Monday, February 28, 2011

Listening & Soli Deo Gloria

Welcome, Soli Deo Gloria Sisters!  I'm so glad to see your faces and meet some new ones as well.  This is a place of encouragement and blessing, and it is my prayer that you always feel welcome here.  If you are new (anyone is welcome), please read here for the heart behind this meme and some general guidelines (the button is to your right).  I hope you are blessed on your page and leave blessings for others, as well.  Also, if you would like to be put on the Soli Deo Gloria email list, please leave your contact information below in the comments.


Photo source


It’s really quite ironic that this whole speaking calling is called s(He) Listens.  Not because I’m not a good listener because I am.  It’s because I’m officially hearing impaired.  I fall in the moderate-to-severe range so if we ever meet in person and I don’t have my hearing aids in, I won’t hear you call my name if you are behind me.  Heck, I might not even hear you if you are standing in front of me.

I’ve had a hearing loss ever since I can remember.  I was officially diagnosed in early elementary school and was fitted for hearing aids.  Do you know how many kids wear hearing aids in elementary school?  None that I knew and I was terrified to be different from the norm.  I would dutifully put them in every morning before school.  Mom would watch me walk down the street and as soon as I turned the corner, I would dutifully pluck them out of my ears and stuff them in my backpack.  It was worse to be teased than to not hear the teacher.  Or my friends.  But, do you know that I don’t have any memory of anyone ever teasing me about wearing hearing aids?  Probably because I didn’t give them a chance. 

I didn’t start wearing hearing aids regularly until my second year of teaching special education.  After two and a half decades of coping (reading lips, sitting in front of class, using my brain to fill in the missing words from sentences I could barely hear), I decided that I was doing my students a disservice and it was time to face the music.  I broke down and started wearing hearing aids.  It only took me 18 years to come to terms with my disability.  I wonder what I really missed in those 18 years, sometimes.

Pretty much my whole life, I have prayed that God would heal my hearing loss.  I prayed that He would unstop these ears so that I could hear fully.  Somehow, each time I prayed or ask someone else to pray for this, I knew in my heart that He wasn’t going to take this burden away from me.  It wasn’t that He couldn’t, because He is Almighty God and everything.  But rather I think He lets me continue to live life with this deficit because He is going to get more glory through this struggle of mine than if He were to take it away with a snap of His fingers.  And I think He compensates me for it, if that makes any sense.  What I may lack in physical ability to hear with  my ears, He seems to make up with my abilities to hear with my heart.

But really, isn’t that what listening really is?  Hearing with your heart?

Alright, enough about me.  Please go read about everyone else and spread some hope, encouragement, and love. If you notice someone new to our community, please make them feel welcomed by leaving them a comment.


Striving

Striving.

I'm guilty of striving for things that I probably shouldn't have.  The things I chased after so hard and for so long were often things of this world.  My motivations were fueled by pride, materialism, the need to be the best at something...at anything.  I worried that if I did not strive, continually push myself onward toward these goals that I had seared into my brain, that I would be worthless, looked-down upon, shamed.

For the last month or so, I've been thinking over this whole striving thing.  See, I've grown tired.  I have realized that all this pushing and pulling and climbing has left very little time for rest.  Continually trying to achieve some form of greatness in order to fill myself is a very exhausting process.  Trying to achieve the praise of the people in this world in each area of my life expends a lot of energy that I could really be using in more important ways.  

Yesterday in church (and yes, I actually did get to go to the service instead of being sequestered in the children's wing!), we read the passage from Matthew 6 -- all about not worrying what we will eat or drink or wear.  But there was one verse that completely confirmed all my notions about this striving business.  To get the greater context, I'm giving you some of the previous verses, but the one that hit my heart is in bold:

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, "What will we eat?' or "What will we drink?' or "What will we wear?'  For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

The act of striving may not be all bad, but the key is this -- What am I striving for?  The things of this world or for the Kingdom of God?  My house to be perfectly clean or for my guests to feel loved?  The writing to be perfectly crafted or the Word of God being spoken in kindness and in love?  My children being wonderfully behaved in public or my children knowing that they will always be unconditionally loved?

True to form, God gave me a very tangible example of how striving for the wrong reasons can ruin a perfectly good thing.  After two weeks, I decided to strap back on my running shoes.  For those of you who don't know, I've been running for almost a decade and stay motivated by running races.  For the last two weeks, I've either been sick with the flu or allergies or I've been too busy catching up from being sick that I haven't had time to run.  So, I had grand ambitions for my first run back. 6 miles at an even, quick pace, steady breath, easy.

