Friday, January 25, 2013

A Gift That Keeps on Giving

Levi David. We gave him this name largely for the meaning, Levi "joined" and David known as "a man after God's heart". We wanted him to be joined to the heart of God. Already, at 3, Levi shows me more of the heart of God than I would have expected. 

He is our resident comedian, whether he tries to be or not, the boy is just funny. Laughter is such a gift. He's sharp...doesn't miss a thing....so often his questions and observations are so honest, but just hilarious. He is also very tender, often quick to speak words of encouragement at just the right time or feel compassion for others. This week he brought heart-warming laughter in these ways:

- At the end of a long day (as we are transitioning to no naps) emotions were running rampant. Waylon looked at Levi and asked jokingly, "Levi, why are you so stinkin' grouchy?" Levi, asks, so seriously in return, "When you're grouchy, you stink???" 


- Yesterday we had a long visit at the health department. Two young women walked in with a young boy and Levi asked me loudly, "He has 2 mommies?!" The women laughed and explained, no, one of them was the mommy and one, a friend. Then comes in a man to join the group. Levi asks him, "Are you his Daddy?" The man doesn't respond. I say, "Levi, he probably didn't hear you." So Levi then loudly asks, "Are you his Daddy?" The man is obviously pretending to not hear Levi at this point. So, Levi persists and asks the man a total of 5 times if he is this boy's Daddy, never to earn a response. I just kept trying to reassure him that it was ok. He was so unaware that this man was clearly ignoring him and completely not recognizing the potential weight that these innocent questions could hold these days. Everyone has a mommy and daddy, right? He was trying to sort this all out for this boy. I really think his heart wanted to know that this boy was taken care of.


- Last night when putting him to bed (another no nap day :)) he begins to break down crying. He finally tells me he had wanted a "Hugga-Mugga" (eskimo kisses in our house). I give him one and then he becomes emotional again and says, "I can't get the cry out of my eyes!" I laughed and explained to him that those were called tears and he said, "Oh, like in my Bible when Jesus dies on the cross and it is very sad? There are tears there in my Bible." Yes, Levi, just like that. 


- Also, just have to share our big time celebration today that was had when Levi wrote his name for the first time!! And smiled next to it, like this:


I'm grateful for this boy, many times a day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Like Father, Like Son






Lately I cannot get over how much Judah reminds me of his dad. Yes, one look at him gives it away. He is his father's son. (Now that we live in Waylon's hometown, I even had someone stop me in the Dollar Tree and say, "I know who his Daddy is. He could not deny him!" Then she looked at Judah and said, "You're Waylon's son!" Crazy!) But it goes deeper than the surface. 

A story from last week that cracked me up and made me marvel at the similarities again between father and son: 
I was getting the kids ready for bed and Judah picks up one of Clara's babies and begins to tenderly care for the baby, feeding her a bottle, and looks at me and says, "I'm a father." He then places the baby in a stroller and his siblings follow suit. Any excuse for a parade is welcomed in our house! So, we had a stroller parade marching joyfully through our living room, led by Judah. Then, out of no where, Judah begins chanting in a loud voice, "Your sins are forgiven! Your sins are forgiven!" (Thank you, Awana for writing the Word in my children's hearts and minds!) I just laughed and laughed. Judah, gentle, caring father, leading others and proclaiming truth to anyone who would listen. 



Judah is also like his daddy in these ways: he has a great appetite to learn, asking for "school" daily; he likes to know what to expect (schedules are his thing); he has long, skinny fingers and a big second toe; he loves books; and he's developing quite the country twang. I love seeing Waylon in Judah. I can't wait to continue to see who he grows to be.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Will Remember

In times when I haven't known how to pray, when things feel pressing, and prayer is urgent, yet the words don't seem to come, I have looked to the Psalms. Sometimes words don't come because that level of vulnerability with God seems challenging. Prayers that are jumbled messes of worry, confusion, and questions don't seem as pretty, do they? But then David, in his raw honesty in the Psalms shows me this is all wrong thinking. Prayers aren't meant to be pretty. God, who knows the very number of hairs on our heads, knows the inner-workings of our hearts as well. And He's here with us. So for me to be quieted because I like to seem like I'm more together is just silly. He can take it, all of our honesty, all of our questions. He desires relationship. And don't we, too? Yes. David, man after God's own heart, I love your example.



Psalm 77, in particular, has been a tried and true place I've revisited to be refreshed. In a time of trouble and doubt, David comes to God in prayer, without words at first, then asks a series of bold, honest questions and finally lands here...."I will remember the deeds of the Lord;, yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds" (vs. 11, 12). Remember. In times of trouble, honesty before the Lord can come, questions, like David's, "Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" (vs. 9). But he doesn't land there and stay. He then remembers. There is great power in remembering the work of his hand. 



