I was upstairs brushing my teeth when I heard it. My husband was still downstairs, and as he left the den he said~
”Alexa, turn off the lights please.”
He said “please” to Alexa. 😂
In case you aren’t aware, (according to Google) Alexa is a ‘virtual assistant technology smart speaker.’
My rough and tough husband said please to a little, non human speaker.
(I love him so much 🥰)
I started laughing so hard that I had to sit down. I wasn’t sure he even realized he said it, so I didn’t bring it up. The next night as we were both heading upstairs, he again asked Alexa to turn off the lights. I stopped and looked at him~
and I knew he knew.
He was trying to hide the smirk on his face. He innocently asked “what??” Trying not to laugh I responded
“you forgot to say please.”
And we both burst out laughing.
The whole Alexa incident got me thinking about our lives and all the technology and answers that are right at our fingertips. You can Google anything nowadays and get an answer in minutes. As long as it is plugged in, I can ask Alexa a question and get an immediate response.
Somehow this need for immediate results has crept over into our
We want answers from God right NOW.
Technology has wonderful benefits, but when it comes to the way we think and perceive life, it can have its downfalls. The news is constantly bombarding us with the horror this world throws at us~ all within minutes of when it happened. We fear. We self diagnose. We binge watch. We covet. We buy more. We fear more. We get depressed. We worry.
Mental health has spiraled downward.
And then we end up questioning God’s love for us.
My daughter and I were having this conversation a few weeks back. She made the comment that she didn’t think God ever intended for us to have this much information at our fingertips 24/7.
I remember responding that ‘back in the day, all a woman had to think about was taking care of her family and Jesus.
Eyes and heart always on the Lord, because nothing else was around to take His place’.
It’s time for us to get back to loving God. A tender, fervent, personal love. Get back to digging deep into His word. Get back to seeking Him with our whole heart. Get back to giving our families to Jesus and raising them to love Him with their everything. Get back to talking to Him continually. Asking Him for the answers. Trusting Him for the outcomes. Being still in His presence and having faith in His unbelievable love for us. A love that is ALWAYS for us and NEVER against us. A love that can’t be measured or bought. A love freely given because of His Son.
(John 15:10, Romans 8:31-39, Ephesians 2:8-9, 3:18)
We are too wrapped up in today. (Revelation 2:4) ‘Loving God with our everything’ has become a passing Christian phrase with no real meaning. And because our love has waned, our laughter has been lost. We often treat God like He’s Alexa, and quite often we don’t even say please. We have forgotten that the joy of the Lord is our strength and in His presence is fullness of joy. (Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 16:11)
Today I want to encourage you to take a sabbatical from technology. From our phones and laptops and kindles. From the 24 hour news. From binge watching. From Amazon and Google. From Alexa.
This summer focus on being still in His presence and growing in our love for our Savior. When we are plugged into His power, He will give us all the answers we need. We will find rest in His presence, comfort and peace.
And our laughter will return.
When I think about that night my husband spoke to Alexa, I smile when I recall his words but I laugh when I remember the laughter we shared together. When I look back on my life I don’t want to remember all the bad. I want to remember my soul being filled with laughter. My greatest happiness being loved by my Savior. A life completely filled up with the joy of the Lord. (1 Peter 1:8)
Long summer days await us my friend.
Feed your soul. Fill those days with the love of God and with laughter.
(Psalm 16:8-9, 11, 89:15-17, 94:19, 126:2-3, Romans 5:5, 8:38-39, Ephesians 3:16-19, Philippians 4:4, )
As I was praying about what I could post for Mother’s Day last week, part of me was at a loss. I thought back to my early years of motherhood~
All the helpless moments. The weary days and the long nights.
And all the amazing moments filled with joy and laughter.
The longing in a Grandma’s heart to go back and do it better,
or just to go back and hold them and rock them one more time.
There were times my husband and I thought we had it all figured out, but as I look back now, I realize we didn’t know a thing. With age comes wisdom. The wisdom in admitting that even at this age~I don’t know a thing. That knowledge has my heart searching for answers, and for wisdom from those who have been where I am even now.
And so, I asked my Mother In Law if she could impart wisdom to young moms, and older moms, and all the moms in between. I have always viewed my Mother In Law as the “All Knowing Fountain of Wisdom”, so her response surprised me. Her words were: “I appreciate that you feel that my advice has the potential to be of benefit to anyone, but I fear you may be seeing me through eyes of love.” And so, perhaps I did glean a little age old wisdom in my acknowledgment that~ the older we get, the more we feel we aren’t really wise at all. And yet, her words brought truth to my heart that I wanted to share with all ladies, whether you are a mom or not.
Here are her words:
1. “Marry the right man. When dealing with moms, they have already made that decision for better or worse. The philosophy of “it takes a village” may be popular, but it ideally takes a couple who are willing to devote themselves to raising responsible human beings who know and love God. People who can take care of themselves and others.” (The verdict is still out on whether or not she thinks I chose wisely. She keeps reminding me~”I warned you”… 😂)
2. “Children don’t belong to us. If we do it right they become independent and we feel abandoned until we realize we gave them the tools that made it possible.”
3. Seek backup and be the backup. My mother in law told me that she had “total backup. Husband, parents, in-laws, sisters, all in harmony with their beliefs. Very few people are so blessed.” So often I hear parents sharing hardships on their journey of child rearing, and sadly I also hear the response~’it was your choice to have kids.’ Raising godly children who love the Lord and want to serve Him is probably the hardest yet most important task a mother can do. A task that ultimately brings great glory to God. Be the back up. Don’t demean that task with trivial comments. Just as you have hardships in your life, mom’s do too. Let’s strive to support them on their journey of motherhood and raising little ones who will one day be our next generation.
As I was having my devotions this week, God brought something to my attention. Even Moses, the man who God spoke to directly, needed advice from his Father In Law. Moses could have responded to his Father In Law in a negative way. He could have said- ‘Don’t you realize who you are advising? The man who talks directly to God! Who do you think you are?’ But that wasn’t his response at all . He humbly accepted the advice given, and it helped him tremendously. God could have given that advice to Moses directly, but God chose to use Moses Father in Law to impart that wisdom.
Ladies, we don’t have it all figured out. We never will until we get to glory, especially when it comes to this mom thing. Learn to seek wisdom from those who have traveled this journey before us. I’m so thankful I did. My Mother In Law may believe that I see her this way through eyes of love, but God has used her in mighty ways in my life, and for that I will forever be thankful.
Marry the right man. Give your children to God. Seek backup. Be the backup. Four simple things, yet four things that can change your life and the lives of your children for eternity.
Thank you Mom! I love you!
My Mom let me be little.
I knew I wanted to do the same for my own children. It was something I prayed about often~ not putting too much responsibility on the shoulders of my children, especially my oldest. It’s so easy to do, the more kids you have. I prayed I would allow her to laugh and be silly. To play longer. To imagine and dream.
To be little.
I watched other moms, and I remembered. My mom gave me that gift.
She let me play with dolls until the sixth grade. She let me cry when I was hurting and hugged me when I was sad. She never told me to toughen up or to grow up.
She let me be little.
Perhaps others might think I was coddled and I’ll be the first to admit, I probably was at times.
But more than anything, I am thankful.
There are so many fine lines in the journey of motherhood. What if we’re doing it wrong? What if we’re coddling too much? Or not enough? What if we’re giving them too many responsibilities at too young an age? Are we babying them, or making them grow up too fast? Do we lose our patience when they cry too much? When they talk non stop in the middle of a terrible day, and we just want peace and quiet. Do we get irritated when they whine too much or ask for our help?
Over and over and over?
Don’t we do all the same things?
Ask yourself that question. As an adult, do we feel the weight of responsibility? Do we cry when we’re hurt and whine when we’re irritated. Do we need a hug when we’re sad? We feel “all the things” as an adult, but our reactions are somehow justified because~
Doesn’t every mom know that motherhood is hard?
Mama, sometimes life for your little one can be very hard too. Everything is big in their world. Big scary moments. Big hurting moments. Big happy moments and big moments filled with love. Do we find ourselves telling them to toughen up? Or grow up? All the heaviness of adulthood will come soon enough. Do we forget that they’ve only been on this earth for 2 years or 4 years? Even 10 years is a drop in the bucket when you are on this journey of motherhood~
because you blink and it’s over.
The house is empty.
Why am I thankful my mom let me be little? Because in that allowing, she taught me that I can’t always do it all alone. And that is okay.
Sometimes I need help, and not only that~ I need love, and hugs, and reassurances. And that’s okay too.
And in the teaching I have learned that even when my “adult people” may fail me in these areas~ my Heavenly Father never does. I can go to Him for anything. I can cry and whine with Him. I can be scared. I can laugh and I can talk non stop. I can ask Him for help.
Over and over and over~
and He never gets tired of me asking.
He never gets irritated or impatient.
That’s what my mama taught me in allowing me to be little.
Sometimes as adults life can be too big for us too, motherhood can be too big for us~but it’s never too big for God. When it gets hard and we feel all the “adult things”, we can go to Him in child like wonder and His love will be bigger than them all.
It’s okay to be little with God.
So here is some advice from a mother who is still learning. Pray for wisdom, every single day. Look for the ways you need your heavenly Daddy, and demonstrate that to your babies in how you act and react to them. Apologize often. Laugh with them, play with them, hug on them.
But most of all~
Let your love be bigger than
everything else in their life~
and let them be little.
Have you ever thought about who helped Adam and Eve raise their kids? I mean, let’s get real here. No Bible, no books, no TV, no church setting, social media or podcasts. Not even parents who had been through it before and could give advice, or babysitting services, or just a shoulder to cry on. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Just Adam and Eve.
How often do we forget about God in the mix. We run to all those other things on our journey of the perfection of parenthood, but often forget about the most important One we need to run to.
Whether it’s questions about pregnancy, labor and delivery, terrible two’s or the horrible teen years. Whether it’s tears caused by an empty nest due to college or marriage, or tears due to a wayward child.
We feel lost in the questions and uncertainties. We get fearful or fretful and we just want help. Somehow in the quest to be the best version of mom we can be, we forget to go to God first and we run to those who can say~
“Been there, done that.”
Do you realize God is the ultimate parent that can say “Been there, done that”? Look at EVERYTHING He has gone through with His children. 2 Peter 1:3-4
You want to know something else we often overlook? Despite having complete, unfiltered access to God and all His wisdom, despite not being influenced by the distractions of this present world~somehow Eve’s first born was still messed up.
And mama. That’s not on Eve.
And it’s not on you.
It’s a result of sin.
The reality of that can leave a mama feeling pretty helpless, if not for the fact of one thing.
God is still in control.
You might believe you have everything under control because you have read all the right books and listened to all the right podcasts and followed all the right people on social media. You might think you have it all under control because your child is in every church service, you pray with them and read the Bible to them daily. You do all the right things.
But you are not in control. God is.
Does He want us to do our best and strive to raise children who honor and glorify Him? Who love Him and truly know Him? Does He want our children to have a relationship with Him?
