Encouragement

We’ve Lost Our Joy In The Journey

road-mountains

We strategically pulled our passenger van out of the parking lot and into the long string of traffic that had developed on the roadway ahead of us. We had just finished watching fireworks with our kids for the 4th of July. Our little town had put on quite the firework display and the kids were still reveling in all of the excitement and were beyond excited for being allowed to stay up past bedtime.

Traffic was barely creeping forward and the roads were congested. We would slowly creep forward a few mere inches only to arrive at a complete standstill again. After several minutes of making no progress, many drivers were growing tired of the wait, and decided to turn around and try a different route. The idea started with only a few and then seemed to be catching on as more and more vehicles were attempting to turn around and find a different route so they wouldn’t have to wait for the traffic to clear.

One driver, attempting to make a quick turn about, underestimated the amount of turning space available between them and a cleverly concealed ditch line. Traffic began moving and cars were soon coming from both directions again. The sidewalks were still saturated with families venturing back to their vehicles. In a split second decision, the driver chose to continue towards the ditch in hopes of avoiding an accident with another vehicle or possibly even injuring bystanders.

The traffic in our lane, moving normally once again, soon reached an intersection. I quickly glanced back before pulling out from the stop sign to find that traffic was now halted again due to the road being blocked by the impatient driver’s car. I heard one of the kids ask from the back, “Geez, what was that guy in such a hurry for? He needs to have some patience!”

Why was he in such a hurry? Why was everyone in such a hurry? Why was I always in a hurry and constantly looking for the least time consuming option? Today, our lives are busy… really busy. We have become SO busy and focused on completing our tasks, achieving our goals, and pushing ourselves endlessly for “bigger and better” things, that we have in fact forgotten to enjoy the process of us actually getting there. We have lost the JOY in our JOURNEY.

When was the last time that you stopped to smell the roses (literally AND figuratively speaking)? We’re always in a hurry! We’re always rushing to our next appointment, critiquing our schedules for higher productivity options, creating routines and producing plans, rushing out our front doors for the latest practices and events…We have become so busy LIVING life, that we have forgotten how to LIVE life. We have become so focused on our tomorrows, that we have forgotten how to enjoy our todays.

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” JAMES 4:14

     That scripture…wow! Our lives are but a vapor…that’s SO powerful! Don’t have time to play with your kids? MAKE THE TIME. Too busy to help someone that stands in need of it? MAKE THE TIME. Seem to never be able to have the time to pray or read God’s Word the way you would like to…MAKE THE TIME.

Take some time ( MAKE THE TIME if you need to) and evaluate what is really important to you. Then, ask yourself…is this going to matter an hour from now? Will it really matter tomorrow? How about next week? What about next year? If today was your last and you had no more tomorrows, would you regret any of your choices? Would you be satisfied with the choices that you made and the things that you deemed worthy to invest your time, effort, and attention in?

Lord, I just want to say thank you for blessing us with another day. I have taken your blessings for granted all too often, and for this I am truly sorry. Father God, I pray that you will help us to have hearts of gratitude that can see the beauty in all of Your works. I pray that You help us to make righteous choices and decisions concerning how we spend our time and what we invest our energy and attention in. Help us to stay focused on You and to be a light for You to others in our lives. Help us to have joy in our journeys Lord, and to truly embrace the lives that you have blessed us to have. Thank you for everything that you are doing in our lives today Father. I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.

 

 