I'm learning to remember. I'm making this year a year of learning to walk in thanksgiving. I've shared my reading of "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. I just finished the book (now my mom finally gets her Christmas present! :)). But this journey of journaling daily the gifts God gives me in my days continues. I think it can sound trite to write down a list of little things every day, like good coffee with my favorite creamer, or a quirky smile from a toddler. But it's this thing that David did, at the core. It's fueling my faith that God has been gracious to me....here....here...and here, too! Daily seeing this rhythm is powerful. It is by His hand we are given what we have. And then, I can see it, as I'm basking in the beauty of the accumulation of gift after gift, then even when hardships come, the things we wouldn't desire to orchestrate in our life in the least, they can more easily be embraced. Your heart is ready to take what he gives, whatever it may be. Even if it means losing a baby, one of the twins he began to knit in your womb. Yes, that is part of the story God has given me (I hope to share more on that later). And I see now, a few weeks beyond the loss, that this remembering, this faith-feuling exercise has prepared me. I trust God more deeply. I see his goodness daily and stand more firmly.




Thursday, January 10, 2013

Slow Down


I'm amazed at the number of gifts God allows me to have each day. Truly, my daily life with my family is so rich in goodness. Slow down, slow down, SLOW DOWN....I've been attempting this for a good year now. As mentioned in my last post, it's still a struggle. As a mom of 3 little ones, my to-do list can be long. I can easily busy myself every second of the day. But too often the pressure of my "to-do's" can leave me scurrying around, not fully emmersed in my moments...always looking ahead to what's next. Women are great multi-taskers, right? Yes, but I'm seeing the downside to this quality. Does it keep me from fully engaging, missing what's before me? Yes. As I'm journaling my gifts, I feel as if I'm able to relish more fully the things happening before me. It's slowing me down. I'm loving it. I'm determined to get it, this slowing down thing.

Here are some beautiful moments that have been enjoyed from slowing down recently...








Parading Band Trio with mixing bowls and chopsticks, costume time abounding, and Family Time playing with Photo Booth (a personal favorite...it left me rolling, as you can see. I'm pretty sure Levi turned into Gollum and Judah became a buff 18 year old football player. Hilarious.)

How's your pace? I'm becoming more and more convinced I have to fight pretty violently to slow down. Join me, friends. How could it impact your days?

(Artwork credit for my print: thewheatfield Shop @ Etsy.com)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Led By My Wee Ones


 Lunchtime: hurrying to fill 3 small plates, food scattered all over my counters, hurdling over the little toys at foot, and then, often, realizing...I need food, too. Oh yeah. My stomach growls and I sneak in a bite of pasta prepared for the kids. I deliver their food and head back to figure mine out. I quickly throw together my tuna sandwich and begin to eat as I tidy up some things. And the accountability calls out, from my 4 year old. Judah, in a joking voice, "Momma, sit down or I'll spank your bottom!" (They say this often to me about sitting down for lunch. They know my mantra: "Mealtime is for spending time together." Not for multi-tasking as I slowly make my way to the table. Thanks, Judah.)

Then comes words of encouragement from my 3 year old. I reply to Judah's threat to spank me with, "I'm the one who is the spanker around here," with a smile. And to that Levi speaks words of life, "No you're not mom. You are super."
"Super?" I ask.
"Yes, because you are great," he says matter-of-factly.



Here I am, missing it. Scurrying around with busyness that I'm missing it, missing them. And there they are ready to gently nudge me in the right direction with humor and words of encouragement. Three and four and they are teaching me profound things. Now if I could only be like them more often when they miss it. A gentle nudge and words of life. Powerful. Such a humbling, wonderful thing to be a mom.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Learning Contentment



My heart was so ready to get this book, "One Thousand Gifts," by Ann Voskamp in my hands. It was a Christmas gift I got for someone else...but, my guilty confession....I thought, they'll never know if I read it first, right? (Thanks, Mom! You will get it, sometime, I promise! Haha!) For the last year, I can't seem to get out of meditating further on Philippians 4. You know, Paul (the super-Apostle-missionary man who endured all kinds of craziness for the cause of Christ) writes a letter and ends it with this chapter of encouragement to the church....the familiar, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."? This was one of the first portions of Scriptures I posted by my bed to gaze upon every night after beginning to follow Jesus. Yet, in this last year, I feel like I have feasted on these words. I have needed them as never before. Honestly, I have experienced anxiety in the last two years like I've never known. I had never known the physical symptoms of worry and anxiety like have come more recently....racing heart, difficulty catching my breath, not wanting to eat. Have you been there? Oh, it's awful. You feel trapped. You know you should relax and stop worrying, but the battle is there, and it's real. But I know God has wanted to do a work in me with this. He has wanted me to deeply comprehend, in mind and heart, how to have contentment in whatever comes, and know the peace of Him more fully.

