Monday, March 24, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Joy

Five Minute Friday

Just jumping right into Five Minute Friday today (on Monday) because sometimes even when you say you are going to take a blogging break, then you just find the time to write... and you can't stop at five minutes! ;)

I hear the word "Joy" and I think of a little song I remember singing growing up, "there is joy in serving Jesus..."

When I became a mom four times over in less than five years, I kinda forgot how to serve with joy. Every need, every cry, every sickness began to wear on me and sap me of any joy that might have been there ... because having kids made me see how selfish I really am. It's a learning process and it's taking me a whole lot longer than I wanted to find the joy in serving my family, in responding right to interruptions and seeing them as opportunities, in finding joy in the moments of sheer exhaustion.

While I haven't shared my whole story, if you know me at all you might know that I've struggled to find the joy in mothering. It's been a process of two steps forward, two steps back and it's easy to let the devil have the victory and focus on each step backwards...

But just this week I had a step forward moment and God rewarded me liberally and it filled my heart with joy.  Thanks for grace as I focus on the step in the right direction and share my little story.

Backstory: I do NOT like to have my sleep interrupted. Once I was done nursing my babies, I was done responding to middle of the night cries. My brain, once woken, couldn't shut back down and it was easier to ignore the cries than deal with sleepless nights. Thankfully, God gave me kids that sleep really well and a husband that responds, helps kids out, and is snoring again less then 60 seconds later. (My kids even go to his side of the bed now if they need something)

My 8 YO has been fighting a cold/sinus thing all week that was thankfully responding well to sudafed and tylenol. But one night I forgot to give her medicine before bed and somewhere around 2:30 I heard her get up, go to the bathroom and return to bed all without bothering me ... and then I heard her blowing and blowing and blowing, and the battle in my mind began.

My five minutes are well over so I'll skip the long battle because God gave me the victory. That is the only way I would have gotten out of bed. I was so tired, I could only open one eye. I checked on her and told her we should do medicine and stumbled my way to the kitchen. She climbed out of bedand followed   me, so I hardly had to do any work. She took her medicine, drank some water and then said "I'm sorry, mommy." and I curiously asked, "For what?!" She hugged me and said, "For waking you up."

And in that moment my heart broke a little bit, but also healed together with a flood of joy that I made the right choice to help my little girl.

Yes, it did take me over an hour to fall back asleep and yes, the rest of the night was restless and I woke up feeling exhausted ... but my girls extended grace for every outburst I had as they readied for school and then I read some of the following verses in my quiet time...

John 15:12-13 "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Romans 5:8 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Ephesians 5:2 "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."

Galatians 5:13b " love serve one another."

Part of life is fighting for joy and I do that by counting the gifts that God gives me every day (or at least every day that I remember)...

* baby steps in success
* medicine
* unconditional love from my kids
* hugs in the middle of the night
* God's daily grace
* Scripture
* writing without worrying if it's just right
* breaking the time limit for 5 minute Friday ;)

so I'm also linking up with Ann Voskamp on Multitudes on Monday because I need to constantly fight for joy!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Crowd

Five Minute Friday

Well, I wrote this on Friday... but some how it didn't make it from my notebook to my screen until now. So here is a little Five Minute Friday, on Tuesday...


This was supposed to be the year of quiet. But sometimes it's hard to be quiet and experience quiet with the crowd that's hanging out in my head.

Yes, I'm willing to admit that I have voices in my head--lots of them and they are all saying a milllion different things. Does that make me crazy? Are you going to send me to the funny farm now?

(Ps: I miss my chickens, so maybe that wouldn't be so bad... )

There aren't always this many voices in my head. The number ebbs and flows. But this week, it's been a crowd, a full-blown, unwanted crowd. I was going to let you inside my head and share a few of the conversations I've been hearing lately, but I decided it was crowded enough--NO Vacancy!

If anything, I need a bouncer, someone to kick all the crazies out of my head, so it's just me and my thoughts and God.

