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Posts from the ‘Encouragement’ Category

Dear Me,

To my teenage self:

So I would try to tell you to quit hunching over but everyone tells you that now and you’re not listening. But seriously, quit hunching.  You will be grateful for your height eventually and even wish you were a little taller.  The boys really do catch up even though from 5th grade to college is a long time to wait.

Don’t worry about all the teasing you get about wearing braces, but I do have to warn you, you get them back on when you’re 28. The good news is all that big hair goes out of style!

God carries you through those hard years that seem too much to bear. Even though you pray all the time that your mom will win the lottery, she never plays it and you never win it, but God uses it all to show you He is your provider and you’ll have a great work ethic thanks to your mom. You know how you watch your mom sit at the kitchen table every morning reading her Bible and praying for you? Well, just wait to see how all her prayers are answered. You will see His faithfulness over and over again.

Oh and that pesky little brother who doesn’t listen to you, well you get close, really close and He follows hard after God and you might want to tell him he marries a beautiful , godly women…wait don’t tell him, he still thinks girls have cooties.

I wish you would listen to me when I tell you not to worry about what others think and that you should have more confidence in your gifts.

That passion for writing and telling a story that’s from God you know.  God gives you a story that you’ll need to steward well.

Your love of maps will serve you well too. You travel all over and meet interesting people & experience different cultures. Take it all in! God connects all the dots and uses those experiences!

Your heart for God will grow tender for high school and college girls and for reaching women. All that brokenness in your life, well, He uses it all.

I would really love to tell you that life gets easier and that you won’t suffer loss, but I can tell you that you will only get stronger, and that your relationship with God will be the one constant.

You will have times you feel like you were given more burdens than one should carry in a lifetime, and you will have times when you feel like you have been given more blessings than you deserve.  Be grateful for it all!!

Pay particular attention to your college roommate’s cute younger brother. He grows up and he’s WAY cute. Oh and he’ll be the one!  That list you make, yep, he is all that and more! He will love you more than you ever thought you could be loved! Oh and your son, such amazing joy!!

Don’t let others’ misconceptions define you, keep laughing, and give thanks! It’s a great life ahead!

The letter writing is a result of reading Grace for the Good Girl this summer and Emily Freeman’s blog Chatting at the Sky. If you have a small group of high school girls or a teenage girl in your life, you will want them to read Graceful. I’m not being paid to endorse her book, I just wish Emily would have written it when I was a teenager!

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Should I ever forget

 

This blog post is being re-published from September 11, 2011 to honor our 9/11 families.

A letter to my son.

Should I ever forget what happened on 9/11/2001, I want you to remember.

Seared into my memory are images from that day, conversations with my uncle and that unexplainable pit in my stomach that something so evil had happened.

I thought it was a tiny plane that had a major malfunction when the first tower was hit.  I watched the second tower get hit live on television and I knew it was not an accident.

I yelled for my uncle who was at my house visiting,  “ Hurry get out of the shower.  Something terrible has happened!”

I stood in disbelief and shock as the first building fell, peeled away to the ground.  Helplessness, I felt utterly helpless and I reached for the TV as if I could hold up the building and keep all those people from their death.  Unspeakable evil.

We sat for hours watching horrible images as the story of what was happening unfolded.

Next winter my two friends and me made our way to NYC.  Something in all of us had to see Ground Zero.  We had to pay our respects to those that perished.  We had to say thanks to those who were cleaning up.  We walked past the old cemetery fence that had become the public memorial with flowers, photographs & cards all stuffed into the fence.  I remember walking out onto the plywood make shift observation deck and looking out over the massive area that once was the World Trade Center.  I can still smell the dirt and dust, I can taste the air, I can see the worker who I nodded thanks to and I can feel the sting of my tears on my cheek on that bitter cold January day.

With a sharpie pen, we wrote our names and words of encouragement.  I penned my favorite Scripture hoping that somehow, someone might take solace.  I couldn’t pick up a shovel and dig.  I couldn’t hug each family.  I couldn’t even make a meal.  I could only pray that the God would bring healing, hope, and peace.

My eyes locked with one of the workers and I nodded to my camera to ask permission if it was ok to take a photo. He shook his head no and I nodded back to say I understood. I mouthed thank you for what you are doing.  His eyes teared up and he made his way to me and my friends.  He said, “Don’t take my picture. Come with me. Tell others what you see.”  We walked over a few streets and he met us in golf cart and ushered us past the police officer guarding the entrance.

