Archives for posts with tag: Christian mom

“A ship in the harbor is safe.

But that’s not what ships are for.”

William G.T  Shedd

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Wrightsville, Beach, North Carolina April 7th, 2017

I saw some ships today, and some smaller vessels on the water. They were coming in to the harbor just as the sun was going down. My son and I watched as the boats in the distance moved a little closer in to the dock.

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It was windy and cold, but beautiful on the patio as we ate.  Hot Clam chowder tasted really good on a chilly day like this. But we definitely preferred the view with the cold over the comfort without the view. We watched (and shivered) as the ships came in and the sun went down.

I know that ships are meant to sail. Some are meant to be on the high seas and others are meant to be a little closer to shore. But all are meant to venture out from the safety of the harbor. Yeah, I get that. I do.

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Ocean Isle, North Carolina April 8, 2017   (Zac)

And anchors help to provide stability out on the seas. And there are times to use anchors, and times when anchors are dangerous. And moorings are meant to keep one safe in the harbor. Moorings need to be tied tightly at the right times, and loosened when it’s time to set sail.

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Chase, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina , April 7th, 2017

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Zac, Ocean Isle, North Carolina April 8th, 2017

My  “ships” are all venturing out these days. Only have one who is ‘safely in the harbor’ of our home, but all of the others, well, they are venturing out, all at different distances, different speeds, different tracks, but all venturing out nonetheless.

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Chase and Josh, Wilmington, North Carolina April 7, 2017

And I’m proud and thankful for the courses that they are on. And at times I’m fearful of the storms blowing in and the potential dangers that they have faced, are facing, and will face on their journeys.

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But I remind myself that ships…ships were meant to sail. Birds were meant to fly.

DSCN3273 Children were meant to grow up and become independent, to use their gifts and give it all ‘out there’. And they are not alone ‘out there’. I’ve gotta remember that.

DSCN3203And the fact that my ‘ships’ are out sailing, well, it makes me so thankful for times when they get to come back in to the harbor, so to speak.  It makes me thankful when the moorings are tied, and they are safe in my sights for a little while.

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Chase, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina April 7th, 2017

And we can talk about the journeys and the trials that have been, and maybe prepare a bit for the ones that are to come.  I love that ships don’t have to be tied to a specific dock to be safe…it just takes that connection, that mooring, that link to that holds them close to shore.

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Chase, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, April 7th, 2017

So, the past few days have been precious, because, well, it’s felt like my sailing ships (3 out of 6, anyway…)  and I docked for a bit. ( And we were reminded that home is so much more than a place and family is a gift, and God is good and present and available on high seas and safe docks, college campuses and work environments.

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Zac and Melanie, Ocean Isle, North Carolina April 8th, 2017

And I’m catching glimpses of their world and am thankful for where these ‘ships’ have sailed.  And I’m thankful for moorings that look like cups of coffee and walks on beach and ‘remember when’s. I’m thankful for moorings that look like  T   I   M   E…not stuff, but   T   I   M   E, and conversations that don’t always include lots of words, but might include lots of listening. And prayers prayed sometimes out loud and sometimes not. I’m thankful for moorings  that look like warm chocolate chip cookies, kale smoothies, clam chowder in the cold, or walks on the beach.  I’m thankful for moorings that look like truths stated and not danced around and hugs afterward. I’m thankful for moorings that look like laughing at ourselves and not having to be anything but what we are in that moment. And I’m just thankful for moorings, connections with these ships that were entrusted to me so long ago.

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And I’m aware I’m so not the Captain. My job isn’t to steer the ship. It’s to trust the One who is steering, and encourage those ships to listen, to yield, to the Captain. Am thinking in this stage of my life, my privilege is to focus on the moorings…so that in the midst of all the venturing out, there’s always a connection, a safe place to dock when those venturing ships need a reminder of why they’re venturing out in the first place. After all, ships were meant to sail…

Blessings~

Heather

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 

I love the zoom lens on my camera. The lens will go from a close up of one thing to a close up of another thing in the push of a button and then back again in a heartbeat. The camera is still pointed at the exact same place, but the whole perspective changes. (Nothing else changes, only the perspective…)

So this morning as I held up my camera, my view which started out as this…a tree just beginning to bud…

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….turned to this…blooms…full pink blossoms…in the push of a button. Voila!

DSCN2935.jpgAm thinking two things.

First, what we zoom into is what we see. There are a myriad of lenses to look through. Where we fix our gaze is what we see. Faith helps us fix our eyes on the unseen…to trust in God, and that filter can become a lens that helps us see the beauty beyond the bare. I don’t know about  you, but there’s a  lot of “bare” to see in my world. Zooming in helps me see the beauty…and the presence of God in the midst of it all.

Second…that our human eyes (and hearts) can only see so much, even with zoom lenses…. And that what we may see as bare branches and a teeny tiny bit of growth, God may look beyond to see as the beautiful thing that is yet to be.  He knows what is to come and He loves us right in the middle of it all. That’s a beautiful thing that I’m zooming in on today.

