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Who of you by grumbling?

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Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.                                                                                                                       1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, MSG

“But I don’t want water. But I don’t want to do that. But I don’t like that. Ugh, that’s nasty.  But he never. She never. I want this. I want that.”

Grumbling. No rejoicing. All on a day I had planned just for them.  I don’t think the day went by with one single praise for anything He had done, or I had done, in fact.

It is on days like these that I would like to pack up my family. Move to some distant land. Let them see what “living” really is. Without internet. Without clean water. Without air conditioner, and the drive-thru of their choice.

There are days I need this reminder, too.

Because, quite honestly I have a lot of reasons to grumble. And on the days I find that maybe I grumble a little more, I also have many more to be thankful. Many more reasons to be grateful.

I’ll be missing one more person again this year during the holidays. While it seems I should be used to it at this point, it seems to be harder this time around. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s because my little family is now a generation larger since I have become a MeeMaw and life has taken on new meaning.

I still find reasons to grumble. But the things that used to bug me, just don’t anymore. I also find the things that used to get under my skin, and make me angry don’t have the same effect on me as they once did.

I have not always been this way. I am a scream in traffic girl. A glass half-empty girl. A “I hate people” girl. Yes…there are days I don’t like people. I really don’t like to be around them. On those days, I just want to be alone, with a blanket, and a book.

And because I have to force myself to see life in that glass half-full perspective, I also have to force myself to count my blessings each day, not just during the Thanksgiving season. So I simply started keeping track of three small things for which I was grateful each day. And, while it may not have made me forget that there is something missing again this holiday season, it has done a few things. Forcing myself to be thankful has also forced me to think about all the things on a given day that don’t cause me to grumble. That make me happy. That bring me joy.

Those three things give me reason to praise God through the loneliness, thanking him for all the times He has placed someone in my path in those times of loneliness or defeat to breathe life into those empty places.

To praise God for all the times He did answer me, even when I thought he was not listening.

To stop rushing to work every morning, and actually stop and enjoy a morning sunrise. To enjoy the quiet, calm of an office before the morning buzz takes over.

To appreciate cute baby onesies picked up for the grandson. Or a new mug to enjoy my morning cup of coffee. To reflect on the conversations that have value and meaning, with the people that mean the most to me. To remember the times that I laughed with my kids, and the times they also did not complain and grumble through the day.

To relish the conversations that a 21 year old still wants to have with his mother. And the memories that an older sister has with her once again absent brother.

I can grumble over all the things that are wrong. I can complain over all the things that are bad. Continue to be sad over all the things that are not going as planned. I will always find something that will fit into one of those categories.

And, I will also always find something to bring me joy.

I just have to take the time to look for it.

Stop my grumbling. Change my perspective. Choose to be happy. Choose to be thankful.

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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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we have all been in the boat

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I am blessed to live in an area that affords me space to seek quiet and solitude surrounded by nature and picturesque views. I often find myself when I have a few moments alone scurrying down to the fishing pond close to my home with a book to read for a few, and to spend some uninterrupted time just taking in the sights and sounds around me.

On this particular day, I was not the only one who happened to find a few spare moments alone, and while I am not a fan of sneaking pictures of strangers (because in a small town you learn quickly no one is a stranger), I couldn’t help but capture this moment. Simply because it took me back to so many of the moments I had as a kid on many other lakes fishing with my father and my younger brother.

Those moments were not so quiet. And in those times there were three very different people in the boat. With very different personalities, serving three very different purposes.

My dad. He was the patient fisherman. He never really caught anything. And, he had to be pretty patient to spend all day on a boat with two young kids. He was the one who steered the boat in the right direction. Who picked the good fishing spots. Who baited the hook of the girl who refused to touch any worms!

Then, there was me. Every now and then I cast a line. I liked to fish, but I liked to read more. I liked to sit back on the boat, feel the breeze, and finish the book (or two) I was reading. If I did happen to take a turn fishing, I was the one who managed to snag the “sneaky” fish. The fish who managed to get the worm, but not the hook. Then, sometimes…if I studied the “sneaky” behavior long enough, took a break and read a few more books, I’d cast my line one more time, and manage the biggest catch of the day!

Last, but certainly not least, was my younger brother. Not to be out done by his older sister; and sure he knew that the fish would bite in the farthest reaches of the lake-he spent most of his time tangled in the trees.

There are all kinds of people in our boats.

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

Some of them are the patient kind. They keep us on course. Steer us in the right direction. Even untangle our messes.

Some of them may just sit back and watch you get tangled. Maybe they will read a few books on how to help. Everything may seem easy to them at first, but if you look below the surface, there are people waiting to take whatever they may offer them on that baited hook, or behind that book they often sit behind, while they wait-studying the fish, so they know exactly how to help them in the future.