I also know that God's Word is the perfect bouncer to all the crazies crowding in my head, but I just didn't feel like it (and yes, I whined while I wrote that).

It's a daily battle trying to clear out the crowd... and today, I just didn't have the strength to fight through the crowd ... maybe tomorrow.


ps. It's been a while since I've blogged or even written at all. I'm having a hard time finding my voice in the mess of it all, so don't think that this blog post means I'm coming back full force. In face, I"m contemplating a break (an official break) from blogging. Maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe a year, maybe forever...

So if you need something to read, go visit all of the other brave writers at Lisa-Jo's place as they write on "crowd."

And now it's Tuesday, and a weekend with friends, fellowship, worship, rest and yes, God's Word has helped my perspective a bit. The voices are quieter today... but still there and sure to get loud again. It's also amazing what a little bit of writing does to help process through the crowd. So I'll blog when it strikes and I will try to write even when I don't hit publish because I think that writing is still what I want to do, even when I don't "feel" like it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Small

You know the routine, it's Friday and in the rare event that I actually get my thoughts typed and published today, it's Five Minute Friday. Sometimes when I'm down in the dumps and discouraged, I don't feel like writing, but usually when I wade through the muck and let myself ignore the millions of other distractions and just WRITE, without worrying if it's just right, then I feel a little bit better. So, today I'm writing on SMALL.

Because sometimes, small really means BIG.

Like a hand written note on a small note card, the perfect encouragement at just the right time... not really small, but HUGE.

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Like a small piece of Dove Dark Chocolate.

Small means big when you are talking about a dandelion from your child, or a little hand slipped into yours on a walk.

Small is a newborn baby, the first giggle, the first tooth, the first step.

Small is a tiny mustard seed and the faith it is compared to.

Small is three tiny words, "I love you" or "You are beautiful" but when it comes from your husband's mouth (the one who only talks when he has something to say), It's big, huge, and heart-filling.

Small is the amount of money that I or maybe you could add to a growing collection to help the small in South Africa that need some help.

Small is a snowflake, a rain drop, a first bud, and falling leaf... But a representation of a big God who created seasons for us to enjoy.

Small is my heart when I'm feeling down and discouraged and all alone...

Small is my gifts of thanks to God, that add up to 1000 and beyond that remind me that my God is NOT SMALL.

Small is the sliver of sunshine that peeks through the clouds and cracks open my heart.

Small is the step that is needed to get out of the pit, to pursue the next thing, to do what is right.

Small is really big!

Community Conversation: What is your favorite small (but not really) thing?

and be sure to head over to Lisa-Jo's place for some more delightful writing on Small... each small comment you leave is a big encouragement!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Garden

Five Minute Friday
(It's really not Friday anymore...) but I still want to write and publish this post...

It's Friday which means Five Minute Friday! and after 3 days of sitting around "snowbound," I'm extremely tired for all this sitting around and doing nothing... although I did actually make a snow angel and did a little sledding today(Friday) with my kids.

We of the #fmfparty crew sometimes get the prompt late on Thursday night. and Lisa-Jo poured out her heart about falling in love with 250 kids in Africa. And how a blogging community could come together and fund a community center for a community in Africa, starting with a "garden."

I tried writing my Five Minute Friday post last night and it just wouldn't come... So I went to bed and then I had two different ideas pop in my head regarding "Garden" so I'm going to see if I can combine them (and maybe take more than 5 minutes) :)

and then life interrupted and I didn't even write for five minutes... and now it's Tuesday night and the "garden" has been fully funded and they are moving on to the next stage, but I still want to write about Gardens...

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Last year, I finally attempted a garden, which is funny if you know me, because I really don't like to get my hands dirty. But we went with it... My hubby bought me a book on Square Foot Gardening, he set me up a few boxes and I even bought the special soil mix to make weeds a rare occurrence.