Blessings ~

Heather

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

thankfulthursday

On this Thursday, I’m thankful for…

~”Guess what?!!” calls from a few of my kids this week and the joy totally shared about successes that come AFTER lots of tenacity and hard work and perseverance and stick-to-it-iveness.  I’m thankful for lessons learned and successes celebrated and that it’s a total gift to be able to share in the joy.  That’s a gift, for sure.

~ safety during the very short sunset ride with my son who does not yet have his driver’s license, just a permit.  Thankful that we have a bit more time till he’s able to get a license.  Thankful for the dependent who will stay dependent a bit longer, and for the independence that is growing in him.

~ crushed ice, and the kind workers at  Cook Out who don’t act like I’m crazy when I go through the drive thru and ask for a large ice water – and nothing else, and pay a whopping bill of 27 cents.

~ for the refreshment that little things like ice water give, and for the fact that it’s so readily accessible.  Prayers that I don’t take the little things in life for granted that are truly the big things.

~ for Lemon Verbena soap, and cucumber melon candles.  For lit candles that provide  a warmth to our home when there’s a chill in the air.

~ the fact that I could still wear sandals to school today on a late October day as the temperature reached the high 70s.  I know winter is coming, and am enjoying the last days of flip flops.

~ for struggles shared and lifelong friends that bear the burdens, and for the privilege of bearing burdens, sharing burdens, as well.

~ for football games and cheering kids and adults who really do want to get in there with their kids.

~for grace that carries me through the day from the minute my feet hit the floor till the end of the day.

~ for vitamins,…and coffee when the vitamins just aren’t quite cutting it.

~for students who struggle, but then realize that they can turn things around, and for those precious moments when they do change things around and are welcomed back into the community.  I’m thankful for goals and community and the hope that so many teachers really do seek to instill in their students at school.

~Thankful for song, and that the guitar that has been sitting in the corner for months was picked up today, and that it brings up the desires to write and to sing.  Thankful for song.

~Thankful for motivation. For dreams.  For passions.  For the total awareness that gifts are to be used, and the desire to find ways, to find outlets to use them.  For the joy that comes when you’re ‘doing your thing’, and for the joy I have as I watch others “do their thing.”

~I’m thankful for another day, and for the sobering fact of being reminded today that loved ones of those I care for have breathed their last.  Thankful for the reminders of how precious each day is.

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield, My heart trusts in Him and I am helped. Therefore my heart exults and with my song I will thank Him.”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/events/thankful-thursday/

Photo:  Boiling Springs, NC October 22, 2015

Today, I’m thankful for unexpected blessings. I’m not sure why I’m so focused on this today because I’m thankful for a thousand things. But today? Today I’m thankful that life didn’t quite turn out like I had planned. Because of that, my family is a bit larger than what I had envisioned. With that larger family comes a few more loads of laundry to wash, mouths to feed, clothes to buy, bills to pay, and more people to love and enjoy in my home, and in my life.

And why are there only photos of Chase? I promise, he’s not the ‘favored child’! All of my children are so unique and I wouldn’t trade one! But Chase is like the poster child for me of the tipping point in my life. You see, having three children was somewhat manageable and what I had hoped for. Then when our daughter Hope came along, well, she was that sweet little pink girl after three boys, and four wasn’t too far from the hope of three children. But when I found out that I was pregnant with Chase, I just knew I couldn’t do it. There was no way. Absolutely no way. I was terrified because I didn’t know how in the world I could care for 5 little ones who were 7 and under. It just wasn’t at all what I had envisioned or planned or felt equipped for.

And I learned a lot about grace for the moment. The minute, the moment. Not the day, not the hour, but grace for the moment. It’s been one of the greatest lifelong lessons (that I’m still learning).
Chase added so much joy to our family. God knew just who we needed. He was our “under the radar” little guy… I tell the story of how when we were all in the car ( a large 8 passenger vehicle!), I’d listen for each one, and then say (in a worried voice), “Where’s Chase?!!” And right away, I’d hear, “I’m here, Mom.” Smile. All the other siblings were very easy to hear, but Chase? Chase would look out the window and listen and just take it all in. He played hard with his older brothers, and as he grew, soon took care for his baby brother. He’s been such a blessing in our lives.

This Thankful Thursday I think I’m so thankful that my life isn’t what I had planned. I’m a bit melancholy because pretty soon, this fifth child will be leaving for college. And just like I cried wondering how I could possibly manage with the birth of this precious child, now, 18 years later, I’m so aware that there’s going to be a real ache and void for all of us when he leaves. Huge.

They say “Hind sight is 20-20”. Well, in looking back, I sure am thankful that God allowed us to have the gift of having way more than what I would’ve felt that I could manage on my own. Life is so full of interruptions. Interruptions stop the course we’re on and make us pause and figure out where we go from here. Sometimes the interruptions are blessings like precious children, and sometimes the interruptions are just changes in the course that we’re on. Sometimes the interruptions are just ordinary things and sometimes they are really difficult. But it’s so cool how oftentimes even the most difficult of things can be used for the good. I cling to the truth in Romans 8 that says when we bring things to the Lord, He will use it for the good.

