent translation: Hey, I had a good thought!)

Hmm, well, [he comes up with some other idea that might work].

Yeah, that could work. (Silent translation: I’m good.)

(More conversation. More conversation. More conversation.)

It’s good for you to be out here with me while I plan these things. It really helps me come up with ideas when I talk them through with you.

Good, I’m glad! (Silent translation: Seriously? It really doesn’t take a lot to make that man happy. So glad I didn’t protest when he asked me to come outside for a minute!)

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How often do we put our interests above the interests of others? Take the opportunity this week to put someone else’s interests above your own. In doing so, you “in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

It goes against the grain, doesn’t it? But putting others above ourselves is a powerful teacher. It teaches us to be humble, caring, and more like Christ.

And isn’t that the goal?

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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Today I Am A Daughter

Mom 2011Today I am a daughter.

My mother would have been 80 years old today. We lost her a little under 4 years ago to the hateful and vicious disease of cancer, and I have missed her every day since. The pic to the left was taken just a few months before she left this earth.

I will not place the crown of sainthood on her head for none of us are worthy of that. However, she taught me many wonderful lessons throughout my life and on days like today, her birthday, I take the opportunity to pause and remember.

She taught me by example that your word is to be kept and your integrity is an important part of who you are. When she said she was going to do something, you could be sure she would do it. And when I had told someone I would do something, she made sure I did it.

She taught me by example the importance of honesty. I always knew that my mother would tell me the truth. I would a little hesitantly ask her if she liked my new dress or haircut because I knew if she didn’t, she’d tell me in the nicest way she could think of. But knowing that my mom would never tell me a lie was one of the most comforting things in the world to me.

She taught me by example to care for and serve others. She loved visiting the ill and home bound. She was ready on a moment’s notice when one of us kids, even all grown up, needed her. She didn’t love cooking, but she served her family a well-rounded meal every night, always had two or three dishes to take to family reunions, and spent two weeks planning and shopping for a week’s worth of food for her children and grandchildren every Thanksgiving week. She was known as the Cookie Lady at a monthly meeting she and my dad would attend. And when I grew up and had my own family, she loved going with us when we periodically worked at the soup kitchen. She truly and genuinely cared for people.

She taught me by example to value all people. She never allowed us as children to leave food wrappers on fast-food tables, drop trash on the ground, or throw litter out the car window. While others might have thought it was okay to let someone else clean up their messes, our mom insisted that we always be considerate of others.

She taught me by example that devotion to God was the highest priority on the list. She struggled with many things throughout her life, but her faith stood strong.

I have done my best to teach my own children about integrity, honesty, service to others, the value of all people, and the highest priority of devotion to God. Time will tell how well I have accomplished it all. But this thing I know ~ my children have watched my example as I watched my mom’s.

I have been a mother for 27 years.

But today I am a daughter.

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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Free Gifts

The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LordEverybody enjoys free gifts. I know my family does! Since we built our house and moved to the country 4 years ago, we have been slowly working on beautifying our little corner of the world.

Our little-corner-of-the-world-beautifying budget is pretty slim so imagine my joy (absolute joy!) when we were offered these strawberry plants from a family who needed to thin out their garden. I have them out in their little pots soaking up the sun until my husband has this weekend available to build the boxes he wants to put them in and get them in the ground.

A truly free gift is given by those with generous, loving, and kind hearts. We can receive those gifts with appreciation and humility because they have been given with such generosity, love, and kindness.

This reminds me of the verse that contains the greatest free gift ever given to man  ~

“…the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Today I am thankful that I have homegrown strawberries in my future. I will harvest them and lovingly serve them to my family with juice-stained hands. And maybe pound cake. And whipped cream. I can’t wait!

And I am truly thankful for the free gift of eternal life I have been given in Christ Jesus my Lord. My willing service to Him is born out of humble appreciation for His unwavering and unrelenting love toward me. I cannot understand it, but I know it is true.

“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

 

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In His Time

He has made everything beautiful in its time“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV)

As much as I love Study Bibles and Bible Studies, I also love getting a personal hug from My Father as I simply sit and meditate on His Word.

Fourteen years ago, at the age of 49, my husband was downsized out of the job he had had for over 20 years. It was a blow we were not prepared for and it started a downward emotional spiral in me that lasted far too many years as we have struggled financially ever since.

In the days and months following the job loss, before another one was even a blip on the horizon, the song, In His Time, came to me as a comfort on several occasions.

“In His time / In His time / He makes all things beautiful / In His time

Lord, please show me every day / as You’re teaching me Your way / That You do just what You say / In Your time.”

As I would sit on my couch and hum those words and pray for peace and help and relief and income, I envisioned the day when life would be easier. Or maybe even easy. But at least easier than it was during those dark days. What I did not realize back then was that God seldom gives easy. Instead, He puts eternity in our hearts.

Our yearning for better is really a yearning for something we cannot fathom in this present world. It is a yearning for eternity in His full presence. Until that time, while we “see through a glass darkly” (I Corinthians 13:12), we get the opportunity to grow in our faith and to learn to trust in His goodness and to lean on His strong arms and to know that our good God is all we truly need while living in this world.

The terrain over the years has been rough, but my spiritual muscles have gotten stronger. The learning has been hard, but the yearning is so much sweeter. The whys have not been answered, but the peace that passes my understanding has quieted my soul. My perceived entitlement to a life of ease has been replaced with an increased knowledge of the grace and mercy of the Lord Who loves me. My self-focus has shifted to compassion for others.

And the beauty of knowing Him more has been worth it all ~ In His time.