Then, there are those who just fall into the mess each and every time. And, that is OK.

We need these fisherman in our boats.

Because they remind us that we all have some mess we have been tangled up in at some point. Some time when we got our line stuck in the trees.

When we needed someone else to steer the boat. Someone else to guide us. Someone else to help get us out.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who you are. Romans 3:22

They remind us that no matter the mess. No matter how tangled the line, or how many times we needed someone to rescue us…we are all worthy of saving.

And, that we have all been in the same boat.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in You Make All Things New

 

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Weary, Worn, and In Need of Peace? Ask…

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. Psalm 121:7

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“Ms. January is base. Now you can’t get me!”

Each week prior to our Wednesday night lesson at church, our children have a time of play. Their favorite game it seems week in and week out is a good, old-fashioned game of tag, and each week I am named the “base.” The place children run when they want to be safe. To escape from the things that pursue them. Try to get them. Make them run away, scared.

“Ms. January is base. Now you can’t get me!”

Base. Defined as the part on which something rests or is supported. Also, a structure on which something depends.

“Ms. January is base.” Really??

While these kids may run to me to keep them safe for a minute or two. While others in my line of work depend on me for support and direction, on most days, I feel more like those wimpy, snow-covered branches, than anyone’s base. Anyone’s safe place.

Weighed down by the demands of parenting. By children who do not always listen, or even respect the one who takes care of the home. Weighed down. Wimpy. From the demands of looking out for the needs of others. Tired. Weary. Feeling more like a doormat than any darn safe place.

And on some days, I would like to find my own “base.” A place to run from the daily pressures. From the things, people, and demands that chase me down.

When I don’t want to support anyone, or have anyone depend on me. When all I want is peace. A little time to rest on someone or something else for a change. A break form everything that has weighed these wimpy branches down.

While running away sounds nice, God has something else in mind.

God is base. Now no one can get me!

He wants to be my safe place. My support. On whom I depend.

My base when I can’t strike a balance between discipline and letting kids just be kids.

A safe place to run when the first thing I want to do is slam the front door and disappear for days. Where no one needs my help. My support. My advice.

But, I don’t have to run to find his safety. I don’t have to hide or disappear to find his support. His help. His counsel. His advice. His peace.

All I have to do is ask.

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

So, that is what I did. I went to Him and asked for peace. For Him to be my base, so no one could get me!

See, my untraditional work schedule. The time at night away from my family. Schoolwork into the wee hours of the morning. All of these had worn me down. All I wanted was a day of rest. No obligations. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Just peace.

So, I asked him for it. In the middle of a flurry filled morning that meant the next day my home would be full of anything but “quiet,” I asked for peace.

Maybe a snow day isn’t your idea of peace. Weighed down branches full of snow may not be ideal. And for me, they usually are not either. But, I claimed the peace I asked for the morning before. I claimed the patience I wanted him to give me with my children. And, sure…snow mazes, cookies, and snow cabins made from Lincoln Logs meant I had plenty to do, I enjoyed the time just being the support, the “base” that one little boy had missed, and needed on this day.

No bickering. No fighting. No need to apologize for my lack of patience. No need to run.

Just peace.

From the one who gives me a safe place to plant my feet each time I ask. Even if it is a snow-covered (now maze-covered) front yard.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Craving More of God

 

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Sometimes There Is Nothing Left To Do But Laugh

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 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:2

“Whose idea was this?” This is what I ask my husband as our son sits and screams on the bathroom floor.

“Whose idea was what?”

“Parenthood. Which one of us thought that was a great idea?”

We know, we know. We did. God did. God thought we were equipped for this journey, and he blessed us with these headstrong and challenging kids.

But, honestly…we were not standing in line screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” for one of these battles. Truthfully, I always thought God knew I was not strong or patient enough to handle some of these things parenthood brings, let alone what autism brings with it.

And, finally…I’m not always strong or patient. There are times I really don’t know how to handle it at all.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. Proverbs 31:25

I have found the dignity and strength many times to conquer the tantrums, take on the flailing arms, flying Legos, and ear-piercing screams of one little boy, but as he kicked and screamed in the tub. As he slapped me with his rag. Dumped water in my lap, and screamed louder, I lost all dignity. I had no strength left. I had no clue what else to do.

So, I just looked at the little monster in the tub, and laughed. Loud. Uncontrollably. Yes, that’s right. While, I should have had the situation under control, I decided instead to laugh at it.

To laugh at it, because I know there is more of this in my future.

Even in laughter, the heart may ache; and the end of joy may be grief. Proverbs 14:13

Oh, the grief. The pain. The heartache. Most definitely returns.