Right out of the door, I'm lambasted by wind gusts and warm temperatures.  My pace is anything but even and I struggle to maintain what was so easy for me just a few weeks before.  I continually push myself forward, thinking I've only run 3 miles. I can't take a walk break now.  I just ran a half-marathon, for goodness sakes!  And God said, Are you training now?  What would really happen if you just walked?  What if you just slowed down, forgot about what people might think, what YOU might think, and just enjoyed being outside?  Perhaps now is not the moment for striving.

And that pretty much sums it up.  Striving for worldly measures is usually based on worry, on appearances, on filling something inside me that will not ever be filled by my own works.  Striving, for me, often negates enjoyment because I'm so focused on where I'm going that I forget to revel in the journey.

Have you struggled with striving?



Linking up with Michelle at Graceful.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Things that I Love




Good morning Company Girls and CR Peeps!  It’s Caffeinated Randomness time and I am so being random today.  Take all things spiritual off the table – I’m just including worldly stuff today because we all know I love Jesus…

10 Things I Love

{1}  I know I mentioned this before but I love James Bond movies.  I have a new quest – to watch, from beginning to end, every James Bond movie made.  There are 22 currently and because my husband loves me, he has moved all the ones I have not yet seen to the front of the Netflix cue.  If that is not true love, I don’t know what is.

{2}  I love Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.  I know, I know, I know.  I’m also a fair-weather friend. I was so Edward, but then secretly started turning Jacob in the second movie. Shhhh….

{3}  Cheesecake.  With graham cracker crust and strawberry sauce.

{4}  CSI.  Vegas and New York.  But not Miami.  Oh, and Parenthood.  And Friday Night Lights.

{5}  Writing.  It’s getting the point where I just can’t stop. Unless I’m writing something really hard and then I can only write like a paragraph at a time.  But the will and desire never seems to abate, even when it gets difficult.

{6} Shark Week.

{7}  Football.

{8}  Finishing marathons. 

{9}  Having the windows open.  Having the windows open, with a breeze blowing my white curtains.

{10}  The beach.  The ocean.  The sea air.  The perfect vacation.




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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Pleasure of Joy

Photo source


It was there all along.
Waiting, dormant, yearning to be
Uncovered.
Layer upon layer.
Anger, mistrust, grief, envy
Continually threatened to choke it out,
To tamp it down, to crush and curse any type of growth.

But then, just a Hand, scooping out all this
Poor soil, filled with mildew and maggots and must,
He found that buried treasure.
The gleaming gift of gold, enfolded in fine linens
And ornate tapestries that tell the story of everlasting life.
JOY was unwrapped.
Startlingly brilliant,
Completely unvarnished
With unceasing depth and brilliant clarity.
There all along, just needing to be
Unearthed and delivered through this
Refined heart of mine.

I'm linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures.
Project Simple Pleasures2
Linking up with Emily at if eden murmurs.





Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What If I Didn't Rush?



I think I  get a high off being efficient.

Yes, perhaps efficiency is my drug of choice these days, aside from caffeine, that is.  I get going, checking things off my list, quickly tidying, quickly emailing, quickly taking care of this and that, and her and him.  Quickly, quickly, quickly.  It's off to the grocery store, off to this playdate, off to church to quickly copy, organize, stuff, prepare.  On Sunday mornings at church (where I work), I'm zipping around making sure each room as it's proper supplies, each teacher in her proper place, every child in the right classroom.  Zip, zip, zip.  If I didn't have efficiency, my whole life would topple down, wouldn't it?

You can stop laughing now.  

But seriously, being efficient makes me feel like I'm on top of the world.  I can do anything.  No to-do list is too big.  No task insurmountable.  No scheduling snafu that is outside my bounds to fix.

But then, I got sick.  Sick like, my-brain-was-still-fuzzy-even-though-I-hadn't-run-a-fever-in-3-days, sick. Sick like I moved at the speed of molasses.  Sick like it took me until 4pm to have any semblance of energy.  Sick like I stared at the dust bunnies frolicking around the edges of the throw rug and I just shrugged my shoulders.  Carry on, dust bunnies, carry on.

It was extreme, this pendulum swing.  Going 90 miles per hour one moment and then stopped in my tracks the next.  And as much as my mind wanted to my body to rev up again the moment my sickness vacated my flesh, my body couldn't hang with the speed.  It needed more time to recover.  It needed to savor the restful moments.  It needed to revel in the relief.

And do you know what the weirdest thing about this whole thing is?  I'm not inordinately behind.  I'm not being crushed by the weight of housework, lesson planning, or blogging.  I'm still not full-speed, but I don't feel stressed.  I don't feel the need to return to break-neck pace because the graceful speed of walking through life seems to be sufficient.  I think that perhaps the reason why I felt I must rush to get all my work done is because I feared that if I didn't, there would never be any time to relax, or do something I wanted to do.  What I'm finding is though, when I don't rush, I end up enjoying whatever it is I'm doing (even work) more.  If I'm enjoying something, it doesn't feel quite so burdensome, it doesn't take up as much of my energy.  I finish the task still full instead of depleted.

