One Hour Later…

This happened:

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It was one of those moments…those simple moments, that just made me think.  I guess an hour or two walk will do that as well.

You see the day started off with my husband taking my car to get an oil change before we head to a family reunion.  He’s good at that!  Oil changes are things I tend to forget or put off, or rarely get.  jaja.  I digress.

It’s a beautiful day and instead of having our normal learning time this morning, I thought we’d take it outside.  I knew there was a park nearby and was excited to walk to it and let my 2 year old play on the playground while I played with Lucia.  I knew they would love it.  I mean who doesn’t love the park?  So this morning as I was packing everything to go I told Gabriel, “Get ready buddy, we are going to walk to the park this morning”.

Lucia in the Baby Bjorn, Backpack diaper bag on my back, and Gabriel in the stroller…

Off we went… and went… and walked… and walked… and walked…

So I might have mistaken the distance from our home to the park.

I can’t tell you how many times I kept thinking, I’m just going to turn around and go home.  Let’s be honest, Gabriel probably won’t care.  He’d be just as happy in our Toddler Lot in our complex.  He probably just thinks we were going for a walk anyway.

But here’s the thing.  I told him.  I said I was going to do something.  And to me that is important.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know sometimes no matter how hard you try, follow through can be tricky but I don’t want to live behind excuses.  I don’t want my children to think that my word is not worth anything, that their word is not worth anything.

Gabriel sat in his stroller patiently the whole time, and we talked about all we saw.  It was a great time together.  Lucia of course napped ;).  And when we finally got there, he couldn’t wait to get up and run and play with the other children.  It was a wonderful time for everyone and I got to sit and rest for a minute.

Both napped on the walk back and so I had plenty of time to think about this topic.  I want to be a mother, a friend, a wife, a woman of character that even in the easiest moments to quit or the moments that may seem minuscule, that I follow through or at least give my all…  I want my word to matter and to be considered trustworthy.

Now, I may have to just wait a few days before we walk to the park again…But we will do it again ;).  You can count on that!

Shaken and Stirred

No, I’m not talking about martinis although that does sound good…But I’m referring to parenting thoughts right now.

I’m a mom of two little ones both under the age of two.  It’s a huge responsibility.  But they aren’t my focus.  They aren’t my everything.

Now before anyone starts judging, know that I love them so much and that is why they are not my world.  The world does not revolve around them.  My children will always know they are loved.  It’s a huge responsibility to raise children, to help them learn about their decisions, their personalities, their character, just how special God made them.  But instead of letting the huge responsibility consume my every actions, to hold me back from getting out in the world and serving as God has created me to, I’m not holding back.  I’m living.  I’m living life with children.

This morning I studied Hebrews 10:23-25 which states, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Guiding my children is more than just discipline (although definitely a part of our guidance)…It is being an example.  It is challenging them to see others rather than just being concerned about themselves or their own needs.  I love the words, “stir up one another” in this scripture.  He doesn’t say learn, develop the habit, pray for or ask for…he says stir.  You see, we have goodness in us thanks to God who created us in His image and who lives within us.  It’s in us.  He’s in us.  We just need to stir it up sometimes!

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Our children come with us as we serve in different countries. They come with us as we do local service projects monthly.  We are stirring the goodness and greatness within them allowing them to experience it through our lives and as a family.  Hopefully as we talk about love they see, experience, and are a part of living it out.

It isn’t always easy.  In fact, it’s a lot more work and you never really know the moods they will be in.  But I know and believe it is much better for them to get out and see love in action, to be a part of this world even as young as they are, rather than to use them as an excuse as to why we can’t do something.  I want them to always know that no matter how young or small, they already have something to share with others.

I want to stir them up!

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.

Engagement foto with sun flare

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.

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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Whose Approval Am I Seeking?

Thankful

I sit here as my little boy takes a nap next to me.  It’s been a fun morning of playing and having Gabriel follow me around as I prepare food and do dishes.  And now it’s quiet.  I figure I have a good 30 minutes, maybe an hour if I’m lucky, to reflect and share something that has been on my heart.

You see, I had this dream, this plan, this idea of how life would look.  My family spent over a year preparing to move to Colombia to be long term missionaries.  I dreamt of how I would easily manage to be a mom to our 6 month old at the time, balance that with a children’s ministry, blog regularly, and yet still have dinner ready every night.  In my mind it all seemed so easy.

And how does that look now?  Well, I’m blogging for the first time in 6 months if that tells you anything.  Let’s just say I’m not any where close to that plan I had of having it all together.  Each day is different and after spending the day chasing around our now 1 year old, cooking his food and making our dinners, trying to do what I can to invest and encourage those around me, I have to laugh at that nicely packaged plan I once had of how all of this would look.  Some nights we don’t eat until after 8PM, and by the time I sit down to rest for the evening it’s time to go to bed as the next day starts promptly at 6am.

I won’t lie, in the moments before I close my eyes to sleep, I’m reminded of all that isn’t getting done, of all I wanted to do, to teach Gabriel, to be a light in the community where we live and serve, and yet I wonder and doubt what was actually accomplished that day.  It could be easy to let those disappointments tug on my heart and bring me down, and honestly sometimes I’m just too tired to fight them.  But other times I remember the great moments of the day.  The moments where Gabriel wraps his arms around my neck and lays his head on my shoulder…the moments he grabs my hand and brings it to his face for comfort…the moments he laughs while following me around or giggles as we sing songs and dance together…the moments I share words of encouragement, of Truth, with different friends and am able to really listen to them…the moments I get sweet hugs from the children at church.

Precious JewelsNone of this looks like I imagined, like I had planned, but it is even better.  For if I know that I have lived my day with intention, God can use my beautiful and chaotic life to share joy, light, hope, and Love in each moment.

The same goes with our plan to live long term here in Cartagena.  With the wonderful surprise of our daughter who is due to be born in October, and finances that just haven’t panned out the way we had hoped, we know this dream, this plan is changing for now.  As we prepare to move back to the States in August, it’s easy to get lost in the disappointment, but then I ask myself, who am I trying to win the approval of?

Galations 1:10 states, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

We have stayed true to our plans and commitments moving forward in faith and living each day with intention.  Time here is not waisted, but is a gift.  And we know we will be back, visiting every year, investing in the people here, and trusting that God knows our hearts to serve and live internationally and the love we have for our Colombian family here.

Our plans are changing for now, but I know that I will continue to live each day intentionally wherever I am, being a light in my community and especially my family.  I know and trust that God can use my life to share his Love and Truth.  So I remain open to Him…

Be All There