See, that question-“Whose idea was this?” Although maybe a bit twisted, a tad inappropriate, the question is actually an important one. What we are really asking is this-Are we in this together? Are you with me on this one? We agree on this, right?

Because, we know all too well that while we play a tug of war with our boy, we also do the same with each other. The doting and cuddling momma, and the disciplinarian dad don’t always agree.

We are also well aware of the grim statistics of those who parent children with special needs. The statistics that say we will not make it. That we will remain broken. At war with each other. In a constant tug between pain and heartache.

So, with God’s help we choose instead to look at each other, joke about what we can’t change, and laugh. Together.

We choose to laugh despite the heartache, struggle, and challenges we know we will face again. Laugh at the future we also know is uncertain.

To laugh at this crazy thing called parenthood, just to keep our strength and dignity. Just to stay sane.

Because, although we didn’t pick this one, and we actually didn’t plan on parenthood a third time so soon, we can rejoice in the fact that we are the parents God intended us to be.

Up for a challenge definitely not chosen. With no fancy parenting formula but simple laughter.

Laughing at the times we have now, and those to come…because, really? Sometimes, there just isn’t much else left to do!

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in On Parenting

 

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Saying Yes to a Little Rest

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It is useless for you to work hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest for his loved ones. Psalm 127:2

There is a phrase I have heard many times during my years in both lay and pastoral ministry: You can be doing many “good” things, but they may not all be “God” things.

Lately, I have been doing many “good” things. So many that my calendar has not one day on which something is not scheduled. I am going to school. Training to mentor women in crisis. Mentoring in my community. Spending a weekend away with my husband. Visiting my brother.

I certainly believe all of these “good” things are also God ordained.

But in the midst of this hustle and bustle, I have also done some not so “good” things.

In my busyness I have rushed my kids and family. Snapped at my husband for helping me, because it seems to be something I can’t allow anyone else to do. I have yelled at everyone in this house to clean up, to hurry up, to get up…well, because I am fed up!

In thinking of all these “good” things I need to get done. All those “good” things swimming around in this already overcrowded brain, I have lost the ability to add much else, which means minor distractions have made me come undone. Like jump across the table in a meeting with duct tape undone if that co-worker makes another noise. Like snatch that chip bag from my son’s hands undone if he chews any louder!

Yes, not “good” things at all.

“When all of life feels like an urgent rush from one demand to another, we become forgetful. We forget simple things like where we put our car keys [GUILTY!] or that one crucial ingredient for dinner when we run into the grocery store [Stark-raving mad GUILTY]. But even more disturbing, we forget God. We say with our mouths that we are trusting and relying on God, but are we really?” -Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes

And, as I hold onto the end of my rope, and my overcrowded calendar. As I snap at my kids. As I snicker at co-workers, and contemplate punching my husband (Oh, admit it….you do this, too!), God gently whispers, You forgot something, January. 

You forgot to rely on me.

So, then what does he do? He gives me a sick child. He gives me the ability to choose my “best yes.” To rub the burning hot head of the moaning and groaning little boy on the couch, or the demands of my overcrowded schedule.

He gave me no choice but to drop off a few appointments from my calendar, delegate some need to do tasks to others, and spend some time with Him, and the one who needed my time the most.

While He didn’t reveal in these last couple days all the answers to my doubts. While I don’t know what is to come, or what He has planned yet, that much needed time of rest, of prayer, of time bonding with my blue-eyed boy will make me better equipped to handle the week to come.

To slow down and enjoy my kids.

To go away with my husband without worrying about the state of the house.

To appreciate the enthusiasm of a co-worker in the next meeting.

To look forward to what God has planned after this last week at work, instead of looking at the mounting bills on the kitchen table.

To remember God’s nudging to take time for Him. Time for the ones who are most important to me.

Not just when I want to tape my co-worker’s mouth shut, or deck my husband. Not just when I can’t do one more “good” thing. Not just when I’m at the end of my rope and fed up.

But, making sure that one of my first answers of “yes” to Him, is just simple time of rest.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Craving More of God

 

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Relax and Thrive on Crazy

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“The only true gift is a portion of thyself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have started to notice something about myself in recent years. Relax? It’s not necessarily something I know how to do. From one job to two, schoolwork to ministry, kids to housework, to being a wife…well, there isn’t much time to relax.

When I do find some time to relax with a nice, long, hot bath and a good book, I still can’t relax my mind, or sit still long enough to finish a page of any book. All the need-to-dos, have-to-remembers, and must-get-dones all crash down on my time of relaxation.

And, if life does actually slow down for a while, if obligations, engagements, and deadlines finally become few-I quickly fill it up with something else. Telling myself I thrive on this crazy!

But, while I may-it doesn’t mean my family does!