And all of the sudden, this makes crystal-clear sense. I rushed because I was worried things wouldn't get done.  Worrying sapped my energy.  Worry held me in captivity.  But He says,


"And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
 And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things.  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs."
Luke 12: 28-30, NLT

And, now, I can be free.  Free of worry.  Free of rushing.  Free to savor life at the graceful speed of walking.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Meaning & Soli Deo Gloria Link-Up

Welcome, Soli Deo Gloria Sisters!  I'm so glad to see your faces and meet some new ones as well.  This is a place of encouragement and blessing, and it is my prayer that you always feel welcome here.  If you are new (anyone is welcome), please read here for the heart behind this meme and some general guidelines (the button is to your right).  I hope you are blessed on your page and leave blessings for others, as well.  Also, if you would like to be put on the Soli Deo Gloria email list, please leave your contact information below in the comments.
First, I just wanted to thank you for all your prayers last week while I had the flu. I definitely felt them and am now all better!  If you could please be praying for Christy (Critty Joy).  She could definitely use some prayers for healing and quick recovery. To read what's going on with her, you can read here.


For my post today, I wanted to pick up where I left off with my whole what-I-feel-God-has-called-me-to-do story.  If you missed the first two parts, you can view them under the "Pages" section on the right of my blog.  But, to recap quickly, a few weeks ago, I dared to ask God if He was ready to reveal to me what my lifelong calling might be.  I received an answer:  He has called me to speak.  Like in front of living breathing people.  And thus, I am terrified.  You are pretty much caught up now.


I asked God for a name for the ministry.  Since I'm still a wee bit in denial about the actual having to talk in front of people, I thought I'd just get busy with the details.  Like coming up with a name, a logo, maybe a brochure.  You know, the fun stuff.  I had heard about a conference coming up in July called She Speaks, put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries.  (To read more about this, click here.)  Well, that would be a catchy title, wouldn't?  But, already taken, so moving on.


Whatever the title was to be, I really wanted the focus to be on Him.  First, I am prone to the sin called pride.  I like praise.  I like recognition.  I like to do a good job.  But this ministry is not about me.  All I am is a vessel.  The important players are God and the audience.   Not a lot of room for "I."  To give the most significance to HIM, I gave Him the "He" in "she."  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is He doing a good work in me and my job...wait for it...is to LISTEN to Him.  He is the One that knows the heart cries of the people who will be sitting before me.  He is the One that knows the words that have the power to open their hearts, transform their lives, to deliver hope, peace, and joy.  My job is to ask Him for the heart cries, ask Him for the wisdom, and then open my mouth (and hopefully good words will come out).  Two parts listening to one part speaking, thus the emphasis on the listening in the title.  Ta-da!  


s(He) Listens.


The lovely Critty Joy is going to help me with my logo when she gets better.  When I have that, I'll be sharing it with you!


Okay -- I'm off to see what you are up to!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No Longer Irked

Photo source here
My confession this week?  I can be petty.  I can hold grudges.  I can, therefore, hold petty grudges.

Has something, like something little, just irked you for years and years and years?  And you aren't openly mad about it when you are with the person, but then they have to go and do something even more irksome, and then, of course, you remember that you were irked 10 years ago, and now you're just doubly irked because you just couldn't let go of what bothered you to begin with?

Or maybe you are sane and you would never let those trivial things get to you?

Perhaps you don't let these things get to you because you already know this exciting piece of scripture that just days ago settled into my heart.  Not only settled, but dare I say, took root?

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  
1 Peter 4: 8


What I realize is this:  If I don't feel loved by someone, or rather, if I don't feel confident that someone REALLY loves me, I start stacking their offenses.  I make sure that I catalogue all of his/her flaws so that somehow I can make myself feel better about not feeling loved.  


When, in my head I start ranting:  


I can't believe she said...
I can't understand why she would...
What was he thinking when he...


I'm really wondering:


Why doesn't she love me enough?
Why am I not lovable?
If he really loved me, wouldn't he...?


I would love to say that I got out of this ridiculously self-centered cycle by just realizing that things are just not that much about me, but no.  Apparently, I'm not that mature.  Instead, I was wooed out of it.  I literally feel like God used a particular person to just heap love on me.  And she just loved me and loved me and loved me.  She loved me so much that I could just could never doubt for a second how much she stinkin' loves me.


