When God’s plans look different than ours…

Baby fever- it has been raging since our youngest was a few months old. He’s now three and a half. The fever hasn’t been constant but when it is there it is an intense desire. My husband and I never seem to be in the same place when it comes to wanting another baby. When he wants one I am content with two and when I want another he is content with two. Recently I went off birth control while I waited to see my OB/GYN for my annual appointment. While I was off of birth control we were both on the same page and we both wanted another baby. So we decided to give it a try. We decided if God wanted to use us to bring another life into being then we were up for the challenge. There were moments when there was pure excitement at the thought of having another baby and then there were moments of sheer terror, but we decided to trust God with whatever the outcome was. I spent a lot time praying that God would prepare my heart for whatever He had planned even if it looked different than my plan. He is a faithful God and He did a thing. Prior to the negative pregnancy test and the arrival of the inevitable period God whispered to me- He said, “My plans are different than your plans. You won’t be having another baby, but there is still joy to be experienced.” He said that to me after I had just shared with my husband and dear friend that if the period comes I have peace about only having two beautiful souls to raise, love and train.

I recently had some hard conversations in regards to my children and who they are. Those conversations and words spoken awakened my soul and I was overcome with thankfulness and joy. A joy I had been praying for, for quite a while. You see I had been struggling for a long time to find joy in the midst of motherhood and to be honest it was beginning to feel hopeless. Then through conversations and a negative pregnancy test I found joy. I feel refreshed and renewed. It’s a joy I know only comes from the Lord.

We have two beautiful children, but they are two highly energetic children. They never seem to slow down, even when they are sick. Sometimes the high energy can been too much for my husband and I, and most days we are left completely exhausted. For a long time I questioned why God would give me of all people two highly energetic kids. God has recently revealed some things to me:

1. It is a privilege to be their mother, a true gift. An honor.

2. Their energy is a gift to the world and God has plans for them and He needs their energy.

3. They were created in His image and their personalities are beautiful.

4. God chose me to parent them because He is using it to shape me.

I’ve recently taken a step back to observe each of them and celebrate them both for the unique and beautiful souls they are. I have been amazed at who they are and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I have also realized just how different they are from one another.

I’ve learned that while they are both highly energetic it is because of different reasons. One craves human contact and connection and is filled up with it (the extrovert) and that overflow comes out in crazy bursts of energy. The other is a bit more introverted and doesn’t crave human contact quite as much, but their bursts of energy come with boredom and lack of structure. One child thrives on structure, the other prefers their days to be less structured. One likes to know how things work and is constantly taking things apart where as the other prefers that things just work with no effort on their part to make them work. One is shy, the other outgoing. One is very sensitive and an emotional soul who wears their heart on their sleeve, while the other is ruff and tough. One thrives on words of affirmation and gifts while the other thrives on quality time and physical touch. Both are givers and love to serve. Both love fiercely in their own unique ways. One hates saying goodbye, the other has no problem with goodbyes. Both are brilliant. Both love the Lord. Both are children of God. Both are going to grow up to do BIG things. Both are good kids.

While these are just a few of the things God has revealed recently I am celebrating and rejoicing in who they are and that God has been gracious enough to reveal those gifts to me so that I could be filled up and begin to view motherhood through a fresh pair of eyes. What a blessing. I am unworthy to be gifted the privilege of raising His children here on earth but I am grateful and do not take it for granted. I cannot wait to get to know them even more and watch them grow into the individuals God has created them to be.

So while as of right now there won’t be another minion running around our home I feel at peace and I am filled with joy. God is so good, even when His plans look different than ours.

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To my sweet little girl

My sweet girl, today you are another year older. I recently sat there watching you talk to great Grandma and you looked another year older. I still find it hard to believe you are now 7, but what a joy it has been to watch you grow these past 7 years. You are a true gem, one of a kind and I am so blessed by you everyday.

You constantly amaze me. You are the most selfless and giving person I know. You love giving and helping in whatever ways you can, even if its a complete stranger. I want to be more like you. For Christmas you received a gift you really wanted and you played with it all of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and then you brought it with you to great Grandma’s house to play with. While we were there, there was a little girl (a cousin you had only met once a few years ago) and she loved your toy. You gave it to her and then came to me and said, “Mom I know I love my new toy, but she also really likes it so I gave it to her and that feels good.” You do things like that constantly and you do it without any prompting from your Dad and I. When you have two of something so you always make sure to give the second to someone else. I love that about you. You never have money in your piggy bank because as soon as you have anything you take it to church to give to those in need. Recently you asked if we could spend our Christmas giving food to the homeless because you loved when we did that in the fall. It is so evident that Christ lives in you and you make the world a whole lot brighter.

