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Move, girl!

Hmmmmm……looks like they finally moved that thing. How many times did I ask for that very same thing to be done?

Wow! Really? I put that request in years ago, and now it’s finally important to someone?

This is how it begins. A blast into the past. Recounting all the hurdles I had to jump. Lamenting over things He had already gotten me through. Just not in the way I wanted. Then wondering why in the world that “assignment” was so hard for me?

In high school for two spring seasons, I decided to join the track team. Somehow, during that first season this short girl was encouraged to try the 100 meter hurdle race.

In high school I was also persistent. I didn’t give up easily, and even though I trained painfully to clear that bar, I missed it each race. Tumbling to my feet, onto the ground. Humiliated and defeated.

I needed a new assignment. A different race. I needed to move.

My perseverance and persistence has not faded since high school. Which means I still painfully work to clear hurdles from my path. In ministry. At work.

I get frustrated each time I don’t clear that bar. Upset each time I fall. Each time I hit a road block. Crying out for help in my suffering because surely if He called me here…well, I should not be set-up just to be knocked down. Humiliated. Defeated.

They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas. That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over the Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew for sure God had called us to preach the good news there. Acts 16:6-9, MSG

Move, girl! This isn’t the place for you. You belong in Philippi.

I had to move.

He had a different place for me. A different assignment. And, he set up some roadblocks where I was for a purpose. Just like he prevented Paul and Silas from preaching in Galatia and Bithynia.

He had to get me to Philippi.

And if I stayed comfortable where I was. If I stayed happy where I was. If I never fell over another hurdle, or had someone or something block my path-I never would have moved.

Move, girl!

So, I did.

Which means…who cares who moved those darn pictures? It was not my assignment. Who cares who blocked the way at work? I was never meant to stay where I was. It was no longer His place for me.

He gave me a new assignment. He sent me to a new place. To tumble over some different hurdles I am sure. But…when he says, “Move, girl!” He will also provide the way for me to clear them, too.

Move, girl!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2018 in How Is Your Faith

 

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My first line of defense-Him!

Seeking him

Before I speak a word, let me hear Your voice. And in the midst of pain, let me feel Your joy.

-Lauren Daigle, “First”

You are having one of those moments. Maybe one of those days. Everything has gone wrong. Every possible obstacle and frustration stands directly in your path.

There is that email from a co-worker that lacks grace, and leaves you seething.

Your kids have spilled something, knocked over the plant, and yelled at each other one too many times.

You have been stuck for days inside, and in need of some fresh air, only to find that your only means of escaping cabin fever now won’t start.

That person cut you off in traffic. You are in the express lane behind someone with WAY more than 20 items.

Your neighbor has called the police on your dog…..AGAIN!

You react. You respond to that email in anger. Snap at the kids in frustration. Throw those keys on the ground, and slam the car door. Maybe shout a few expletives at that aggressive driver. Roll your eyes in the checkout line. Call the police and give them a piece of your mind, too.

Kicking. Screaming. Stomping reactions. And, well deserved, right? I mean…look at all that chaos before you?

It’s what I do. When all those emotions snap at once, and leave me a confused mess, I react.

When criticized, I react with defensiveness.

When inconvenienced, I react with frustration.

When attacked, I put up my dukes and get ready to fight. With words. With accusations. With yelling. With impatience. With my human emotions blazing.

Until, it’s over…and I hold my head in shame.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Ephesians 6:13

When I should be waiting, looking, asking for Him to react. When I should be relying on Him to defeat the chaos. Instead my first line of defense is to handle the battle on my own…

My first line of defense against criticism, frustration, inconvenience, and anger should be Him. A prayer. A plea from the one who can handle it.

Stopping to ask for the right words to respond to someone’s verbal attacks.

Stopping to ask for wisdom and guidance in handling the ups and downs of motherhood.

Stopping to ask for peace when crazy sets in.

Stopping to ask for eyes to see beyond my emotions…to see the person behind the wheel, the mom who may be in a hurry in the grocery store, too.

Stopping to ask for grace to forgive that neighbor. That co-worker.

