New Baby Journal

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There is sweet beauty in the small feelings of life – feeling them in the presence of Jesus and letting them lead us closer to Him. And well, I just had my third baby! (Pictures and info about my little Gideon below) One of the most raw times in life for those small feelings to come are those postpartum days after birth when you are adjusting to the sudden hormonal changes accompanied with the major life changes that come from it all.

The arrival of baby is met after months of anticipation, some of the greatest feelings of anticipation a lifetime can know. All the hoping and waiting is met on a date that is often unknown until it happens and when it does happen the way it all goes is out of your control. There are bound to be numerous unforseen things about the way that day unfolds. And while you always know that the day your babies are born will be in the happiest of your life, nothing can so prepare you for birth, that the joy of the moment does not overwhelm your soul.

All at once, birth can carry with it the weight of joy, the weight of love and the weight of knowing that a life is in your hands. A soul that will last forever is wrapped in skin and placed in your arms for you to give life and nourishment to, for you to train and raise, for you to speak love into as this soul enters a world that is so broken.

And the weeks following can bring you more awareness of your own inability than you have ever known before. While you want to love this child perfectly, and value their needs more than your own, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you just want to sleep through the night without waking up for your baby. Sometimes you wish you could take a shower without having to worry about whose going to keep the baby safe from big sister. The dependence you are met with can wear on you and you might even wish you were free to jump up and go somewhere without having to feed and change the baby before you leave and be prepared and ready to feed and change the baby again when you get where you’re going. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you remember how long it can take to feed a newborn baby or how hard and long a newborn can cry and make you want to cry until you feed them.

And sometimes you can feel like the worst mother in the world for even having the wishful thoughts in your head. So inadequate, so insufficient to be all that this baby needs. And, of course, you aren’t sufficient. You were never made to do it on your own. But accepting that can be so hard, so much harder than you think it will be.

And then, that’s just a small piece of the story.

This month I won’t be blogging, but my aim is to journal a little every day, and share those words, with a purpose.

My purpose is to share the small feelings of postpartum life and pray that they lead closer to Jesus.

Because I’ve known a postpartum life that felt so alone and thought I was the only one who felt this.

Because Jesus is able to shine through the dark feelings inside me.

Because I like the idea of having a place online to show up daily and remember that all the feelings inside me can lead me closer to Him.

If you’d like to join me, for the next month or so I’ll be sharing my new baby journal on instagram under the handle maggiejanaye.

@maggiejanaye

#NewBabyJournal

May our small feelings lead us closer to Jesus. Amen.

Here is our little Gideon Harley and my first journal entry after his birth.

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“Gideon Harley was born on Tuesday just before 8 pm. I just can’t get over his sweet little face ☺️ Having my two own little girls, I’ve been a little unsure during pregnancy of what it would be like to mother a son but getting to hold my own little man melts my heart. I’ve only mothered a boy for a few days but it feels beautiful. He has my heart. ❤️

He’s been my littlest baby – 7 pounds, 1 ounce at birth and the birth experience I’ve had with him has been so unique to my others. My longest labor. My first #csection The first time Daddy got to hold the baby first. The first time the family got to see baby before I did.

A few minutes after they told my husband he had to step out of the labor room, the baby and I both went into stress and the c section had to be decided on without Luiz there. They couldn’t get me numb so they chose to put me under and in what seemed like seconds (an hour later) I woke up in a room alone and looked down to see that Baby wasn’t in me anymore. Luiz, Mom and Dad came in to see me and eventually my little guy came. The moment I met him didn’t have the grand newness of birth and I hurt to have not been there in those first few moments but I’m learning to treasure the moment we met as it was. I was told to stay flat on my back and he was laid in the crook of my shoulder. It’s hard to see a persons face from that angle, especially when you’ve been waiting to see it for months. But we got acquainted in our own little way and it was arranged by the one who knows and cherishes my desires and lays the very best plans still. The moment we met was special as it was. ❤️

The past few days I have known a deeper respect for c section mommy’s. When all you want to do is get up and cuddle your baby, it hurts to not be able to get out of bed by yourself. It hurts because you know the mommy you want to be and how can you be that when you can’t even go to the bathroom without help? When your baby is dependent on you, you became nearly as dependent as he is. You get to remember a bit more of what it is to be like a child and maybe while that dependent soil can feel ugly, maybe underneath, it has the nutrients that faith needs to grow.”