And I'm no longer irked.  Not in the least bit.  About anything.  Not from things ten years ago, not two-weeks ago, not even two seconds ago if something had just happened.  And it's not even just confined to this one person who has loved me so well.  I'm not irked by anyone or anyone's past transgressions, little or huge.  I am not angry at all.


Whoa.  I don't think I've been anger free in quite sometime. This is a taste of freedom, friends.  A taste of freedom.  Love really does have the power to blot out the transgressions, the sins, the little irks, too.


My prayer for you, especially of those of you like me, who can be irked rather easily, that God would put someone in your life, or perhaps it would even be He Himself, to love you so well and so much that you just have no room in your heart, mind, or soul, to be irked.  To be angry.  To hold a grudge.


There's freedom in that friends.  And I want to share in that freedom with you.


Linking up with Michelle at Graceful.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Structure and Flexibility


Through this piece, I heard ~

*Just because something appears to be out of rhythm, doesn't mean it can't belong.*

*Structure can still be flexible.*

*Perhaps flexibility makes structure even stronger.*

*Contrast can make the ordinary just beautiful.*

Linking up with Jennifer's Sneak Peek Fridays.  It's good to be back.




Blog hop at RachelAnne's!  

Mama's Heart: Enough


Enough.

Am I enough?  Am I doing enough?  Am I giving enough?  Saying enough?  Teaching enough? Discipling enough?  Disciplining enough? Praying enough?

It's hard for me to know if I am doing everything I should be doing as a mom.  Being a natural striver, I never seem quite satisfied with my parenting.  I know that I could always be doing more.

But, see I've been asking God to make GRACE a reality in my life.  To make it tangible, visible, so that I may truly experience the fullness of His grace that is available to me.  Because, to be honest, I don't really know.

This week I was sick with the flu.  I'm the girl who NEVER gets sick.  The last time I had a fever was four years ago.  The last time I had the flu was 10 years ago.  That being said, I'm not used to being down and out.  And, me, as awful as I felt, I couldn't be enough for my kids.

So God ushered in grace.

...a husband who stayed home from work to care for his two daughters, one of whom was also sick.
...a mother who brought over Valentine's presents for her granddaughters to keep them happily entertained.
...a friend who took the youngest daughter to preschool...and brought her back home again.
...a friend who brought over a new book to read.
...blogger friends who offered prayers.
...church friends who offered Sonic drinks.
...neighborhood friends who offered playdates.

When I couldn't be enough, God used others to fill in the gaps.  And truthfully, even when I am physically well, I can't always be enough for my little girls, as much as it pains me to say it.  I have limitations. I have faults.

But now, I also have grace. Living, breathing, tangible grace.  Grace that fills in the gaps.

What's happening in other mama's hearts?  Visit It's Grace to find out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

As of Late

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Lately -- I've been recovering from the flu.  The last time I had the flu was in 2001.  The last time I had a fever was 2007.  So, I'm not so used to being sick.


Lately -- I've been watching.  Usually, I'm running around, trying to get everything done. But today, as I sat in my chair outside (recovering), my daughter was riding her bike in the driveway.  Since she wanted to make sure she didn't run over any rolly-pollies she moved all of them to the grass before getting on her bike.  Then, any time she saw one, she quickly got off her bike and moved the critter to safety.  If I had my nose buried in a book, I would have missed these very sweet moments.


Lately -- I've rekindled my obsession with James Bond movies.  Luckily, my husband is letting me have control of the Netflix cue, so the next 5 movies coming are all Bond...James Bond.


Lately -- I've been relaxing about things a bit.  I'm not so worried about followers or comments.  I just came to the realization that I'm doing this all for God, so as long as I pleasing to Him, it's all good.


Lately -- I've been impressed with my husband.


Lately -- I've been praying that no one else in our house gets the flu.


Lately -- I've grateful for the warmer weather.  Come on, SPRING!


Lately -- I've been redoing our guest room for when my dad and his girlfriend come.  It's a beach-themed and the new wall color is called "Silver Screen."


Lately -- I've been asking God to show me how I can receive grace more easily and willingly.


Find out what everyone else as been up to as of late.  Visit Christy at Critty Joy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Soli Deo Gloria Link-Up

Welcome, Soli Deo Gloria Sisters!  I'm so glad to see your faces and meet some new ones as well.  This is a place of encouragement and blessing, and it is my prayer that you always feel welcome here.  If you are new (anyone is welcome), please read here for the heart behind this meme and some general guidelines (the button is to your right).  I hope you are blessed on your page and leave blessings for others, as well.  Also, if you would like to be put on the Soli Deo Gloria email list, please leave your contact information below in the comments. 


Truthfully, I'm sick right now.  As much as I'd love to try to slog through trying to write a coherent third piece about s(He) Listens, I don't think my brain is up for the challenge.  But, I just see this as a way for you to spend more time with each other this week.  There is a silver lining to every cloud.


