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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Parenting, Grace + Doing "It All"



It's been a quiet place around these parts lately. I don't really have any reason or excuses to give. I actually could rattle a list of things that have kept me busy/ entertained/ losing my marbles, but nobody is asking me for a list. I've been settling lately. Settling for just being, not so much doing. I'll be honest. It takes effort these days for me to hop on here and write something. Anything. And all my energy is sunk into family in this season. I feel like I've been saying that all year long, but since having a 4th child and with him still being a baby, it's just true. Ya know? It is what is is. I'm wiped.

I have noble head goals to want to do more for myself. I want to go full steam ahead or I want to take it day at a time. Whatever works. But I've done neither. Because parenthood really does take it out of you and you really have to be super duper intentional to get anything done in life other than 'the kids.'

I don't beat myself up too much. When I realized a month has gone by, then two months since I sat down to write...my fists clenched a bit, my heart felt a little frustrated and in that moment, I tell myself "What is wrong with you? Just do it. Do what you want to do. Get it done...better yet, Get 'er done." And then someone yells "MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!" And that's that. And that's why I don't beat myself up.

I'm so very thankful for the grace of God in this season. I can't say that enough. I seriously believe all parents must have a dose of God-given ability to raise little people into big people. Believer or not, that ability is God given. It's just learning to rely on Him which takes some practice and faith. Self reliance leaves us feeling frustrated and imperfect. Because none of us can do it alone. Who really wants to go at it alone?

I think sometimes we dwindle the grace of God to be a blanket to cover our sin or weakness. Or we mistakenly use it to excuse our laziness. He never intended for us to be bound to our weakness so that He could simply cover for us when we fail. He wanted us strong. He wanted us to rely on Him. He wanted us durable so that we could hunker down and finish this course with joy and satisfaction. His grace is a spring board that we can catapult from and move forward, despite our human weakness. It picks us up and gives us the muscle along the way to move faster, lift harder, and carry bigger loads if they are dropped in our lap.

Grace isn't a covering or a blind eye to what went wrong. It's so much more. It's a strengthening to help us get it right. And we all need more of that.

When Paul addressed the things going wrong in his life, God told him "You got this. Why? Because "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So Paul then said he is content to admit he is weak, because then the power of Christ can strengthen him and work through him. 
(2 Corinthians 12:9) It kept him going!

The other day I had a friend comment on my facebook that she loved 'how open and honest' I was about life. I so appreciated that comment because I felt that all these words I spill out into the world are not pointless. Some days I wonder. But I know this sort of gut wrenching openness wouldn't be as easy if I didn't know victory and peace on the other side of the stories I share. 
If I spilled my guts without sharing my glory, it would really just be me candidly complaining about life and everything in it.  But I'm open about my frustrations + weakness + victories as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, in my health, in my commitments and goals, because it's real life. And more importantly, because in my real life there is real grace to do it all, sometimes go through it all, sometimes trudge through it all...knowing that HOPE that only lies in Jesus. It's His ability alone working through me that keeps me moving, keeps me real, keeps me victorious in the end.

Let me say this. I don't try to do it all or be it all or trudge through anything just for the sake of doing it. Or to win some sort of award for rule following. Or to measure up to some level of perfection I saw on Pinterest. 

I don't even really even try to do "it all." When I say it all, I mean, I do what I have on my plate just because it's there set in front of me. Don't get bent out of shape thinking I'm struggling to reach some unseen level of perfection to be noticed by God or anyone else for that matter. I do what I have to do and my aim in every basic life activity is to bring Glory to Jesus. Why shouldn't it be?

On the other hand, I'm not trying to give the illusion that I don't want to do more with my time on this earth. Mostly, I want to do more in my personal life. But I'm still learning in some ways how to rely on that grace to catapult me into all those dreams I have for my life. And it's okay that I'm still learning. It's okay to admit I don't have it all down pat yet. It's okay if I never get there. It's okay if I am just Mom and Wife and Friend and Sister and Daughter of God....but when I do all those things and be that person, my desire is I do it all for His Glory. Keeping my eyes on Him...

