No Love Potion Here…

Yes, whether you want to fight it or not, Valentines Day is almost here.  Some hate this day, while others embrace the hearts, decorations, cards, and chocolates.  Some say we should use every day to tell those we love that we love them.  Others need a day to prompt them.  But what if we saw this time as more than all of this?

What if we were missing the whole point?  That is what crossed my mind this week as I’ve been writing out scripture every morning and reading various scriptures on Love.

Luke 6:27-36
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

What if we saw Cupid’s arrow as more than a love potion for those we already love, and let it penetrate our hearts with forgiveness to those who have wronged us, pierce our expectations and demands, lead us out of our comfort zone to learn what it truly means to Love beyond what society tells us?

What if we prayed for those we speak so badly about or judge in our hearts?  What if we reached out in kindness and friendship to those we don’t know?  What if we were led more in the Spirit rather than confined by our own fears and walls of hurt?

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I of course want my friends and family to always know how much I love them, but I also want to Love with grace, with mercy, with the same Love that has been given to me so graciously, so freely, and that will never run out…

We have access to this Love and we have the ability to give it and share it with others…It’s not a love potion, but a choice.

Growing and Exploring

As I was working this morning, there they were…these little fingers reaching over the countertop trying to grab whatever they could get.  Things that used to be safe and out of the reach of my son, are now within his grip.  I smiled as I saw him on his very tip toes just exploring this new space that he could now reach, but still couldn’t see.  He’s growing and he’s exploring and I love it…well, except for the fact that I now have to find a new place for my herbs to grow😉.  But the truth is, it is fun to watch.

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This past Sunday we learned about creating and fostering an environment of growth.  Which went perfectly with my husband and I’s vision casting weekend where we discussed the environment we would like to create in our home.

But let’s be honest…growing isn’t always an easy process.  There will be spills.  There will be falls.  Accidents will happen.  Sometimes I feel as we grow up, we begin to protect ourselves and in the process limit our growth and our wonder of exploration.  We want things easy and run from challenges.  We lose sight of what’s possible with fears of the unknown or what could happen.  Life becomes safer but stagnant, easier but boring.

So as I see my son reaching and standing on his very tip toes to reach a new level, to explore, learn, and grow, I’m reminded of my own growth.  And those times when my son and daughter get frustrated because they can’t figure something out, or an accident happens as they discover something new, I’ll remind them it is part of the growth process, to keep going, to reach for limits beyond there grasp to live a life they never could imagine.

Matthew 14:29
“He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”

I know this is a lesson I continually learn and share.  But I just keep getting these great reminders!  With that said, it’s time to get out of the boat, take the risk, learn, explore, and who knows maybe even have the focus and faith to walk on water…

 

My Son is THAT Child…

There we were…dressed in our Sunday best (or at least the nicest clothes I could find in a hurry this morning) standing up on the stage ready for our children to be dedicated at church today.  It was a little hard to hear with the commotion that was to my left…the squirming to get down, the whining to be let go of to run around.  And who was that rambunctious little one?…yes, you guessed it.  There he was, my little squirmer, Gabriel, trying to get out of Jared’s arms.  It obviously was the worst moment to want to go play.  I mean how does a 21 month old not understand that this was an important and “quiet” moment?

I’ll be honest, I was sweating and wondering if we were going to make it through, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.  For one, I had calm little Lucia in my arms, and it was Jared who was trying to contain our lil’ man.  But honestly, it’s life.  I would have loved for Gabriel to stand their calmly and quietly, but the truth is It just wasn’t going to happen today.  So I laughed.

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You see, Gabriel is THAT child.  His energy and voice IS going to radiate through this world.  His adventurous and energetic personality IS going to change this world.  He’s going to GO when God says Go.  He’s going to SPEAK, probably loudly, what God has given Him to say.  His life IS going to be filled by the Spirit that nothing is going to contain it.  I love my rambunctious little boy.  And as a mother, I will guide him and help him make good decisions. He is learning to behave and to listen, but I don’t ever want to break his adventurous Spirit.  It’s challenging at times, but God has great plans for him the the beautiful way He was created!

Lucia too is our precious daughter.  She is developing her own voice, and her sensitivity will help to see the hearts of others, to have compassion for the hurting, and a passion of Love to serve.  I love watching her grow and together discovering the beautiful way God will use her to be His hands and feet!

I’m so thankful for a community that surrounds us in support and understanding as they join with us to care for and help raise our children!