But I do just need to say one thing:  


Many times when moms are sick, they don't get a day off.  They still have to do all the things they would normally do, even though their bodies are in no shape to function at full capacity.  So, in honor of Valentine's Day, thank you to Craig, who put aside his meetings and other work responsibilities to care for our children (one of whom is sick as well), who bought me flowers as a sweet surprise (because we don't normally celebrate V-Day), and who is just picture of wonderful.


Alright, enough of the smoopy stuff.  Link up and encourage one another!







Sunday, February 13, 2011

Confessions




My first confession is this:  Although I am on my church grounds frequently, I rarely actually go to the worship service.  I am the assistant director of our Christian education program, so often I am gathering supplies, checking on staff and volunteers, making copies, etc.  However, since my husband often feels as though he is a single parent on Sunday mornings, sitting the pew all alone, I am trying to make a concerted effort to make it to the worship service at least twice a month.  It's now mid-February and I have been to church a whopping ZERO times.  Obviously, I am failing in my objectives.  Alas, I had big plans to attend tomorrow, but my oldest is now sick with strep and it looks like mom and dad will be tag-teaming so that we can both do what we need to do at church while keeping the rest of the congregation safe from exposure.  I tell you this only because what I am writing for Michelle's link-up did not come from church, I did not hear this on Sunday, and I'm not even writing on a Monday, but isn't she sweet and full of grace to let me join in the fun anyway?

My second confession is this:  I talk a big talk about accepting grace, living in His mercies, receiving His forgiveness, and I do believe this in my heart of hearts, especially for you, my friend.  But sometimes when He asks me to receive these things for myself, well, I have a bit of a hard time putting one foot in front of the other.  I was talking to my sweet friend, Jenny, in the car on the way home from the doctor's office, lamenting about how I was trying to figure out if I had done the right thing, said the right words, if I had searched every cranny of my heart for any missteps or judgements in a certain relationship of mine.  And after listening to all of that, she says something to the effect of:

Perhaps He is looking to reprimand you, Jen.  Perhaps He just wants to father you, to love on you, maybe rub your back a little?

Before I knew it, tears pricked at my eyes.  My heart screamed yes and my mind simply said, No, I'm sure that's not it.

My heart yearned to stand before the Father and let love cascade down around me, to fill the holes that had been shot through my heart, to relinquish the pain and allow His healing balm to cover me.

My mind said, You are so imperfect, you are so flawed.  There is so much work God has to do in you.  You could never be right about this.  Keep working to get rid of all that bad stuff in your heart.

And I've been a bit paralyzed ever since.

What does it mean to let the Father father you?  How do I simply stand at the base of His waterfall of love?  How do I receive love without striving for perfection, without striving to be as holy as I possibly can be?

And today, I read these words from my One Year Bible:

"...for He is a God who is passionate about His relationship with you."  (Exodus 34:14)

"When Moses came down the mountain carrying the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn't aware that his face glowed because he had spoken to the Lord face to face."  (Exodus 34: 29, emphasis mine)

I promise you, I am no Biblical scholar here, but I can tell you how He used these two verses to speak to my heart (quickly because this is getting a little long).

God is passionate about His relationship with me!  We all know that relationships will whither and die if love ceases to grow.  And we know that we are capable of loving other human beings despite their flaws.  Therefore, I can draw the conclusion that God can still love me and show me this love even when (and there will always be a when) I still have things to work out, when I still sin, when I still fall in the same holes over and over and over again.

The fact that Moses' face glowed just by being in God's presence signifies the JOY of communing with God.  Moses was on the mountain getting a list of directions for the Israelites to follow so that they could keep their covenant with God. He spent 40 days and nights hammering this all out (literally) and yet, he stilled radiated.  It speaks to the fundamentals of God:  He is love.  He is joy.  He is more than enough and more than willing to overflow my cup.

This week, I am going to stand under the waterfall.  Will you come, too?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A New Window

It has been a rough week, emotionally and mentally, mainly.  I was drinking in a moment of peace, my Real Simple magazine splayed in front of me on the counter while I was casually popping in one too many pieces of Chex Mix in my mouth.

In this particular article, they were revamping a kitchen.  One of the least expensive renovation tips they gave was simply to clean off the refrigerator (free!).  They likened the bright, crisp whiteness to having another window in the room.  Being that I am an emotional cleaner and organizer, I set straight to work.  I recycled old magazine articles that "someday" I was going to try, expired coupons, old pictures that had become faded from the sun.  Knowing that my sweet children would be highly offended if they did not have some sort of presence on the family fridge, I arranged their best words on the side.  Other sentimental pictures and magnets with service provider phone numbers (which now, I think, I could just store on my iPhone), I placed on the other side.