So, I’m not sure why I’m just rambling a bit about this today. Maybe it is my realization that yet another son will soon be going to school and finding his way. Or maybe, (hopefully), there’s somebody out there that needs to be reminded that sometimes blessings really do come in disguise, and that they can do this… Sometimes things that we highly doubt we’ll be able to handle end up being the very things that make us strong, or make us compassionate. Sometimes what we don’t think we can handle, well, it just makes us rely a bit more on the One who has it All in His control. I sure am thankful that SomeOne does! Sometimes the unexpected blessings are the greatest blessings of all…

By His Grace~
Heather

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_event/thankful-thursday/

fruit

Abide.

When?

Now.

Not tomorrow.  Not in a week.

NOW.

Abide is in the present tense.

Abode is where we live.

Abide is how we live.

I am thinking that I want my abode

to be abiding …in Him,

wherever that is, wherever it takes me, whatever the cost.

And right NOW?

Right now, the cost is obediently choosing to be faithful in the little things, praying through the big, and trusting, clinging to, the One who gives the power to take my abiding and somehow to make it bear fruit. And fruit? Fruit is a good thing.

 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine,

so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

John 15:4

corsage and tux

They looked too cute.  They really did.  The preparation for this day took months, but, it paid off, for they fit the part of what to look like when you go to the prom.  There was a lot of “bling” and jewels on the dress and shoes, beautiful flowers on the corsage and boutineer, a gorgeous dress and a tuxedo vest that actually matched. (This was no small deal in and of itself because when we went to get order his tux, we just had a photo of the dress and there were about twenty shades of teal, and we ended up taking a shot in the dark and just choosing one, and it matched!) Yes, they looked amazing, and the sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze, and there were smiles on their faces.  All the preparation had been worth it.  They smiled and posed for pictures and looked every bit of beautiful.  And I think they felt every bit of beautiful as well.

The Bible talks about dressing up in a different way.  Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Yes, it says to ‘clothe’ ourselves…to dress up…to make an effort to put a certain thing on. The verse first reminds us of our identity:  we are “God’s chosen people.” We are reminded of the incredible gift, privilege and responsibility of being chosen,picked, and belonging to God. We are not just chosen, but “holy and dearly loved”.  Dearly loved. That kind of makes me want to sit a little straighter and smile a little bigger.  I’m chosen.  I’m dearly loved. I’m called to a life that reflects the holiness and integrity of the One who has chosen and loved me well.

The second part tells us that we are to clothe ourselves, or “put on” compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Not pride?  Not arrogrance?  Not “I am chosen so I am better than you”?  No, it tells us to put on ways of treating people that put their needs before our own.  It’s been my observation in life, that oftentimes those who know they are deeply loved are able to love well.  They don’t have the need to be “me first”, but can love another because their identity is so not based on another person’s actions or reactions to them.They can be ‘clothed’ with humility and kindness because they know they are loved and indebted to one and are full of gratitude.

So what does this have to do with the prom?  Well, I think it has a lot to do with the prom!  If my son were to have ‘clothed himself’ with jeans and a t-shirt to the prom, would his date have felt honored and cared for?  No. She would have felt as though he just hadn’t made an effort.  She would have wondered if he even wanted to be there. But when she saw him drive up dressed in the fanciest outfit he had every worn, she felt valued.  Special.  Extraordinary. And I am sure that the look on her face and the way that he was treated would have been a bit different if he had shown up dressed in jeans and a tshirt.

So here’s the thing.  Sometimes we make excuses for being dressed down spiritually.  We say, “this is just me”, “this is how I’m clothed”, and we make no effort to clothe ourselves, or put on attitudes and behaviors that would show kindness or compassion to those around us.  We can be comfortable in our jeans and t-shirt, so to speak, relaxed in the way we speak, relaxed in the way we treat others, and all the while, those around us wonder if we even  really care at all, for it appears that we make no effort.  Christians are called to ‘clothe ourselves’ in a way that loves others well.  It takes total effort.  It takes total effort to show preference to another who may or may not ‘deserve’ it.  It takes effort to “dress up”, to use self-control, to put our own needs aside based on what we think another may prefer.  But the responses of those around us?  They will probably respond so much differently if they are feeling cared for and preferred and loved based on our choice and determination to clothe ourselves with kindness and compassion and humility.

The funny thing is, when we make an attempt to clothe ourselves, things don’t just change on the outside, but change on the inside as well.  When my son Chase put on a tuxedo for the first time, you should’ve seen the kid slide in those shiny patent leather shoes! He smiled really big and loved how it felt to be ‘dressed up’. He felt special, even extraordinary if you will.  And that’s the cool thing.  Just as putting on fancy clothes can make us carry ourselves in a different way, when we ‘put on ‘ these awesome character traits, initially with a great deal of effort, the more we put them on, the more they become a part of us.  Making the effort to ‘put on’ things on the outside, impact the way we feel on the inside.  Just as my son stood a little taller and had more of a spring in his step when he had on the tuxedo, we can find that the outer ‘clothing’ becomes more than just something that we attempt to put on, but becomes a part of the fabric of who we are.

