Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Words of Life: Psalm 33

 Shout for joy in the LORD, oh you righteous! 
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deep in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. 
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 
The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love
that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
~Psalm 33

I just needed a reminder today of His goodness, His grace, His unbending love, and His trustworthiness. He is worthy of our all...and there is none else in whom we will find full comfort and full assurance of hope. When all is caving in around us and we are weak and tired, we wonder how we will get through. Grab onto the rock and cling tightly as waves crash around you. When we are in Him, we may be battered by the waves but we will not be broken. 

May you cling to the Rock today, whatever your storm may be

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A is for Autumn (My favorite time of year!)

 Late summer and early fall is my favorite time of year. The anticipation of the "new year" rests upon teachers and students alike as they wonder what their class will be like and make all kinds of mental plans for what they hope their school year will entail. More than the actual New Year, I see this time as a time of setting goals and building bridges that will glide us through the next few months and into the Christmas crazy with joy and delight instead of dread and stress.

This time of year, more than any other, is one I have filled with family traditions and memory-making activities that I absolutely LOVE. As fun as the carefree days of summer are, there is something calming about getting back into a set routine (anybody?) and knowing more-or-less what each week will hold. We are adding a few items to our Autumn bucket list this year, and I cannot tell you how giddy I am as I look forward to this season of harvest, gathering, and of course, family.

I am excited to share more details later (since my husband tells me that I am CRAZY for getting so Autumn-exuberant when it is still 90-degrees outside and we are a whole month away from the official beginning of fall. Haha!) But I kind of consider the back-to-school time synonymous with the wrapping up of summer and ushering in of fall, and come September we are going to hit the ground running with doing some preschool at home and I have all kinds of ideas for how I want to incorporate the fall season into our learning adventures. SO, all that being said, if you need a little bit of inspiration for family traditions and connections this upcoming season in your home, grab an idea or two from my list and try it out. As I always jokingly tell my husband (usually with some goofy expression and weird accent), "The family that plays together stays together!"

Ideas for a Little Fall Fun
  • Leaf collecting (and of course, fun leaf projects like leaf rubbings)
  • Soup-making (it could be Hearty Beef Stew or Zuppa Toscana...but I LOVE soup in the fall!)
  • Apple Picking (New tradition for the family this year...super excited about it!!!)
  • Hot Air Balloon Watching (Our area has an annual Hot Air Balloon spectacle in September that is just magical!)
  • Pumpkin-Patching (This is one of my FAVORITE traditions of the entire year)
  • Story-timing (at the library)
  • Cider (or Hot Cocoa) & Stories (Brew up a tantalizing pot of apple cider or hot cocoa and snuggle up in cozy forts or comfy couches to read stories with the kiddos).
  • Firefighters Open House (Many Fire Stations have an annual Open House around this time for fire safety month, with firetruck rides and other fun events for the kids). 
  • Pumpkin painting, pumpkin carving, and of course pumpkin seed cooking!
  • Take annual family pictures (what better time of year to do this than fall with the great lighting and fantastic colorful leaves surrounding you!)
  • Writing an annual Thanksgiving letter (as opposed to a Christmas letter...things are just too crazy for me to ever get those out on time, haha!)
  • Take a fall hike (and maybe even hit the hot springs!)
  • Go to a harvest festival (most towns have one somewhere...a school, a park, or a church in your area probably has some sort of harvest celebration!)
  • Make s'mores (And this s'mores coffee me it is AMAZING!!!) 

So there you have it. A (somewhat) short list of some of the things I like best about fall. There are more to come, I assure you (because I am a bit of a planner and dreamer who derives as much joy from planning out the events as actually doing them. ;) Happy autumn everyone ( a month, so I guess happy early autumn). ;) What are your fall traditions?

Love you all!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dear PMS, I hate you. The end.

When you cry over the Foreward in a book you are about to start and leave it tear-stained and smudgy in less than a five-minute span, and when all of a sudden you feel like you have no friends anywhere in the world and never have (because they have all been pretending all these years), and when you feel like both of your kids hate you and your husband is at work on purpose because it is more exciting than you are, and when you crave the four-dozen chocolate chip cookies you are making for the community center in town and contemplate only sending three dozen (but overcome that temptation...minus one cookie), and when you walk the grocery store aisles teary-eyed because you are overwhelmed by meal-planning, budget-planning, and life in general, and when you are ready to either throw a frying pan on the next person to come into contact with you or attack them with might (just might) be PMSing.