The images from television hadn’t captured the vastness of the gaping hole and the debris that was everywhere. Steel girders crumpled like straws.

He took us to the private memorial the rescue workers had made. Ladder company tributes, photos of lost police officers, it was too much to see and feel all at once. It was a private memorial for private moments and prayers lifted to God. Out of respect I didn’t take a picture, but I can still see the faces. I tried to show a brave face but I couldn’t contain the emotion. In an instant I was overwhelmed with emotions I still can’t explain and it happens each time I see photographs from 9/11.  He took us past an area of debris piled so high, nothing was recognizable. Each worker we passed had the same look of determination as they cleared debris.

The sun was peeking through the buildings to an American flag that workers had hung and then there it was, the CROSS. It wasn’t a sculpture that had been erected, it was steel. The way the girders fell, it made the shape of the cross.  The workers merely hoisted it up as a reminder that God was there.

I have a piece of steel rebar from Ground Zero that one of the workers gave me to keep. It’s not a souvenir, it’s not for a museum, it was for me should I ever forget. But now it is yours son, should you ever forget to pray for the men and woman who died that day and the families who lost loved ones.   Should you ever forget to pray for the brave soldiers that protect the United States and the rescuers who were courageous and selfless that day, let it be a reminder. Should you ever forget to give thanks that God was there on that horrible day, hold it tightly in your hand and remember His promise.

It’s been 10 years and today as I reflect and pray for all the families, I still remember it all.   Should I ever forget, I want you to remember.

All my love

Mom

 

A Taste of Heaven From Grandpa’s Porch

Grandpa’s porch slows down this restless heart looking to check off another to do. You can see for miles in all directions clear across Bozeman to the Bridger Mountains. You almost feel the sounds as they carry across the fields and then it is still. The wind here at night rustles the aspen trees and it sounds to me what I imagine the rush of angel wings to sound like. This place for me is just a taste of heaven and a place one can be still and know that He is God.

I want so much to honor you the way your creation proclaims your glory. Make my life show others who you are the way I look at this sunset and see you. In the constant buzz and busy-ness of this season of life chasing a toddler, being a wife, and leading a ministry, I want to hear your voice even when it’s difficult to find moments of quiet like on this porch. Teach me to discern your voice in the LOUD and the QUIET.

You give me glimpses of your hand and still I try to do it myself and not just BE. Quiet appears to be inaction to the world, but you keep showing me this summer that stillness trusts in you, not always all the activity.

Thank you Lord for the way you slow down this restless heart to take in all you needed me to hear. Thank you for how you set creation before us so we see how BIG your love is for us.

The way the sun glides so effortlessly down behind the barn over the fields at sunset declares what my heart knows is true.
“Your love, O Lord reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” Psalm 36:5

What causes you to be still? Do you have a place you feel God’s presence?

I’m linking up with some friends today. Stop by and say hi!

Beholding Glory

friday favorite things | finding joy
http://christianmommyblogger.com

A Reason to Pause

“It’s a good east coast rain,”  I tell my husband for the few minutes it just down pours, trees sway.

I love the quiet of rain, that noise it makes hitting the roof, and then the occasional sound of the car that swooshes by, tires going through a puddle.

It’s so infrequent here where I live in California. We don’t keep umbrellas in cars.   We don’t really watch the weather to know if we should pack one, it’s that rare.

Sometimes it just rains for a few minutes and dries up and the sun comes out. I used to wish for those days living back east when it could rain for a week straight. Here where it really never rains, we pray for rain.

Our gardens need it.  Our reservoirs need it.  Our hearts need it.

So on a day like yesterday when it rained all day, I welcomed it.  You are excited for the pause it creates in your day, the permission to change your plans and stay indoors and maybe even stay in your pjs all day, just because you can and so I did. I think my soul needed it as much as my busy schedule did. The gentle quietness it brings, the slowing down, the excuse to not have to do the “to do” list. Instead it was building forts, drinking hot chocolate, and reading books with my son.

The rain it did what it does best and washed away the dirt on the sidewalk, the pollen from the trees and the flowers drunk in deep and well, so did I. This washing away I needed too. It flooded my head with ideas that have been stuck. It flooded my heart with gratitude for the pause, being allowed to use a comma in your day.  It didn’t stop the deadlines, due dates or commitments, but it was the ahh, I needed that kind of day.  You know the days you know you just needed to rest in Him, quiet your heart and just slow down?