And then I wanted to grow it all! I wanted to grow peppers and green beans and zucchini and lettuce, snap peas and carrots, radishes and even tomatoes... But when you have a square foot garden and you are just getting started and you aren't sure how committed you are going to be, doing it all isn't such a good idea. Nobody liked the radishes, the zucchini took over and killed one of my pepper plants, NONE of my snap peas grew, and I never got around to carrots. The tomatoes were harvested and canned, and we even attempted strawberries that produced a handful of sweet mini bites. And I learned a few new creative ways to use zucchini and I learned that a garden can't really produce well if you take a 2 week leave of absence.

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When you want to get involved in serving others and you see all the great ideas and ministries and opportunities, you might be tempted to "do it all" as well. I know that I have been. I feel a pull to donate to this worthy cause and that new cause and this third world country and that big name ministry. I want to do it all. I want to plant everything. I want to give to (almost) every need I see or hear about.

But the truth of the matter is, I can't. I am just one person and I am a part of just one family living on just one income. So maybe I can't respond to each plea by Compassion or World Vision and sponsor children across the globe, and maybe I can't give to every great cause that my blogger friends support and promote.

But I can be a voice and I can pass on the opportunities, and while I missed out on joining the "garden phase" of this giving opportunity, there is still time for YOU to consider supporting this South African Community and joining Lisa-Jo Baker as she uses the gifts God has blessed her with to bless her home town in South Africa.

human blue print

Would you consider being a part?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Focusing on Strengths, Stepping out in Faith

I intended to link up regularly with the God-Sized Dream link up on Tuesdays, but it really hasn't happened much. The writing, the dreaming, the blogging has been a little spotty. But I am trying to connect when I get the chance and I had a moment this week that I just wanted to share.

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I heard something very profound this week... (not that I haven't heard it before, but I didn't hear it LIKE THIS)!!
"What should have taken 11 days, took 40 years because of fear, doubt, unbelief, murmuring, grumbling, and complaining" ~Christine Caine

Ya know what some of my strengths are?! ...fear, doubt, murmuring and complaining.

And I began to wonder, maybe God only wanted me to take "11 days" to get to my God-sized Dream, but I've been sitting here in the wilderness full of fear, doubt, unbelief and grumbling and complaining. I sure don't want it to take me forty years to get to my promised land!!!

I don't know where I will go with this renewed knowledge, but I'm hoping that it leads me to the banks of the Jordan River...

One thing I am doing to step out of my fear and enter in to faith is to support The Mercy House.  I've been following Kristin Welch's journey from the beginning. I even donated some of my handmade cards to her original etsy shop when she was just getting started. Since then, I've just watched from the sidelines, admiring the jewelry and other great things they have in the shop, praying when news updates came through my email and facebook feed, and wishing I could do more to help.

Well, I'm stepping out in faith and joining #TeamMercy. I don't know what it will look like, I don't know how I will find the money (maybe you could all go buy some cards from my etsy shop, that would help a little), but I'm excited to see what God can do with little old me and willing heart.

My strengths are the ability to write and to share the stories and to pray. My strengths are to create and hopefully sell some cards to provide support. My strengths are to dream and hope and follow God's promptings. My strengths are to speak life and truth into the lives of the people I meet. My strengths are to share the stories on social media (yeah, I'm good at status updates ;)

Joining Team Mercy is a new direction of my God-sized Dreams, but I feel that it's taking me down the right path.

Community Conversation: Are you wandering in the wilderness in fear and unbelief? What are some of YOUR strengths as you pursue your God-sized Dreams? Would you consider joining me on Team Mercy?

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Write

Five Minute FridayThe blog has been quiet lately... although I did share earlier this week what I've been using as my creative outlet lately. I haven't really joined in Five Minute Friday much this year either. But I'm thinking today might be the day. I've got the urge to write and I'm letting go of the need to have the writing be "just right" with a pretty picture and adding all the links and making it SEO friendly, because I don't need a popular blog, I just need a small community with which to share my heart and give encouragement.  Thanks for sticking with me! :)

And then the prompt is: WRITE, so I just gotta.