So, maybe “dressing up”  is more than just what we wear on our bodies.  Maybe even more apparent than our clothes, others can feel and sense our attitudes.  Maybe the effort that we put into “looking good”  should be focused on less, and what we ‘put on’ in how we care for one another should be focused on more.  But before we can ‘put on’ those traits, maybe, just maybe, we need to be so tapped into the fact that we are CHOSEN, DEARLY beLOVEd.  Valued.  Just hearing those words fills my heart with hope and makes me want to stand a little taller and genuinely smile a little brighter. Hope has a tendency to spill over and light up the world around it. And more than bling and fancy clothes and shoes and accessories, the world needs to see and feel genuine compassion and love that comes from a heart that is responding to the love of Christ. Not a fake replica, but the real deal that is a conscious choice and determination to respond to situations in a way that honors God.  And that?  That truly is beautiful.

Here’s to ‘dressing up’!

Blessings ~

Heather

 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,

clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  

Colossians 3:12

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Enough.  ENOUGH.  That’s a  word we as moms often say to our children when they (or we!) have reached a limit.  “That’s enough ice cream.”  “That’s enough TV.”  Or, the dreaded “THAT’S ENOUGH!!” when the behaviors have hit a point that mom will no longer tolerate.  We moms say, “That’s enough” quite a number of times through our children’s years. It’s a phrase that is passed down from mom generation to mom generation. We intrinsically know that we need to say enough to our children.  That there are limits.  Enough.

But, here’s the mother’s day question for ya…do we ever say “enough” to ourselves?  Do we allow ourselves to know that we have limits as well… Limitations that keep us from keeping up with everything on the to do list?  Yes, we have hearts that dream and wish and hope and pray for our children, but do limitations make us feel as though we’re just not enough?  That guilt tape can run over and over in our minds and hearts and we can end up feeling insufficient as moms.  But God calls us to something different.  A little bird helped me see that so many years ago, and I just wanted to share the story incase there are any moms who might just need to hear the word ‘enough‘ in a different light.

As I sat in the rocking chair and fed the newest addition to our family, I watched the mama bird fly to and fro, to and fro.  She would fly away for a few minutes, and then come back to feed her newly hatched little birds.  She would feed them, and then, once again, fly to an fro, to and fro.  Everytime the mama bird would approach the nest, the baby birds would stretch out their necks so high, and make frantic peeping sounds as if to say, “Pick me!, Feed me!” The mama bird would systematically care for each one, and they would quiet down. It seemed like a neverending process, maybe because in the day to day, it really was neverending!  A mama bird’s work was never done.

I sat and watched this mama bird busy herself day after day.  You see, I had a “birds-eye view”, so to speak, for every day at regular intervals, I would sit in the former dining room with the bay window that was now a dining room transformed into a bedroom for our 6th child, and I would feed our baby.   At this point in time, I was a “mama bird” of six children- all ages 8 and under.   (Oh, and did I mention there were 5 boys and 1 girl?)  Well, this ‘mama bird’ knew that sense that the process of getting everything done was neverending and the feeling that it was just never enough.  I will spare you the details, but you can trust me when I say that I so get that feeling of never being or doing “enough”.

That feeling that there was never enough of me to go around was a pretty prevailing thought most of the time. Never enough of me.  Never enough time.  Never enough done, accomplished. There were so many things I wanted to do for these kids, to teach them, to equip them, to provide a creative and loving home for them.  I wanted to inspire them and encourage them, play with them, and overall, I wanted them to see the Lord in me…to be a mom that helped her kids to know and see and ultimately serve the God Whom I adore.  But, in the day to day, at the end of the day, I so often questioned myself, feeling as though I had never done quite enough, or if I had, there were huge gaps to fill.

But thankfully, as I watched that mama bird day after day, I started to realize a thing or two about being a mom. Day after day the routine was the same for me, and for that mama bird.  We both flitted and fluttered about.  We both had to tidy our nest a bit.  We both had to feed our little birds at regular intervals.  And that mama bird?  She took time to rest.  To be with her little birds.

Soon, as the scrawny little baby birds were fattening up and their feathers were fluffing up, they started venturing from the nest.  They had to experience that process of falling from the nest and learning to fly.  During this process it was not the baby birds that I heard making awful sounds, it was the mama bird.  Mama Bird was ‘encouraging’ (strongly) the baby birds to fly and also warning other intruders (some of my more mobile children at the time!) to steer clear of her baby birds or they might just see a less than sweet side of the mama bird.  And within a matter of time, all of the birds were out and about, flying and venturing out on their own.  The mother bird?  She had done her job.  She had done her job well.