Only one thing remained on the front -- money for my first grader's class picture that can only be returned on picture day.  Being that this is still 5 days away, there is plenty of time for it to get lost in the sea of papers that once adorned the door.

And as much having a clean, organized, third "window" in my kitchen, as much as I loved the simplicity and whiteness of it all, my heart still ached.  And so, I heard the Lord in the quiet moment of my heart:

If you were to clear everything off your life, what one thing would you choose to remain?  What would be your focus?  What would be the one important thing?

You, Lord.  I want my answer to be You.

I'm linking up for the first time with Cheryl Smith for The Simplify Journey.  Come see how others are simplifying their lives.
The Simplify Journey

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Concluding Thoughts on 30 Day Challenge of No Yelling

Just to recap, my 30 day challenge was not to yell.  If you look at simple math, you could say I wasn't successful.  I had moments of frustration when I could just not clap my hand over my mouth fast enough before the yell escaped.  But just because I had moments of failure, the overall challenge turned out to be a success for several reasons:

{1} It made me more cognizant of my parenting.  Knowing that I had a challenge to fulfill made me plan ahead as to what I could do instead of yelling.  In it's place:

  • Walk over to my children, bend down at eye level, and speak to them in a normal tone.  Many times if they were fighting with each other, just my physical proximity helped to neutralize the war zone a little bit.
  • Flat out tell them:  I am feeling really angry/frustrated/sad right now.  I need to take a break for a minute and walk away so that I will make good choices with my words.
  • Be pre-emptive.  There are so many examples that I could use here, but for me this meant that I needed to build in time to let my children go at their own pace.  Rushing around trying to get things done or get out the door by X time just made our house a breeding ground for frustration.  In many cases, this meant I had to manage our activities a bit better and even cut some out so that my kids (and me!) wouldn't be overtired or overstimulated.
{2} I've become more intentional in my parenting.  I've spent the last few weeks analyzing how my kids feel loved.  I've been reading Gary Chapman and Ross Campbells' book, The Five Love Languages of Children.  Basically, the premise is the same as Chapman's other book for couples, The Five Love Languages.  Essentially, everyone gives and receives love in very specific ways.  It is common that you give love in the same manner that you receive love (or feel loved).  For example, if quality time is my love language, I will show love to my husband by spending quality time with him.  However, his love language might be words of affirmation.  Since that doesn't necessarily feed me, I might not even think about regularly using my words to show him love.  (I really hope that makes sense.)

Right now, I've been focusing on my oldest daughter (she's 6 1/2) because she seems to crave my intentionality.  I think I've discerned that her primary love language is physical touch, so I have made a concerted effort to give her lots of hugs and kisses, but also, when I'm walking by, to tussle her hair, or to pat her leg during dinner.  I think her secondary way of receiving love might be words of affirmation, as evidence by her "love letter" to me.  I responded on the bottom, handed it back to her, and if I could have bottled that reaction, I would have saved it for life.
Just FYI, the 5 love languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, and acts of service.  These are described in-depth in both of the books mentioned above.

Linking up with Erin at It's Grace for Mama's Heart.  Do you have something on your Mama heart?  Please share!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Pleasure of Light


This evening
Tempted to retreat to the quiet of the bedroom
To escape the noise
The clutter
The to-do lists that ramble on and on in my brain.
But really
To block out the light that tries to enter my soul
So that I can indulge in my anger,
My unforgiving spirit,
Pity just for me.

But, I am lured to stay
A part of this family of mine
By the dancing flames that show off
Constant flickers of light.
Darkness cannot reside here.
Bathed in the light of the One whose blaze
Destroys anger.
Burns self-pity.
Sears the unforgiving heart with
Beautiful rays of overwhelming
Burning 
Love
And
Passion.



I'm linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures.
Project Simple Pleasures2
Linking up with Emily at if eden murmurs.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Word Women Wednesday

Tiffini at House of Belonging gave us a prompt for this week:

Write about A day in YOUR life...what does an average day in YOUR life look like...from start to finish...the good, bad and ugly:)  We are all women and most mama's so I'm sure we will all relate in some ways.  You can share pictures of your children, grandchildren and husbands or friends or your house or WHATEVER! 


OR


use words to describe your day...let your creative little selves emerge:)


Since I have been trying to get back into my art, I'm taking the second choice.  Here's my offering - (I've taken closer pictures so, if you are so inclined, you can see the details.)








