Tuesday, January 31, 2012

If You Ever Feel too Damaged to be Made "Good"

We've lived in our house nearly nine years and the upstairs carpet has seen some wear. A dog has been house trained. Two kids have been potty trained, learned to walk, and use sippy cups. Not to mention the regular wear of daily foot traffic.

Because of its color, blemishes show easily. To say it's ready to be replaced is an understatement and each time I sit in the recliner to rock the baby or take time to write I find my eyes focussed in on the spots. They are annoying. They detract my house from being what I want it to be.

I just want them gone.

Realizing my frustration, my wonderful husband came to the rescue. While I helped Grace on her science project (which rocks by the way but more on that another time), he pulled out the carpet cleaner and went to work. Slowly and purposefully, he ran the machine over all of the carpets. When he approached a stain, he spent extra time working the trouble spot.

I found myself mesmerized. There is something oddly gratifying about seeing the brown sludge...more than I ever realized was there...filling up the machine. And, as that happened, the carpet was of bathed of its impurities. It was clean.

I was shocked. I seriously thought it was beyond hope. Yet here the carpet was free of the impurities that defiled its beauty.

God does the same with us.

You know those words you said to your child last week when you lost your temper and apologized for but still feel bad about? You know that addiction you've conquered but still let hinder your relationships? You know the fear that weighs you down from reaching for your goals because of past failures? You know that sexual sin you turned away from but still let define your worth? You know the embarassment you hold onto because of a relationship lost? You know the mental tape that says the clothes look better on the Loft hanger than on you or that you're not a good enough wife, friend, employee...and the list goes on. You know the "blemishes" inside that have become so much a part of you that you feel you can't be the person you want to be?

Good news! He makes all things new.

God is the master soul cleaner.

Just when we think who we are is forever marred God's spirit descends upon us and (with our desire) gently works on the stains of life. Sludge from sin is extracted and we are made as white as snow. When we evaluate ourselves unfairly against society's standpoint of perfection or when tainted mindsets tell us wrongly who we aren't when we've been wronged, God's whisper reminds us that we are a new creation.

We see ourselves in a new light.

And we should live in the hope His work (and relationship with us) makes possible.

I have a tendency to hold on to my "blemishes" - some real, some perceived. But, God says, "Let it go! Look again! I've made you beautiful."

And He says the same to you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Because Today Is Global Belly Laugh Day

For Real

This...from our family to yours.

Isn't it just good for the soul?!

3 Joy Gifts
1) Being a mommy
2) Laughter filling our home
3) Cell phones that allow me to catch unexpected moments like these :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dear Dad {In Heaven}, I'm All About Your 49ers

When I was a little girl, my dad used to style my hair, play Barbies with me, and, on Sunday, we'd watch football together. He taught me the rules and inspired a deep love for the game.

Eventually those hours together turned into playful competition. Somehow I turned into a Minnesota Vikings fan even though no one else in my family was. Maybe it was because purple was a pretty color to a little girl? He cheered for the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers.

Each Sunday after church I'd get my Vikings colors on and my dad would emerge from my parents' room in full attire: a team sweatshirt and zubaz.

Do you remember those ugly things? Let's be glad those were a here today gone tomorrow phase!

Then we'd let the cheering begin.

My junior year of college that bonding time came to an abrupt hult when my dad went Home to be with Jesus. On kickoff day the following season I distinctly remember melting into a pile of tears. No earthly dad. No ridiculous zubaz.

Thankfully, God held me in my pain. As He collected my every tear in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), I looked into His face, gathering courage to put one foot in front of the next. He put His hand on my heart and I began to feel hope.

"Weeping may come through the night, but joy comes with the morning." (Psalm 30:5)

Like a surgeon that opens a wound to fix it and restore health, so too did my Great Physician enter the places that hurt most and work on my brokenness. Over time, my Heavenly Father helped me emerge stronger than before with new, grateful perspective.

Football is awesome. It continues to be a Sunday tradition in my house. My hubby is a Vikings fan and together we are training up our girls in the way they should go :)

But since this year was a colossal fail for them, we place our support elsewhere for this 2012 playoffs. And, I couldn't be more thrilled than to cheer loud and proud for the San Francisco 49ers tomorrow.

You see, for me football is more than just a game. It is an earthly connect to a man I loved so very dearly. It is a weekly prompt to many wonderful memories. And, the 49ers playoff birth is a chance to cheer with my dad...who cheered me on all the years of his life.

A gift.

I'm hoping for lots of great plays tomorrow. With each first down, big pass, and touchdown, I'll be thinking of my dad wearing his ridiculous zubaz doing a silly victory dance around the kitchen.

It makes me smile just thinking about it.


Today's joyful gifts:
Cherished memories
An invested father
God's use of ordinary things - like football - to touch us in extraordinary ways

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Life Lessons from a Crawling Baby

I've been seeing a lot of this side of Ava lately.

Apparently she's decided that sitting around isn't all that fun and she's ready to be a woman on the move.

For some reason, I've really been studying her attempt to crawl. It's been a long time since we've had a crawling baby in the house. Grace is six and Hannah skipped the phase all together.

Like many things in life, the crawling thing doesn't come easy.