You are also such a sensitive and empathetic soul. You’re little brother recently broke his foot and you cried (he did not) because you were feeling the pain and you were so scared for him. You didn’t want your brother to experience that. You’ve been that way since you were itty bitty. You would hear a baby cry in the store and you would cry. You see a homeless person or family on the corner and you shed tears and feel sad that they have no home and then tell us we should bring them to our home. Those are qualities the world will try to knock out of you, but I pray you stand firm and are not moved by this world but rather by the God who created you.

You’re an avid reader and writer just like your momma and I love that we share the same passion. I love that you are currently into reading about women who persisted. You have taken a firm liking to Anne Frank and her story and you read about her any chance you get. You are a very smart little girl and with that comes its own set of challenges but you push through and find new ways to challenge yourself.

You are one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. I adore being your momma and I am so lucky to have been given the honor of raising you through the years. I love you so very much my sweet girl. I am looking forward to watching you grow and learn even more from you over the next year of life.

Happy Birthday my sweet love bug.

To my beautifully perfectly imperfect little girl,

To my beautifully perfectly imperfect little girl,
Today you turn six years old. 
I watched you playing on the playground recently and was in awe of the little woman you are becoming. There was a sweet little girl crying, you got down on your knees, put your arm around her and began to make her laugh. 
You have always been such a gentle spirit, such an empathetic soul. When you were just an itty bitty thing if you heard a baby crying in the store you’d instantly stop what you were doing and you’d become concerned with their tears. It’s a quality I resonate so deeply with. My heart swells when I watch you comfort those around you. 
Your love for people is intoxicating. I am not sure that you’ve ever met a stranger. Sometimes this quality scares the hell out of me, but I pray for protection and then embrace that you were created wonderfully and fearfully and God designed you to befriend all. You’re a prime example of what it means to love well. So *never* stop loving people. 
Just the other day you came home from school and said, “Mom, Dad, when I grow up I’d like to be a scientist.” When we asked what made you want to become a scientist you said, “because I’d like to invent potions that help heal those that are sick.” I sat in awe. It’s such a testament to who you are. I sit back and watch you and dream of what your future might look like. I often think, your little brain probably has the cure for cancer just waiting to be unleashed. 
You my dear are wise beyond your years. You are inquisitive and imaginative. You seek to find answers and you never stop filling your brain with knowledge. As your mom it poses challenges as we navigate the roads to your education and I try to gain my own understanding of how your brain is wired, but I’m also thankful for the challenge because in turn it keeps me challenged. 
You are a natural born leader and you are learning how to become a great leader. 
You’re stubborn as all get out and boy does that challenge every last ounce of patience I have in my body. Mostly because I myself am a stubborn woman. I pray that stubbornness subsides some and that you are able to be humble and ask for help when you need it. 
You my dear are so many other things and more. You are perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t change thing about you! 
Six years ago you made me a mommy and I am forever grateful for that. I had no idea what I was doing and I was scared shitless but I was up for the challenge the second they placed you in my arms. You test my very patience and in the same moment touch the depths of my heart. You can make me both laugh and cry in the same moment. The last six years have brought with them some of the hardest moments of my life and some of the most joyous moments. I am proud to be your mommy and I cannot wait to see what year 6 has in store for you. 
I love you to the moon and back again…I win. 

Happy birthday beautiful.

Love,

Mommy

Have Courage

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.”

Mark Twain

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.”

Mark Twain

Just recently I watched as my daughter exuded courage. She had been given a bike, this bike didn’t come with training wheels. We attempted to ride this bike once before and that ended in frustration all around. I had a squirming toddler in my arms and it made holding her stable on the bike nearly impossible.

Having a perfectionist, strong-willed daughter makes for a challenge all its own, but it makes for a bigger challenge when something is not mastered the first time. She is good at many things, she is wise beyond her years… but she is stubborn and determined. Since the first attempt at bike riding was an epic fail she was determined to never ride a bike without training wheels again.

Well the other day seemed like a good day to ride a bike. The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining and it was just one of those days you didn’t want to spend inside. Daddy was home this particular day so we decided to give bike riding another go. Emma huffed and puffed and threw a tantrum of epic portion. She was determined to never ride that bike again. She stormed all over the house with her arms crossed and yelled all about how her bike was “stupid” and she “was never riding the stupid bike.” Now in our home “stupid” is a word we don’t use and she is fully aware of that. She faced a consequence and then my husband and I pulled her close to us and talked with her.

