When you find yourself in the middle of seasons

When you find yourself in the middle of seasons

Have you thought much on balance? You probably have. If not with that particular word, you have probably been wondering how to be more intentional with your time, how to set priorities, and so on. I really haven’t been an adult long enough to feel like I know when phases come in and out, but it seems like these ideas are old ones with new wordings. But everyone’s talking about it.

I have really been putting a lot of prayer and thought into being intentional with my time lately. Every sermon, every verse, every breath of His Spirit seems to be pointing right to my schedule and planner. How do I make the most of it? How do I figure out what should go where and what should fall away?

Even yesterday, I felt really productive in how I handled the day’s schedule, but even in the midst of the productivity, I found myself sitting at our pub table island asking God how I can do it well and remain in His love. As soon as I lifted my eyes back up, I was struck by this verse I had posted on the side of the pantry

10942430_410180992491133_8327243011994537428_n

Wholeheartedly. yes. it was exactly what my heart needed to hear to keep going. Then, this morning, I started thinking on it all in relation to balance. As homeschoolers, we deal with balance a lot simply because I have kiddos that are very, very fascinated by our scale. They love to pile things on each side to see the differences. Only 1 of these equals 10 of those in weight?!

The definition of balance is “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” Upright. Steady. The odd part about balancing is that most people seem to confuse the word definition with another. When we say “balance,” what we really mean is “juggle.” When a woman asks how to “balance it all,” she really does mean all of it.

I waited tables for years.In one of those years, I worked in a pub that served pizzas…on those tall silver pedestals…that were shined nightly. The place was too crowded for those big food trays, so you had to carry three plates of food, or two pizzas with each trip. I dropped more pizzas than I care to admit. Balancing them was hard! Especially the large pizzas because they sat on top of the shined and slippery pedestal and didn’t fit in it like the mediums. So, I could only carry one or two. If a table ordered more, then someone had to help or I had multiple trips.

Not once did I think, “I wonder if I could just hold them all…or juggle them around until I get up the steps, down the hall, and up the other stairs to the table?” I couldn’t. I knew it.

So why do I think my life and priorities are different? I want to do it all. But, when you balance something, you’re holding it, either in your hands or close to your body. When you’re juggling, you take a risk because your hand comes off. That’s where we have the most issues. We don’t want to take our hands off. We want it close to us. But, we can’t have it all up close to our heart or safe in our hands. There isn’t enough room. So, we keep juggling, until eventually…everything falls in a mess around us while we sit dumbfounded trying to decide what just happened.

Then, we dust ourselves off, stand up, and try harder next time.

Maybe the trouble isn’t in our effort, but in our definitions. And maybe the trouble is in our scales. Because, even my children know that if I were to put a whole apple on one side of our scale, it will require many more grapes to balance out..to stand upright…to be steady. Maybe, the reason we aren’t steady is because we are too busy looking at the other scales. “her scale has 16 grapes on it and level! why is mine still leaning?”

FullSizeRender (2)

Each one of us has a different life. Working mom, stay at home mom, homeschooler, single, wife, grown kids, preschoolers…no one is the same. Even those of us with similar categories have jobs, bosses, husbands, children, and lives with unique personalities and a rhythm of their own. Everyone’s other side of the scale is different. What will balance on yours will not balance on mine. And what will balance on mine today, may not tomorrow. It’s a song and dance, this life. It’s always changing and switching the scale on me. I can panic and hunker down, fist holding tight to my life and expectations, then watch it all fall in a heap around my feet…or I can learn a new dance step. Add a twirl where there was once a dip, and a quick step where there was once a basic box step.

What about you? Do you find yourself balancing? Or juggling. Hunkering down in preparation for chaos, or swaying to the tune of a new harmony?

the order and the chaos- When the chaos just won’t seem to go away

the order and the chaos- When the chaos just won’t seem to go away

I went shopping today with my mom and all three of my girls.  It was so fun, but so very, very chaotic. Lots of things my girls and I take part in become chaotic, actually. Last month, I was talking with a friend over what God had been speaking to her about order from chaos. When she first mentioned it, my ears perked up because it’s the exact lesson I have been learning throughout the last several years.  My old blog was even titled Order From Chaos.