Once she got the power to pull herself up on all fours, she fell. Then as that stance became stronger, she started to move, but her body wouldn't take her where her mind wanted to go. She'd move her back two legs and crash nose dive into the floor. Realizing that wasn't quite working, she'd get up again and tried a new approach - hands first. Unfortunately for her, that stretched her body so much she'd belly flop.

But with each fall she'd get right back up on all fours.

I have to admit, the mother in me was okay with the lack of immediate success. We all know that a crawling baby means gates by the steps, dog food up on the counter, polly pockets out of the living room, etc. Yet, with each attempt, that chubby cheeked little girl would grin her hugest grin at me and I couldn't help but find myself saying, "Come on, cutie. You can do it!"

As I've watched her over the last two weeks, I've wondered what it was about crawling that made her want to do it so bad. After all, she could roll across the room in a split second. What made her want to try and try again each day?

And then it hit me.

She gets up, time after time, and tries again with all the enthusiasm her little body can hold because she has an innate sense that she was made to do this.

I want to be like her.

Somewhere between being a baby and becoming an adult we lose that sense of confidence. We dare to put our dreams in to motion but when the first breeze topples our self-assurance we fall and fear getting back up.

What if I fall again? Is it worth it? we ask ourselves.

But here is the secret I've discovered in watching baby number three work so hard to crawl

If He put it in us, it will happen.

So throw yourself into His arms. Whatever it is: the dream you've been scared to take the first step towards, the goal you haven't felt successful in reaching, the daily chore you simply want to do better.

Begin each day anew without fear of a few nose dives or belly flops. Choose to be like the crawling baby that hasn't been stilted by the voices and comparisons of the world.

Take heart, my friends, success, peace, & incredible joy will come.

PS- Ava crawled today :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

When You're Ready for Baby

Sometimes as a mother I feel like days fly by at mach speed. That is why I've decided to consciously note atleast 3 joy moments per day - where I sense God's presence and smile.

As you can imagine, seeing this Sanford "When You're Ready for Baby" ad in the paper this week left me glowing

because that uber cute baby is mine. :)

God has entrusted three beautiful girls to us, all of which were born at Sanford. No more accurate quote is there than Elizabeth Stone's statement, "Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

Every day my heart is tugged a million directions by the emotions, attitudes, and decisions of three little people. And, seeing Ava's picture in the paper, on the billboards, and on the website gently reminds me just how thankful I am to have such a great system of care and, FAR more, that I get to be called "mommy" everyday.

Whether a good day or bad day, there is no greater gift.

Photo credit

Friday, January 6, 2012

Clickin' Along. Internet Surfing Strong

The weekend is here!

As you relax, kick up your feet, and see what is happening in the world I invite your Internet search to include two wonderful sites that are filling me with joy.

First, Pam and I are honored to be featured in The Innocent Voice this month. This magazine promotes the dignity of all people through faith based articles. Our article will empower all you parents and youth leaders to start important discussion about sex and promoting God's best with the teens in your life.

On a more relaxed note, the MODSquad cafe is open today. I love being a MODSquad writer - encouraging mothers of daughters to raise their girls in the Lord. The first Friday of the month is always a question that invites mothers to grab a latte, read a question, and take turns answering from our electronic devices. The ideas, support, and grace that come from these chats are java for the soul so don't miss out on these month to month. :) Today's question: what are your mom goals for 2012?

I love that I get to share this news with you on Ephiphany. Today we celebrate the wise men arriving to see the baby in a manger. Their journey was long, but they stayed the course because of the Light and hope He was sure to bring them. May we all have the same zeal to commune with the Christ Child in our everyday lives.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My New Year's Resolution

Is to write more.

Not just the book writing type (although I hope to do that too), but the put away the quick, convenient technology and sit down with a piece of paper and pen variety.

I've always loved connecting with others this way but I didn't do it as much in 2011 as I wish I would have.

There are three specific people I aim to write.

1) My granny. She and I have always been close and she loves getting mail. Often times she tells me I'm the only person she gets letters from. I'm all about bringing her more smiles! :)

2) Our World Vision sponsor child. In a previous post I shared that we are happy to be sponsoring a new little girl because the goals were met in our previous child's community. And, while I celebrated that great news, I regretted not writing her more. Sweet Nayely will hear more from us. This is about two families in two totally different situations enriching each other and I don't want to miss any opportunitites.

And, speaking of not missing any opportunities, I'll be writing to someone I don't even know.

3) "Marie." For many years I've been involved in crisis pregnancy center ministry. For many years I've also been a fan of Lisa Harper. She can teach the Bible in a way that has me laughing so hard it's an abdominal workout all the while infusing every cell of my being with God's love. Yet, her genuine spirit and ability to share can easily move me to tears. She rocks and if you aren't familiar with her ministry take a trip this way.

Last year at Women of Faith Lisa shared that she'd started the adoption process and recently announced her plan to adopt from "Marie" - a birth mother struggling with drugs, a horrific past, and the ability to believe God's love for her. I think if anyone can change that line of thinking it's Lisa :) but we can all use encouragement and Lisa has invited everyone to rally around "Marie." Letters are being accepted here. I challenge all of you with a heart for life, adoption, and the desire for all to recognize their innate value in Christ to join me in lifting her up.

I'm excited about my goal and thankful for this simple opportunity to spread joy. Did you make any New Year's resolutions?
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