Why, God, why did you invent this dreadful thing? I mean isn't life hard enough without adding an extra several doses of crazy into the mix every month or so? Now, I'm not a big over-sharer but I figured I already crossed that line when I even started this topic and besides, I'm PMSing so I don't really care and you, my friend, can just deal with it (and maybe pray for my poor husband because this is the mess he gets to come home to today...yippy skippy!) ;) So, it has been a while since I've been hit by this dreadful PMS thing and I can tell you with full assurance that I did not miss it. Nope. I understand now why the Duggars have so many is because she figured if she just kept popping out babies she wouldn't have to deal with PMS. BRILLIANT PLAN MRS. DUGGAR! Sign me up (as the husband gasps, hoping I am not serious). Give me pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep any day...I can handle those! In comparison to the evil villain PMS, those are a cake walk!

Okay...not really sure this is a point to this post because PMS. But here is the deal. The one (and I do
mean ONE) good thing about PMS is that it reminds me how much I need God's grace. There are days when I feel like I'm doing pretty good and am relatively even-keel and I think less about the serious blessing of God's choice to cover over our sins with His grace. But then comes PMS and everything that exits my mouth is mean or unnecessary and I just cannot seem to reign it in and keep that thing shut. Then grace enters in and I cannot even fathom how patient and kind His love is because I am a hot mess and am not worthy of the gift. There are days that I cannot pretend like I have it all together because I just don't. Those days are the best days for falling to my knees in awe of my Jesus who hung on the cross for me. Those days I can truly say that I am flat-out dumbfounded by my Savior and His choice to cover over all my shortcomings with His blood. There is freedom in that, my friend. Even in the midst of a bad attitude and an uncontrollable tongue...grace flows freely. It isn't stopped up by my dam of pride and anger...if I let it, it breaks that dam right down with it's flood of mercy and grace. So, in that regard, thank you PMS for teaching me the lesson that NOTHING can separate me from the love of God...not even you. Still though...don't feel like you have to come visit again too soon. ;)


Sunday, August 2, 2015

~A Letter to My Man-Cub~

Beloved Son~

You grow more and more into your own personhood each day. I see your personality beginning to emerge in each smile, each laugh, each look of concern or excitement or depth of thought. What kind of man will you become? We named you Judah after the Lion. The Great Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who came to the earth to do beautiful and difficult things in the Story of our redemption.

Our prayer is that you would grow to be brave and courageous and strong and good. Our hope is that you would stand up for the weak and love the unlovable. That you would do the right thing even when it is difficult and painful. I don't want pain for you, but I do want courage. And if being brave and true brings adversity, then I want for you to have the strength to accept it. As your mama, I guess I will need strength to accept it as well.

I don't want you to just be safe. I want you to be a pursuer of the heart of God. Sometimes that isn't safe, but it is always good. I want wisdom for you. May you have a God-given ability to see the bigger picture and the wisdom to know what to do with it. I want for you to know the depths of God's love for you. On the days when you fail--and you will fail--I want you to know that God's grace covers all things. Sometimes how we handle our failures can define us more than how we handle our successes. Let your failures build you up. Don't let them tear you down. Remember that God's love for you doesn't ebb and flow like the tide. It is strong, it is solid, and it is unquestionably for you. There will be times in life when sin will try to bind you up and shut you down. You do not have to let it. There is always a way out. It may be difficult, but on the other side you will see the hope and beauty and goodness that has always been there--waiting for you.

Don't live by any label this world wants to give you. If you must live by a label, let it be a reminder of the truest things about you. Redeemed. Loved. Forgiven. Chosen. Blessed. Son. The world will tell you that you are not enough. It will tell you that you need to be more selfish. It will tell you that you need to be more trendy. It will tell you that you need to have more stuff. It will tell you that you shouldn't be content with what you have or confident in who and Whose you are. Let the world's worries fall from you. You will find contentment when you refuse to own them.

You were loved from the beginning and you will be loved forevermore. You are loved by me simply because you are my son. I will love you forever--I would lay down my life for you. More importantly, you are loved by your God simply because you are His son. He will love you beyond the farthest forever and he did lay down his life for you. May you live in the freedom of that love more and more each day. I am so excited to watch you grow. I am so blessed to be your mama.

All My Heart,
Your Mama