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation come from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”  Psalm 62:1-2

There is mud waiting for us and puddles to be jumped in, but yesterday well, rain was a good reason to pause.

Do you ever wish you could just put a comma in your day and slow down? Why don’t we just pause more often?

I’m linking up at The Better Mom today. Come by and say hi.

Pushing Through

In January we ran into Lowe’s to get a few things to fix our sprinklers and saw a great big, yellow CLEARANCE sign which is like a bright flashing light to me.  Does anyone else remember the flashing blue light specials at K-mart or am I dating myself?  So, OF COURSE I had to go over and check it out.  I found bags of tulip bulbs for $.25 and some of them were even starting to sprout a little green stem already. A master gardener may have advised that it was too late in the season to plant tulips and this was a terrible waste. This frugal mother of a boy that loves to play in the dirt saw priceless hours of digging to his heart’s delight for only $1.00  Who cares if they ever bloom! We’ll have fun digging and if we get a few blooms, bonus!   I scooped up 4 bags of a different variety of tulips and checked out.

The three of us with our shovels in hand started digging. If you have ever dug in the dirt with a child, you know how this goes.  Scoop out the dirt in the hole deep enough for the bulb and then the child fills it back up. Scoop it out again and plop a bulb in quick and cover it back up with dirt, then my son digs it back up again with a huge smile on his face. Bring in the watering can and we had a bigger mess and more fun.  Already well worth the dollar spent!  He played hide and go seek with the bulbs and once they were all buried, my husband and I  just laughed.  Well, we’ll know where we planted them all if they bloom!

The unseasonably warm winter here in California made for perfect growing weather for these little bulbs.  Just 3 weeks later we started to see small evidence that a few may actually be growing or was it a weed? We needed to wait a few more days and then could it be? Yep,  it was definitely the beginning!

Isn’t that just how God works sometimes, underneath where we can’t see it and it feels like nothing is happening? Just when we have about given up, He gives us a little hope or  perhaps a glimpse that he is working.   Maybe not all at once like we expect, but in small ways reminding us He’s faithful and present  in the midst of our struggle.

The lyrics in the David Crowder Band song Wholly Yours say,

“but a certain sign of grace is this,

from the broken earth, flowers come up,

pushing through the dirt…”

It is often the struggle through the dirt and mess that something beautiful comes. Do you have prayers that feel like they have gone unanswered? Do you wonder if God is really at work? I do too, but I know even when I can’t see what is happening, I know God is at work and more often than not, it is my own heart He is changing. Just like that little bulb pushing up through the dirt, He uses our struggle to make something beautiful in us, if only we wouldn’t give up when life gets hard. I’m sure when you look back at your most difficult circumstances now, you see the beauty you may have missed in the middle of it.

What are you pushing through in your life? Are you able to let God get you through it?

Looking for more encouragement? Head over to the The Better Mom and Women Living Well and say hi!

What Chubby Hands Can Teach You

His chubby little hands folded together, head down, his little voice mumbling sounds in a whisper. He peeks up on occasion to watch.  If one of us is not there, he yells Daaaaad or Mammaaa loud for us to come too. He knows we gather all together to pray and give thanks. When we say amen, he claps and cheers enthusiastically. We teared up the first time he did it and it seemed like a cute moment to capture in a baby book, but God is using these moments to capture my heart.

Inside my belly before he was born, we wondered how we would teach him important life lessons like kindness, compassion, and gratefulness. We prayed God would give him a tender heart for those things and us wisdom to know how to shape his character. Now 18 months later, he is teaching us.

If he’s eating & I bring out something else to eat, he pauses and folds his hands. At a restaurant every time the waiter refills a glass or brings more bread, he pauses and wants to pray. Sometimes just because he will fold his hands and tell me to pray. At nap time we’re thanking God for what we did in the morning and asking for grace for the rest of the day. In the afternoon, we’re thanking God for fun at the park and sometimes for me to be patient.  God is using this precious life to remind me to just slow down and be grateful even for the days that there is no nap time and life is crazy. Isn’t this what God wants us to do, just take him along in our day and just talk to him?

He’s reminding me that God answered our prayer that we prayed when he was in my belly but God is also using our son to shape my character.

We can have index cards mounted on mirrors to remind us to pray, sticky notes on our dashboards, or we can see chubby little hands folded to remind us to pray!