We talked about how we have two choices in life– we can choose to always do the easy things or the hard things. Les Brown says it like this, we can do the easy things and have a hard life, or we can do the hard things and have an easy life. We went on to talk about how in life we have to do things that are hard, things that scare us, things we might not want to do and things we may not be any good at. It’s how we experience life. It’s what makes us who we are. We all have to do it. We talked about how its okay to feel afraid. It’s okay to not be perfect at the task or to even master it. We talked about how we don’t have to rely on our strength, but that we have the strength of Jesus Christ and because of that we can do all things. We shared moments when mommy, daddy and her baby brother had to do something hard. She agreed to give the bike a try as long as daddy promised he wouldn’t let her go.

So outside we went. She hopped on her back and after just a few minutes she asked her daddy to let her go. He did and she rode her bike. She only made it a few feet before she took her feet off the pedals and fell down, but she got right back up and did it again. She rode her bike for a long time that afternoon. She would repeat the falling down and getting up bit every few feet but she never gave up. She was determined. She was beaming with pride. The smile she wore across her beautiful face said it all. We celebrated and cheered her on. We filled her with praise and told her we were proud of her.

We got back home and asked her how she felt. Her response floored me. She said, “I’m happy that God gave me the strength to do it!” A few nights later at dinner she shared her most thankful, “That God gave me the strength to ride my bike.” She gets it. God is going to use that girl to help him move mountains. She humbled herself. She knew that accomplishment was not done on her own accord. She took a risk and she had courage.

Youthful Perspective

My daughter broke the silence. She wasn’t speaking to me per-say, she was just stating what she was seeing. From the back seat I hear her say, “wow that is such an amazingly, beautiful view.” To which I responded with, “yes, isn’t it so amazing to look out and see the snow-capped mountains in all their beauty?” She then said, “no mom, I was talking about those little dirt piles that look like mountains and have snow on them. They are so beautiful.”

“Those who look for beauty, find it.”

-Unknown

The other morning I was driving with my daughter and we had come to a red light. We had the most beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains right in front of us. Nothing was blocking that view. I sat in silence admiring the view and taking it all in. It’s so refreshing. It breathes life into my soul.

My daughter broke the silence. She wasn’t speaking to me per-say, she was just stating what she was seeing. From the back seat I hear her say, “wow that is such an amazingly, beautiful view.” To which I responded with, “yes, isn’t it so amazing to look out and see the snow-capped mountains in all their beauty?” She then said, “no mom, I was talking about those little dirt piles that look like mountains and have snow on them. They are so beautiful.”

Instantly my five year old is teaching me a lesson and reminding me of truth.

She reminded me of what was said in John 1 verse 3, that through Him all things were made. God created that very dirt. God created man from the dust of the ground. He created the snow and He told the snow when to fall and it obeyed and because of that it lay peacefully on the pile of dirt. Then I was reminded of what was said in Ecclesiastes 3 verse 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” EVERYTHING is made beautiful. God made in that perfect moment a beautiful snow-capped pile of dirt in line with beautifully, majestic snow-capped mountains.

I wonder what our lives would look like if we decided to stop for a brief moment and look around at the beauty that surrounds us. Would we even notice? Would we stop and let that beauty breathe life into our souls? Would we thank God himself for the beautiful snow-capped pile of dirt, knowing He created that?

Not only was I reminded in that moment that EVERYTHING has been made beautiful in its time, but I was reminded about perspective. It really is all about our perspective. In that moment all I saw was what I wanted to see. The beautiful mountains in front of me. I didn’t want to look around and notice the piles of dirt or anything else that surrounded me in that moment.

Then I think about the things that happen in life. The crappy, painful things we all have to endure at one point or another as the cost of living in a fallen and broken world. I really have two choices in those moments. I can chose to only look at the mountain in front of me or I can open my eyes and see the beauty around me.

What would happen if in the face of ugly dirt piles we clung to the truth and clung to the promise that God will use EVERYTHING for His purpose? What if we looked evil square in the eye and spoke the words of  Genesis 50 verse 20, “as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” How much more beautiful our lives would be if we simply looked at the piles of dirt and reminded ourselves that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.

It’s easy to be consumed and narrow minded in the face of adversity. Let’s start being consumed more by God and less by ourselves and the things of this world. Let’s start opening our minds and seeing beauty in the snow-capped dirt piles rather than only the snow-capped mountains.

#dayofthegirl

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“Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.”(http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/).

On December 19, 2011 the United Nations declared that October 11 would become National Day of The Girl. The point? To recognize girls rights and the challenges they face.

