Monday, March 31, 2014

We Have But Today

How fleeting our moments, our years, and our lives. The time we have on this earth is but a drop in the bucket in light of eternity. Yet, what we do with that "drop" matters. How we spend our time and how we use our words have ripple affects that can change the course of the lives of those around us. What do we want to be known for? What do we want our children to remember about us?

I want to be remembered as a mama who laughed a lot and loved to play. I want my children to remember being wrapped in bear hugs and spoken over in love. I desire for my husband to remember me as one who reminded him daily of his worth and value, of how much he was loved, respected, and appreciated. I want him to remember what a hero he was to me. I want to be known as one who loved deeply and saw the best in others. I don't want to be remembered for a complaining heart or biting tongue. I want to be known for speaking life and joy into others, and living out my faith and relationship with Jesus authentically.

If this is my desire long-term...than I must make hundreds of choices each day to set my sails in the right direction. Each choice I make, the way I spend my time, the words I let come out of my mouth, and the thoughts I dwell on all affect the navigation of my heart. Each day brings me closer to or further from my goal of being the woman I want to be and leaving the legacy I want to leave.

There are days and even seasons I miss the mark and end up off course. By grace I have to realign my heart to match the destination I desire. I have to set my sails once again in that direction. I can do this through making a concerted effort to smile more and frown less. Let go of the grudge and extend grace. Speak kindness and love and hold back criticism and judgment. When I decide to make the choices that don't always come naturally, they begin to come naturally. We begin to become the person we desire to be remembered as, and the overflow is peace and joy flowing in and out of us.

We have but today to build bridges, instill values, leave legacies, and speak blessings. How are we choosing to use our today to bring life and chart the course we desire?

 This week I am linking up with Sharing His Beauty, Making Your Home Sing, Wedded Wednesdays,  and Wholehearted Wednesdays
(This post was inspired by a post I read on ITakeJoy.)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kicking Negative Feelings to the Curb...and Bringing Back Joy!

Spring break always throws off my blogging agenda...but I'm not complaining! It has been so nice to have the Hubs home for the week and enjoy some much needed family time together. Some of our highlights have been getting gigantic ice cream cones at an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, playing at the park, getting to spend time with extended family, and having my sister move to Idaho...thirteen hours closer to me! What a great week!

I don't know about you all, but sometimes even in the midst of what is going well I can zone in on what is not going the way I wish it was. While on the outside my attitude may be cheerful and pleasant, too often I dwell on the "if-only's". I have found myself in that place this week...instead of focusing on all the ways I am blessed and the fun I am having spending time with my family, I have let nagging irritations or dashed expectations niggle away at my joy.

It can be hard to know how to combat those feelings when they pop up...they are unwelcome guests but it is difficult to kick them out once they find their way in my brain and heart! Three things that help, though, are timeless ways to refocus my heart and realign my thoughts to what is good. Number one: Spending time in God's Word. Whether it's reading through the wisdom of Proverbs ("A heart at peace gives life to the body but envy rots the bones." (Proverbs 14:30) or the truths of Philippians ("Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right...think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8) there is always something to remind myself to take off my pity party hat and focus on joy. Number two: Pray without ceasing. I used to think prayer had to be a down-on-your-knees-in-the-quiet-of-the-morning thing, but now I know that I can send up quick prayers for help and patience (and a better attitude) whether I am being tested by my toddler or frustrated with my spouse. It's not always a prayer to get my way, often a prayer to change my attitude or my approach to a situation is just what I need. Number three: Focus on thankfulness. Long has it been touted that focusing on thankfulness is one of the best ways to cultivate a grateful and joyful heart. What have I been blessed with today? A beautiful family? A safe place to live? Food for the day? What can I relish in the moment? A hot shower? A comfy pair of jeans? What do I take for granted? A spouse who loves his family and shows that love in his own unique way? The health and lung-capacity of my tantrum-throwing child? There is so much to be thankful for if we but open our eyes.

So there you have it, my plan of action to combat the unwelcome guest of discontentment. Thank you, God, for the joy you bring and the opportunities you provide for me to grow in peace and contentment. May joy and laughter be my heart's song this week, and may it be contagious!

This week I am linking up with Messy Marriage and The Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Take a Breath & Fix Your Eyes

Watching my precious girl sleep is one of my favorite mama moments. My frazzled nerves and frayed heart seem to unwind as I gaze upon her peaceful and relaxed body. She is confident in her safety and at rest in love. As a grown woman with responsibilities and expectations, it can be difficult for me to find myself in that same place of peaceful contentment. The list of things I should do, want to do, need to do...goes on and on. I pile guilt and expectation on myself in the areas I fall short and the peace of knowing I am safe and loved in the arms of God gets pushed into a corner.

How much I have to learn from my little one. Responsibility will always be there and life will always "happen". But when we shift our focus from our lack to our abundance we can approach each new hurdle with peace and joy instead of strife and worry. I think, perhaps, our society has it backwards. We work and strive and wear ourselves to the bone so that we can find the ever-elusive peace and happiness. What if we started with peace and spirit-filled joy, and went from there? How much more we could accomplish and how much more fulfilled we would be.