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne." Hebrews 12;2




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Go Big Or Go Home



I've been clinging to every bit of baby I can. I love babies. I could keep going. But at 39, it's alot different than at 33 or 30 or 28 (the ages I was with my other 3 babies). Plus now I have four kids. So it's like a quadruple load of work for someone 11 years older. Eleven years makes a big difference in your energy level, especially if you've not been keeping up on your 'health and fitness routine' the past few years. Ahem.
So I cling. I find the baby, the tender moments with all my kids. But especially with my BABY baby. My sweet Wyatt Cash. As I sit there breastfeeding him, I talk to him. I tell him to stop growing so fast, I stroke his fluffy baby hair or his soft baby cheek with my fingers. I sing crazy made up mommy songs. Or I just kiss him one million times in the course of a feeding. And he just laughs at me. He eats and I see the smiles and hear the giggles all at the same time. It's one of the best things ever. EVER. It's difficult knowing it's coming to end soon. But for now I will keep going~ you know, at least until it's awkward.

I said all that to say this, with all my babies, I was in a hurry to lose my baby weight. With every one of them, I gained 55-70 pounds. And with the first 3 kids, I lost all the weight within 6 months. With Wyatt, not so much. It's been a struggle to be motivated, to stick to goals, sometimes to even care. One of my good friends and I have made it our mission to lose that final 30 together and to motivate each other to do so. Every day we send each other voxer messages with what we call 'a daily dose of inspiration'~ what it really comes down to is us whining to each other about how horribly we did today or this week, talking about how disappointed we are in ourselves in our poor choices.

And we make excuses. Lots of excuses.
One of my major excuses (and partially legitimate one) is that I am breastfeeding. I don't want to diminish my milk supply, therefore diminish my 'baby' time with my last baby. I don't want to eat too few calories and lose out on those tender moments with my little man because my body isn't making enough milk. So instead of not eating 'too few' calories, I eat all the calories in the world. Basically.

Go Big or Go Home.
Why do we do this? Why do we put the 'All Or Nothing' clause on ourselves. We set goals, we have aspirations, we want change and we throw ourselves into the thrill of renewed passion for dot, dot, dot.... We want to get closer to God. We want to be more organized. We want to eat better. We want to break free of addiction. And instead of letting God change our heart first, we throw ourselves into better behaviors with nothing concrete to uphold us. We dive into the excitement of something new and something flashy. It has all the feel goods of something that just seems better and once the thrill wears off or the work load seems too hard or we fail miserably for just a moment, and we throw in the towel. We give up. We don't look past that failure. We've already told ourselves it's all or nothing. Maybe not purposely, but our actions certainly lean in that direction.

Maybe there is a reason for the saying 'slow and steady wins the race.'
Maybe there is a reason for the saying "life is a marathon, not a race.'
Maybe it's because we want to sprint to success, and since a sprint is so short, one single trip up can cause us to lose the whole race.
Or maybe we start out running our marathon with all the momentum of a sprinter, quickly losing energy and zeal as we get tired or tripped up.



I've made my bold declarations online along with the rest of humanity. My declarations for change in my life. Change with my children. Change with my relationship with the Lord. Change with my health. Those bold declarations came forth in the midst of the 'exhilarating newness' of what I anticipated would happen if I stuck to my guns. My declarations came in hopes that if I was bold and loud, that 'this time' it would make me stick to what I was saying. Because people were watching.

But my thought is, what if instead of making brash announcements of all the outward changes we are embarking upon, failing at and quitting...what if instead we allowed God to do a work in our heart? What if we allowed God to teach us, give us wisdom, reveal his will to us and change us from the inside out and like Mary, we 'keep all these things, and ponder them in our heart.' (Luke 2:19)

A quiet change. But a real change.