But He never wants you to forget that He is the One in control. Ephesians 1:11 Not a manipulative control, but a control with our ultimate good in mind. A control spawned from love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, comfort and peace.
Sin is real. It’s hard and it’s scary and it’s strong. Especially when it involves our children.
But God is stronger. He knew your child before the foundation of the world was ever laid. Before sin had ever cursed it. Before Eve’s eldest ever messed up. And all along He has had a plan for your children.
God’s ultimate plan is the salvation of all mankind. He can use your children for His glory and that very purpose.
2 Peter 3:8-9
The irony in the story of Eve’s firstborn is that he had the wrong heart attitude. He wanted to do things his way. He wanted to be in control of what he gave to God. That’s a powerful lesson to us as moms, because we are still doing that today.
The best thing we can do is to let go of that grasp of control we have on our children and hand them over to God. It might seem like a risk we aren’t willing to take. Our children are our everything.
But God is so much more.
And sometimes as parents, that’s a place we aren’t willing to go to.
Love God more.
Whatever stage of motherhood you are in right now, determine to go to God above all else. Pray over your children. Read scripture to them. Take them to church. Don’t get discouraged. Remind yourself daily that despite everything that could go wrong and might go wrong, despite the strong curse of sin~God is stronger and His promises to us will never fail.
One of the sweetest promises we can cling to as mamas is this~All things work together for the good to them that
LOVE GOD. Romans 8:28
It’s not on you mama.
Do your best.
And in the moments you fear you have failed, remember~when we truly give our children to the Lord~
It’s all on God and He’s got this.
Love those babies.
Love God more.
There’s something magical about stories and stairways when you are a child.
My daughter recently sent a picture of my two granddaughters playing on their stairs. What is it about stairs that are so intriguing when you’re little? That picture sparked a long ago memory in my mind of a story and illustration in a childhood book my mother used to read to me. A book that ignited my little imagination to the far away worlds I could travel or the little mama with her baby dolls that I could become~ all on those stairs.
My own stairs hold many special memories, even as an adult. Today they lead me up to my own bedroom where grandchildren nap, or play dress up with my clothes. They lead me up to quiet mornings spent talking to my Savior. But before that they led me up to the reality of my little girl dreams. To bed time stories and talks about Jesus. To sweet goodnight kisses and childhood prayers.
They led me to my children.
When I think on it, there’s something magical with every step I take because it brings me right back to a faraway world of a little mama, and the book she read so long ago. A book that changed her outlook on a simple set of stairs.
And I cannot help but think of another book~ God’s word~ and wonder how many mamas are taking the time to read that book to their own children. A book that can change their outlook for eternity. A book that can lead them and teach them of a not so far away world called Heaven where they can always have a home with their Father.
I’m reminded of a mother who read the incredible story of Noah’s ark to her son. When she finished, her son innocently asked her a simple question~ “why weren’t there any children on the ark?”
Her reply was heartbreaking ~
“Their parents didn’t make sure that they were.”
That hit my own heart hard.
Yes, spend time with your children. Play with them. Let their imaginations dream up far away lands and dreams come true, all while playing on stairways. Read to them to spark that imagination but don’t ever forget to read the most important book of all. God’s word. Make sure they know the greatest story of all. The story of Gods redeeming grace and love and the gift of forgiveness through his Son.
The story of Jesus.
One day I will go up those stairs for the last time. That day could be today, or many years down the road. I will leave my children and my grandchildren, because Jesus will be calling me home. He will smile and hug me and welcome me there. I want to make sure that I took every opportunity to tell them the story of Jesus and how to have a relationship with Him that is real. That when my hands let go of theirs, there will be no apprehension because I will know my Savior is holding them when I no longer can.
Don’t wait to read God’s word to your children. Don’t wait to tell your children about your Savior. They are never too young, and they are never too old. Talk about Him every single day.
Tell them the story of Jesus.
Write on their hearts every word,
Tell them the story most precious~
Sweetest that ever was heard.
How often my stairs led me to my children. Our job as mamas is to lead those children to Christ.
Laughter is the best medicine, especially in marriage.
Years ago, my sister and brother-in-law told us a funny story. Back when cell phones first came out, before texting or caller ID, my sister-in-law was in the kitchen and got a call on her new cell phone. Thinking it must be very important she answered, only to discover it was my brother-in-law calling from the bedroom upstairs and asking her to bring him a bowl of ice cream. At the time that was unheard of, and we all got a good laugh out of it. Now couples text each other while they’re in the same room. Back then it seemed so silly~and even lazy~ that he would call her instead of just getting up and getting it himself, and that’s what made us laugh so hard.
Yes, it’s funny how time can change things. I think over time we can all get lazy in our marriages if we aren’t careful. And that’s when it seems that the little things really start to get to us.
I’m reminded of the wise words of a friend during our Ladies Bible Study one week. We were talking about husbands and habits, and how certain things can drive you crazy after a while. Her simple words had a huge impact~
“I just don’t allow it to bother me anymore”.
I was dumbfounded, but then I let her words sink in. What if I decided to not let it bother me anymore? All the silly, little things that I let get on my last nerve. Things that I didn’t allow to bother me in our first years of marriage.
Could I possibly do that?
With God’s help, that has been my goal.
That goal was put to the test the other day when I asked my husband to do something for me. Fifteen years ago his reply might have fueled a fight~ depending on the time of the month or the circumstances of the day. The thought of that makes me very sad. How easily I let things fuel the fire. As women, we don’t like to admit it but we do allow little things to dictate our emotions. In the moment we feel completely justified for our anger, and we don’t like it when our time of the month (or menopause) gets the blame for the words we say to our spouses. My time of the month is a time of the past now, and when I look back I know that 75% of our fights during that time could have been avoided. As wives, we need to be honest with ourselves in this regard.
Somehow as the years pass we adopt this behavior in marriage as ok. If we aren’t careful, we can allow little things that really don’t matter to slowly chip away at the foundation of something that started as a beautiful dream come true.
And so, I think about my sister-in-law and friend. She passed away at the early age of 35 after giving birth to her 6th baby. None of us could have imagined this would happen when we were laughing about that cell phone call and her husband’s request for ice cream. I’m so glad I have that memory. It always brings a smile but it also reminds me of her husband’s words after she passed away. “I wish I had never fought with her about the stupid things that made us fight”. As much as he cherished the laughter, he deeply regretted the fighting. Just like my older friend’s wise words, his words had a big impact, unfortunately I didn’t let them sink in deep enough. At the time I can remember looking over at my husband and thinking~
‘I’m never going to fight with him again’.
Almost twenty years later and there have been too many fights to count.
Because I let the little things get to me and I got lazy. I got lazy in fighting for the foundations of first love. And in my laziness, I got selfish. I didn’t want to talk things out or pray, too often I just wanted to be right.
What a waste.
Ladies, twenty years from now don’t look back and realize how much better your marriage could have been. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up “in the moment”. We don’t know how much time God will give us with our spouses, so make the very best of every single day you have together. Look at each day as if it could be your last. Don’t let the little things bother you. Don’t let the circumstances of the day or the dot on the calendar dictate your emotions. Give your marriage to God every single day. Don’t fight with each other, fight for each other. Talk things out. Spend time in God’s word. Pray together. Love on each other.
And most importantly laugh.
Always laugh together.
My husband’s reply the other day?
I chose laughter. I laughed and I hugged him and we laughed together. And it was sweet. And I just pray that God allows me many more days of laughter with this man I love. Because all those little things, those are the things satan will use to destroy that laughter. Determine today that with God’s help you won’t allow him to do that.
We hear the world’s words “choose your battles wisely”, but oh how sweet our marriages would be if we chose never to go to battle to begin with. To have on the armor of God continually, fighting off the wiles of the devil.
In the moment we can choose to be stubborn, miserable and right, or we can choose to look past all the silly, little, irritating things that don’t really matter~ and just laugh.
God wants us to laugh.
Choose the laughter ladies.
One day you will look back and be so thankful you did.
How does this happen?
This little “blue” light that seems to continually lure me in.
I constantly find myself repentant for becoming so easily distracted with it. I find myself sorry for this compulsive need to check and eliminate notifications and~
Not my need for Him.
I make excuses.
I read devotionals and Bible apps.
I “like” scripture based posts and quotes.
I listen to biblical podcasts.
Deep down I know, they could never take the place of that old book.
His words. Sitting on the chair in my room.
It will never be the same as speaking to Him in humble gratitude upon my knees.
I make excuses.
I’m writing for Him.
I’m posting Godly encouragement.
All the while~
preaching the good while missing the best.
Time away from that little “blue” light.
Time spent reading the ONLY light. (Psalm 119:105)
I make excuses.
My love for my country. My causes. My beliefs.
I need to stay informed.
He whispers to my fearful heart.
His wisdom is the wisdom I should long for.
His wisdom will make me wise.
His wisdom has been passed on from generation to generation.
This is my weakness. One of so many.
It may not be yours. You might not understand how certain things I write about can weaken my soul. How I can allow it to creep in and steal away the most important moments of my day. Those quiet moments with God.
It is a battle.
It’s a battle I see all around me on a daily basis.
Heads bowed to a little “blue” screen. Everywhere.
Listen to my words and let me be clear, even if this is not your own personal battle, you ARE IN A BATTLE. Satan knows what your weakness is and if you aren’t prepared, you will lose the fight before you ever pick up a weapon.
The weapons of our warfare are not physical. They are spiritual.
(2 Corinthians 10:4). God’s word is your sword. Prayer is your preparation. Your local church is your army, this world is the battlefield and your God is mighty!
Sadly, we are losing the battle without even realizing it because we have allowed these little weaknesses to creep in. We have allowed them to permeate our lives and the lives of our children.
That “blue” light? That’s just one of the many things that appears so innocent, yet destroys without a second thought. This world has conditioned our hearts to feel uncomfortable with the words I’m writing today. This world is whispering to your armorless soul that I am being just a bit overkill. Taking this Jesus thing a little too far.
That is a lie.
I am in the fight.
And so are you.
Our minds are continually bombarded by information through social media. (John 8:44-47). We get fearful. We get angry and defensive, or maybe even passive because we have become immune to it all. (Matthew 5:44-48, Psalm 119:51, 53). We have allowed these things to blind us to what this battle is all about. It is a battle for souls and Satan is using his own sly weapons to distract us from that truth.
Jesus is what it’s about. His gospel of peace.
Jesus who died on the cross for the sins of all mankind. Jesus who loves us despite every weakness we allow to creep in. Jesus who will fight for us and redeem us from an eternity in hell. Jesus who loves fiercely and yet, has a tender compassion on our sin cursed souls. (Psalm 145:8-9).
Put on your armor sweet sister. Sweet wife. Sweet mama. Put on that armor and fight for the souls of mankind. Put down the phone and tablet, turn off the TV and make time to saturate your soul with God’s word. (Psalm 119:104) With God’s wisdom, truth and righteousness. Speak to the God who formed all of mankind and beg Him to fight for you and your families. (Exodus 14:14). Get into your local churches and feed on the message from God each week.