Stopping to seek him in the midst of each hard to handle moment. Each battle. Each encounter.

So that next time my reaction will not cause me to hang my head in shame. So that my reaction will reflect Him. His light. His grace.

I wanna find you, in every season, in every moment. Before I speak a word, I will bring my heart, and seek You first. 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Craving More of God

 

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Praise Him Anyway

Praise Him Anyway

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. Psalm 34: 1

In my daily work, I often find myself moving from one crises to another. It is for this reason that I often have to forget or put aside my own crisis that may have occurred outside the school building. Those that may have occurred before I even left home. So I can help others cope with their own struggles.

However, sometimes these two worlds collide and you are dealt two crises in your hand of cards. Two that you must strategically play at the same time.

The phone rings in the middle of someone’s meltdown, and you find your own child or loved one is now in the middle of theirs. What do you do? How do you respond?

This actually occurred recently to my co-worker. And, as I watched her calmly sit down the receiver of the phone, slowly take a deep breath, and refocus on the task at hand, I wondered how she mustered the energy to deal with both.

Her answer? “I was just glad I was in the middle of this crisis, because I really just wanted to lay down and cry.”

Which left me wondering…Do I respond in this way? Do I look for what is good and positive in a given situation? Or do I scream, cry, and run for the hills?

These types of days are not uncommon. On most of them, as soon as I hit the ground running, I am then headed to another problem. As I sit down for lunch there may be something or someone I need to calm down or fix. In the midst of it all, I have my own problems in my life, my home, with my children.

It’s enough to make you come undone. To completely unravel. Just like everything and everyone around you. To lay on the floor and cry. To pick up that phone and throw it. To tell anyone who will listen just how crappy your day, your year, your life is.

And some days…I do unravel. I lay on the floor and cry. I throw things. I have a pity party.

But, then somewhere in the unraveling. In the midst of all those mixed up emotions. In the coming undone. Behind those tears is the strength needed to help someone else doing the same. The patience needed to calm down your own children. The perseverance to take a breath and move on.

Or the choice to look at all the great things in my life. All the blessings in this chaos that lies before me.

But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. Psalm 59:16

Or we choose to praise Him. Like David. Who had a few troubles and unravellings of his own.

Remaining positive in the midst of our struggles doesn’t mean our problems don’t exist. It only means we are choosing not to let them define our moods. Not to let it separate us from His grace. From His strength.

From His blessings.

Like the morning cuddles from the child who spends the afternoon in tantrums.

Like the random compliment on a day when you have heard nothing but criticism.

Like the things you have been able to provide when the bills keep coming, and the money keeps going.

Like the new day that has dawned after a night spent depleted, discouraged, and lonely. A reminder that you are alive. A promise to start over.

Or the strength that comes from Him to slow down, take a breath, face the crisis in front of you, keep moving forward, and praise him anyway.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2016 in How Is Your Faith

 

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Just a Bad Moment

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In my home we have something I often refer to as the “witching hour.” It is the not so glorious hours between the end of the school day and dinner preparation. It consists of homework battles, grunts of hunger, bad attitudes, and meltdowns.

The battle begins with a weary, emotional mom, and the attitude of her sassy daughter.

The battle continues with the screams, kicks, and punches of a kid who has managed to keep every cord of his brain and senses intact all day, but who has now become unraveled.

The battle ends with a battered and bruised mom who has done the same.

Until the cord breaks. The emotions come boiling over the pan we have managed to stuff them in. We do things we don’t like. We say things we don’t mean. We become someone we don’t know. We forget about the grace we are supposed to bestow on those around us. We yell. Scream. Cry tears of frustration. Anger. Shame. Grief.

We are then the mom we said we would never be. The monster we vowed they would never see again.

We had a bad moment. And let that moment define us as a bad mom.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Calm down, sweet child. It’s OK. Calm down.”

As the emotions begin to fall neatly back in the pot. As you rub the back of a still screaming child. As you wipe the tears from the face of another, and the tears from your own, you become still for just a moment. Hear in those gentle whispers, a Father reminding you to do the same.