I was not one of those girls that had a diary from the time I could string words together into sentences, I did not keep a journal all through junior high and high school, and I certainly don't have any written record of my freshman year of college... (now my sophomore year is another story, that's when I met Wes and we wrote letters to each other, so I've got writing, as sophomoric as it may be).

I have some prayer journals and devotional books and gratitude/1000gifts journals, but I've never been consistent. They are always start and stop and start again... and  then realize a week later it hasn't been touched. So I have a lot of half used notebooks and journals floating around in my storage.

But blogging turned into writing (although it probably should have been the other way around) and though I'm still not consistent, I have found therapy in writing. Because honestly, the thoughts in my head are a mumbo jumbo of nonsense most days. And I can't make heads or tails of what is in there and what is supposed to come out. But sometimes when I sit down to write, it all sorts itself out in the process. (and other times it still doesn't make a lick of sense) But when I write, I usually feel better for the writing.

When I thought about writing, I thought about the Bible and how God commanded some writing to be done. I thought first of John in Revelation... and then Moses in the Pentateuch... and then I searched for a few more, because I like affirmation and the encouragement to keep writing because there is healing in writing, there is learning in writing, there is remembering in writing, and there is encouragement in writing.

and sharing a few references on writing with you today.

Exodus 17:14  And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book,...
Write to remember the great things GOD has done for you.

Deuteronomy 11:20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:  
Write to remember God's commandments, and do them.

Deuteronomy 31:19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. 
Write down songs and sing them as a witness for God.

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
Write to warn, admonish, and instruct.

Revelation 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Write because He is making all things new and because He is true and faithful!

Community Conversation: Do you write? Why do you write?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A different kind of art

So my "God-sized Dreams" mostly include making cards and writing and encouraging others with both. The month of January was a bit sparse in both. So I'm linking up with Crystal Stine to share a little bit "Behind the Scenes" of my instagram feed lately (lots of baking)... and linking up with Holley Gerth, because I needed some encouragement for my heart today!

Thankfully, God has also given me another outlet for creativity... and I've been using it a lot this month. Maybe it was because I missed eating Christmas cookies, or maybe it's just because I love to bake!! First there were scones for the kick-off of Downton Abbey. There was birthday cake and cinnamon rolls (three times). Pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips.

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Fresh bread (with a machine), and apple pie and banana bread. Banana cupcakes with homemade frosting and pumpkin cookies with glaze... And then there was the rainbow jello in team colors for the Super Bowl party. I just couldn't stop myself...

And that doesn't even count the home made pizza I make almost weekly, the new dinners I tried and the delicious corn fritters we had last night.  There is something about using my kitchen that delights me. Now if only I could learn to bake and eat healthy stuff!

I was getting a little discouraged about my quietness on the blog and my dormant etsy shop, but I was reminded that I do have other dreams (being a better wife and mom, being a real-life friend and encourager, etc) and the time I spent in my kitchen helped me do that when I shared some of the goodies I created.

All this to say, I haven't been writing lately, and all my good intentions for my card shop fell flat this month, but I still made art... in my kitchen!!

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So on the long hard days, when you aren't sure you've done anything right (and believe me, I've had a handful of those this month), and when you aren't even sure what your dreams are, or how to pursue them... and you still haven't figured out what you want to be when you grow up, just look around you, look at what brings a smile to your face, look at what fills your instagram profile, look for the gifts and the graces from God. Chances are you might just find something that you've done right, something that fulfills the dreams of your heart. Sometimes you just have to be quiet to see them.

So friend, can I encourage you heart today?

Keep dreaming.

Keep taking snapshots of your daily life.

Keep spending time in God's Word.

Keep asking Him for guidance, direction and encouragement.

And Keep trusting Him to fill the desires of your heart!

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Community Conversation: What do YOU need to hear on the long hard days?  and What do you like to create in the kitchen (any recipes to share with me)?

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