Monday, February 7, 2011

s(He) Listens and Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome, Soli Deo Gloria Sisters!  I'm so glad to see your faces and meet some new ones as well.  This is a place of encouragement and blessing, and it is my prayer that you always feel welcome here.  If you are new (anyone is welcome), please read here for the heart behind this meme and some general guidelines (the button is to your right).  I hope you are blessed on your page and leave blessings for others, as well.  Also, if you would like to be put on the Soli Deo Gloria email list, please leave your contact information below in the comments. 
Photo credit here
Last Tuesday, I told you that God shared with me that He was calling me to speak.  What I didn't tell you was the actual words that He said to me in the car (which could have been an accident in the making when I think about how scared I am about pursing this!) as I was innocently on my way to pick up a few things for my "real" job.

I want you to put a "speaking" page on your blog.

Yes, friends, those were His exact words.  And do you know that just the day before (of course, why would His timing be any less obvious) I randomly discovered the "edit pages" button on Blogger.  And, being the curious type that I am, I clicked on it.  I put my About Me stuff there and went along on my merry little way.  Little did I know how He would use that accidental discovery. Perhaps I will be a bit LESS curious in the future.

Oh, and did you know that just that week I was reading in my One Year Bible about Moses and how He thought of one-thousand excuses why he was not the one for the job of delivering the Israelites from the land of Egypt.  It's very interesting to me that when I have read this story in the past, I literally would say to Moses, God wouldn't call you to do something He's not going to empower you to do.  Come on Moses, just do what He tells you and all will be fine.

Do you know what I said that Thursday morning?  It was like re-reading the pages of Exodus.

Who am I to speak before these people?  How do you know they will listen to me?  What should I tell them?  Do you know how scared of this I am?  (If you go back to Exodus 2, you'll see very similar inquiries orated by Moses.)

On Thursdays I usually watch the next installment of the Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed Bible study that I am doing.  So, I told God that I could really use some confirmation through the DVD that morning.  Beth Moore was the speaker and I was just SURE that she was going to send some anti-confirmation my way.  I literally imagined her talking about how one feels an inner peace when God calls one to do something.

I'm paraphrasing here, but at one point in her talk she said, Of the three of us (Shirer, Moore, and Aurthur), I'm probably the one that has thrown up the most times.  It terrifies me to speak to a group this big.  Then she goes on to say, Your calling will always be bigger than what you can do.  That's because God wants people to know how big He is.  I'm silent.  I'm stunned.  Tears are running down my face.

So, needless to say, I feel like the deal has been sealed, but I'm still scared.  But, I've seen what God has done through Moses, countless other Biblical figures, and people like you. I have faith that He will give me what I need.  Anyone have any examples they would like to offer up as encouragement?

This is getting entirely too long and you have other people to visit, so I'm ending this here.  However, I do have a name for this journey:  s(He) Listens.  I'll explain more next week!

Happy visiting and encouraging!

Friday, February 4, 2011

7 Things You've Always Wanted to Know About Jen

Last week, I was tagged by the lovely hostess, Michelle, at Lost in the Prairies to write about 7 random things that no one (or perhaps at least very few people) know(s) about me.  I kinda gave up a few secrets a few weeks back on another CR Friday, but I'll do the best I can.
I'm stealing Michelle's 7 from last week because it's so cool.
{1}  I tend to become a bit paranoid at times -- random moments when I let my imagination get the best of me and I do things one might call...irrational.  For example, way back when before I had children, I had left my car at the shop to be repaired.  Upon returning home, I realized that I left the garage door opener in my car.  I envisioned men in ski masks appearing in my bedroom, reading to take everything I own and do me some bodily harm.  So what does a scared girl do?  She climbs on top of a trashcan (with wheels), stands up on it somehow without the lid caving in, and UNPLUGS THE GARAGE DOOR.  Do I think about just making sure the lock between the garage and the house is locked tight?  Do I think about JUST LOCKING THE SLIDE LOCK OF THE GARAGE DOOR?  Of course not.  Needless to say, my husband was not happy that I risked my neck for a lawnmower.  Ahem.

{2}  I am obsessed with sharks.  I fear them when I am in the ocean, but DVR every new show on The Discovery Channel during Shark Week.  Somehow I get a fix while watching people do stupid things like petting them.

{3}  When I lived in Denmark, I became a fan of Cher and Brittany Spears because apparently, those were the hit American singers that the Danes loved during that time.  "Hit Me Baby One More Time" and "Believe" will always remind me of that far off place.  Do you believe in life after love????

{4}  I am really not an animal person (please refrain from hating me) but of course the one animal we have, Thomas, loves me.  We rescued him after he was abandoned by his mom when we was barely 6 weeks old, so he still (a year and a half later) does this nuzzling thing on my shoulder that leave a huge wet spot on my clothing.  Who is the ONLY person he does this to?  Moi.  He won't even go upstairs to bed until I go.  And of course, if I forget something and go back down, well, he (clang, clang, clang goes his bell) goes right along with me.  And did I mention that he sleeps on a small corner of my pillow?  Yea.  He does.