We’ve come a long way in the way of Women’s rights, but still have a long way to go. While it’s important that we are still fighting for our reproductive rights, the wage gap, being discriminated in the workplace, continuing to fight for fairness in our voting rights, an increase in incarceration among women and maternity leave rights– to name a few. We are missing the bigger battle.

We are failing to fight for the rights of little girls all over the world. Little girls are being denied education. Little girls are sold and treated as mere objects, used for sex. Little girls are being forced to marry and have children at the onset of puberty. Little girls are treated as invaluable and weak.

Each and every little girl has in them the potential to change the world. It’s our responsibility as older women to reach out and encourage those little girls. It’s our responsibility to remind them of truth. It’s our responsibility to equip them and support them. It’s our responsibility to fight for them. We are called to be the voice for the voiceless. We are called to help the widows and the orphans. We are called to be the hands and feet.

So in honor of National Day of The Girl, I encourage each and every one of you stand up and fight for our dear sisters all over the world. To pray for them. To encourage them. To speak truth to them. To educate yourselves on the issues at hand. To love them.

Beauty

We are suppose to be a safe place for our children to land. A place they come to for truth and reassurance. A place to be reminded that what the world has to say about us and our bodies doesn’t matter. I am blown away. I am enraged.

As a mother of a beautiful  daughter it is my  responsibility to speak truth  to her and to help nurture  and build her self-esteem.  This means I in turn also  have to build my own self- esteem and be sure to not  speak any negative things  about myself in front of my  daughter. I refuse to ever  look in a mirror and call  myself fat— even on the days  when I feel like a whale. Why?  Because I don’t want my  daughter to overhear that  and think that her worth and beauty are ever defined by  her outward appearance. The  outside world will soon  enough tell her otherwise,  but by the time that happens  I hope that our work inside  the home will have a firm  foundation that will not be  easily shaken by the things  and people of this world.

My child dresses herself (and  usually doesn’t match) and  sometimes refuses to brush  her hair because she likes  messy hair. Yes, I let her  leave the house looking like  a hot mess. The reason? One  day soon enough she won’t  leave the house because her  clothes won’t be what the “ cool kids” are wearing and  one day she will refuse to  leave the house with messy  hair and that will be the  start of “bad hair days.”  I  look forward to those days. I  look forward to them because  they will be teachable  moments. They will be moments  I can use to remind her of who she  really is and where her  beauty and worth come from.

I am sitting here writing  this after I received a text message from a dear friend that read, “It’s always a good  start to my day when my mom  calls me fat.” When did it  ever become okay for us to  tell our children they are  fat!?!?! It is absolutely  unacceptable. We are suppose  to be a safe place for our  children to land. A place  they come to for truth and  reassurance. A place to be  reminded that what the world  has to say about us and our  bodies doesn’t matter. I am  blown away. I am enraged. I  think about my friend who by  the way is the most beautiful  person I have ever known and  is not overweight by any  means, but mostly I think  about my daughter. I think  about my daughter because I  can’t imagine being a mother  who speaks those words or any  hurtful words that tear my  child down. Our words have a profound effect on our children.

We have a little conversation that happens anytime we are going to play with our friends whether they are new friends or old friends. I adopted this from my dear friend because I love the simple reminder that it teaches our children.The conversation goes like this:

Me: Okay love, look at my eyeballs (so I know that she is listening)– what is the most important thing?

Emma: That we love each other mommy!

Me: And how do we do that honey?

Emma: We use kind hands and kind words.

I love the simplicity of the conversation, but mostly I love that it teaches my daughter to be mindful with her words and her hands because they have just as much impact in a persons life as mine and my husbands words have on her. It also teaches my daughter the importance of being kind and loving to herself. We’ve all heard the saying, “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” If my daughter can learn that if she wants to be treated kindly and loved well she has to treat others that same way, oh what a difference that will make.

She is a beautiful soul and her love for life is contagious. She radiates beauty inside and out and I am quick to remind her of that daily.

I have had several important people in my life who have been torn down and belittled by the most important people in their lives– their parents. And the problem is not just with our daughters but with our sons as well. Their self confidence and self love are just as important as our daughters. And I for one refuse to ever belittle or tear down my children. They are perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t want them any other way. I will love my children regardless of what they look like, who they become and the choices they make. I will be one to remind them of their beauty and worth and where that truly comes from, because after all they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

So let’s start loving one another and using kind words to build our children up so that they in turn can be individuals who use their words to build others up. Let’s learn to love ourselves and let that self love radiate onto others. And for those of you with kiddos whether they be itty bitty or full grown– start speaking kindly to them. Let your voice echo truth when others try to drown them in the lies.