Yes, this may seem counterintuitive for me to be singing my little fight song from the very instrument I’m telling you to put away. Friend~if my message can motivate you to put down the nonsense and pick up God’s word, then you fight with your everything to do just that.
My fight begins with prayer, because I know I am too weak on my own. My fight continues with boundaries. (Psalm 119:59-60). I will not pick up this phone before picking up God’s word. I won’t even read His words from any “blue” light, because that light can so easily distract. I will turn off notifications. I will keep my phone in another room and I will continually beg God to keep my eyes on what this battle is all about.
Jesus and the very reason He came to this earth.
The battle is for souls.
And that will be my fight song until the day I take my final breath.
Remember when they wanted to be held?
Remember when they snuggled?
Remember the make believe days when fairies were real?
When bad became good with just one kiss?
When beds became forts,
and pillows were made for happy dreams?
Remember when they thought they could fly?
They believed in fairy tales and kingdoms.
They played with dolls, and built cities with Lego’s. They played outside for hours.
On tire swings and monkey bars.
Or just staring at cloud shapes that came alive to tiny eyes.
And you loved the innocence their lives beheld.
Remember when you would tuck them in and they would smile and giggle and say this was the best day ever?
Remember when they were little?
Remember when they got sick?
One child after another? When fatigue had you crying right along with them?
Remember when they were sad and the tears of their tiny broken hearts was more than you could stand?
Remember when dreams became bad, and they didn’t want to go to bed at night?
Remember the peer pressure and teasing and the sadness that ensued?
And you hated that sin had made life so cruel.
Remember when you tucked them in, and they begged you not to send them to school in the morning. Remember when they realized they couldn’t fly? Clouds were just clouds.
Fairy tales weren’t true. Dolls were for babies.
Remember when they weren’t little any more?
Remember them now.
Remember the times they had to go through heart wrenching circumstances in their lives, with their own little families? With their spouses? Remember the nights you sat alone with your husband in the very house they were raised in, and shed tears for the heartache your adult children were facing?
Or could be facing even now.
And you cried more than you ever did from fatigue when they were little.
Remember the helplessness you felt because this was life? This was adulthood.
This wasn’t something a kiss could make better.
And you hate that sin has made life so cruel.
Let them be little mama.
Let them be little for as long as possible.
Don’t fall into the trap of making your oldest responsible for your youngest,
when he’s just a baby still himself.
Don’t tell your children to grow up.
Don’t yell at them for ‘not thinking’.
Don’t expect them to react like an adult.
Let them be little, because you will blink
and the heartache this world throws at them will break your own heart.
And then you will wish they were little again.
Don’t dwell on the bad days.
You are mama. The same mama who helped them believe in fairytales and made their childhood days the best days ever.
Remind your adolescent and adult children of the beautiful days. Show them there will always be a kingdom, one far better than a fairytale could ever capture.
Luke 1:33, Isaiah 9:7, Psalm 145:13, Daniel 7:27.
Show them the sunshine through the clouds. Encourage them to see those beautiful shapes. To lay down and rest once in a while.
To play and to believe in good again.
Because God is always good, and his kingdom is being prepared for us even now.
John 14:2, Psalm34:8, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 107:8, Psalm 145:9,
And His goodness will always, always prevail against the bad.
And He loves them more than your mama heart ever could.
And then, as hard as it might be, choose to believe that yourself.
And give Him those tears you cry for them.
Knowing how much He loves you as well.
Let them be little mama.
Show them they can fly.
Even when they aren’t little anymore.
Remind them of how much God loves them.
Remind them that He will never leave their sides, that He is in control even when they can’t see the good. Help them believe in that good again.
And remember that He is holding them when you no longer can.
And as they fall asleep at night, be that mama that made them believe that pillows were made for happy dreams again. The mama that whispered encouragement to their grown up hearts. The hearts that once held so much innocence.
Be the mama that continually reminded them that day~
That every day can still be the best day ever.
“…And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again…”
We are all familiar with the lyrics to this classic Christmas song, except I wasn’t that mom. I didn’t want school to start again. I wanted to hold on to every minute I had my children home with me during Christmas break. I was the mom watching school cancellations on the television during every snow storm, hoping the name of our school would come across the screen. Snowy days in front of a cozy fire. Hot chocolate and sledding. Movie Mondays where we’d all pile into our tiny den with a big bowl of homemade popcorn.
My family. My kids. My heart.
Yes I had those days when they would drive me absolutely crazy, but I wouldn’t trade one second of this glorious ministry God has placed me in.
The ministry of motherhood.
A ministry I often messed up.
Motherhood is a high calling and one that far too many take too lightly. Every single second God gives you with your child is of utmost importance and will make a lasting impact on their lives. The words you say, the reactions you have, the love you give and the prayers you pray will mold them into the adult they will one day become. They will notice what is important to you without you ever saying a word, because mama that old saying still holds true today~
”Actions speak louder than words”.
Far too often my actions spoke louder.
I wanted that clean house. I wanted that 5 minutes of peace. I wanted time to do projects and to write stories and to fulfill dreams.
Today, I have all of that. I have all the time in the world to keep a clean house. To sit in the peace and quiet and write. Today the same rooms of this old house gaze back at me. The rooms I thought had to be cleaned and organized “right now” or I might lose it. The rooms I allowed to get between me and my children, because they were constant interruptions in my schedule. The rooms now empty of toys and children and laughter.
Today I realize God did fulfill my dreams.
He wrapped them up in four beautiful souls.
All that other stuff was just stuff.
The furniture has been arranged and rearranged and the paint in this house has been changed multiple times in the past 27 years and I will have multiple moments to change it all again, but those moments with my children are gone. And yes, that can break my heart.
I messed up a lot in this ministry of motherhood. At times, we grandmas can often feel that pain of wishing we could have a “do over”.
I know I do.
But then God reminds me of the little miracles He made of the messes. He reminds me of the laughter. Of holding our breath as we wished for snow days, and the squeals of delight when they were gifted to us. Of playing hide and seek in the house and Barbies in the bedroom. Of making homemade popcorn and cookies and fudge. Of four little bodies snuggling in with mama on the couch. Of the prayers I prayed as tears flowed from an abundantly blessed heart.
Yes I messed up, but God was in each one of those messes. He heard my sincere heart as I cried out to Him for the ‘now’ and for the ‘futures’ of my children. He was the God of my mundane days. He was the God Who sat with me as I cried out in prayer. The God Who was next to me as I washed dishes and vacuumed and painted that room one more time. The God Who made my home a safe haven of coziness for my kids. The God Who somehow allowed my children to look at my heart and not just my actions. The God Who turned my little beings into my best friends and my mistakes into lessons made. The God Who answered my prayers despite my problems.
My God Who takes this ministry of motherhood seriously. I wasn’t the one who made this house a home. I wasn’t the one who raised my children to love the Lord. It was Jesus in me. Jesus in the messes and Jesus in the beautiful moments. Jesus in the very middle of this ministry of motherhood.
No matter what that ministry looks like for you today~Invite Jesus in. Invite Him into every single thing you do. The cooking and baking. The laundry and dishes. The dusting and vacuuming. The painting and the rearranging. The bath time and the bed time. The prayer time. Fall to your knees for that newborn, that toddler, that teenager and college student. That wayward adult. When you invite Jesus in, He makes miracles out of messes.
It is a high calling mama.
One we need be on our knees for continually.
It is a ministry that never ends.
A beautiful, glorious, life changing ministry.
That sweet, sweet ministry called motherhood.
When my kids were little, they would “practice” Christmas morning. It was the sweetest thing to watch.
They would come up with “what-if” scenarios, then practice their solution to each.
~what if Michael wakes up first…
~what if Andrea wakes up first…
~what if Jessica WON’T wake up…
~what if Kathryn sneaks downstairs…
~what if it’s too early…
Then they would act out their solutions. Michael would go in to wake the girls, Andrea would wake Michael, all of them would jump on Jessica, Kat would be strictly admonished to stay upstairs until given permission, and if it was too early they would tell mom and dad they had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t wait any longer.
Funny thing is, all that practicing for the perfect Christmas went right out the window once that day arrived. The excitement made all the perfect planning and good ideas disappear, but that was alright. They will forever hold memories in their heart of running downstairs in complete chaos on Christmas morning and in their eyes, it was always perfect.
It seems like so many Christmas movies revolve around someone trying to pull off the perfect Christmas, and utterly failing in one way or another. Apparently this is a hot topic during the holidays. As I look back on my little family and all the Christmases we have shared, I realize that too often I have fallen prey to practicing the perfect Christmas myself. My goal to make everyone happy ended in me being miserable at times, because my focus was misconstrued.
I have come to the Christmas conclusion that you will never make everyone happy and~
only Jesus can give the gift of true happiness.
I certainly am not Jesus.
Year after year I got caught up in striving to make things perfect for everyone, and ended up taking my focus off of Him. Instead, my focus was placed solely on others. I found myself in tears last year because I was afraid that Christmas wouldn’t be special enough for my kids.
That old saying~’practice makes perfect’ doesn’t always hold true. 35 years of practicing and planning to make the perfect Christmas for my children, and in my eyes I have yet to perfect it.
Now that my kids are adults, they are no longer oblivious to the amount of work that sometimes goes into the perfecting of the perfect Christmas, and they are fully aware of the stress it can bring IF your focus isn’t on the entire reason for celebrating. Last year my girls bore witness to my little breakdown of emotions over my felt failures and they didn’t like it, because they now wish for ME to experience (and not just provide) the perfect Christmas as well.
So what is the key to the perfect Christmas if it isn’t in the practice? The key is the peace that passes all understanding. My words might seem counterintuitive but when pleasing others becomes more important than pleasing Christ~we have no peace. Aren’t we always told to focus on others and not ourselves? Yes, we certainly should. I’m not saying that focusing on others is wrong, I’m saying that if that is our only focus, Jesus will become an afterthought.
The words to the song Silent Night hold so many truths we need to grasp when December comes around…
All is calm.
All is bright.
Holy infant so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus and remember that He is the ONLY reason we celebrate the season, things will change. Christmas might be chaotic, all the perfect planning and good ideas might go right out the window, but that’s alright. Our hearts will hold the peace that passes understanding...
All will be calm.
All will be bright.
All because of the Holy Infant born for us.
And we will forever hold memories in our hearts of what a truly perfect Christmas is all about.
A Guaranteed Happy Thanksgiving
A Thanksgiving Devotional
For weeks I had been planning this holiday with an excitement that could not be contained. My family would be traveling 700 miles to visit me for Thanksgiving. I poured over magazines with pictures of beautiful holiday table settings. Wonderful memories flooded my heart as I remembered the countless Thanksgivings spent with family, sitting around just such a table. Despite my apartment being tiny, we would all squeeze in and make it work. Mike and I had been married less than 3 years, with one child and another on the way. Morning sickness prevailed but I didn’t care~I missed home, I missed family, I missed all of us sitting around the dinner table together.