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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No Fear in the Storm

Last week I was fretting over a situation that I had no control over. It was not life-altering even though my mind was taking me down the same road it normally takes and I was fearful. Familiar?

Someday I will post more about my past bouts with anxiety and my road from fear to faith, but for today I will simply admit that my road to faith is not yet complete. Each time a hurdle is overcome, my thankfulness for God’s hand of mercy and grace humbles me yet again. However, it never fails, the next time a hurdle presents itself, the worries and fears appear again. But I am reminded each time that God has never forsaken me and His hand has never left me and no matter what happens, He is still God and I am still kept in the palm of His hand. And each time, the worry monster gets a little smaller. Thank You, Lord.

As silly as it may seem today, last Thursday one of our sweet dogs was having some trouble eating and drinking and we didn’t know what the problem was. Our dogs are outdoor country dogs and when we noticed her having trouble, it occurred to me that her rabies vaccination was overdue. Well, there went all sane thoughts right out the window. I was in fearing-the-worst mode and couldn’t get out. My husband took her to the vet on Friday morning, we found out the the culprit was not rabies, and she is now on meds that we are hoping will make her all better soon. And next month when she is feeling better, she will be back to the vet for her rabies shot.

Every incident such as that one assures me that I am still not where I want to be in my faith, but it also reminds me how far I have come. I was anxious, but I was not overwhelmed with paralyzing anxiety. I was able to remind myself of the faithfulness of God and to tell myself that no matter the outcome, God already had it all under control and we would be given the grace needed to deal with whatever news the vet gave us about our dog (named Grace).

And you know what? God blessed me yesterday morning, while our sweet doggie and my husband were at the vet’s office, with a reading in my daily devotional that was just perfect for the struggle at hand. My nature is such that it is tempting for me to believe it was simply a coincidence. After all, that would have been the devotion I read that morning whether our dog had a problem or not. But what a blessing it was for me to read it at the exact time that I was fretting with my usual worse-case-scenario thought process.

I am presently going through Paul David Tripp’s book, *New Morning Mercies ~ A Daily Gospel Devotional, and yesterday’s reading was about Jesus walking on the water to the disciples’ boat while it raged in a storm. Tripp says, “If all Jesus wants to do is relieve the difficulty, he wouldn’t have to take the walk…He takes the walk because he is not after the difficulty. He is after the men in the middle of the difficulty. He is working to change everything they think about themselves and about their lives…For the believer, peace is not to be found in ease of life. Real peace is only ever found in the presence, power, and grace of the Savior, the King, the Lamb, the I am. That peace is yours even when the storms of life take you beyond your natural ability, wisdom, and strength. You can live with hope and courage in the middle of what once would have produced discouragement and fear because you know you are never alone. The I am inhabits all situations, relationships, and locations by his grace. He is in you. He is with you. He is for you. He is your hope.”

Today I am so thankful for God’s persistence in teaching me about Himself and the peace He continually gives. What a loving Father to bless me with timely words in the midst of my self-imposed storm.

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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A Little Brainstorming or Maybe Just Rambling

“You don’t have to know if you have what it takes. You just have to know that you will take what you’ve been given and make something of that.” Ann Voskamp

This is my third blog since 2009. My first one was started because I love reading blogs and I enjoy writing my thoughts. We were in a hard financial place and had been for a while. I was in a difficult emotional place and I needed an outlet. My second blog was born a year and a half or so later when I decided I needed to move on up and get away from the freebie blog.

And now here I am today with a new blog, three homeschool graduates, and a  more contented view of life.

And no clue where to start. Ann Voskamp’s words in the opening paragraph are what have me moving forward with it today.

I can’t pinpoint exactly why I’m having such a hard time getting the blog post juices flowing. But it doesn’t seem right to just start posting  healthy recipes or the details of my day without giving some kind of clue to readers about who I am. Much has changed in the past few years, but much has also stayed the same. My outlook on life is in a better place for sure. But our circumstances are still difficult financially. Someday I will post about my “I have learned to be content” years. Actually I am still learning, but what a loving ride it has been as God has taught me how to trust Him even in the midst of our hardships.

So thOffice window pic 3is afternoon I will sit and write and introduce myself a little bit. My writing space is so peaceful and my house is wonderfully quiet. I love this gorgeous view over the top of my computer into my front yard.

When I first began thinking about this blog, oh who am I kidding, I’ve been thinking about blogging again as soon as I stopped blogging for the second time, but when I got my final homeschooler graduated last May and decided I really wanted to get back to it, one of my main goals was to use it as an income producer.

I have been googling and reading and learning how that works and my Type B personality is already hyperventilating. Killer content. Pinterest-worthy images. Awesome blog layout. I’ve never been able to try and keep up with the Joneses without losing a bit of myself in the process. But the good news is a better goal has come into focus. And if I make a bit of income, yay me!

It is safe to say that my passions are healthy eating and skin care. I also have a few years of marriage (33) and parenting (28) and homeschooling (14) under my belt. I have made my fair share of goofs in all of those areas and feel like I have more empathy than advice on most days, but I will do my best to share what I have learned mostly the hard way. It is not lost on me that I am an older-ish woman in a generally younger woman’s world here in the blogosphere and the world needs us to step up and put a loving arm around the next generation of women.

My purpose for this blog, as it is coming into focus, will be to encourage all women as we learn to get our minds off of ourselves and onto those in the circle of influence that God has called us to serve. I will also share healthy recipes, which is a wonderful way to serve those we love. I will encourage all of us to pray for others, another act of beautiful service. And I will remind us all that gratitude is what keeps it all in perspective and allows us to serve without reservation.

Busy Hands. Folded Hands. Lifted Hands.

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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