So here’s the thing. There was a natural order of things that allowed that mama bird to care for her young well.  She knew what they needed and she worked hard to provide it. She didn’t look at the double decker birdhouse in our neighbor’s yard and wish that her birds lived there. She didn’t spend time primping in front of the window trying to catch a reflection of herself to ensure that every feather was in place. She didn’t put undue pressure on herself and insist on a gourmet worms or bugs or provisions.  She was there, providing, doing, and being.  For those baby birds, she was enough. She did what she could, and those baby birds flew out and were cared for in  such a way that they were able to venture out on their own and… fly.   The mama bird intrinsically knew what her little one needed and she was enough.

And so do we.  I so believe that we as moms need to stop and breathe and “be”. So often we intrinsically know what our child needs better than anyone.  In our world, it’s so hard not to look to the left or right, because we want to do things “right”.  And everyone has an opinion about what “right” is. We look to friends or family,  to pinterest or facebook, or read up on the latest how to’s of raising this or that child.  But the doing?  The flitting around and searching after answers can often take from our children the very thing they need the most… the being…the ‘just being there’ for that child….the looking in the eyes and sitting side by side kind of being there. Yes in some ways, we, like the mama bird, need to know that we are enough.

A child will remember the “being there”.  A child may not remember the details of the decorations on the wall or notice the difference between a gourmet meal and a hamburger with mac and cheese.  A child may not have the elite baseball or dance equipment, but will so be aware of when a parent takes time to throw a ball or help someone practice a dance move or a piece on the piano.   A child will remember the mom’s presence in those million different circumstances when they knew they were a child and needed someone or something bigger than themselves to help them through.  Sometimes, our presence is enough. And we need to rest in that and know that for our chlld.  But, bottom line, in the big picture of life, maybe, just maybe, we really are not enough.  What? What did I just say? Yes, maybe we really are not enough… and maybe acknowledging that is where the freedom comes.

And maybe that’s the heart of what I want to say today.  We really aren’t “enough”.  We just aren’t.   Our children (especially as they become teens and adults) will have needs that there is no way that we can fill. Little birds need to be equipped to venture out on their own. They’ll make mistakes.  They’ll fall.  They’ll fail. We will fail.  They’ll hurt and we won’t be able to soothe the ache in the way that we want.  They need to learn to fly, and that’s a process.  Failing is a huge step in any road to success. Including parenting.  We’re just not ‘enough’ to be the end all for our children.  And knowing that may very well help us to equip them for life in a whole different way.

When we realize that we are “not enough”, we can point our children to the One who is. Thinking that we are or have to be and end all in our children’s lives?  That can keep our child relying on the wrong source.  We cannot do everything perfectly or be an end all for our children. But our being there (like that mama bird) can teach them a level of trust and reliance and security and hope that can equip them for trusting others, and ultimately, trusting God in a huge way.  For just as I said earlier, there are so many times in a child’s life when just a mom (or Dad’s ) presence can help them to see their need for something or SomeOne bigger than themself.  And being a parent?  So often, we realize that we need something or SomeOne bigger than ourselves to help us and our child through.  We hold up our hands and say, “What do I do now?” And God waits for us to come, to come to Him who created us and our children, and knows the deepest needs better than we do.

So often in my prayers I’ve acknowledged to the Lord that my chlldren were His way before they were mine.  That they are such a gift.  In the same way that children are strengthened and encouraged by just their parent just being there at times, I am so encouraged by knowing that God is so present and that His grace is enough. His grace is enough to fill in the gaps of all my shortcomings as a mom.  His grace is like the glue that takes what I can do and fills in what I can’t.  His grace is the embrace that holds everything together when I feel like falling apart.  His grace is what allows me to be needy when the world says that I am to be sufficient, that I am to be enough.  But His grace calls us to do what we can, and rely on Him to do what we can’t.  I’m so aware of my faults and shortcomings and so thankful that God calls me to come as I am, but doesn’t want me to stay there.  He also wants His children to grow….to fly.

My children are now so much older.  Infact, one of my sons graduated from college just yesterday! As we sat at the table, I felt so many emotions…so much pride and love as I looked around at the table with these kids….now not really kids, but young adults that I love so much.  But I  also felt an ache….that old familiar ache of not doing enough in some areas.  But instead of berating and bemoaning what I haven’t done, I am choosing (trying) to learn from it, and just press on to know and trust my Jesus with more of those gaps that only He can fill…in my life and in my children’s lives.   For it seems to me, that we are all learning to fly.  Failing, falling, flying…it’s all part of it.

So, all of you mama birds out there, when you feel yourself focusing on insufficiencies and saying that what you’re doing is just not enough?  I encourage you to take those longings, those hopes, those dreams, those insufficiencies to the One who IS enough. His Grace is Enough.  Period.  And like a child who just needs to know that he is not alone, knowing that the One True God is present and with us through it all can give us courage (en-courage us!)  to face anything that we have to face.  Yes, His All-Sufficient or “All-Enough”, if you will, grace is indeed enough.