Thank you Lord for chubby hands to remind me to just bring everything to you!

5 Ways to Keep Your Goals in 2012

It’s day 7 into the new year. Almost a full week. You may have started a new morning routine only to get to Tuesday and you forgot you had a doctor’s appointment and didn’t quite get your work out in.  Is it all over? Do you throw the towel in and forget all about your goals?

It’s not about the resolution. It’s not about beating yourself up and trying harder next time. You’re not a failure destined to never change anything in your life.

I said I would contain the clutter. You should see my family room. Yesterday my little one decided not to take a nap and the afternoon felt like it unraveled and then scattered across my family room floor along with puzzle pieces, trucks and Tupperware.

My husband came home a few minutes early and took my son to run errands. Normally, I would just use the time to clean, pick up and get dinner ready. I stopped myself and decided to go to the gym. I spent a whole hour that I could have cleaned, organized and checked off a bunch of to-dos.  I did something for myself that helped me contain the clutter in my heart.  The toys were still scattered but my mind wasn’t.  I didn’t beat myself up that the house wasn’t in complete order. Tomorrow is a new day.

Here are 5 Ways to Help You Keep Your Goals in 2012:

  • Write it down and put it somewhere you look everyday (your mirror, your refrigerator or your car)
  • Commit it to God in prayer. Ask for help, strength and in my case willpower to back away from the chocolate!
  • Try to do whatever “it” is at the same time everyday and it becomes a habit.
  • Ask your husband or friend to be an accountability partner to encourage you in your goal.
  • GRACE!! Give yourself lots of it! Start again tomorrow. It’s ok.

Making goals is a great way to be intentional about making sure you do things.  However, don’t let them become how you measure your worth, determine if you’re a good mom or be the driving force for your day. It doesn’t leave room for you to hear God speak into your day that a friend just needs you to listen to the news the doctor gave her. It doesn’t leave room for the toddler who just needs to snuggle and read one more book. Make goals, keep them and give yourself grace to start again tomorrow.

Do you feel like you’ve blown it this week? Which of the 5 Ways to Keep Your Goals can you try this week?

On resolutions, goals & habits

 

It’s day 3 into the new year and it still has the fresh, new feeling about it.  There is expectancy, hope for change and renewed commitment to do or not to do. In my 20’s I spent more time figuring out the best New Year’s Eve plans instead of considering the Best Year Plan. I didn’t slow down or reflect long enough on the highlights of my year.  I put so much emphasis on the big event of ringing in the new year and before I knew it, I was back at work in my normal routine with maybe a resolution but no plan.

One year a friend and I spent time new year’s eve afternoon quietly reflecting on the past year. I took to paper and penned my hopes and goals for the year.  At the end of the year, I reflected back on that list and was amazed that many of the things I had hoped to do, not do, or change had become new habits. I expanded each year since in how I approach this and now look forward to the time.

It’s a time for me to quiet my heart, forget about my daily to do list, to pray and give God the new year.  I think back on highlights, sweet memories, and hardships. Reflecting on God’s grace, his provision and faithfulness always makes me grateful. I also use the time to set goals. I’m definitely a list maker and goal setter. If I write it down, I am more likely to do it. Here are the categories I use:

Spiritual

Marriage

Family

Health/Physical

Role as Mom

Financial

Business

Time & Talent

Myself

Books to Read

Something New to Try

I can honestly say that since I started doing this over 10 years ago, there are many things that have become lifelong habits even something as simple as drinking more water .  There are many more that I’m still working on and  that will probably make my list next year.  However, each year as I become more specific with how I will accomplish and measure success I’m finding I can be more intentional about my year. One of our family goals was to take our son camping for his first birthday. If we hadn’t written it down, we might have been more likely to say we’re too busy or too crazy  to try to take a one year old camping.  We did it and had so much fun, made great memories and started a family tradition.

Books to read is new on my list this year.  I’m an avid reader so I never thought to put that on my list.  If you’re a reader like me though, you have about 3 books on your night stand you plan to read, a few more on your desk and you always seem to pick up a few when you go to the library and then all the great books you hear about on your favorite blogs and websites.  This year I want to be more intentional about some books that I definitely want to get read so I made a list.

I know that lists don’t work for everyone’s personality. I also know that I may make plans and God has other things in store for our family and we are good with that.  It’s just a good way for me to keep myself accountable as I look over the list monthly and another way for me to grow.