We talked later about the ways God creates order and why order is so good.  We talked about how God created us to crave Him (order) and not the world (chaos).  Since that night, the concept won’t get off my mind.  My life is normally pretty calm, but in this particular season, I have a lot going on.  I have been consistently trying to establish order in the areas of my life that need it, but in some, have been been having little luck.

But a verse has been coming to mind and giving a bit of insight into why things are not flowing.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2

In one of my Bibles, I’ve highlighted different colors for different reasons. Each time I see a mention of the Holy Spirit, it is highlighted in blue.  As this verse came to mind while chatting with my friend, I kept picturing the words “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters,” standing out from the rest in blue. I thought about God’s Spirit resting over the emptiness and chaos before He began His work of establishing order.

So often, I see a project or problem and I want to get straight to work fixing or doing. I want to make a list for this. I want to implement something new with that. This and that. Here and there. Tweak and fix. And then I get frustrated because my life still feels like chaos, not order.

Then I realize that though many of the steps I made were correct, I missed the very first, most important step.  In the beginning, His Spirit hovered over it. And in the beginning of my attempt to follow in my Father’s steps and reflect Him in my own life with order, I need to cover the chaos with prayer.  Through prayer, we ask His Spirit to once again, come down to the empty chaos and hover over it. Then, we can begin the process of order with a renewed mind and wisdom on which direction God wants us to go with it. (I wonder how many times the word “renew” will pop up in posts this year? It is my One Word 365 this year)

If you find yourself at a crossroads or frustrated over the chaos, backtrack your steps and see if you prayed specifically for that particular topic. (and not a “bless this thing” blanket prayer ;)) If like me, you accidentally missed that step, start now by asking God to show you the direction.  Ask Him to send His Spirit to cover the chaos and hover over it and you.

I am a law breaker. He is Freedom.

I am a law breaker. He is Freedom.

Lent is early this year again. February 18. I know that my denomination doesn’t officially observe Lent, but I have fallen so in love with it. Giving up something each day as I trudge mentally along that path to the cross reminds me daily of the burden of a law I cannot keep. Good Friday hits me hard with the reality of the burden lifted, all because of His precious blood spilled for me. Then, the freedom that comes on that Easter morning when I awake with the breath of fresh air that He has risen and broken the chains of following any kind of burdening law forever and ever, keeps me flat on my face in jubilation. I came across this post from a couple of years ago about Lent and thought I would share. In case you had never thought about the observing of Lent and might want to think about it before it arrives. 🙂

“It’s already Passion week with Easter a short four days away. How is it already the end of March? How has it been almost 40 days of Lent? This was the first year that I approached Lent with a different mindset. Instead of surrendering a luxury that I probably needed to lay down anyway, I chose something that I honestly didn’t know if I could do. To be perfectly honest, I chose something I did not want to do. I chose to deny myself.

These 36 days have shown me more clearly how inept I am.

I am a lawbreaker.

I don’t even want to keep the law. Even when I am able to keep it, something deep down in me wants to break it even more. Less of me. I need so so much less of me, and more of Him.

Recently, my husband has fallen in love with a guitar. He knew he wouldn’t be getting it because it was a good bit of money, but he couldn’t not talk about this guitar. Unfortunately for him, he works in a guitar store. I eventually started to dread him talking after the girls were in bed because I knew he would start up about how beautiful this guitar was and how it played. It’s something I won’t ever fully understand, except maybe in those moments when I hold a new clean journal and a smooth pencil and part of my heart sighs at the beauty of the moment. I dreaded him talking about it not because I was bored or annoyed, but because I am a realist. I have a practical mindset that sees responsibility and priorities. I see needs of my family and others and it’s really not often that I find myself dreaming or hoping. I didn’t want to tell my husband that we were expecting a baby in the summer and that other things needed to be bought or finished before this little one arrived before thinking about a guitar. I didn’t need to say it, he knew it. Instead, I prayed. Honestly, I prayed that God would make him be quiet. 🙂

Well, a couple of days later, through a situation that was from the start giving all credit to God, my husband was given a large sum of money….in the form of store credit. So that it couldn’t be used for anything baby or life related that wasn’t in this music store. He was so shocked and taken aback and I was for a moment, but then, after thinking about it, I wasn’t. God had silenced him, alright, but not by stopping up his mouth or removing it from his life, but by giving him the guitar for free.