Calm down, my child. It’s OK. Calm down.

You are not a bad boy. You just had a bad day.

You are not a bad girl. You just made a bad choice.

You are not a bad mom. You are having a bad moment.

So you rest on these assurances. You find your peace again. Accept His grace. And in those bad moments, you start looking for the good ones.

The girl who the moment before was making silly faces in a new costume.

The boy who a few moments before was snuggling with this same mom on the couch.

The mom who has wiped tears, helped with homework, fed, built up, shared the kitchen, shared her snack. Had some good moments.

We just also had a few bad ones.

Not a bad boy. Not a bad girl. Not a bad mom. Dad. Parent. You just had a bad day. Made a bad choice. Simply had a bad moment.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in On Parenting

 

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Try Something Different…Just Let It Go

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Think about the things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8,9

It’s that time of year again. Lenten season. The time of year when for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday we focus on the meaning of Easter. That focus is not on the Cadbury Eggs that fill the aisles of the local drugstores, or the Easter egg hunts that are already being planned. Rather, it is on the one who promised us new life by shedding His blood.

For many it also means giving up present day luxuries to slow down and spend time preparing and celebrating this gift He has given.

God amazes me over and over, and the season of Lent is no exception. He also seems to find funny ways of teaching me to slow down. So, just as the season of Lent begins, He sends the snowstorm I had been seeking. One that forced me to finally relax. To slow down and think about His promises. In particular, the promise of peace.

See, I am not a peaceful person. In fact, I consider myself to be somewhat of a control freak. A little OCD. And, I can get agitated…easily. Easily frustrated. I worry too much about the opinions of others, and I let it bother me. Until this agitation, frustration, and resentment starts to overwhelm my soul. Starts to steal my peace.

Until I take it out on the ones who mean the most to me.

Until I find myself in the midst of an impending snowstorm pleading for peace. Because, I am aware that my control freak tendencies, my impatience, my frustrations will implode when stuck in the house with three bored and overactive kids.

And, because He knows just how much I adore these three. How much I yearn to be more patient. How much I desire to be a beacon of peace in this place, He did what He promised. He gave me peace this week. Peace so comforting that in some moments I didn’t even recognize the woman who was at home with her “monsters.” I didn’t recognize the woman who let the dishes sit. Who didn’t care about the snow boots strewn across the living room floor. The goldfish on the couch. The screams. The bickering. The two and a half hours playing in snow I don’t much enjoy.

Right in the middle of a week that began the season of Lent. A season when we start to contemplate the things we want to give up to draw closer to God.

Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. Hebrews 12:1

While I have picked to give up that thing, or things rather, that trip me up, I see now that He is really asking me to let go of some other things as well.

Let it go.

Of the need to please people. To make them like me. To worry about or beat myself up over worldly opinions.

Let it go.

Of the dishes in the sink. The clothes on the floor. The shoes and backpacks on the couch. The need to have everything neat, in its place, and put away.

Let it go.

Of the “busy-ness” that consumes my life. The need to go, go, go…and do, do, do. All. The. Time.

Let it go.

Of the need to say “yes,” when all I really want to say is “no.”

Let it go.

Of the housework. Of the homework. Of the demands of work that keep me from enjoying those at home.

Let it go.

Of my guilt. Of my shame. Of my past. My insecurities. My fears.

Let it go.

Of all that causes this heart frustration and agitation.

Let it go.

Of toxic relationships. One-sided relationships. Those that only tear me apart or beat me down.

Let it go.

Of the need to do for everyone but me. To take care of everyone. To fix all the problems of the world.

Let it go.

Of perfection. Because I am a mess. I stumble. I fall. I fail. But, God loves this mess, and he does not demand I be perfect.

So, let it go.

Because, in the end, when I let go of all the things which in the grand scheme do not in any way define me, are not a part of His plan, and only cause me frustration and agitation, I gain so much more.

I gain peace. A peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27).

So, what do you need to let go of today?

Seek God. Ask Him for his peace. His promises, and just let the rest go.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 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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