{5}  I'm better at keeping my house clean than my car.  You should see my car.  Yuck.

{6}  For awhile there I thought I might actually be able to sing (this goes up there with the irrational thinking, or perhaps my tone deafness).  And then at some youth retreat back in the day they were actually recording the worship music.  Apparently, I was a few yards too close to the microphones and they had to edit me out.  (Insert sheepish look here.)
Remember Hung from American Idol?  I don't think I'm quite as bad as him.
{7}  I currently just defrosted my very first frozen pipe!  The girls went upstairs to take a bath last night and my husband came down and said the tub wasn't working.  Of course, you know me (see this post for  more cold weather panicking) and I immediately imagined pipes bursting, water spilling down walls, and months worth of reconstruction all within the span of 30 seconds.  I instructed my husband to research what to do (praise God for google) and since there was a fine trickle of water still escaping, we basically just have left the faucet on for almost 24 hours now.  I'm not turning it off until it gets above freezing (hopefully Saturday) and I'm sure I won't be happy about the higher water bill, but it will be less than my homeowner's insurance deductible.

Okay, so I get to tag 7 people to do this now.  Whoo-hoo!  If you see your name here, please know I will be stalking you until it's done.  (Just kidding!)

Jenny @ In the Becoming
Kelli @ Racing for God
Andrea @ {this nest}
Amy @ Gracious Giving
Stephanie @ Journey of Healing
Lea @ CiCi's Corner
Christy @ Critty Joy

Y'all are it!

For more fun visit Michelle at Lost in the Prairies and Rachel Anne at Home Sanctuary!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Am Broken: Mama's Heart

But deal well with me, O Sovereign Lord, for the sake of your own reputation!  Rescue me because you are so faithful and good.  Psalm 109: 21-22

In my Bible study tonight, Beth Moore asked me to paraphrase that Psalm.  My answer:


I am broken.  Please put me back together so that I may glorify You.




I am broken.  Please put me back together so that I may love my children.
I am broken.  Please put me back together so that I may love my children well.
I am broken.  Please put me back together so that I may be able to love unconditionally at all times.
I am broken.  Please put me back together again so that I dream Your dreams for my children and let worldly aspirations die.
I am broken.  Please put me back together again so that I might respond to them in ways that are wise and healthy.
I am broken.  Please put me back together again so that I might have discernment to see what is really stirring in their hearts.
I am broken.  Please put me back together again so that I might meet their needs in all the ways you intended a mother to fill her children.
I am broken.  Please put me back together again so that I may love my husband well and show my children the fullness of marriage.
I am broken.  Please put me back together again so that I may handle conflicts and defeats with grace.
I am broken. Please put me back together again so that my children will see that joy is possible even when the earth seems to crumble beneath my very feet.


I am broken and in no place is this more apparent to me than in my mothering.  It's a 24/7 job, which gives me plenty of opportunities to fail.  But the beauty in this is that my children will see the reconstruction.  They will witness redemption first-hand.  They will see His glory revealed in my life.  They will see beauty rise out of the shards of strewn glass.


Linking up with my precious friend, Erin, at It's Grace for Mama's Heart.

Simple Pleasures: A Rock



No, silly, not just a rock that you'd find laying on the ground.  No, not even The Rock (Jesus, I mean, not Dwayne Johnson).

This rock is the one I call my husband.  He is my simple pleasure today.

I have to say, I am one who can remain calm during medical emergencies.  Have an emotional or spiritual issue?  I have you covered.  Take away my heater and all other electrical devices when it is 18 degrees with a windchill of 4 and I. Flip. Out.

I didn't know about the rolling blackouts that were to descend upon our city and at promptly 7:56 AM, just as I was about to warm my tea in the microwave, everything shut down.

There was no ice.  Very little wind.  What could be the cause?

Oh my goodness.  I look at my husband.  Hannah and I are going to freeze.  We have no heat.  No oven.  No stove.  No microwave.  We won't even have a hot shower!  I'm not even good at keeping a fire going!  And we are running out of firewood.  There won't be any left in the entire city!

He started packing his bag for work.  Casually, nonchalantly, like there was no big deal.

Where do you think you are going?  You can't leave me here!


You really have no survival skills do you? he says.

And your first clue was...

But see, he knows that I really don't panic often, but when I do, there is absolutely nothing (well, besides the almighty power of God) that calms me down until the issue is relatively fixed.

And so, he stayed.  And I was comforted because I knew that if push came to shove and the power never did come back on, he would lead me and our two little girls on the path to survival.  He would be strong.  He would be steady.

A rock.

I'm linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures.
Project Simple Pleasures2