So today, may you take time to breath deeply and fill your lungs with life. May you take a moment to rearrange your priorities and stop running on the hamster wheel. May you fix your eyes not on what is seen (bills, chores, work, deadlines) but what is unseen (peace, joy, hope, life). For what is seen is only temporary...a drop in the bucket. But what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

This week I am linking up with My Joy Filled LifeTime For MomMessy Marriage, and Simple Moments Stick.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Twelve Months of Loving: Communication

I have to be honest...I put off writing a marriage post because I was just not "feeling it" in my marriage last week. We all have weeks that are off, and last week was one of those for me. I felt a lack of connection with my man and instead of talking to him about it I just kind of let it grow and took each action or lack thereof on his part as "proof" that he didn't care to connect with me anyway. Oh how we save ourselves trouble and heartache when we choose to communicate!

When we finally did sit down and talk (after I had said some not-very-nice things that, to him, came out of nowhere) he had no idea I had felt a lack of connection. We were able to talk about ways we could be intentional about making each other a priority in the midst of the busy season of life we are in, and we were able to cheer each other on and fight for our marriage instead of fighting for ourselves.

Communicating will not always get us what we want. We won't always feel heard or understood when we try to express our needs or desires to our spouse. They won't always change the thing that we want them to change and there will be times we have to realize that we may never see eye-to-eye on a particular issue. When we let this get in the way of keeping open lines of communication with our spouse, however, we take away something vital in our marriage.

The end goal of communication shouldn't be to get our way. The purpose of communication is to connect and to navigate ourselves back onto the same team when we have found ourselves facing off in opposition. What's the end goal? Is the end goal to be right...or is it to be unified? Stubbornly and defiantly sticking with our way is not going to get us the end result we long for. I am finding that the more I make an effort to communicate with my fists unclenched, the deeper my relationship with my man grows. So here's to learning (and relearning) how to unclench our fists and re-tune our hearts to communicate not just to be heard, but to hear and to connect.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Scars on Our Hearts

I was talking with a friend the other day who is a brand new mama. She has a beautiful baby girl and she is absolutely in love...she didn't know her heart could be as full as it is for another human being. Yet, amidst all the love and fullness swirling around inside of her there is a place she notices that is not as full of life and joy as it once was. There is a place that feels weak and tired. There is a new sense of vulnerability that, some days, seems to actually ache within her.

They don't tell you about that ache in the baby books. Or maybe I just skipped that part. Maybe you
can't really grasp the reality of the ways being a mama messes with your heart until you become one. How it feels to have your heart literally seem to tear open and expand beyond what you thought possible as you hold your own vulnerable, precious, tiny baby in your arms and realize that you are the one who was chosen to care for this child. The greatness and beauty of the responsibility is awe-inspiring. Small, grasping fingers holding onto you for dear life--instinctively knowing that you are their safe place can cause a person to come absolutely undone.

I wonder, does that vulnerability ever go away? I have a sneaking suspicion that it does not. I think that once God brands us with the beautiful role of Mama, He also brands us with an ache for our children that never fades. I've talked to mamas of kids who are adults with babies of their own and mamas who's children have gone to be with the Lord and every mama I've ever met speaks tenderly of her little ones...they will always be her little ones to her.

I didn't like the ache at first. I didn't like feeling so vulnerable and exposed. And yet, the longer I am a mama (and it is a short time so far, no doubt I have much to learn) the more I see this dull ache in the background of my heart as a picture of God. He is the never-stopping, always-loving, never-gives-up-on-us Father, who has our names seared on the palm of His hand. He holds our precious tears in their very own jar and knows the exact number of hairs on our head. He hides us in the shadow of His wings and would ascend the highest heights or the lowest lows to come and rescue us from ourselves. The essence of True Love. Through our ache, we get but a small glimpse of the Greatest Love Ever Known...and yet, I doubt any human love can compare to that of a mother loving her child. It is an amazing picture of God.

So perhaps this vulnerability of being a mama is not something to try and outgrow. Perhaps instead, it is a badge to wear proudly. Our energy and vibrancy will return as our babes grow and we get more sleep. Our confidence in mothering will strengthen with each passing day as we learn the ins and outs of parenting our little ones. In many ways we will return to our "old selves" and we can look forward to laughing more and, perhaps, crying less. Yet, the beautiful scar on our hearts that appeared as it split open when we first held our little ones will remain as a picture of True Love. I think I will choose to wear it proudly.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Weekly Goals

I am going to try my hand at setting weekly goals for myself. Inspired by MoneySavingMom and Inspired To Action, I am trying to get a bit more organized with my time and planning. Not that anybody in the blogosphere cares about my weekly checklist, but I figure accountability through blogging can't hurt!  So without further goals for the week!
My Weekly Goals 3/2-3/8:

For Me:
  1. Finish Deuteronomy & Joshua.
  2. Read Chapter 3 of "10 Gifts of Wisdom" by Sally Clarkson.
  3. Write 2 Blog Posts.
For My Little:
  1. Make finger paints, and do finger paint art together (take pictures).
  2. Play outside or go on walks at least 4 days.
  3. Read from "The Jesus Storybook Bible" each day, and say goodnight prayers with her together with daddy.
For My Man:
  1. Write him a love note.
  2. Speak words of encouragement and affirmation daily.
  3. Stop what I'm doing and give him a kiss and a hello when he gets home from work.
For My Home:
  1. Laundry...get those piles of clean laundry put AWAY!
  2. Deep clean family room (dust, vacuum, declutter).
  3. Mop kitchen, scrub cupboards, and install baby lock on cabinet under the kitchen sink.
Meals For The Week:
Chicken Tacos & Rice, Creamy Ham & Potato Chowder (dairy free) & Salad, Spaghetti & Salad, Chicken Kabobs & Persian Rice, Steak Salad