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Encouragement

He Wants My Heart

     you-own-the-skies-and-still-you-want-my-heart-23308054     It’s 8:00 AM and your alarm begins blaring…an hour later than it was supposed to have gone off. You must have been so tired last night when you set it, that you hit the wrong button. It feels as if you’ve only blinked while you slowly creep from your warm bed , stumble to your coffee pot, and recite the mental checklist you’ve quickly compiled in your mind of everything you need to get accomplished before heading out the door to make morning service. You were 15 minutes late last week and you are determined to be on time this Sunday. You jump in the shower and quickly put yourself together and begin waking up the children to get dressed. Your husband hits the snooze a few more times before finally making his way out of the bedroom and into the shower for himself. Breakfast is cold cereal again this morning, but the children don’t seem to mind. Everyone is moving slower than you had anticipated and you find yourself starting to feel slightly anxious. Time is ticking and there is still so much to be done. In the rush of the morning, the beautifully pristine home you worked your entire Saturday on has unequivocally earned a guest spot of the next episode of Hoarders. Patience is diminishing and anger begins to surface. While you exhaustedly run around looking for the mates to lost shoes (I will never understand how all of my children can lose one of EVERY pair of shoes that they own simultaneously), your husband calls out from the bathroom stating that he is unable to find his beloved striped shirt. He’s looked everywhere in the closet, but just it isn’t there. He’s absolutely sure of it. You go to the said closet and retrieve his “absolutely not there” striped shirt with a begrudged smile, and hustle back down the hallway to check on the progress of all of the children who are supposed to be getting dressed in what you had originally planned to be beautiful frilly dresses and freshly ironed clean slacks and dress shirts. There is no time this morning, so wrinkly jeans, t-shirts, and leggings it is. Upon the realization that you have apparently been talking to yourself for the last 30 minutes because everyone is still leisuring in their pajamas, you lose your temper. You raise you voice and spout things out of anger before you even realize the extent of what you have said.  Your mind is teeming with thoughts… “Do they not realize how much hard work and effort it takes for me just to get them out of the front door? Do they not care how hard I work? They really don’t appreciate me. I’m just wasting my time. I worked on this house all day yesterday and look at it now. I bet other mother’s don’t go through this. What does it matter anyways. I might as well just give up!” You fight back the tears while packing the last of the diapers in your bag. You’re aforementioned outburst has everyone tiptoeing around you quietly afraid of triggering another outburst. You feel like a jerk for yelling but FINALLY, everyone is dressed. You are mere moments away from loading your crew into the van when the baby spits up on your dress. You run in to change yourself and the baby and by this point, your frustration has reached a new high. “I don’t even want to go anymore. It’d be easier to just stay home this morning. I just don’t have the energy to deal with all of this today.” You take a few deep breaths, choking back the tears of defeat and discouragement, but just as you snap the last button on the baby’s clean onesie, you hear Him. You hear Him speak the words ever so softly. “I only want your hearts”. Those words spark a revelation that makes the tears spill over despite your best efforts. God doesn’t care how clean my house is or if the kids had to eat cold cereal for breakfast. He doesn’t care if the jeans are wrinkled or if all of the kids even have matching shoes on for that matter. He doesn’t care about any of that… He cares about me. He cares about my husband, and he cares about our children. He wants our hearts and that is all.

     We too often fall into self made traps of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations that we have set for ourselves. How many times have we set the mom bar at unreachable levels for ourselves, pushed ourselves to extreme limits, and have given up when we are completely exhausted with the outcome? We allow society, social media, and even the opinions of well intentioned individuals to make us feel like our best is simply not good enough, but Momma, you ARE enough. Your worth doesn’t come from your accomplishments. It doesn’t come from how sparkly your kitchen countertop is or how perfect your daughter’s french braids are. It’s not found in your bank account, your education level, or your circle of friends. Your worth is not found in who you are but in WHOSE you are.  You are His and He loves you! 

This mom thing… it’s hard. It’s really hard, but mommas, we can’t lost sight of the gift and the opportunity that God has given us as mothers. He has entrusted us to raise these children for Him. We have been given a privilege to instill big seeds in little hearts. The enemy wants to steal the joy that comes from motherhood with small trivial occurrences that discourage us and make us feel depleted. The piles of dirty dishes and mounds of dirty laundry seem daunting and overwhelming to us now, but 5 years from now we won’t remember them. We will remember the meals eaten on those dirty dishes and the trips to play in the rain that helped to add to that mound of dirty laundry.

Give yourself some grace today momma. It’s okay if you don’t get it all done. When the enemy makes your frustrations outweigh your joy, strive to give the same grace to your family and to yourself as God gives to you. We make mistakes, we don’t listen to Him, we operate on our own timelines, we are unappreciative of all of the blessings that He has given us, and we throw up our hands and quit the moment things don’t go our way… in essence we’re all just really big toddlers trapped inside adult bodies. God will always forgive us, offer us loving correction, and encourage us to keep going. God will never give up on us or stop loving us no matter how many times we mess up. What you are doing in your home matters momma so don’t give up. You are changing the world one set of sticky fingerprints at a time.

Encouragement, Homeschooling

Motherhood…Cropped To Perfection

 

 

 

   –  “All that glitters is not gold” –

 

In a world that revolves around technology, it comes as no surprise that social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have taken such a powerful hold upon us as people today.  We have been handed open platforms that we can share our thoughts, feelings, and opinions on. We have the ability to stay up to date on current events and keep abreast of the latest trends and fashions. We are able to make connections with other individuals that we might otherwise have never formed connections with to begin with. While social media does offer us many positive commodities, I have become more mindful and aware of many of the not-so-positive aspects that come along with the use of social media.

It’s so easy for us to get caught up in all of the false realities that we scroll past on our social media newsfeeds. Pristine homes of grandeur, perfect figures with flawless complexions, and numerous selfies providing us with only small glimpses into seemingly quintessential lives, more often than not recruit us as the newest contestant on the “Comparison Game Show”. We so quickly make judgements and unfounded presumptions based upon a single photograph…one single photograph. “Her life seems so perfect. She has it all. I could never measure up to her. My life compared to hers is nothing short of a failure. She just had a baby and it looks like she just left a beauty parlor. Why can’t I be like her?” We’ve all done it, whether we like to admit to it or not, but the “Comparison Game Show” is a slippery slope. A slippery slope that if not quickly bridled, can leave us feeling lonely, depressed, jealous, anxious, and cumulatively unhappy with life. One of the hardest hit demographics on the “Comparison Game Show” is that of mothers.