What if instead of throwing our all into the first 5 minutes of the race and getting weary, we start off quiet and we pace ourselves knowing this race is life long? What if we realized there will be rough terrain and uphill struggles and to make it through those, we need something stronger holding us up than a sparkly cool pair of running shoes to keep us going? We need sustenance.
For whatever it is we are doing and wanting out of life, whatever successes and accomplishments we aim for, we need a change of heart. We don't need a crash diet, we need a lifestyle of better food choices. We don't need to run to the altar in tears yet again in a moment of emotion and regret for a pick me up. We need to know  Jesus more intimately and consistently, knowing his grace and his strength as he helps us push through the rough terrain, he picks us up when we fail, and he gives us strength to just keep swimming.

What if instead of allowing our failures to control us, we just keep moving past them.
And better yet, what if every failure isn't a failure? Instead it's a motivator. It's a life lesson in what to be careful for next time.
Let's face it, most of our life's journey is circling the same course over and over. We know what temptation trips us up. We know restaurants to steer clear of. We know what stresses us out, what bothers us and what may drive us into the arms of those same addictions.
So now we can take our FAIL, and learn from it and step over it next time.

An outward act or declaration of change before a true change of heart is simply going through the motions. You're sitting on the outside but standing on the inside.

We have to have something deeper motivating us. I always said when I turned 40 I wanted to be the healthiest I've ever been. I don't think I really understood that concept until this past month when I watched my dad go through open heart surgery. It was hard. And it scared me. It scared me for him. It scared me seeing him go through that.  And it certainly made me think a lot more about my health in general and of how I was probably training my children to eat poorly.  Now when I sit at the window of a fast food drive though, I'm thinking about clogged arteries or diabetes, thinking anyone could be headed down that road. It's a serious thing. But it's not something I should be fearful of. However, right now, that is my "deeper" for getting healthy. I know I am needed. I am a mother of 4 for Pete's sake. I am a wife. I have a purpose. I need to take care of my family. I need to take care of me. They need me alive and well.

I'm under no illusion that I'm in "all or nothing" from this day forward. I know it's a process. I've had good days and bad days. But I'm certainly having more good days than I was 2 months ago. And that's something. I'm in it to win it. And that is life long.

You have to remember that your good days are worth something. You may have failed today. Or last night or this entire week. But remember the God we serve. Remember the prodigal son. Remember that season of his life was one big FAIL. He wound up eating with the pigs in their pen. Talk about fail. But the moment he woke himself up and took one step forward in the right direction, his daddy ran to him. He saw past the failure and helped him move on. Thank God! But why should we wait until we are eating with the pigs, to finally pick up and move on? Do it today.

Do it for the long haul. Take it slow and steady. I'm not totally against 'all or nothing' or 'go big or go home' or 'bold declarations'
~if we really CAN go big or go all. But if down the road, the poor decision we make trips us up so bad, we give up, then I say remember to keep it slow and steady...and just keep moving forward. And let your goals come from a deeper place than the approval of man or bold declarations. Let them start in your heart. Start walking. Then pick up the pace and jog a little. Just press on.

Phillipians 3:14 says "I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize, for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us.' 
Right before that verse, Paul says he forgets those things that are behind him. He doesn't indulge in them. He doesn't embrace them. He doesn't wallow in them. He forgets them and he presses on.



Only you know you. Maybe you've tried bold declarations or all or nothing...
Has it worked for you? Maybe this time, you need time just to quietly pursue God or quietly pursue your fitness goal or whatever it is you are trying to obtain. Maybe you don't need to Instagram everything you're learning. Maybe you need the quiet time to allow God to teach you some things. I know I have. The seasons where I have learned the most and obtained the most was when I was the most quiet. My heart was quiet. And I just kept stepping forward every day and persevering... There was nothing grand or exciting about it. But it was bold. And true joy came as a result.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with perseverance the race marked before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.