Everything began just as I had planned, but it all went downhill on Thanksgiving day. One family member after another came down with the stomach flu~in the very worst way. Everyone ended up sick except for me. It is an understatement when I tell you that our apartment was tiny. There was barely enough room to walk by each other and with only one small bathroom and 5 sick people… well you can only imagine. I had a lot of cleaning… and then more cleaning to do, with no time to rest or even celebrate. Add morning sickness to the equation and my picture perfect Thanksgiving turned into a nightmare. No sitting around a table filled with a cornucopia of delicious foods and thankful spirits.
We all want that picture perfect Thanksgiving dinner, Martha Stewart style. We have high hopes that the Turkey will turn out a beautiful golden brown, that family will all get along and that laughter along with delicious pumpkin pie will ensue.
That we will all truly be thankful.
Sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way we hoped, especially during the holidays. The turkey is too dry, we burn the biscuits, we wonder why we’re the only one doing all the work, the stress levels in the kitchen are at an all time high and that one family member gets on our last nerve.
And then we lose it. Our frustrations boil over just like our mashed potatoes.
And so, as we approach this week of gratitude I would like to challenge you to focus on a different table setting. That of the last supper. There is so much we can glean from the scripture passage in John 13, and it stirs my heart. Who is sitting at your table? The focus in John 13 was not the food or even the fellowship. The focus was Jesus and the example He set for all of us as we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals.
I would like to leave you with five things to meditate on this week. It might seem lengthy, but if you choose to focus on one every day~ it’s a guarantee your Thanksgiving supper will be a happy one.
1. A gift in the gratitude~Jesus gave thanks despite knowing what was ahead. Despite the wicked betrayal in the heart of Judas, despite the foreknowledge of Peter’s denial, despite the coming abandonment of the disciples who professed their love for Him. (Luke 22:17-18, Matthew 26:26-27, Mark 14:22-23.) Maybe you are excited about Thanksgiving, or maybe you are stressing over it~ whatever your case may be, you can change your outlook by choosing to give thanks. There is so much to be thankful for, starting with our Savior. How could He possibly be thankful in that moment? And yet, He was. Emulate His gratitude. Find something to be thankful for every day leading up to the big day. A habitual heart that beats a thankful rhythm will not easily be dissuaded when faced with difficult circumstances or people. Look to Jesus and just be thankful.
2. A gift in the giving~ Jesus became a servant. He never complained, but in humble love washed His disciples feet~ even the feet of the one who would betray Him. (John 13:4&5) Prepare your heart to be a servant this Thanksgiving, even to those you feel don’t deserve it. Judas certainly didn’t deserve it, but that didn’t stop our Savior. Serving others should never be viewed as an unwanted duty. Choose to bless others by the love you put into that service. Determine not to have a grumbling heart, but instead a thankful servant’s heart that God can use. Have the heart of Jesus.
3. A gift in the guidance~Despite knowing Judas would betray Him, Jesus chose to love and serve him and told us that we should follow His example. (John 13:11, 14-15.) We are human, there will always be that one person that annoys us (because they are human too) despite the little idiosyncrasies that get on our last nerve, none of them compare to sitting at supper with Judas. As you sit to supper this Thanksgiving, remember Jesus example and His words to us in admonishing that we follow that example.
4. A gift in the getting~Jesus actually told us something simple, yet profound. By following His example we will in turn be blessed with happiness. (John 13:17.) Okay, who doesn’t want happiness during the holidays? Who doesn’t want to fall into bed at night after a wonderful meal and precious moments with family and friends on Thanksgiving, and have your heart full of happiness? It doesn’t have to be something we wish for. Happiness can be our reality this Thanksgiving if we put into practice the steps He outlined for us in His word. Become a servant of love.
5. A gift in the glorifying~The last thing I want to leave you with in preparation of your week ahead is the very gift you will give to others by following Jesus example. (John 13:31&32, 34&35) You will be loving others with a true servant’s heart and in the doing, that love will glorify God. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? It’s not about us. It’s not about the food or the Pinterest perfect table setting. It’s all about the joy in sharing the love of Jesus. It’s all about the happiness in the serving. It’s all about the glory of God.
Remember that Jesus is sitting at your table with you this Thanksgiving. He is all you will ever need in making beautiful God moments and memories. As I look back at that Thanksgiving so many years ago and the disaster that it was, it still holds precious memories to me. I can even laugh with my brothers at the events that holiday held and cherish the time spent with my mom and dad, who are no longer with us. Yes, there was a lot of serving, but there was also so much love; and the happiness my heart holds at the time we had together is one that I will treasure forever.
A gift in the gratitude. A gift in the giving. A gift in the guidance. A gift in the getting. A gift in the glorifying. All because of Jesus.
A Thanksgiving gift of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
He had no idea how much this moment meant to me.
He might not even remember it.
A little knock at my front door. My visitor stopping by after piano lessons at the church. Barely inside, he began to tell me all about it. His eyes danced as he told me his ideas. Deep breaths were taken between each sentence. Excitement made it hard to get the words out fast enough. Even though I was smiling and laughing along with him, I wanted to cry. I wanted to grab him and hold him and somehow make him understand how much I loved him. How much I loved this moment. Every part of it. My home next to our church. My grandchildren living so close. My grandson wanting to talk to me. I wanted him to be this way with me as long as God allowed me to live. Sharing his ideas and dreams with grandma, no matter how old he was.
She might not even remember it. She might not ever know how much it meant to me, my oldest granddaughter coming to me with her drawings. Telling me she remembers when she was “little” and how I taught her to draw a cat after school one day. He might not ever remember, my middle grandson with his tough exterior and big “muscles” hugging me and whispering “I love you” when his little heart needed reassurance. My youngest granddaughter rearranging the pottery bowls she and her sister made for me so that hers was on my top shelf, and the much needed smile it afforded me in a lonely moment at 2am. The look of pure joy on my 2 year old grandson’s face as he ran into my home like it was the greatest place in the whole wide world. The times they are all together and I catch them playing church and talking about Jesus and even praying together.
No they might not ever remember, but it is a beauty God has given me that I will never forget and it is my prayer that it will always be this way. The closeness. The sharing. The smiles. The joy. The love.
When my oldest grandson comes home and stops by to tell me he met “the one”, excitement in his eyes as he shares every detail of his future plans. My granddaughter one day reminiscing and remembering the precious bond we had as she told me about school and friends and growing up and the many things I tried to teach her in the moments she was in my care. My grandson whispering he loves me and brushing away my tears as he leaves for college or the mission field or maybe even the military. My granddaughter inviting me over one day and making me smile as my crazy, silly girl takes pride in her home and family and shares it with me. My grandson coming over “just because” and always making me feel like it’s the greatest place in the whole wide world. My grandchildren one day telling me all the amazing things Jesus has done in their lives.
Parenting doesn’t stop when our children leave our homes and start having families of their own. It doesn’t stop when our grandchildren arrive and it doesn’t stop no matter how old they become. We will always be mom and grandma, maybe even great grandma if God allows. So invest in their lives now.
Listen, share, teach, pray, love. Turn off the TV. Turn off the phones. Push them on the swings, take walks with them. Don’t just talk to them about Jesus, show them the wondrous miracles He performs daily in your life. Let them see Him in every area. Teach them what faith truly means. Share with them the blessings He has poured out upon you time and time again. Listen to them. Listen to every little thing they want to share. Show them a picture of Christ in the listening.
I don’t want my grandchildren to have to remember the moments, because I want those moments to be a regular part of their everyday lives~no matter their age. I want them to live in those moments and I want them to see Jesus in those moments. I want them to cling to those moments when life becomes unbearable, holding onto the knowledge that God will never leave them or forsake them. I want them to know beyond a doubt that I will always be praying for them and more than anything~ I want Jesus to be their best Friend. I want them to truly know Him, not just about Him.
As life so quickly slips by and the days become months and years faster than you could have ever imagined, you will one day catch your reflection in a mirror and wonder for a moment who that older woman is looking back at you. You will stop and look deeper into her eyes and you will see the heart of the young mama you once were. You might have changed physically, but your heart will always remain the same.
You are mom.
You are grandma….
With the realization of all that entails, allow it to encourage you to make every single moment count in the lives and memories of those you love, because those moments are fleeting.
Hold fast to the promises of God’s words. One day you will be remembered. Let that memory be one of unfeigned faith. A faith that will last from generation to generation,
and in the mean time~grab those babies and hold them a little bit closer, love on them a little bit longer and pray for them a whole lot more.
Make sure they know how much you love them.
How much you love these moments,
because these are the moments that matter.
Philippians 1:3-6, 2 Timothy 1:3-5, 3:15,
Psalm 44:1,8, Psalm 45:17
I had been looking forward to this day for months.
Just like when they were little.
Little children, little problems.
Today, big children, big problems.
We needed time away.
Time to focus on each other.
But my heart held a secret from him.
The moment we drove away,
I missed them all already.
(They all live on our block)
How could this be?
I had felt the need to get away from the chaos for so long.
I needed to just be a wife, and not a mom for a short amount of time.
He needed me to be just a wife and not a mom for a short amount of time.
This has happened time and time again,
since they were babies.
The chaos gets to us mamas and we become desperate for alone time. Desperate for time away just to gather our thoughts and feel sane again. The crying of little ones, the fighting toddlers, the cleaning and cooking and laundry and endless chores.
The noise level and continual talking.
The lack of adult conversation. The constant.
We feel our minds screaming inside to have some time with our husbands so we can feel like a wife again, like a woman again.
But when we finally get it~we miss them and suddenly we can’t remember all the bad, we only remember the good. The soft smell of their little heads, their kisses and hugs, their giggles, their smiles, their unconditional love, their joy at just being in our presence. We remember them snuggled into us, fast asleep and our hearts just want to burst.
And when they become adults, that mama life doesn’t get any easier. When your adult children are hurting, the pain in your heart manifolds itself into every area of your life, as does their joy. Even when they’re adults, it’s in a mama’s DNA to take care of her children but you can’t just put a bandaid on all the bad that they will go through. You feel it deeply because you know a kiss and a smile from mom won’t take that pain away any longer. It hurts a mama’s heart to the core. Not only can their hurts lay constant on your heart, but their stresses, their arguments, their jobs and spouses and children… all of it becomes bigger than life and as a mama, your heart just wants to make it all better~but you realize you can’t.
And you realize that it takes a toll. It can take a toll on you spiritually and if you aren’t careful, it can take a toll on your marriage. That weight was never meant for a mama to bear, it was meant to be carried by God. You realize your mama’s heart of worry has drowned out the heart of His word and all His promises.
And then you know,
you NEED that time alone with God,
because you aren’t God.
You can’t fix everything.
And you NEED that time away with your spouse, to reconnect with the one who has been in it with you for the long haul. Who loves your children as much as you do, but also needs that time away.
Mama, go away. Go away with God. Go away with your spouse. You will fight it. Your heart will feel guilty and the second you drive away, you will miss them terribly. But you NEED it. Your heart NEEDS it. Your spouse NEEDS it, and you both will be better for it. Figure out a way to get away, and make it happen. He will be a better husband and daddy for it and you will be a better wife and mama.