What My Son’s Accident Taught Me About Perspective…

The Power of FEAR is real!

If you know my son, you know he is a rambunctious, curious, adventurous 18 month old!  He climbs, takes off, wrestles, and just is a sweet boy full of energy.  After a small fall he developed a bit of a painful bruise around his shoulder.  That is a pain he really hasn’t felt before and of course would prefer never to feel again.

And so we noticed that he stopped climbing, became timid when it came to certain activities that might cause him to get hurt again, or run from things that he is unsure of.

As parents, we refuse to let fear dictate his life.  Unfortunately, accidents can’t be controlled, and avoiding them stops us from learning, from growing, from living….and in some cases from loving.  So we challenged and continue to challenge him to change his perspective, to see the opportunities and not be a prisoner of fear and the unknown.  We of course want him to be wise, but not limited by or live in fear.

And beyond just trying new things, we challenge our children to really see people.  When they see a homeless person on the street – we want them to see past the label of drunk, to the heart of the person and their story, and offer help.  When they see a police officer – we want them to see past the stories and accounts of police brutality, and see the person who is serving and protecting us with courage, and give respect.  When they see a refugee – we want them to see past the labels and fears, and see a person, a brother or sister who has a traumatic story of their own, who is in a country they don’t know, and welcome them.  We want them to see people not labels or fears.

Now some of you may read this, see the word refugee, and want to debate this perspective.  If so, the point of this blog is lost.  Because the truth is it isn’t about being right.  It isn’t about refugees.  It isn’t about terrorists.  It isn’t about ISIS (which has already started to control our actions and thoughts). It isn’t even about fear.  I’m not even giving it control.

It is about people!  It’s as simple as that.

We may stand alone, but if there is the opportunity to help, to serve, to assist another person, we are going to take it. We choose to look past the debate, past the what-ifs, past the “religions”, past the fear and see the children, the mothers, the fathers, the families in this world that we can and will serve and help.

That’s our perspective.  That’s how we chose to live.

 

I’m No Cinderella!

Be the Light

I’m a stay at home mom.  And I’ll be honest, I don’t get a lot of recognition.  Sometimes I feel invisible.  Sometimes I let words from others or lack of appreciation for managing household operations define my value.  But, the truth is I’m no Cinderella and am not playing that roll.  I’m not the poor invisible woman waiting for someone to save me and call out the value in me.

I’m choosing to remember my worth.  I’m choosing to thrive in my great responsibility, to remember those moments when Gabriel runs to me and wraps his arms around my neck in the greatest hugs, those moments when Lucia finds peace and comfort in my arms, those moments when the kids are fed and happy and dinner is ready on time, those moments when I’m able to participate in such encouraging activities like MOPS, Come to the Table service projects, and Legacy of Hope Restored activities, those moments where I can experience the mile stone moments of my children.

I choose this responsibility.  And for me this is the greatest role I have the honor of living out!  It may not come with promotions, thanks, or at times rest, but I know who I am and that I’m giving 110% in all that I do for our children and our family…and for generations to come.

Proverbs 31:27-31 states

“She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

I’m no Cinderella… I am a woman who is passionate, full of love, and absolutely blessed to be a stay at home mom.  My value is in He who is in me and the Life and Love I live and give!  May my work daily bring God glory and advance His Kingdom!  I’m not looking for that glass slipper…I’ve got my kingdom and know that my hands, my heart, my life are being used to share His Love!  There’s no better Life to Live!

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Coffee

Okay, so maybe shedding a tear is acceptable.  Let’s be honest.  It’s coffee with french vanilla creamer, a little piece of heaven in a cup.

That’s how this morning started.  Well, actually it started earlier with 1 baby and 1 toddler awake at 5:30am!  Therefore, coffee is needed!

As I rolled, literally rolled, out of bed I thought to myself how productive this day would be since it was starting so early.  Kids fed, coffee made, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood playing…success.  I grabbed my computer, to do list, and binder of information and got ready to get things done.  But anyone who has raised a boy knows that an 18 month little boy has different plans.  And papers, computers, and coffee cups seem more appealing than any car, block, or toy that is nearby.  Can you see where this is going?

Coffee was spilled all over my papers (If my husband is reading this, know that nothing in our house was stained or ruined in this incident😉.  Part of me wanted to cry because my papers were now brown…but most of all I wanted to cry because there went my much needed, hot, delicious, cup of coffee.