Sometimes, I manage to deny myself and take up my cross. I’m better at wanting others to deny themselves. But sometimes, what glorifies our Father is giving us the desires of our hearts and illuminating His image in us. I am my Father’s daughter. I carry within me the Spirit of a Living God. His DNA swims through me and shows itself in my passion for Truth, justice, and righteousness. My husband is also an image bearer of God. He is his Father’s son. God is a dreamer, giver, and lover. He weaves in us the desire to laugh, believe, and wish. I can see that in my husband’s heart.

As I sat pondering these things in my heart yesterday, His Spirit spoke so quietly to my soul. “You are my child. Stand up for what is right and speak for those that cannot speak for themselves. Pursue righteousness and truth, but do not forget to dream, child. Don’t forget to dance and laugh and hope. Joy! Find joy in Me and My presence and My gifts.” I would be wise to look around at my brothers and sisters in Christ, and instead of seeing the differences in us as opinions or wrong, see stamps of the face of my God upon their hearts. To see in worriers the compassion of a God that sends His Son to us. To see in those that aren’t often serious, the mark of a God that works for the good of those that love Him and knows what good gifts to give His children. To those that are always serious, the fingerprint of a God that knows needs and hurts for the hurting, fights for the weak, and stands up for the invisible.

So, as this Lent comes to an end, I accept myself more as I recognize my weaknesses more. I bow before a God that denied Himself completely and broke the chains of the Law. I am made whole in Him and Him alone, and I approach this Easter with a humbled heart as my defeat and failures of this Lent only glorify His victory when laid at the foot of His cross. Our victory is only found in His.”

Book Release Party & Giveaway!!!–CLOSED

Today is the day!!! After lots of work and editing, oh my word, the editing…my book finally released today!!! It’s available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and iBooks (though the latter two have had just a bit of diva-like tendencies today, but customer service has assured me that it’ll be fixed soon and we’ll be good to go!). In February, it’ll be available in print on Amazon, as well as through the site www.identitybehindthemask.com! (Excuse the excessive use of exclamation marks in this post. they will come often. !!)

To celebrate this huge date that seemed like it would NEVER arrive, I’m giving away some of my favorite things! Think Oprah, but with way less budget. 😉

The prizes will be:

Movie tickets for 2. Date night anyone??

The DVD Moms Night Out. (Have you seen it? oh my word, I laughed and cried all through it. so good)

A Starbucks gift card. (I’m a plain latte kind of girl. you?)

boho bagthis super cute boho bag!

watch

this watch that I’m so in love with. Never mind the fact that it’s the exact same color as the one I always wear. It has stripes and gold and would be so cute in the spring! love it so much

earrings

these earrings…umm, not sure what’s going on with the image. but maybe it’s because my girls have been obsessed with mermaids as of late, but aren’t they cute and mermaid-like. ha!

and the last giveaway, but definitely not least ;), I’ll be giving away 3 print copies of my book!!! Your Identity Behind the Mask 🙂

To enter, share this post on facebook, instagram, or twitter and share the url link in a blog post comment! that’s it! hope you win! MAKE SURE TO POST A COMMENT IN THIS POST SHARING THE LINK TO WHERE YOU SHARED!

That’s EIGHT prizes!!! I’ll go in order that I posted the prizes using random. Giveaway begins now and ends at midnight tomorrow night! I’ll post the winners and email them each when it closes tomorrow (Jan 20th) night!

UPDATE!

Using Random to generate numbers, I started from the top of the list down!

The movie tickets go to number 4, Meagan!

Moms Night Out DVD is # 14! Megan!

Starbucks gift card is #1! Deborah!

The bag is #7! Erica!

The watch is #2! mommagoad57!

The earrings are #13! Tracy!