Because the one place we should be able to relax. The one place my kids should feel safe and a little less crazy is at home.

The place that can often be the least relaxing.

Sure, the neatly folded blankets. The books and games stacked neatly in the corner. The freshly made beds. The neatly folded towels, and squeaky clean bathroom sinks. They may all look relaxing, but they came at a price.

They all happened while I was thriving on my crazy need-to-dos, have-to-remembers, and must-get-dones. While I was making home the least relaxing place to be.

“The flood of demands will consume us if we don’t take time to let God right our perspective, reduce our stress level, and whisper His tender truths of love in our ear.” Lysa TerKeurst, Am I Messing Up My Kids?

And, in those of my kids.

“Mommy, will you play hide and seek with us?” Comes the tiny sing-song voice of a little blue-eyed boy.

And, I’ll admit-my first thought was-Oh, God. No. I have to cook dinner. I have to remember to send those cards. I must get that load of laundry done.

But, then it hit me. All those things. The crazy things I thrive on certainly don’t help my kids thrive. And, I made a vow.

I vowed to let the laundry go, and play hide and seek.

I vowed to forget about the blankets on the floor, and help make that fort.

I vowed to push the deadlines back a little to read one more bedtime story.

I vowed to forget the need-to-dos, have-to-remembers, and must-do-nows, to play another game of Memory, share a page in a coloring book, or help put up the dinosaur park fence.

I vowed to relax and thrive on their crazy for a bit.

“Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked “Who are these people with you?” “These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied. Genesis 33:5

The three God has graciously given me.

And, even after I played hide and seek not once, but twenty times. I am once again reminded of this as I open my laptop and work on another assignment, and hear my husband say, “Are you going to go fishing with us?”

Thriving on their crazy. Even if it is a little late for a weeknight. Even if it means my crazy to-do list keeps me up a little later tonight.

Doing what they find relaxing. Doing the things that remind me my time is precious. That my children are a gift, and that sometimes relaxing is not doing all the things that drive my family crazy, but doing the things that they find important.

Relaxing in their world for a while. Thriving on their crazy.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in On Parenting, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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To-Do: Be a Little Boy’s Mommy

 Make the most of every living and breathing moment, because these are evil times. So understand and be confident in God’s will, and don’t live thoughtlessly. Ephesians 5:15-17

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It has been one of those extra long days. Another day when the snow has completely wreaked havoc on our routines once again. I still have counters to wipe, floors to sweep, checks to write, and a heaping mound of homework. It’s 9pm, and I still haven’t worked out, and now my little one wants me to lay with him until he falls asleep?

“Hunter, I have read two stories. I’ve sang to you and I’ve rubbed your back. I’ve got to leave the room now. Mommy has stuff to do.”

And then…the look. The one moms everywhere know. The one that makes your heart melt, and makes you feel like the worst mom ever all at the same time.

“But, I’m scared.” Which in 5 year old speak, really means, I want you to lay here with me until I fall asleep. Which also means, that no matter how quietly, and stealth-like you try to leave his room, he wakes up. Still scared. Still wanting you to lay with him. Still with that look that lets you know He needs you, and makes you feel like the worst mom ever because all you can think of are all the things you have to do.

Your life is like the morning fog-it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. James 4:14

So, while the checks that need to be written can’t really wait another day, all these other things can.

While I’d like to get a little exercise in tonight, it may have to wait, too.

But my son, can’t wait.

Because, he will remember my rush to get bedtime finished to get all that other stuff done.

Because he will remember not being my priority on busy nights like these.

Or, he can remember that Mommy put all those things aside so she could rub the head and back of a tired little boy to sleep. He can remember that I put aside all of the demands of the outside world, to spend a little time in his.

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. Each of us is but a breath.                 Psalm 39:6,11

Life is far too hurried. We are all overstretched, overbooked, overworked, and living our lives completely out of balance. Never fully making any one thing our priority. Merely getting by with our way too long to-do lists.

But, before I know it, this little boy will not want me to lay in his bed any longer.

He will be hurrying to school, brushing away the hand that reaches out to stroke his hair.

He will one day be too busy to put aside the demands of his world to spend a few moments in mine.

So, tonight, maybe I didn’t get to work out. Maybe I started my homework a little late. Maybe I didn’t get that sweeping done. But, I won’t remember any of that.

I’ll remember calming the fears of a scared little boy. I’ll remember singing “Jesus Loves Me” for the tenth time, while I rub that same little boys back. I’ll remember this moment. The one where that little boy lays in the arms of his Mommy. I’ll remember his sleeping breaths. I’ll remember there is nothing sweeter than these moments.

The moments that an overdue to-do list could never replace.

The tender moments of being this little boy’s Mommy.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in On Parenting, Uncategorized

 

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