And so~I looked over at my husband as we drove in silence. He was smiling. He had no idea what my heart was feeling. I prayed and God reminded me of how much we needed this. I knew He was right. I needed to let go. I asked God to give my heart peace in leaving it all with Him and focusing on my relationship with Him, and our relationship as a married couple.
It didn’t take long. God’s good that way.
He gave me a comfort in that moment that this was what was needed. I would return home with a restored soul. With a better appreciation for the beautiful life God has given me. With a deeper love for my husband and a deep peace in my heart. I would be a better mama for it and my marriage would be that much sweeter.
So, I reached over,
I took his hand in mine and I smiled at him~
Because I knew it already was.
My husband received a precious piece of mail a few weeks back.
It was from our grandson Ethan.
He has recently finished the second grade and one of his last assignments was posting a letter in the mail. My husband was tickled. As sweet as that letter was to him, we didn’t know the whole story…
You see, the very day Ethan wrote that letter, sealed it and placed it in the mailbox is the very day my husband sent him a video telling him how proud he was of Ethan and all the great things he had planned for him that summer. They were the exact things Ethan asked about in his letter, a letter my husband had not received yet, much less read.
When my daughter told me this story I immediately thought of my Heavenly Father, and I couldn’t help thinking about Father’s Day and how important the role of a daddy is.
Daddies, and even their daddies create imprints of their Heavenly Father on their children and grandchildren’s hearts.
Someday they might base their trust, protection, comfort, and most important~ love ~ on how they received it from their earthly father. That’s pretty huge. They will look at approaching God in the same way they could go to their daddy when they were little.
It should be in awe, but never fear.
How a daddy acts and reacts is a continual lesson in their little hearts to how they will one day believe God will act or react to them.
And so, I read Ethan’s letter again. The sweet things he asked of his Bapa were answered before they were ever asked.
What a beautiful picture of our Father.
Whether you had a good relationship with your father or maybe never even knew your father, whether you felt like you could go to your dad about anything or you couldn’t ever talk to your dad, whether you felt comfort in his presence or disappointment, whether you ever felt loved at all…
God your Father wants you to understand that He is and always will be all of these things for you.
And so dear daughters, this Father’s Day there are four things I want you to remember. Four things I want imprinted on your heart. Four things to hold close and never forget.
1. God always wants to comfort and protect you.
Isaiah 43:2, Psalm 91:1-2
2. God wants you to know you can always trust Him and depend on Him. Isaiah 26:3-4, Psalm 28:7
3. God wants you to talk to Him and tell Him the desires of your heart, understanding that He knows your thoughts before you do. He knows your requests and wants to answer before you’ve even asked. Psalm 139:1-6, 17, I John 5:14, Luke 11:13, John 14:13-14
4. God loves you. He loves you. Your Father loves you.
I John 3:1, 4:16, Jeremiah 31:3, Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 3:19
I wish I could have seen Ethan’s face when he received my husband’s video message. I can picture his smile. I wish I could’ve seen my daughters face too. They were both in shock. My daughter said she even questioned how he could’ve answered Ethan’s letter when they had only just put it in the mailbox.
Yes, God couldn’t have given me a better illustration of His heart for us. He knows. He answers. He loves. Once you grasp that, His love will never be something that surprises or shocks you. Instead, His love will continually make you smile and say~
“That was all God…MY Father.”
Moments that make up memories.
I realized yesterday that I use that phrase quite often when I write. The importance of those words is very weighty to me.
There is nothing in this world that can take away, erase or change your memories. They are with you for the rest of your life. Like a feature film only you can see and play, as often as you would like. Most of the time we don’t get to choose the scenarios, they come upon us unawares as our days progress into each other. Day by day, moment by moment we live our lives, all the while turning those moments into memories.
When my dad was still alive, memories of my childhood were precious, but I never fully understood their importance. Maybe because he was still with me and so, a part of me still felt like a child. I had him, I had my memories and I had pieces of my childhood all around me whenever I sat and visited with him.
(which was almost a daily occurrence).
It felt safe. It felt like home.
And then~just like that, all of it was gone and I felt utterly abandoned and alone. I felt as if those memories were a life line I was grasping at and trying to hold on to~
because I no longer had them in the physical things I could see and touch.
Dishes and utensils, pots and pans, china and silver~all the things I remember my mom using in my childhood were all priced, packed and put aside to sell. Furniture that I had dusted week after week from the time I started grade school was sold. Pictures were put in boxes and a home filled with my childhood seemed to be erased.
I realize that this is something every one of us must face at some point in our lives. I will admit, I’m overly sentimental and probably wear my heart on my sleeve way too often. I almost couldn’t bare to do it. I almost couldn’t bare to part with one thing that my parents had cherished because every single thing, right down to the forks and spoons were part of a childhood that meant the world to me. I am so sentimental that I took pictures of every thing before packing it all up, every drawer and cupboard, every display on every shelf of every room. I even took pictures of my dad’s junk drawer. He was so organized and had everything so neat and tidy and it tickled my heart to see it.
I didn’t care if I looked foolish for taking pictures of it all and I didn’t care if the tears fell.
And they fell and they fell.
And then it was all over and gone and all I had left was the memory of it all. I realized that I was the only one that possessed my unique and exact memories with my parents~
because they were both gone now too.
And that’s when the importance of moments and memories hit me.
But~ I realized in that moment that I was still making memories.
My memories did not end with my parents. They will continue as long as I am alive. I can be a part of the memories in the hearts of my own children. Memories in the hearts of my grandchildren, memories in the heart of my husband, memories in the hearts of my family and my church family~
and my own heart felt such a stirring to remind you all of how important the memories we create from the moments we share are. Because memories are something that will always, always live on in our hearts until the day we die.
We might move from house to house. Through the years we most likely will change our decor or our vehicle or our appliances, we might make new friends as the years pass, we might watch our children and grandchildren as they grow and move away and begin lives of their own, we may look lovingly at our spouse and their now wrinkled smile and gray hair,
and we might even lose those we love dearly~
but we will never, ever lose our memories.
The key to the beauty of it all is in the moments that make up those memories.
We put so much importance on the things we can see and touch and possess. Things we think we can’t live without. Projects that have to be finished, jobs that must be done. Houses and cars and furniture and clothes and things we think will make us, or even our children happy. Things we think we are supposed to have.
The American dream.
But all the while we somehow forget that we can’t take any of it with us when we die. It will all be left behind for someone to sort through, to cry over and to make the hard decisions to sell.
And then all that is left behind are the memories we have made in the moments we lived.
Yes, I was sad to see my parent’s “things” go, but not because of the monetary value they held. I was sad because of the precious memories that made them so valuable.
There is nothing wrong with making a wonderful life and home for yourself and your children. That’s exactly what my parents did for me, but don’t ever allow the making of that life to overshadow the moments with your children that create memories they will always cherish.
What are you making of your moments? Every single second you live is a moment and a memory in the making. The words you say to those you love. The hugs and the kisses and the laughter and the magic. The snuggles and the reminiscing and the tenderness. The togetherness. That is what make up the moments that create beautiful memories.
One day your child will no longer have you. They most likely will not have their childhood home or any of the things that fill that home. Things you think are so important.
But they will always have their memories. Unique only to them.
A precious gift that only you can give them by choosing today to make every moment count. To make every moment meaningful. To make a lifetime of every day normalcy into a fairytale of beautiful memories. I am a grandma, and yet I can remember my childhood like it was yesterday. Your children will too.
Give those you love that beauty to remember. I will always cherish mine because it’s in that beauty of those memories that our loved ones live on forever.
Some days I want to go back.
Back to when I was tiny and didn’t know about life. When I watched the love my mom poured into being a wife and mother, cooking and cleaning with pure contentment. When she would read to me or hold me when I was crying. When I believed everything would be okay, simply because she told me it would. When I had no cares except for what dress my baby dolls would wear or what flavor ice cream I would choose. A childhood filled with magic and make believe. A childhood filled with extraordinarily beautiful moments. Back to the days when mom made everything cozy and safe. I wish my younger little me could’ve understood how incredibly important those moments were. I wish I could’ve held on to them longer.
Some days I wish I could go back to that first look. That first kiss. When the innocence of romance was far from reality. When there were no bills and no quarrels. When my world revolved around him and the love we shared. When he was the only person my eyes could see in a room full of people. When my heart would flutter with each smile and nothing mattered except him. When I put his needs before my own without a second thought. When the weight of life and the heartaches to come were non existent. When I thought that spark and excitement would last forever.
Some days I wish I could go back to when they were little. When mommy was their world. When they thought she was the best and the smartest and had all the answers. When she could fix every problem and heal every boo~boo. When mommy was who they turned to when hearts were breaking or secrets were shared. When I watched them as they slept and felt my heart might burst for love of them. When they were safe in my care, under our roof. When I thought they would think of me this way for always and no matter how many years might pass, they would forever be my babies.
Some days I wish I could go back to that day. Turning the corner and catching my daddy deep in thought. So deep he didn’t notice I was standing there. I wish I would’ve asked what he was thinking about more often. I wish I asked more questions about his childhood or what it was like raising my brothers and me. I wish I had asked what made him buy a farm and a horse or move back to a subdivision. I wish I had asked questions that might not have been important at the time but answers that would be so precious to me now. I wish I had asked how he was able to live again after mom passed because this is the toughest thing I’ve gone through. Living without them.
Perhaps all those things are exactly what he was so deep in thought about. Perhaps he was wishing he could go back to when life was simpler and happiness came in bundles. Happiness we took for granted.
Why is it that we don’t realize how important moments that make up our memories truly are until they are only memories? Memories that we can only visit in our hearts. Moments that we beg our children not to take for granted. Moments we want them to learn from now instead of later.
How badly I wish I could go back to those moments in time and hold on to them and truly understand and cherish the beauty of each one. Never taking a single one for granted. Always thankful. Always being present. Always loving with my everything. Spending more time in those moments instead of in my head where the to~do’s and tomorrow’s came to visit too often.
We can’t go back. But I can love like my mama on my grandchildren. I can make my home a place where they will always feel safe and cozy. I can’t go back to that first kiss but I can remember and recreate. I can choose to be selfless in my love for him and dwell on all the unbelievable goodness our marriage has held, and all the joy we have yet to look forward to. I can’t go back but I can always be that mom who points them to the answers in God’s word, who prays for them when their heart is breaking, who comforts them when secrets are shared. I can be that mom who tells them don’t take one second of your beautiful life for granted. I can be that mom that knows that no matter their age or where they might be, they are safe because God is holding them when I cannot.
I can’t go back but I can look forward to the incredible joy I will one day encounter when I enter heaven’s glory and get to hug my Savior. When I get to let go of all the sadness, heaviness and grief as He holds me there. When I get to say thank you for all eternity, and it still won’t seem like enough because of all he’s done for me. When I get to see my loved ones that I have missed so deeply and know without a doubt how happy they are and have been and will forever be.