Becoming a mother has been one of the greatest blessings that God has ever bestowed upon me. Truly, it’s all that I have ever wanted out of life. As a little girl I dreamed of being a wife and a mother. It’s where my heart was. It’s what I longed for and prayed for every night from the age of 7. Even at a young age (before the age of social media had even began) I was met with adversity because “I should want a career and more out of my life”. Even at a young age, I began to compare myself to other mothers. In retrospect, it seems almost cretinous that I, still being a child myself, had already begun noticing the tension and animosity that came with expressing my hopes, dreams, and desires. I began to ask myself, ” Am I wrong? Are my dreams not good enough? Will I ever be able to be enough?”

Fast forward to my life today… I am happily married to my husband of 14 years. We have been blessed with 6 beautiful children here on Earth (and 2 more in Heaven). I stay at home and homeschool our children while my husband works outside of the home to provide for our family. We are very involved in our church and enjoy our ministries of working with and teaching other children about God and His love for them. I love my life and couldn’t imagine it any other way! I’m so happy and my heart overflows with joy! God has truly given me the desires of my heart that I have prayed for since being that little girl filled with all of those hopes and dreams of marriage and motherhood, but I have all too easily been affected by the negative thoughts, views, and opinions of others about my life and the choices that I have made.

By comparing myself to others, I have at times made myself feel lonely. I’ve made myself feel depressed and sad, and in all honesty, I too have felt jealous at times while peering into the lives of others. There is an undefinable amount of pressure placed on women today. If you don’t have children, somebody somewhere has something negative to say about it. If you do have children, somebody will have something negative to say about it. If you breastfeed, if you formula feed, if you work outside the home, if you stay at home, if you choose traditional or alternative education choices for your children, entirely organic diets versus diets teeming with chicken nuggets and french fries, right down to the choice of diapers you put on your little ones’ bottoms… someone will ALWAYS hold a different opinion from your own (and some of them aren’t too shy to let you know about it). We mistakenly allow other’s thoughts and opinions to make us feel as though our own thoughts and opinions are “wrong” or that they are not held to the same level of esteem. WHY? WHY do we do that to ourselves?

There are underlying circumstances that we can’t always see from a cropped photograph that pops up on our timeline. Messy kitchens and bathrooms can be cropped out and edited, corrections can be photoshopped, and those magical little photo filters give our skin that perfect glow. We seem to forget that that “perfect” photo might have taken 50 tries to get that right angle of “perfection”. It’s time that we as women realize that our lives were never meant to be about COMPARISON. Our lives were meant to be about COMPASSION! Our love for others can impact the world! We allow the enemy to steal our joy every time that we compare ourselves to others and give life to the thoughts that we will never measure up to the imaginary standards that we have designed in our minds. Life is so much more than selfies, perfectly edited statuses, and cleverly thought out hash-tags.

Our words and actions hold so much power, and it’s up to us to decide how we want to use them. We have the ability and the opportunity to lift one another up and encourage one another as God’s Word instructs us to do (1 THESSALONIANS 5:11-13) or we can tear down, destroy, and destruct. Social media is permeated with keyboard warriors that seem to know every detail of our life and the way that we “should” be doing things. They are entitled to their thoughts and opinions, but we don’t have to become a slave to these. I know what God has called me to do. There is such freedom that comes from finding your identity in Christ as opposed to finding your identity in the thoughts and opinions of others. I am who God says that I am! I don’t have to be anything else! I know the calling that He has placed on my life, and I don’t have to offer explanations or excuses to anyone for it. Others won’t always agree with me, and that’s OKAY! They don’t have to! God has placed a different calling on their lives, and it is simply that…it’s THEIRS…not mine. When the harsh words flow and the unfriendly comments post, I can simply smile and move on.

Regardless of choices, thoughts, and opinions, we as mothers do hold some common ground. We are all just momma’s that love our children, and we are doing the very best that we can everyday. Let’s ENJOY the life that God has given US and ENCOURAGE others along their walks as well. Reality isn’t perfection. Reality is puke covered t-shirts, and baggy eyes from sleepless night. Reality is stretch marks and endless piles of laundry. Reality is filled with good, happy wonderful times, but it is also infused with pain, sorry, disappointment, and grief. I don’t want to feel like I need to crop out the mess. I don’t want to edit out the imperfections. Those messes and imperfections are reality…my reality. It’s real motherhood… real motherhood and all of the beautiful chaos that comes with it. Ask yourself today…Do you live a life that revolves around comparison, or are you leading a life that is fueled by compassion? Hang in there momma’s! You are making a difference in the world, one set of sticky fingerprints at a time… regardless of what anyone else may say.

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