And the 3 free print copies of my book go to #’s 8, 9, & 5! Kati, Sherry, & Justine!

Thanks so much for entering everyone! It was really really fun to generate the numbers and scroll to see which names went with each number and prize! I’ll be contacting you each to get you your prizes!

When you’re waiting

When you’re waiting

I haven’t written a post on here in a few weeks.  For one, things have been a bit crazy in the final stages before my book  releases (yay!) and the holidays and all that, but also, I’ve been waiting. Waiting to have something worthwhile.  Waiting to see if the things I want to write about are still in my heart after giving it some time.

The more I have thought lately on waiting, the more sad I am for my children and all the waiting they’ll miss.  Don’t get me wrong; I hate waiting. We all do, that’s why there are so many inventions in our lives to try to eliminate it every way we can.  The trouble with that is that refining comes from the waiting, and though we can shortcut the waiting, we cannot shortcut the refining.

Think of all the things we once waited on that our children never will. Waiting to get a call from a boy that got your number…or waiting that three days or whatever the protocol was to call them back. Now, kids search a name on social media and begin speaking immediately. Before it’s been a week, they know all about this other person and are automatically together. It’s so rushed, no one has a chance to think about anything because we live on autopilot.  We live with decisions controlling us instead of us controlling the decisions.

Even waiting for answers isn’t the same. Google has eliminated our need for others.  I am a chronic googler. Seriously.  In fact, just a couple of years ago, I felt convicted over how often I turn to google instead of others and had to learn how to wait.  I had to wait long enough to call or text a parent or inlaw to ask them my question and then wait for their answer.  It sounds so simple, but we are not a people accustomed to that.  Even little things like that one missing ingredient I forgot or a question about taxes I want answered immediately.  Forcing myself to turn to others and wait really taught me a lot about opening up lines of communication and relationships.

I bought my girls Anna and Elsa dresses after Halloween to wear to Disney in December. They were beautiful dresses from a smaller company, and I got them for a really great price. They got to try them on a few times, but I didn’t want them to ruin them before we went to eat with the princesses at Disney. They waited. Then they waited and waited some more. Weeks went by before we were ready to leave, and still, they had to wait two long days worth of driving before we were even at Disney World! THEN, to make matters worse, the breakfast wasn’t until Friday, and we got there Monday! It almost killed my 4 year old to see her Anna coronation dress hanging there so long. Finally, Friday morning came. I dressed them, fixed their hair, and we were in a hurry to catch our bus (late as usual) and guess what happened? My 5 year old did not pick up her dress enough stepping onto the bus and RIPPED the Elsa dress. Bad. Right in the middle on the belly plain as day to see. The horror! There was nothing we could do at the time, and though she wore it through the breakfast, the hole got larger as time went on. By the time we had finished and headed to a different park, she was ready to change into the clothes I had brought. My husband and I felt SO sorry for that sweet girl, and to be perfectly honest with you, I was on my phone looking on Amazon at Elsa dresses the first free second I got that day. I have no idea why, but I didn’t buy one. I waited.

I waited until we got home, and looked again, but I still waited. I waited for my daughter to come mention her dress. She still hasn’t. Not once. She’s played in the dress plenty and the hole hasn’t bothered her once. I wondered if waiting for a dress for so long wasn’t maybe a really good thing, in the long run. Maybe waiting until her birthday for another (February) if she brings it up wouldn’t be good, as well.

Waiting is hard. It’s not fun, it’s ugly and can look grumpy, confused, and frustrated. But, maybe the waiting is giving us time to decide something with a better perspective. Many times in my youth, I have hoped for a boy to call those first couple of days and would have jumped at the chance for a date immediately, but a few days removed, I realized I didn’t care as much for the idea as the moment led me to believe. The waiting for an answer to a simple question from a parent has given me a much better relationship with my family, and at the same time, it has taught me to figure things out for myself instead of turning to an immediate answer from another.  And, maybe not getting a replacement for something you thought you wanted isn’t near as bad as it seemed when you first lost it.

Waiting is hard, but good. Praying for those of you waiting this week. Praying you have peace in the silence and peace in the answers.