And maybe that’s the lesson God has for us. To stop wishing on that past and start living for eternity. To look forward. To cherish more. To be present. To teach and to not take anything for granted and most importantly to look ahead to the home He has prepared for us.
That beautiful home where our most cherished memories and moments will seem like nothing special at all compared to the glory we behold.
The home where happiness and joy will never cease and will always come in bundles.
Her head was bowed.
A worn and tattered bible lay softly on her lap. She read each word as if it were the greatest treasure she ever held.
Her head was bowed. Bills lay all over the old kitchen table. A jar of loose change that came up short. Her words were barely audible as she spoke to her Savior. A smile was on her face. Full of assurance that He would take care.
Heads were bowed all over the restaurant. Simple meals sat before them. Prayers of thanksgiving abounded for the goodness God had blessed them with.
Laughter and conversation ensued.
Joy was present.
People were present.
Heads were bowed as they knelt next to their bed. A tiny bedroom with only a small nightstand. Soft singing could be heard in praises to their Heavenly Father. A roof over their heads. A soft pillow to fall asleep on. Contended children in the bedroom next to them.
Children whose little eyes captured each of these moments and remembered.
“as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”
2 Corinthians 6:10
Her head was bowed. Scrolling mindlessly on a device filled with staged perfection. Unhappiness furrowed her brow, yet she could not avert her eyes.
Psalm 107:8-9, 119:105
Her head was bowed. A device filled with objects sure to bring happiness, one of many credit cards in her hand. “Purchase now” was always such an easy option, yet happiness always alluded her.
Heads were bowed all over the restaurant. A fork in one hand and a phone in the other. A mindless murmur of conversation could be heard. No thankfulness. No laughter.
People without presence. Proverbs 18:24
Their heads were bowed. Next to each other in bed, yet both in their own little worlds. Each looking at their device. Almost lost in the immense size of the bed they lay in, yet a bed that seemed small for the room that held it. Both still working late into the night. Worlds apart, yet in the same room. Promises to spend time with children had been broken. Again. Psalm 127:1-3
Children whose little eyes captured each of these moments and remembered.
What will our children grow up remembering? As they see your head bowed will it be bowed to your Savior or to your device?
Devices will always be around.
They will become easier and faster.
They will always pull us in.
They will lie to us in making us believe that the grass is always greener.
That other people’s lives are better.
That it’s ok to go into debt because you deserve that new outfit, purse, shoes, furniture, vacation. That it doesn’t matter that you work 90% of your life to pay for what you deserve.
To pay for happiness.
That God is not in control and He will not help you, that only you can help yourself.
That it’s okay to check those notifications, to scroll, to answer emails.
That you are present with your husband, your children, your family because they are sitting next to you in the same room.
Yes, your device is lying to you.
I once read~ “Your cell phone will be small forever. Your children will not”. We only have our children for a short amount of time, and then they will be gone.
All your children’s tomorrow’s.
What will they remember of your head that is bowed?
Teach them to go to Jesus. Isaiah 54:13
Not their device.
As a mother, one of the most comforting passages in scripture to me are the simple words of Jesus in John 2~
My hour is not yet come.
In other words~
It’s not time yet, this wasn’t the plan.
The magnitude of this speaks volumes to my mama heart because it shows the heart my Savior had for his own earthly mother.
The God of the universe, the Christ who controls every aspect of time and space and knows every detail of our lives down to the second~
changed the very course of time for his mother.
It wasn’t time for Him to reveal God’s plan to the world. It wasn’t time for Him to reveal Himself as the Messiah. It wasn’t His plan to perform His first miracle that day.
Until that moment, He was simply a guest at a wedding.
With the pleas of a mother, all of that changed in an instant. Not because she was a saint.
Not because she had some power over Him that He could not refuse.
Simply because she was his mama,
a normal mama just like you and me.
A mother. A miracle. A Messiah.
His mother asked for help from the only One she knew could truly help.
She needed a miracle.
He did not hesitate.
His heart for her was displayed in a single moment.
Compassion, empathy, honor, love.
And yes, that speaks volumes to me. Because I know that He knows.
He has compassion and empathy and love.
Whatever I am facing as a mother, He will understand, and He will always be there to perform the miracles this mother needs in her own life.
No matter what stage of motherhood you are in, Jesus will be with you through it all.
~When the pregnancy test comes back positive and suddenly, you are holding a precious newborn in your arms.
~When your once peaceful home becomes crazy and chaotic with toddlers and toys, diapers and bottles, giggles and laughter.
~When you fight back the tears on their first day of kindergarten and their last day of
~When you smile for every “first” you get to experience, every proud moment, every minute spent together, every confidence shared.
~When you cry as they drive off to college or vow their life to another.
~When suddenly you are staring into the sweetness and wonder of your first grandchild, and it feels like it was just yesterday that you were holding their mama in your arms.
As quickly as it starts, time will fly by even faster. With the best intentions, you might have the perfect plan laid out for your future, but the minute your baby is conceived is the minute everything changes.
You become a mother.
Through every “first” you can rest assured that He will be with you on your journey. Because He knows.
He knows all about mamas and plans and change.
He is with you through the uncertainty, the fear, the joy, the wonder, the stress, the tears, the loneliness, the pride, the amazement and the thankfulness.
You are never alone mama.
Your Savior has a heart for you.
Even as Jesus was tortured and dying, He took care of His mother.
I do not have one shadow of a doubt that He will do the same for me~
because it was for me that He was on that cross.
Whatever you are facing, know that you can face it with Him. Not only the hard stuff,
but the celebrations of motherhood as well.
No one understands like He does.
No one will have compassion and empathy for you as He does.
No one will love you more on this journey of motherhood than He does.
A mother. A miracle. Our Messiah.
My daughter recently shared a YouTube video entitled ‘Day in the Life’.
I smiled as I read all the sweet comments people posted, until I got to the very end.
The last comment implied that her life as a stay at home mom was outdated and old fashioned. A slam against everything that she loves, and the calling she feels God has placed upon her heart.
I thought back to earlier that evening. I had been babysitting my granddaughters. As I folded clothes in my laundry room, they laughed and played along side me, and in that moment my heart felt so incredibly full. Precious memories came flooding back of similar moments I shared with my children when they were that age.
You see~I was living my dream.
I am living my dream.
All I ever wanted to be when I was little was a wife and mother. Sure I had hobbies and thought about vocations I might enjoy, but ultimately the dream was to be a wife and mom. Just like my mom.
I never really knew how deep my passion was for such a dream until I was much older.
Right in the middle of this mom life,
despite all its craziness, I realized my dreams had come true.
I cannot explain the peace that comes over me when I am home, doing home things. I’m in my element. Being a wife, a mom, a grandma. Cooking and cleaning and laundry and baking and taking care of this home God has given me and the hearts He has placed in my hands. Little hearts to mold and nourish and raise and love. And then to let go.
There is nothing on this earth that I would rather do.
But apparently, that is outdated.
It’s old fashioned to think that way.
It’s a ludicrous idea to some to actually love taking care of your home and the little hearts God has given you.
And to me, that is sad.
I raised three daughters and a son. They are all grown now and we’ve added 6 grandchildren to the mix. Two of my daughters have jobs outside the home and one has chosen to be that old fashioned vocation ~ A stay at home mom. I am immensely proud of all of them.
Do I believe one is better than the other?
Do I think it’s wrong to work outside the home? Let me be very, very clear here~
NO I do not, but I do believe it’s wrong when one of the greatest vocations since the beginning of time has been made into a mockery. What has become of us as a nation when being a stay at home mom has been belittled and looked down upon? Where mothers who choose that life are made to feel “less than” or stupid.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are women out there who abuse the system. Who don’t understand the true meaning of ‘wife’ and ‘mother’ and all that it entails.
But to those moms who are living their dream with a passion~ it is a high calling.
I am not ashamed to say that I am living my dream. In fact, I’m not ashamed to say that I love my husband, that I love making him his favorite meals or taking care of the home that his job has helped provide.
Sadly, even marriage has been deprecated along with the homemaker. If you dare to say that you love cooking for your husband, or God forbid sharing intimacy together, instead of a helpmeet and lover, you are ridiculously labeled a ‘live in maid’ or even worse, a ‘sex slave’.
Why do I find joy in these things that I do?
Why do I believe I am living the dream? Because of the crazy amount of love my heart holds.
Love for my God Who has provided me such a beautiful family and this dream home I have been given to live in and take care of.
Love for my husband, who daily loves me back in so many different ways that too often I take them for granted.
Love for my children, and the breathtaking wonder that these super, awesome adults were once cradled lovingly inside my womb.
I’m living the dream because my heart is overflowing with thankfulness and love.
Today I sat across from my three grandsons as they ate a piece of their mommy’s homemade carrot cake. The atmosphere might have appeared messy to some. School work was on the table, dishes were in the sink and all I could think was~ my daughter is living the dream too. What a dream. She’s raising boys who will grow up into men. Men who will have a part in leading our country into a better tomorrow. Maybe preachers or fire fighters. Maybe teachers or coaches. Men who will have an impact. Men who will become husbands and fathers.
The kind of husbands you want for your little girls one day. The kind of fathers you want for your grandchildren.
What a tremendous calling and privilege has been placed upon her heart.
The raising of future husbands and fathers.
I so often hear on social media the need we have for strong women. I cannot think of a stronger role model for generations to come than that of a stay at home mom.
The time we have with the little lives entrusted to us is barely a whisper in the echo of eternity. But that whisper can become a mighty shout for God’s glory in the halls of their futures. Every single moment spent at home with them is an investment into that future.
Please hear me Mama, your dream may not be the vocation of stay at home mom like mine is. That’s okay. There were several women in the Bible who worked outside the home. Maybe it is your dream to be a stay at home mom, but you don’t have the means to make it a reality. Regardless of what each of our situations may be, I think we can all agree that our children and grandchildren need a better future.
I truly believe that future begins in the home, with the heart of a mother.
Our focus needs to shift. It needs to change. The title Mom should never be downgraded. Instead, it should be applauded. It is a strong woman who has chosen such a job. A woman with some of the greatest strengths of all.
The strength of thankfulness and of love.
It isn’t a strength she possess on her own, it is a strength that can only come from an even greater love.
That of her heavenly Father.
As I was leaving my daughter’s home, her youngest hurt himself and came to me crying. I kissed his little finger and the boo boo magically went away. Someday he will be doing the same for his own children. Tears welled up in my eyes knowing I have had a small part in such a beautiful high calling.
To be his mom’s mom.
To be a stay at home mom.
To think that God has allowed me this is beyond my wildest dreams~
and I get to live that dream every single day.
I could hear them talking about their babies.
“I can’t wait until this child can feed herself. Sometimes it seems like my entire day consists of holding her and feeding her!”...
“I can’t wait until this one is potty trained. Two kids in diapers is too much. It feels like it’s never ending.”...
I can’t wait until mine can crawl, or better yet walk! I wish she was more self sufficient so I could actually get some things done.”...
I looked over at my own children, now adults and remembered days like this.
Days I wished I could spring ahead.
But I also remembered~
I can’t wait until this child can feed herself...