P.S. This month, as part of my monthly audio series, I’ve sent an email letter on things I want to remember about seasons of waiting (as September was one of the longest months of my life waiting for baby Gideon’s birth) as well as the audio file for this month celebrating the ways God has used this waiting season, in its imperfections, to point me to the patience of His Love. If you haven’t received the email and would like to, you can sign up below.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

4 Things I’ve Learned in May about Offering Myself – Lessons from My Children

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This month I’ve started a process of writing notes to my shy self on Instagram, so that in the times when I forget who I am or why it matters for me to live this life, I can find reminders that made sense to me before, so hopefully they’ll make sense to me in the moments when I need them. This is one I wrote yesterday that was inspired from an interview I saw with writer, Bri McKoy.

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As someone who needs daily reminders that it is a gift to offer yourself to the world, I am so glad to be able to live life with my daughters who freely give me every day the gift of themselves. I get to see them offer themselves to me without fear, in the comfort of our home where it’s okay to be imperfect. They teach me what is true about offering myself to the world around me. These are four lessons I’ve been learning from them this month.

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“Bragging” can bring joy.

Opposite to what I tell myself when I’m trying so hard to “filter” my own actions, (hopefully someone out there can relate) ‘bragging’ can bring joy. I say that based on my daughter’s ecstatic, “Mommy, I got Peppa!!” after she was gifted a Peppa Pig toy this past month. She loves all things Peppa Pig and being given a new Peppa toy she was brimming over with excitement and it was every bit delightful to see her reaction. The look on her face when she opened it that delighted the room, the way she grabbed my hand and pulled me across the house so she could show me every bit of it, it was pure joy.

It stood out to me because when I get the notion to do anything like that, I tell myself that that would be ‘bragging,’ so normally I resist the urge to explode with excitement like my daughter did. And perhaps I’m missing out on an important way to offer the gift of myself to the world. Of course bragging is a sin, but I think most of my life I’ve been calling something ‘bragging’ when it’s not really bragging at all. It’s just giving the world this gift – the gift of experiencing along with you the joy you find in life.

I’ve already developed a habit so I don’t think I’ll be snapping out of it just like that, but I’m glad my daughter helped make me aware of it so I can move towards healthier ‘bragging’ habits.
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We are people who delight in being recognized and responded to and that’s okay.

This month, Liesel has been more and more fascinated with the idea of being recognized and responded to. One day this month, she was screaming and when I looked her in the face and screamed back she was beyond excited. We made a game of it for a good fifteen minutes and she thought it was hysterical. Then again, in the car one day she did a funny little jig with her feet and Amayah couldn’t stand how funny it looked and just blew up giggling. So, of course, Liesel was so proud, and she did the same little jig for the entirety of that car ride. Even after Amayah was too tired to laugh anymore, Liesel kept trying to get her attention.

We are people who love to be recognized. We love when others find joy in what we can offer. Often I criticize my own desires to be recognized and responded to believing that they are all desires based in pride. But then when I look at my baby daughter’s desire for the same things, it doesn’t look like pride to me at all. She’s finding joy in her ability to bring someone else joy. Certainly, pride can disguise itself in the midst of those desires and certainly pride is a sin, but I dare not be too careful. It might just be better to boldly try to bring someone else joy through my talents and abilities and risk the struggle with pride along the way, than to shy away from offering myself because I’m afraid it’s too similar to pride. I know it makes me so happy when Liesel is bold in trying to bring us joy.

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Expressing my dislike can be a gift.