May we as mama birds love well, flitter and flutter a bit, and encourage our baby birds to fly.  May we not berate and bemoan what we don’t have, but embrace and enjoy what we do, and leave the rest with the One who loves us well.  He calls us to some flittering and fluttering for sure,  but also calls us just to come as a child who knows that she needs SomeOne bigger than herself to “fly” in this world.  Our Creator knows what we were designed for, He knows His Plan and that baby birds (and mama birds) were meant to fly.  It’s what they were designed to do.  He’ll provide the wings and the wind and the things that we can’t.  It is ours to provide the will and desire to show up and do our best with what He’s given, in whatever nest He’s placed us, with whomever our little birds may be. Those little birds?  We must remember that they were His before they were ours, and He knows a thing or two about caring for His Own. (See Psalm 91: 4 below) His grace is sufficient for us.  His grace is sufficient for them.

Yes, may we as mama birds always know and point to the ONE who truly is Sufficient.  He is Enough.  May we come to Him as a bird to a nest, and find shelter.  And may we teach our ‘little birds” where to find that shelter as well….in the ‘shadow of His wings…’

Blessings ~

Heather

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91:4

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

courage

Living life takes courage.  Period.  It just does.

And I see examples of courage everyday.  I see them at home, at work, in the community.  And a few nights a week in the Spring?  I see them on the baseball field.

When the bases are loaded, your team is down by one in a game between rivals that has been anticipated for months, and it’s the last inning? Yep, it takes courage to stand at bat and swing for the fences.

And miss.

But in baseball, you know that’s all part of it.  Someone has to be the last man out.

Last night as we were at a high school baseball game between two talented county team rivals, and our team had it’s last turn to bat.  We were down by one.  It was a high scoring game…11 to 12.  There were two outs, 2 runners on base, and ….my son ……………wasn’t up.  Phew!  Relief.  But….he was up next.  (Yikes.  Prayers flying heavenward…) So if this batter got a hit and made it to the base, it would’ve been the scenario of : team down by one run, 2 outs, bases loaded, last inning, high stakes game, and my son up.  And in that moment, he’d have the chance to be a hero, or the last man out.

Well in this moment?  I had a bit of a self-revelation.  I’m a bit of a wimp.  I didn’t want my son to be the hero or the last man out.  I secretly hoped that the guy in front of him would get the out.  And when he did?  Well, I just felt ashamed of my wimpy lack of courage. I knew that my son…well,  he would’ve boldly stood in that place of hero or last man out.  No my moment of self-revelation was not a proud moment for me at all.  And when I later confessed the scenario to my son, he told me what I already knew…that he wanted to be in that situation.  He wanted to have the chance to be the hero, or last man out. He wanted to have the chance to swing for the fences and to stand in that place of risk, that place of courage.  He wanted to help his team and have some control of the destiny of that game, win or lose.  Team players want to stand in the gap and do their part for the team.  Love that.  (Their moms on the other hand?  Well, that may be a different story…)

And here’s another self-revelation.  I think it’s a whole heck of a lot easier for me to have courage for myself than to watch and endure my kids having to stand in the gap.  It’s so much easier for me to risk and fail, to be ostracized or ridiculed, to be rejected or hurt, than to watch my kids endure the pain and loss that comes with risk, the hurts and aches and growing pains that come with courage. It starts when they’re young.  It’s tough to not reach out and rescue that stumbling toddler to keep him from falling as he learns to walk.  But sometimes what parents may see as ‘helping’ can be providing crutches that only make the growth process harder.  As we grow up with our kids, the arena of what we want to guard or ‘rescue’ our children from changes.  But, cushioning those we love from pain can often be a deterrent to their growth, to their success, to their development of courage.

Facing failure with a good attitude is an incredibly important life skill. When we are afraid to fail, we are afraid period. We may feel that failure defines us or our children.  It so doesn’t. It shapes us, and equips us to learn, rise above, move on.  Those of us who experience failures early learn to rise up and not wrap up our identies in the great successes and failures that we face.  For in life, hopefully, there will be many of both. I’d rather have my child be willing to step up to the plate and strike out, than to not be willing to step up to the plate at all. (Most days, anyway!)

As a mom, that’s one of the lessons I’ve felt is so incredibly important.  To help our kids know that it is so very okay to fail.  Courage means picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and trying again. (and again, and again, and again). Courage also means not rescuing those we love from situations that demand courage.  That’s the tough part as a parent, but also an incredibly crucial step in the development of courage.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is “Where courage is not, no other virtue survives except by accident”, (Sam Johnson).  Developing courage begins in the little steps of learning to take a step even though we may fall, literally and figuratively.  It continues as we encourage our kids to use their voices, their gifts, their talents even though they may not be appreciated.  It continues as we encourage them to not place their identity in failures faced, but in the way they face them. It continues as we as parents allow them to risk and stand in the gap and wholeheartedly support their desire to swing for the fences when it may mean risking them being the last man out.  It takes courage to encourage courage in our children. And for me?  It takes faith in a God who has a purpose and a plan for us all.  For my children as much as for me.  Tapping into that Truth not only comforts and encourages, but inspires confidence that allows me to risk and fall and rise and keep trying.