Have you made any resolutions? Made a list of goals?  Started any new habits? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you plan for 2012.

Grace Full

When I would stumble over my own feet (I was 5″7′ by fifth grade) or clumsily drop something, my mom would tease that I should have been named grace because then maybe I would have been more graceful. I seemed to always manage to trip, stove a toe or cause some accident of sorts.  Had I only known then that I truly am grace FULL.

Full of grace given by my family who knows my shortcomings and loves anyways.

Full of grace given by friends who are far away yet when we pick up the phone no time is lost. They love in spite of months going by without speaking.

Full of grace by my husband who knows the deep ugliness of my heart and still sees beauty, that loves when I am unkind and short, who extends unconditional grace by believing the very best.

Full of grace by my savior who laid down his life so I might live GRACE FULL.

Today who can you extend grace to that may not deserve it, but needs it?  Maybe you need reminded today that you are GRACE FULL.

Should I ever forget

A letter to my son.

Should I ever forget what happened on 9/11/2001, I want you to remember.

Seared into my memory are images from that day, conversations with my uncle and that unexplainable pit in my stomach that something so evil had happened.

I thought it was a tiny plane that had a major malfunction when the first tower was hit.  I watched the second tower get hit live on television and I knew it was not an accident.

I yelled for my uncle who was at my house visiting,  “ Hurry get out of the shower.  Something terrible has happened!”

I stood in disbelief and shock as the first building fell, peeled away to the ground.  Helplessness, I felt utterly helpless and I reached for the TV as if I could hold up the building and keep all those people from their death.  Unspeakable evil.

We sat for hours watching horrible images as the story of what was happening unfolded.

Next winter my two friends and me made our way to NYC.  Something in all of us had to see Ground Zero.  We had to pay our respects to those that perished.  We had to say thanks to those who were cleaning up.  We walked past the old cemetery fence that had become the public memorial with flowers, photographs & cards all stuffed into the fence.  I remember walking out onto the plywood make shift observation deck and looking out over the massive area that once was the World Trade Center.  I can still smell the dirt and dust, I can taste the air, I can see the worker who I nodded thanks to and I can feel the sting of my tears on my cheek on that bitter cold January day.

With a sharpie pen, we wrote our names and words of encouragement.  I penned my favorite Scripture hoping that somehow, someone might take solace.  I couldn’t pick up a shovel and dig.  I couldn’t hug each family.  I couldn’t even make a meal.  I could only pray that the God would bring healing, hope, and peace.

My eyes locked with one of the workers and I nodded to my camera to ask permission if it was ok to take a photo. He shook his head no and I nodded back to say I understood. I mouthed thank you for what you are doing.  His eyes teared up and he made his way to me and my friends.  He said, “Don’t take my picture. Come with me. Tell others what you see.”  We walked over a few streets and he met us in golf cart and ushered us past the police officer guarding the entrance.

The images from television hadn’t captured the vastness of the gaping hole and the debris that was everywhere. Steel girders crumpled like straws.

He took us to the private memorial the rescue workers had made. Ladder company tributes, photos of lost police officers, it was too much to see and feel all at once. It was a private memorial for private moments and prayers lifted to God. Out of respect I didn’t take a picture, but I can still see the faces. I tried to show a brave face but I couldn’t contain the emotion. In an instant I was overwhelmed with emotions I still can’t explain and it happens each time I see photographs from 9/11.  He took us past an area of debris piled so high, nothing was recognizable. Each worker we passed had the same look of determination as they cleared debris.

The sun was peeking through the buildings to an American flag that workers had hung and then there it was, the CROSS. It wasn’t a sculpture that had been erected, it was steel. The way the girders fell, it made the shape of the cross.  The workers merely hoisted it up as a reminder that God was there.

I have a piece of steel rebar from Ground Zero that one of the workers gave me to keep. It’s not a souvenir, it’s not for a museum, it was for me should I ever forget. But now it is yours son, should you ever forget to pray for the men and woman who died that day and the families who lost loved ones.   Should you ever forget to pray for the brave soldiers that protect the United States and the rescuers who were courageous and selfless that day, let it be a reminder. Should you ever forget to give thanks that God was there on that horrible day, hold it tightly in your hand and remember His promise.

It’s been 10 years and today as I reflect and pray for all the families, I still remember it all.   Should I ever forget, I want you to remember.

All my love

Mom