So why write about such a insignificant event?  Because the truth is, I could have lost it.  I’m exhausted, trying to focus, and trying to have a moment to enjoy my coffee.  But that wasn’t going to happen.  Now I’m using valuable time to clean up a small mess and make another cup of coffee.  I could have easily lost it.

But in this moment I looked at my son, took a breath, and told him “no”… AND firmly reminded him of all things that are not his toys AND reminded myself how small this really is!  Isn’t it funny how we can make such big things, react in such anger, and get upset over such small incidents or accidents, and yet at the same time ignore, de-emphasize, or not even notice all the small wonderful blessings in our life?

My coffee may have spilled onto my papers, but it was an accident, made by an 18 month old who is learning to explore, who wants to play, who is my precious son that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  What if we stopped crying over spilled coffee, and instead take a breath, clean up the mess, and see the bigger picture…the Truth, that with or without coffee this morning…I AM BLESSED.

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Now for that cup of coffee….

When 1 is the Greatest Number…

I enjoy football!  And I was definitely excited to be able to watch a bit of the Gridiron Gang this morning.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it.  It’s not the best acting, but the message behind it still makes me tear up.  It’s about Unity, being a Team, no matter our differences and helping each other be better.  You might think that’s a random thought, from a simple movie, that I just shared with you this morning.

But, I sit here with a lot on my mind.  You see, my family and I just moved back to the States from Colombia.  It’s been 6 weeks since we arrived and we have had to hit the ground running.  It hasn’t been easy all the time, trying to find a place to live, my husband finding work, and preparing for the arrival of our little girl in less than a week and a half, all while caring for our 17 month old and working on strengthening and nurturing our own marriage.

The other night I could feel the weight on my husband’s shoulders as he works diligently to provide and care for us.  I, like many of us, have felt overwhelmed, in over our heads, and just unprepared for what we are facing.

But in the midst of it all, I can’t help but have a heart full of thanks for community.  In a world that continues to try to create separation among us all, to be against one another rather than for one another, to push people down so others can rise, I AM BLESSED WITH COMMUNITY.

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First, my husband and I are a team.  Sometimes it feels as those we disagree a lot, but in the thick of it all, no matter what we face, I know we will continue to stand side by side and face the world together.  I know, together, we will raise our children helping them to be the man and woman God created them to be, to protect them, encourage them, and challenge them.

And as we continue to transition back to life here in the States and our growing family, our family and friends have surrounded us in support, love, and encouragement.  We aren’t alone.  We are never alone.  And sometimes, that’s all we need to remember.

Galations 5:13-14 states, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””

So thank you for opening your eyes to the person next to you even though they may be different than you, have different passions, interests, skills, etc.  Thank you for making time out of your busy schedule for that one person who just needs encouragement or quality time with a good friend.  Thank you for reaching out of your comfort zone to meet someone new, to welcome them into your life, to realize that we truly are ONE body, ONE community.

Let us come together as ONE for that is when ONE truly is the GREATEST number.

To See. To Believe. To Be in Awe…

Now that’s the way to Live!

When was the last time you were amazed?  When was the last time you saw a miracle?  When was the last time you actually believed in the possibility of what could be?

It’s 4:00am and I woke up to pray for several people heavy on my heart.  As I was praying, I began to think about my heart behind the prayers.  You see, there are many people I know of who are in need of a miracle, a true, life changing, God praising miracle!  Yet as I pray for them, I find myself, praying almost in timidity and fear…fear of disappointment in the outcome, fear of praying out of selfish motives, doubt and timidity that my prayers are insignificant in the grand scheme of things and the problems and challenges that people are facing.

When did I lose that sense of awe and wonderment in the power of God and the Holy Spirit? When did I stop believing that I AM a vessel used by God, guided by the Spirit?  When did I stop believing in what seems like the “impossible” and start settling or even expecting that miracles are rare?  When did I close my eyes to focus on the size of the problems, instead of opening my eyes to the Power of God that is around us every day!

Acts 5:12
“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.”

They were REGULARLY done among the people by the HANDS of the apostles.  Regularly, not rarely!  What a powerful verse to remember about the power of Christ and the Spirit in us…the miracles that are regularly possible when we believe, open up our hearts and minds to the possibilities, and pray, move, and live in the wonderment of the miracles that can be seen daily!

Miracles

I want to live like that!  I want a heart that believes!  I want to be used by God whose Power and Love is greater than any challenge, disappointment, and fear!