It was because of that joy set before him that Jesus endured. There is a real joy set before us if we endure and press on, keeping our eyes forward and never looking down or behind us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus and nothing else... looking straight ahead.

I always find it amazing how God's word can teach us in the midst of really really basic life circumstances. Who knew my whining about my eating habits and failures could turn into a blog post about goals & moving forward. I love how He is always right there in the midst of our struggles shining the light on his word to help us. Don't you?


Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Best Is Yet To Come



Today, I was sitting at lunch with my sister as we discussed her upcoming delivery of her very first baby. We talked about the hospital stay, the first moments of life with a newborn, all those things we cherish but that go by way too fast.  My baby, my last and final baby is just weeks away from turning one year old and I can't express enough how quickly this year has flown by. I don't even think I've even sat down to write about how our lives have changed with 4 children since Wyatt has been born and that's mainly due to the fact that time just keeps moving and I have barely sat down in a year to write much of anything.

As we talked, I caught myself in a moment of jealousy for all the moms I know that get to still do the new mom thing. Even if it's a 3rd or 4th baby, it's a refreshing and exhausting season of life I would never want to give up. Being a new mom (or a new mom all over again) is exciting. That fresh baby is worth every sleepless night we might find ourselves complaining about (amidst our tremendous blessing.)  And I've loved every moment of every time I've got to live it. Four times. Four children. I am so extremely blessed.

Over the next 9 months, I will close out my 30s and move on to a new chapter~ My 40s. Oh goodness it sounds so 'gaaahhhh' to say. Like I should somehow be ashamed of my age.  I enjoyed a good portion of my 30s. The earlier part of it was no picnic, but once I surrendered my everything back to God somewhere half way through, He started to work new things in me. Things that were probably sitting there getting stale for awhile, but I hadn't cared enough to let free.  But when I did give it ALL to God, life just got really fun all of the sudden.

And now as Wyatt approaches being a toddler, I see a new chapter on the horizon. A chapter that is baby-free. Yes, I still have plenty of kid raising to do. Lord knows, children don't stop being work and time after the first year. That's a whole other blog post. But I see myself turning a new page in my life where I invest deeper in the things I already have been given and walk through doors that God has and will be opening for me. I may be a little sleepy. I may trip over a sippy cup or a tricycle or something along the way, but I'm ready to move forward.

Before lunch I was sitting in a women's ministry meeting at church and the speaker mentioned how she loved her 40s. But she has really been loving her 50s. And I thought to myself. I want to love it too. Life doesn't end here because I'm about to be 40. It doesn't end because I'm done having babies. Life is only beginning. God has so much purpose for each of us. He has so much more He wants me to teach my family. He wants me to keep growing, to keep seeking, to keep moving forward and upward.  When I'm in my 50s, I want to say "These have been the best years of my life."

Same goes for my 60s and 70s and 80s.


I do want to look back over my life with fond memories and affection for 'the good ole days.' But I never want to think my former days were better than the season I currently am in.  I know my best days are ahead of me. I know the best is yet to come. It's really true for us all. If we allow our minds to stop apprehending what is in store for us, we can know that despite what might creep up in life, the best is yet to come.  But will we allow it? We have to allow our futures to be bright.

I'm not afraid of the next chapter like I used to be. I'm embracing where God has me with all my people and all my places. I know he is moving me from glory to glory. I know his mercies are new every single morning.  And I am so so so looking forward to spending more and more mornings & evenings and everything in between getting to know him better~ His heart, His spirit, His truth & His will for my life.

Today I am simply thanking the Lord for his numerous blessings in my life. Life hasn't been always been easy, but I look over it and know I am so blessed. I see his hand at work in my life, woven in the in-betweens. And I am grateful beyond words. I am grateful for where He is taking me and my family. A new chapter means new adventures in Him.




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