I wish she would let me cuddle with her like
she did when she was a baby.
I can’t wait until he’s potty trained...
Look at him in the bathroom now,
getting ready for his date.
How can this be possible?
I can’t wait for her to crawl and walk and be more self sufficient...
Mom, I’m going out with my friends.
I’m leaving for college.
I’m moving out.
I’m getting married...
It isn’t never ending.
There comes a day when it all ends.
A day when you wish you could go back and hold them again.
A day when you have all the time in the world to get things done.
Suddenly their childhood is over as quickly as it arrived. Everything is new and different.
Empty arms. Empty bathrooms.
Sometimes lonely~like a long, cold winter.
But then everything changes.
Winter turns into Spring.
Old thoughts become transformed.
They turn into~
I can’t wait until this child can feed herself...
Mom I made you and dad dinner.
I’ll bring some over.
I can’t wait until he’s potty trained...
Son, can you train me to use all this
technology and help me create a blog?
I can’t wait for her to crawl and walk and become more self sufficient...
She’s such an amazing mother.
And she’s such an amazing daughter.
She tells me how much she loves me
and how thankful she is for the way
we raised her.
And she tells me that she now
realizes all the sacrifices and all the love
that went into everything her
dad and I did for her growing up.
Her sufficiency turns into gratitude.
Winter has turned into Spring again.
And just like leaves fall away from their home in the cold months of winter,
each of my children left the home my husband and I built for them.
But then there is a rebirth of all the beauty your heart and home once held, and what I once thought would be sadness has blossomed into joy again.
I once read this quote~
‘The earth laughs in flowers.’
That made me smile, despite looking outside at the dark and muddy barrenness winter holds over her.
Because I know what’s coming.
Don’t hold onto the long, dark winter months. Look for the incredible new blooms.
Look for the rebirth of every single thing you sacrificed, everything you taught them and all the love and prayers you poured into them.
Look for Spring,
it is only just ahead and
it’s incredibly beautiful.
Old seemed so far away.
I was on vacation. Laying in the sand, soaking up the sun, listening to the waves. Getting browner by the minute, and loving every second of it. I took my young body for granted. Never worrying about what I ate or didn’t eat, never worried about joints aching or not being able to open jars. Never worried about wrinkles or skin cancer.
Those thoughts never once entered my mind.
Yes I took life for granted.
And then I had a few kids, and pretty soon I realized these kids really, truly needed me. I loved them with an ache that could not be compared to anything I’d ever experienced. And suddenly, I was worried about skin cancer and what I ate or didn’t eat.
As I lifted each child,
as I hauled a baby around on my hip that supported a pregnant belly above it,
I no longer took that body for granted.
I lathered on sunscreen and wrinkle cream.
I took vitamins and ate healthier.
I spent more time in God’s word instead of magazines with beautiful models on their covers. I began to see things differently as each year went by.
Pretty soon my arms and hands were lifting boxes as each child moved into their new homes. I was unpacking kitchen utensils and bathroom necessities for them. I was helping hang pictures and making up beds in their new bedrooms.
Bedrooms that were no longer above me upstairs.
And later in the evening I was rubbing medicinal cream on achey joints and back muscles.
I was missing them.
And I was remembering.
I was remembering a young 20 year old basking in the sun. Unpacking boxes in her new apartment. Welcoming each child into her heart and home, and taking so much for granted.
And I whispered thank you to Jesus.
Because I never really realized all He gave me, and I took so much of it for granted.
I determined that I no longer would.
And I was watching my dad before he passed. How slowly he moved. How hard it was for him to see like he used to.
How easily he tired.
And yet, he still smiled. He still laughed.
He still enjoyed life.
And I felt young again.
And I knew that every day would be a gift. Every day would hold beauty.
Every day would be a day I would look back on with either happiness or sorrow,
and every day I would fight for that happiness.
And I would tell you~
don’t take it for granted.
Cherish every single minute of every single day and thank Jesus for it, because it goes by so quickly. Thank God for your young self. Don’t take your body for granted. Thank God for that body and all it’s able to do. Thank God for His word and the wisdom it gives you each and every day. Thank God for your children and for achey joints and backs, because you were able to help them. Because they still needed you.
Thank God that you miss them~
because He gave you so much beauty to miss.
Thank God and don’t ever take another minute of another day of your beautiful life for granted again.
Mama, It’s Okay~
I looked over at her and my heart immediately felt empathy.
She was flustered and embarrassed. We were on an airplane and here she sat trying to take care of two young children, alone. Her toddler seemed to be fine, but the baby in her arms would not stop crying. The worry on her face was visibly noticeable as she tried to soothe the baby’s cries and repeatedly apologized to the passengers next to her. I wanted to reach out and calm her anxious heart. I wanted to tell her it was okay. Flying was hard on infants. She shouldn’t worry about what anyone else thought, she should just take care of the tiny one in her arms.
Another day. Dinner out when I noticed her. Sitting at a table with four young children. The older two were fighting over crayons and placemats. The baby was crying. The toddler had ketchup all over the front of him. She tried to control the situation, but her mama heart looked overwhelmed in the moment. Worry about the other customers was written all over her face. I could almost hear her whispering~why did I even try? I wanted to get up and walk over. I wanted to wipe the ketchup off her son and sing sweet lullabies to her baby. I wanted to tell her that no one else in that room mattered at the moment, except her children.
Sunday services. A brand new mommy bringing her infant to church for the very first time. So many emotions going through her heart and mind. Just showing up was a chore. “Getting ready” for church held a whole new meaning. She was tired before she even arrived and even though the baby slept often during this time at home, she awoke with cries that rang through the auditorium. The mother’s heart fell. Her cheeks flushed and her countenance read panic as she picked her up and tried to shush her, eventually taking her out of the service. I wanted to get up and help her. I wanted to tell her it was okay. I wanted to comfort her heart with the knowledge that everyone understood.
I am that mother.
I am that mother on the plane,
at the restaurant,
I wish I could go back and tell my younger self those things.
The things that my older self now knows.
I wish someone had told me those things.
Another mom. A grandma.
But I felt alone, embarrassed, worried, anxious. At times I felt like a bad mom who couldn’t control her children. The worry over what others thought outweighed the worry over my children at the time, and what they were going through.
I wish I could go back and wipe away the tears and smile into the eyes of my crying baby and tell her it was okay, Mama was here. I wish I could’ve sung lullabies to them without caring what the passengers next to me thought. I wish I would’ve told myself that kids will fight, ketchup will be spilled. Babies will cry, and that all of that was normal.
Not just normal, but okay.
Mama. It’s okay.
I’m here to tell you, It’s okay.
Don’t you worry about a single thing. Don’t worry about what other people think.
You are a beautiful, wonderful mama.
Your children adore you. Shift your focus off of others and be in that moment with your children.
That moment of childhood and all it entails.
Don’t look back one day wishing you knew what I’m telling you now.
Choose to believe it.
One day you will be like me, looking over at your babies who are now all adults. Some with babies of their own. The memories of the chaos at restaurants and the crying in public places will only be a vapor in the overall picture of precious moments you had with them while they were still little.
And you will wish that you had known it was okay.
Stop and look at them mama.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing~
stop and look at them and tell your heart~
It’s better than okay.
It’s beautiful and wonderful and magical~ even in the chaos and the crying.
Don’t worry, and don’t wish for anything less.
I was having a really bad morning. You know, one of those days where everything goes wrong.
My granddaughter asked me for something from the refrigerator and when I walked into the kitchen, I just stopped.
I had a moment.
My shiny black fridge had swirls of deep scratches imbedded into it, almost as if someone had taken a fork to the entire surface.
My granddaughter looked from me, and the apparent horror on my face, to the refrigerator. She pulled a tiny magnet off its surface and asked “did this make those scratches grandma?”
Her big brown eyes were full of remorse and sadness.
It immediately brought me back to a similar time when my son was about that age. We were living on a very small salary at the time and I was thrilled when I was able to find a ‘one of a kind’ antique at a price I could actually afford. The dealer apparently did not know what they had. Just a few short days later as my son was innocently playing, the antique got knocked to the floor and shattered. I vividly remember that I did not say a word. I went into my bedroom, shut the door and quietly cried. I didn’t want my son to hear me or think that I loved a stupid antique more than I loved him. It was after all just a “thing” and he didn’t do it on purpose, but my heart was broken. I knew it was an accident, but I also knew I couldn’t afford a piece like this and would probably never find one so cheap again.
I felt so petty that day as I cried, and I felt petty as I stared at that refrigerator. The damage was irrevocable. All I could say to my granddaughter was “yes that magnet made those scratches.”
I went upstairs because I didn’t want to cry in front of her, just like I did all those years before.
As I prayed, a flood of memories washed over me. Memories of all the times I lost it with my kids when they were little. I might have cried quietly the time my son broke my antique, but far more often anger and yelling was usually my response. Drinks that spilled. Muddy footprints. Messy rooms. Stains on clothes. Stains on furniture. Broken dishes. Broken things.
Sadly at the time I felt I had every right to be angry at them, even though the majority of the time they were innocent mistakes.
I was just having a bad day.
Just like today.
As I look back at those moments, I realize how foolish I was for flipping out about things.
Spilled drinks, muddy footprints, stains and messy rooms can all be cleaned up.
Things broken can be replaced.
I have come to realize how quickly time has passed since those moments.
All those things that had broken~
that I was so sure I’d never find again~
they have all been replaced twice over.
They weren’t as important as I thought.
And now, there are no spilled drinks or messy rooms or stains to clean up~
because my house is empty.
My children are grown and gone.
Mama, don’t lose it over the little things.
Satan can use those little things, just like that little magnet on my refrigerator, to make you feel as if everything is ruined.
Tomorrow is a new day.
They are children. There will always be messes, there will always be broken things~
until there’s not.
One day you will look back and realize how silly it was to let those things ruin your day and cause you to lash out at them.
Sometimes I think mamas get so bogged down with the overbearing weight of our day to day chaos that we forget they are only children. They’ve only been on this earth for 2 or 4 or even 8 years. Whatever their age, it’s not much at all to expect perfection from them.
To expect them to never make mistakes.
But we do without even realizing it.
And then one day you are looking at a refrigerator with your granddaughter.
A refrigerator that you know you can’t fix but you tell her that it’s okay, and you hug her tight because you know that one day you will look at that refrigerator and remember.
You will remember that moment and her little hands, and you will miss it.
And you will be forever thankful that God allowed your heart to realize how special that moment was. Moments with your grandchildren.
Time will go by so quickly. The feet that once were little will walk out that door for good.
Don’t wait until your home is empty and your children are grown and gone to realize that the most important things in your home were never really the things at all.
They were those little feet and hands.
The little feet and hands that broke the things.
The little feet and hands that made the messes.
The little feet and hands that will one day be only moments of beautiful memories.
Big magic in the mundane, the big picture in a small frame, everything is sacred when you take time to notice, big love happens in the small moments....
Can I just be honest here?
Sometimes my adult kids really frustrate me.
When the frustration hits,
it’s usually due to worry.