Faith and courage go hand in hand.   So, here’s to standing up for what we believe in.  Here’s to living life out loud with the voice that you’ve been given.  We have one life to live, and it’s a gift not just for us, but for those around us. And here’s to encouraging our kids to do the same, no matter how hard it is to watch. So here’s to being willing  to swing for the fences when the bases are loaded and there are two outs. If we are destined to be the last man out, so be it. But, then again,  we just never know when we might bring in the winning run that’s a game changer for us all.

We’ll never know until we try.

P.S. One more thing…. Babe Ruth?  He’s known as one of the all-time best in baseball.  And he struck out  1,330 times. That’s a lot of standing in the gap, swinging for the fences, and missing!  He even held the Major League record for 30 years until Mickey Mantle surpassed it in 1964. But homeruns?  He had 714 homeruns.  So one of the greatest hitters of all time had almost twice as many strike outs as homeruns.  Am guessing that the two go hand in hand.  The success, the failures?  Yes, they go hand in hand. Maybe the thing which holds them together like glue is the courage to rise from failure and stand in success and be willing to do it all over again, knowing that ultimately these are not what define us.  Success doesn’t define.  Failure doesn’t define.  How we face them both, with or without courage?  That shapes and defines and impacts our world, not just for us, but for those in our world, on our team, who are watching to see our next “swing”.

Just a few thoughts from a wimpy mom whose goal is to be a bit more courageous at the next rival game.

Blessings ~

Heather

dogwood

For a season

it beautifully blooms

because that’s what it was designed to do

And we can all enjoy the beauty

Then…the blooms fade

and the work begins

For flowers weren’t just made to bloom and be beautiful

They have a purpose

Yes, the flower’s work is to make seeds

Seeds that will be planted,

Seeds that will spread and grow and impact their little space.

and impact their world

and one day, bear flowers

that bloom beautifully

Flowers that will be admired and shared and enjoyed

in times and places which are far beyond that of the little blooms that I enjoyed today

simple little legacy of a flower…kind of reminds me of being a mom.

Bloom on precious mommas…

keep sowing and watering the seeds of character and hope and love for the Lord

in your children,

asking God to grow them up in His Ways

You never know where or when or how those little blooms will show up

and impact their world

Beautifully…

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”

I Corinthians 3:6

squirrel

It’s really starting to scare me.  No joke.  I get distracted so easily.  It happened the other day,  time after time after time, as I worked with my students in the classroom.  I work with many students who have attention deficits.   And behavior issues.  And emotional needs.  And learning disabilities.  And physical challenges.  And I love my job.  But the mix lately has been difficult and I feel like the dog in the movie “Up”  (see link below) a myriad of times each day. Needs and goals and distractions and the daily stuff of life can feel like a hindrance in educating young minds…or of even just completing simple tasks in a day! I try to be empathetic to my students needs, and have become quite sympathetic with the ones who struggle with attention deficits, because it appears as of late that I have a few attention deficits of my own!  Like a dog who sees a squirrel and gets totally often track chasing that squirrel down, I daily chase a lot of diversions on my own, for sure!

Please take a moment to watch the clip and you’ll get what I mean… It’s so cute and makes me laugh every time I see it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrAIGLkSMls

So, the little dog gets a little distracted.  I mean, what dog wouldn’t get totally distracted by a squirrel?  It’s just in their nature to have that heightened sensitivity to the presence of a squirrel, and the urge to just….chase it!

Well, life is full of distractions, or squirrels, if you will.  Full of them!  And sometimes as moms, teachers, caretakers, ….as women… it’s just in our nature to have that heightened sensitivity to attend to the needs of those around us.  We’re aware of the need, aware we can help solve the problem, and so we …..chase it!  And some of those distractions need to be addressed and handled.  But some of them?  They just need to be seen as distractions that we don’t need to chase.

Have you ever really seen a dog catch a squirrel?  I”ve seen lots and lots of dogs chase them, but I have never seen a dog catch one!  Squirrels are speedy and elusive and dogs can expend huge amounts of energy and time chasing them to no avail.  It’s like running on a hamster wheel…there’s lots and lots of effort, but no completion, success, or finish line. Distractions are the same way. So often, the more we give way to distractions, the more distractions we have. Like a dog running down a trail, we chase those squirrels wherever they go and then we have no idea what in the world we were working on before the SQUIRREL effect diverted our attention.

I do have a full plate.  I know that. But I’m usually pretty able to compartmentalize.  I can multi-task while mentally or emotionally putting things on the back burner until I can deal with it wholeheartedly.  Raising 6 children (who were born in 8 years, no twins…) helped me to really hone that skill to perfection!  But lately, I’ve been losing that a bit.  I don’t know if it’s this time of life.  Yes, ladies, I recently had my 50th birthday, and the gray hair, the fatigue, and …..the distractibility has just really popped up in my life in a big way.  They say this period of life can do make women be a little bit more ‘scatter-brained’, and I’m thinking that the diversions my brain takes are support evidence of this fact.