A conclusion that came earlier in the year, while reading "Resolution for Women" by Priscilla Shrier (so good.), freed me immensely. It was this: Paul, although a mighty man of God, did not have some special gifting of knowing contentment in whatever he faced. He states it clearly in Philippians 4:11, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." Phew! So, wait, this contentment could be mine...whatever I face? I, too, could learn! It became so touchable. I wanted to grasp onto it tightly. How did Paul learn this? I had to know!

Well, I don't have some nicely laid out formula for contentment. But I have some things that have been working powerfully in my life and bearing fruit as I've continued to meditate on Paul's words and had "One Thousand Gifts" in my hands. This component of thanksgiving is big. Huge. Voskamp shares so beautifully her testimony of how learning this discipline of walking in thanksgiving, specifically making an on-going list of the gifts God gives her each day, has unleashed joy in her daily life. Again, she learned it. We have to change our habits. Only we know that internal dialogue that goes on within us. What is yours like? What are your eyes fixed upon? Are you aware of the gifts in your day? Philippians 4 touches on this too, in regards to self-control in our thought life:
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Whatever you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (vs. 8,9)
The peace of God....the opposite of anxiety, worry. My perspective needed to be changed...needs to be changed. How many things, beautiful things, did I pass by flippantly because I was rushing from one thing to the next and fixing my eyes on what was wrong. Guilty. Where's peace in that? It's gone, let me tell you.

Discontentment does not have to be our lot in life. The peace of God is real. When we look to Him, bring our concerns to Him when needed, and then intentionally fix our eyes on the grace after grace, the sweet gifts, He gives us, peace can come. Slow down and see...really see...what's before us?

Gift before me today, times 2: 1) a little girl in frilly dress; 2) that little girl learning to perfect her "Chheeese!" 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

CuppaCuppaCuppa?

Since childhood, one of my favorite movies has been "Steel Magnolias." It's a great film with lots of charming, funny Southern personalities and delivers a whole gamete of emotions. The best movies do...laughter, tears, jaw-dropping surprise. It's down-right good. So, though this movie is really nothing like my real life....I'm not from the South, I don't frequent local beauty parlors, and I haven't (not even close) lived in the same town my whole life....it seems linked to me fondly because I've enjoyed it since I was a young girl. And I quote it often. Hence, CuppaCuppaCuppa.

CuppaCuppaCuppa is a dessert recipe that is given during one of the beauty shop scenes. Dolly Parton plays Truvy, the beauty shop owner, and shares this tried and true recipe with one of the younger girls at the salon that day. It's a simple recipe: (She says it something like this) "It’s a cuppa flour, a cuppa sugar, a cuppa fruit cocktail with the juice. Mix and bake till brown and bubbly. Serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness." Well, here I am beginning a blog and let me tell you, it's going to be simple. It has to be. First, I don't know anything about what I'm doing with a blog. This level of technology frightens me. Second, I don't have a lot of free time. But I hope it'll be good, like CuppaCuppaCuppa. (Maybe I should actually try this recipe before I claim it's "good." Well, Pioneer Woman did, and she said it was, so we'll go with it.)

My 3 ingredients will be:

1) The stirrings of my heart. I love to process through writing. Always have. And I love to go back and remember what has happened. It fuels my faith to see how God has moved and deepens my trust that He will move again.

(These days the stirrings coming from these books...and my journaling.)

2) Photos. Probably a lot of my kids. I stay home with my 3 kids under 5 (and another coming in July!), so it's what I do. It's what I see and what makes up my days, for the most part, in this season of my life. And I love to hold time still with with a photo. I want to soak up the moments and gifts God allows me to enjoy in my days. I love how pictures slow things down to a halt so the memories can ruminate. 


(Holding time still as we celebrated Clara's 1st Birthday this past year.)

3) Funny stories. I have too many things that happen in my daily life that crack me up with the little personalities and innocence of my children. One of my favorite aspects of being a mom...the easy laughter my kids bring. And come on, we all love to laugh!

(Yesterday's laughter provided by this duo. Levi: "Mom, I'm scared of Judah."; Me: "Why?"; Levi: "Because he's wearing a dress." :) ) 

So, welcome to CuppaCuppaCuppaLife. A concoction I hope you will enjoy.