Am I allowed to say that as a pastor’s wife?
Most of my kids read my blog posts.
Not sure how that will go 🤣,
but if they’re honest, they’re kids or spouses frustrate them now and then too.
I know I’ve said it before, but you mamas who think it’s so hard with little ones...
When they’re little it seems like their hearts are bursting with unconditional love for you, plus~ you get to tell them what to do. 😂
Sure, they might not obey every time, but when they’re really little, it’s SO much easier to teach them why your words of wisdom are so important.
And when they’re really little,
they usually listen.
I tend to let the “not listening” part of adult children really get to me. Often my feelings get hurt and I feel unloved when I don’t understand the direction they’re going, and it seems like they’re disregarding me as a parent and the things we taught them when they were little.
But then God gives me mama moments.
Moments filled with comfort. They might not be living under my roof anymore or doing things the way that I taught them, but if I’m truly praying for them, if I’m truly leaving my children in the hands of God and trusting Him, then I should not be worried at all. And He always ends up showing me just how loved I am.
This past Christmas was one of those mama moments.
The kids gave us a video they put together of pictures of our grandchildren set to music. Ten years earlier they gave us a similar video, but it was full of pictures from their own childhood-My husband watches that video all the time, and every single time he gets teary eyed.
So, we all jammed into my tiny 10’ x 12’ TV room to watch the new video. Some were standing, grandkids were on laps and the room felt like chaos.
But when the video started, magic happened~ silence filled the room as everyone watched.
As I watched.
I watched the video, but I also watched my adult children and their spouses. Every single one of them was wiping away tears as eyes were glued to the screen. They weren’t tears of sadness.
They were tears filled with love.
The love their hearts were feeling.
And man, my heart was full.
So much love filled that room.
God was in that room.
This was a big moment in a small frame and I don’t think any of them probably realized that at the time. But I did.
And God told my fretful, worrying mama heart that I was too often trying to hold on to this big picture and freaking out about what I thought life for my adult children was supposed to look like, when all the while He was giving me small frames to hold onto every single day in the mundane. Beautiful pictures inside those frames to show me how truly wonderful life with my adult children was.
I was trying to control what was inside that big picture instead of realizing that He is the only One who can. I was doing the same thing to God that I thought my adult children were doing to me. I wasn’t listening to what He had been teaching me all along, but instead I was doubting His love and goodness. I was doubting that He would take care of them.
That big moment in a small frame will forever be etched in my heart and I will look more often for those small frames that my life holds. Small frames God gives me every single day.
So moms of adult children, don’t fret, don’t worry, don’t let your heart hurt. Don’t feel unloved. I know it’s hard. I’ll probably never stop parenting or wanting them to listen to my advice, but if we’ve been praying for our children, if we’ve truly given them to God, then we can’t let the frustration and worry control us. Allow Him to hold your big picture. We might not ever see the finished portrait here on earth, but we can rest in the fact that our Heavenly Father is still perfecting every stroke. One day when we take our last breath and stand face to face with our Savior, He will show us that beautiful picture and it will be so much more glorious than we could have ever imagined.
Until then, enjoy all the beautiful small frames He hangs on the walls of your heart every single day~and trust Him.
Because those small frames hold big love.
FINDING THE GOOD IN THE GRIEVING
I realize this is a very long post, but I ask you to bear with me because once again, I’m going to be brutally honest here and admit some things I’m dealing with. Things I don’t want to think about, let alone write about. But things that God has given me to help me through this. Steps that I think can truly help others.
I know many of you have been anticipating 2021 since March of 2020.
It’s been a year of horrors, and people desperately need to believe everything will change for the better in the coming year.
But I am struggling.
Thanksgiving and Christmas~
decorating shopping, wrapping, baking, Hallmark movies and Christmas music~
all of these things masked the deep ache of grief in my heart.
I didn’t want to face it just like I don’t want to face 2021.
I don’t want to move forward.
My heart wants to go back in time.
I’m facing the responsibilities that go along with losing your last parent. Packing up a lifetime of memories my dad held on to. My memories. I don’t want to go through his drawers and cupboards and make the hard decisions on what gets thrown away, or given away, or kept. I want to keep it all, right down to the tape dispenser and air freshener he recently purchased.
No, my heart doesn’t want to move forward. Instead, I want to go back in time and just sit with him there in his living room. Laughing about something funny my grandchildren did. Sharing a chocolate. Reminiscing. I want to see his red Jeep outside my front door as he stops by for his daily check in.
I want to tell him one more time how much I love him.
I know many of you are in the same boat. This year has taken so many loved ones.
The heartbreak has been unfathomable.
In the past 5 months I’ve written 7 posts on a variety of things that can change your life for the better.
Today my own heart longs to be changed.
I don’t want to be sad. I don’t want to mask the pain with busyness or superficial happiness. I don’t want to continue to push it down into the recesses of my soul and pretend it isn’t there, always looming over me like a black cloud.
I don’t want to dwell on “what if’s” and “could have been’s”.
How do I move past this deep ache of grief?
I understand that everyone deals with grief differently. My own personality does not want to read someone else’s words on how to deal with grief.
The devil knows this.
He knows our personalities and he will use our own deceitful hearts against us. (Jeremiah 17: 9) He tricks me into believing that I am unique in my pain and no one can possibly understand enough to write anything that will help.
But he is wrong.
God has continually been tugging at my heart. He will never leave me.
He will not give up on me~
even when I feel like giving up on me.
He is always whispering to my sadness~”I am right here Charisse.” (Romans 8:38&39)
And so, today I want to share some simple things God has used to comfort me. I am a work in progress. My words are not the ‘end all’ solution. They are a day by day choice. Every single day has new challenges and I know I am facing some even harder ones in the coming weeks.
1. Ask God for help- As I have said in my previous ‘life changing’ posts, my number 1 tip will always, always, always be to ask God for help. You will never conquer the next 6 steps if you do not take this very first one. (Psalms 16:11, Romans 8:26, John 14:16-18, 26, I Peter 5:7)
2. Stay in Gods word- The minute I slip away and allow other things to come before, or even replace my time spent talking to God or reading His word is the minute the heartbreaking grief takes control. (John 15:11, I Thessalonians 5:17) Every morning I must get out of bed and choose joy. (Nehemiah 8:10) Choose God, His words, His promises, His peace. Some days when I wake up I just know it’s going to be a good day. I smile. I tell myself I can do this. Other mornings, I just want to hide under the covers and sleep the day away so I don’t have to deal. I don’t know why one morning can be so different from the next, but these are the days that I must choose wisely. I must choose God. Which takes me back to point number 1. I cannot do this in my own strength, so on days like this I cry out to Him and ask Him to help me. Some days I am silently begging Him for help over and over and over again. Even though the day may feel like it was the worst day ever, when I lay my head on my pillow that night I realize I made it through, but only because of Him. If we could see our lives the way God can~if we could understand how horrible things would have been without His continuing presence~we would realize that even on our worst days He was right there with us and got us through it. (Jeremiah 33:3) Tomorrow is a new day. (Psalms 118:24)
3. Face your grief- as much as I don’t want to, I have realized that I cannot pretend my dad is just gone visiting my brothers. I cannot push the pain down deep and not think about it, because in doing so the pain will remain debilitating. I must face it, and in facing it a myriad of other steps come into play.
4. Cry. Talk it out. Ask for help and prayer- We should not feel shame for the grief we are going through. We do not have to pretend we have it all together. We need to cry and not bottle everything inside. This is an area I have a hard time with. I do not want to cry because I do not want to cause my children worry or sadness and I don’t want my grandchildren to see me sad. I have realized that this not only makes the process harder, but drags the grief out longer and longer. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, for someone to just come and sit with you as you talk about what you’re going through or just need to reminisce. (Galatians 6:2) There is nothing wrong with asking others to please pray for you when you are having a bad day. (I Thessalonians 5:25, James 5:16, Matthew 18:20) There is nothing wrong with crying. (Psalms 56:8-13) There is nothing in the Bible that says that we shouldn’t cry, only that we should not cry as if we have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13) Which brings me to my next point.
5. Eternity- God has given us this amazing, unaltering hope through the shed blood of His Son Jesus on the cross. Eternity. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, if we in repentance accept His gift of salvation~ God promises us eternity with Him in heaven. (I Thessalonians 4:14) My daddy did this and I have the full assurance from God’s word that my dad is at home in heaven right now. (Romans 6:8, John 14:2, I John 5:13, II Corinthians 5:8) If I choose to focus on my dad instead of myself~ it changes my whole perspective. Why would I choose to wish for him to be here with me, when he is in the very presence of his God? His Heavenly Father who loved him so greatly that He sent His Son to die for Him? My cousin so sweetly reminded me of this on Christmas Day. His very words were~”he is celebrating Christ with your mom right now.” My parents are celebrating Christ, and what a celebration!!! They are in glory. No more pain. (Revelation 21:4) Only praises. (Psalms 89:5, Luke 15:10)
6. Focus on the good and be thankful- This can be a hard one because when we focus on the good and happy memories, they often bring the tears as well. I know there will come a day when my tears turn into happy, thankful tears. And so, I will remember all the happy times. All the moments turned into memories. The moments that wouldn’t seem particularly special at all to anyone else, but hold beautiful happiness to me. Moments that I thank God for. (Philippians 4:6) As much as my heart hurts and wants those moments back, if I continually remember step number 1, I know that God will help me to be thankful and to see how amazing it was that I had all those silly, special, mundane moments with my dad here in Caseville the last four years.
7. Live every day as if it were your last- (Psalms 90:12b) We do not know what tomorrow holds. (James 4:14) We aren’t promised tomorrow, or even today. Knowing this, and with God’s help, I am moving into the future. Today. January 1, 2021. I am resolving to live every day to the fullest. To see the beauty in every single thing~ whether that’s the snow storm in our forecast, whether that’s the silly things my husband does that tend to irritate me or my aching back that I threw out putting Christmas decorations away~ I am asking God to show me the good in every singe thing. And my friend~ there is SO MUCH GOOD. (James 1:17) Beautiful, fresh clean snow. A picture of a new beginning. A husband that loves me despite all my irritating qualities (like putting away heavy Christmas boxes without asking for help) and then waits on me hand and foot. Time spent sitting with him because, as much as I want to, I can’t move. And realizing how precious this time of doing ‘nothing’ is. I am resolving to truly be present for my grandchildren. To stop and listen to their childish babbling and soak in every word. To play with them and create beautiful moments they can someday remember and be thankful for. So I will ask you~ how do you want your friends and your loved ones to remember you right now? Today? If you drew your last breath as you fell asleep tonight, just as my dad did, would they remember sadness or would they remember joy? Not a masked happiness but the true joy that only comes from God?
I want my friends and loved ones to remember joy. I want my husband and children and grandchildren to remember my laughter. I want them to remember me smiling, just as I will always hold the memory of my dad.
My sweet, precious dad outside my front door in his red Jeep. Smiling.
Smile again with me my friends.
I promise, God can change your life!
Ask Him to help you find the good again.