But whether it’s the level of activity around me, the season of my life, or the habits I’ve formed, I really have been trying to be…intentional.  To be intentional about what I do when i wake up.  To be intentional about the things I do in a day.  To be intentional in the way that I pursue and pour myself into the relationships around me.  Yes, I want to be intentional.  Nobody in their right mind would put on their ‘to do list’ to run around wasting time and wearing myself out chasing squirrels.  Nobody.  but, my daily routine has included quite a bit of that.

To be intentional, I need to know my purpose and stay on course.  I love the word intentional because it connotes purpose without rigidity.  Life is so full of distractions, hindrances, and rabbit trails (or squirrel trails, if you will!) of the heart, mind, and body. But so much of life is how we respond to those distractions.  And that is the key.  And in order to respond well to the distractions, I need to have more of a big picture mentality of what really matters.

Jesus was the master of not giving in to distractions.  There were demands and needs and pleas all around him.  He was constantly pursued, misconstrued, rejected, judged, and totally misunderstood. He often said “for those who have ears to hear”, and I don’t doubt that he was routinely surrounded by many who just didn’t have “ears to hear”.  He would speak the words of Truth, and move on.  He focused on purpose.  He rested.  He was intentional about having some time alone.  He was intentional about having relationship.  He was intentional about his time in prayer.  He could rest in a boat in the midst of a huge storm.  The very real distractions of wind and waves weren’t his focus.  He knew they were all in His Father’s Hand. And He knew He was.  He was true to His purpose even to the end, the bitter end when he prayed alone in the garden and was forsaken by those who had left all to follow Him.  He was forsaken by all but One that night, but then was obedient unto death even when that he hung on the cross and His own father turned from Him.  He was obedient, intentional, purposeful unto death. He knew His Purpose.

Because He knew the big picture and His purpose in it, he didn’t get caught up in all the details or dwell on the difficulties.  He knew that the end of the story wasn’t the cross, but the Resurrection.  And His intentions were the momentary, daily, yearly, and lifetime steps that kept Him on the path of purpose.

I know it’s a stretch to go from talking about squirrels and rabbit trails to the life of Christ and His obedience unto death and then Resurrected Life.  But paths are paths.  Diversions are diversions.  And God calls us to a life of purpose.  He set the example for us.  He goes before us.  He knows the paths that we should take.  And sometimes, those paths will be trails that include lots of diversions.   But how we respond to them….how we live with them…will make all of the difference in terms of whether we’re moving closer to our purpose or further away.  Do we flurry around with a sense of urgency like a dog chasing a squirrel, or do we purposefully and patiently handle the tasks at hand, knowing that it’s all part of life and those little distractions are often the very things that God can use to help prepare us for what’s on down the road that we’ve never even imagined. I’ll say it again…those distractions ( and how we respond to them) are often the very things God uses to prepare us, to polish us…

Well, once again, this post is full of plenty of diversions of sorts.  Sorry.  I obviously have a long way to go in my ability to  write directly and succinctly. …What might distract you is an important detail to me!!  I’m working on being more ‘abridged!”  But that’s part of the multi-tasking person God made me, and the funny thing is, when you’re aware of what’s going on around you, you’re aware.  Aware.  And that’s a good thing.  If I weren’t so keen on distractions, I don’t think I would’ve ever even gotten the above photo of the squirrel.  After a long day at work, what was the very first thing I saw as I walked outside into the parking lot?  a…..SQUIRREL!!  And as i got into the car, I grabbed the camera and focused the lens on that little critter sitting in the tree.  Usually squirrels are fairly jittery.  if they know  you’re watching them, they’re off and running.  But even after I positioned the car to take a better photo, the squirrel just stopped eating, looked my way, and then proceeded to eat whatever it was that it had been eating.  If a squirrel can be calm with a huge distraction of a car and a woman with a camera 10 feet from the tree that it’s sitting in, well, then maybe there’s hope for me as well!

So here’s the thing. As believers in Christ, we are called to be calm in the midst of the distractions.  Trusting.  Resting.  Knowing that the End of the Story is Good.  And my part in it?  These steps along the way that are often so full of tasks and urgency?  Living in them and responding to them is so different than being run by them. Because?  Because I know that ultimately, my relationship with God and faithfulness to His call in my life has to be the stake I’m centered on. Like a dog that feels like it needs to chase every whim, I could be constantly out of breath with the trails I take.  Praying that the way I respond in the ins and outs of all of the joys and messes of daily life are those that keep me moving forward toward the path that God has for me. I love that nothing is wasted in God’s economy. Nothing.  Not even distractions.They can be the very tools He uses to shape us and prepare for what’s ahead.

“Therefore, since we are encompassed with such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and your hearts give up.”

Hebrews 12: 1-3

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