Will you Pray in Boldness?  Will you Love beyond fears?  Will you Believe in the Possibilities?  Will you Live in Awe of God and His Greatness in our DAILY Lives?

Enough With the Leftovers

It’s 12:30am and I can’t sleep.  Being over 7 months pregnant has a tendency to create such a situation, and I’m hoping to soon get some much needed rest.

But since I’m awake, my mind is going.  I’ve been thinking a lot about my day today.  It was long.  I was tired.  And honestly, my patience was running a little low.  Being a stay at home mom definitely has challenges of its own.  I wasn’t motivated to do much today and just wanted some personal time, some time to rest.

How many of you have experienced days like this?  Maybe you spent the day working hard, putting your best foot forward, giving your all at work, and really working to be a leader in your workplace.  Traffic makes for a long commute home and all you want to do is crash on the couch and tune out.  Yet, as soon as you walk through the door your children need help with homework or want to play, your wife or husband has asked for some assistance, and you think to yourself, “don’t they understand how hard I worked all day?”  And you retreat and tune them out, or show an attitude of disapproval as you unwillingly give them your time.

Your family gets your leftovers…what you believe is left to give, which isn’t much.  And each day continues just like the previous.  Your family gets the leftovers.

I won’t lie, pregnancy has definitely made me more sentimental, but honestly, for a while now I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of Family.  It’s so easy to see family as something you are just a part of rather than your greatest investment.  Your involvement is needed and is important.

Being a husband, a father, a wife, a mother, is more than a title or a role…it’s a great responsibility.

Though I know I’m not perfect and I struggle some days with my attitude, with my patience, with my motivation, with my own selfishness, I must remember that my family deserves my best effort, my time, my love, what I have to give.  I want my husband to see my effort to create a loving, respectful, comfortable home for him.  I want him to know that I am so proud of the man he is and is becoming, honored to be his wife, and help to encourage him and lift him up.  I want my children to know that they are loved, cared for, safe, encouraged, priceless, and worth my time.  I want to be a part of helping them grow into the man and woman they are created to be.  I want to be an example for them, not one of perfection, but one who is honest, learns, forgives, loves, gives grace and understanding, and helps guide them.  I don’t want my family to have the leftovers of the day, my leftovers, but rather have the best of me, knowing that I am an important part of my family for a reason, with a purpose.

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Don’t Read This…

For those of you who just can’t help yourself, I assume you are reading this blog post from your computer, phone, tablet, or some sort of electronic device.  And I challenge you to stop.

I challenge you to turn it off just for a moment and look around, take advantage of this free moment to see something you haven’t seen, to do something you haven’t “had time” to do.

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For those of you who just have to keep reading, I completely understand.

I know we have all have seen those powerful ads about how our electronic devices, that are marketed to help us connect more, are in actuality disconnecting us.  I looked around the other day as my family had the evening together.  My husband was on his computer, I sat there playing Mahjong on my phone, and Gabriel was playing on his play mat with his toys.  Sure we were in the same room, but we were disconnected from each other.  We might as well have been in separate parts of the house.  It was quite sad, to be honest.  So my husband and I had a conversation about not using our electronic devices after a certain time in the evenings (unless necessary) to really invest in each other and our kids, our family.  You see, we really don’t get that time back.

disconnecting technology

So what if instead of googling articles on how to better communicate with our spouses, we put the phone down and actually communicate with our spouses?  What if instead of reading online forums about how to raise our children, we get off the computers and invest in our children, spend time with them, teach them, love them?  What if instead of liking “feel good” stories on Facebook, we went out and created our own stories?  What if instead of writing posts about social injustice issues, we log off and find a local nonprofit that addresses these issues we feel so passionate about, give our time, and help serve the cause?  What if instead of pinning ideas and wishes to electronic pin boards, we take that time and actually be intentional about trying the creative ideas and recipes we like or going to see and experience the different cultures of the world on our “bucket list pin board”?  What if we used our time intentionally, actively, and actually live and connect with others?

Don’t get me wrong…I’m definitely not against electronics.  I’m thankful for Skype that allows me to talk to family, and thankful for email that allows me to reach out to someone I can’t call or visit.  I am thankful for the resources we have at hand, when those resources don’t become a curtain to hide or cut us off from Life.  We have all said at one point or another…”I just don’t have time”…or “someday”…but that moment is now!

Someday

So turn off that device, open your eyes to those around you, experience the world around you, and remember that Life Lived with others, is really Living.