Sometimes Amayah says something that can really make a person feel down, but the thing is she’s honest. And because we all know she’s honest, the times when she offers a compliment or a hug or a simple “I Love you,” we don’t question whether she is sincere. That stuff carries so much weight coming from a child. This month we have had moments when she told me she didn’t want me and sometimes it breaks my heart. But the times when she wants to share her ice cream with me, the times she expresses her appreciation to me for cleaning ‘her house,’ the times when she asks me to cuddle with her, the times when she pulls my face into hers and tells me she loves me, those gifts are so very beautiful because I know my daughter is honest about how she feels about me. It’s because the truth hurts, that it can give the most beautiful love as well.

That’s a challenge to live out and maybe I shouldn’t be as blunt as my daughter, but I need to know that it’s important for me to express my dislike and my criticism because without them my compliments may just fall on deaf ears.

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Give love and do the next thing.

In the past month, Liesel has learned how to give kisses and her hugs have become more clearly pronounced and intentional. And I’ve noticed this week her affection that can be so contrasting to mine. Sometimes she crawls up to me to give me a hug and turns right around to climb back down and crawl off to the next thing. Sometimes her hugs are quick like that, then sometimes she’ll put her head on my shoulder and hold tight to me for a good couple minutes.

Both kinds of hugs are a delight to me.

There’s something beautiful in her ability to give the hug she needed to and move on with life. In those moments, she doesn’t have to wait to see how I responded to her hug. She just knows she gave it and she’s ready for the next thing. When I see her do that I want to be like her, to give love with a freedom. She teaches me to give the love I want to give and carry myself into the next thing focused on what is in front of me. Because when love is given freely I can move into life free from worry over the effects of the love I just gave.

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I hope that these moments in my daughter’s lives are a blessing to you like they are to me. I have four ways to think about how I can offer myself to the world, four ways to think about what it means to be like a child. May we offer ourselves like children today.

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“Jesus never tells children to grow up, but he often tell adults to become like little children.” -Wess Stafford  

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said,“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4

Being told to be childlike is a gift to be free, and lest I forget that and feel overwhelmed and pressured to be perfectly childlike, this beautiful quote from Lysa Terkeurst that was posted this morning @proverbs31ministries. As someone who struggles with being shy and afraid that my daily choices won’t be just right, these thoughts have been treasured this morning.

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

How to Fight Back when Life Throws You Around

Dear you, how is today? Does life throw you around and is it hard to fight back? I know what that feels like and it’s the reason I’m writing in the wee hours of the morning. Can I tell you a story? And speak into yours?

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I’ve been trying to work through this thing I’ve been struggling with – to be fully present in my moments. Because I don’t want to spend these years of chubby, little hands on my face and bouncy curls, and the sweetest giggles I’ll ever know – I don’t want to spend these moments thinking on “to-do’s” and miss being present in these moments that matter now. Because it’s not just who these girls will become but the people they are right now, that I want to protect, to Love, to give opportunity. Because God didn’t design them to just have a grown-up purpose, He designed them each with a purpose for this part of their lives too and I am here to help that purpose shine, to give them the opportunity to bring life in the world as they are right now.

But sometimes that doubt wants to creep in and tell me that this battle is too big. That when I get back up and let the distractions knock me back down again, that I am just failing and I cannot do this. And the enemy whispers, who do you think you are to think you can win this fight?

And for a second, I want to say I’ve lost. But the Victorious One has words in this battle too. And He says I am not of those who shrink back and are destroyed. (Heb. 10:39) And the very fact that He causes those words to go through my head is enough for me to know that He speaks it over me. Because we are not people who think life-giving words on our own. There is a God who puts those thoughts there on purpose. And He has spoken this over me.

And I can speak to that enemy to his face and say,

Who do I think I am? I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21) I’m a Child of God. I am Chosen, Redeemed, Set Free and you don’t hold me captive anymore. I am not of those who shrink back and are destroyed. (Heb. 10:39) I am of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Heb. 10:39) And I can win this battle because I am found in Jesus, and that same power He has that defeated you, its inside of me. I don’t have to be captive to this thing you’re throwing at me.

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Friend, know that it’s true. When you have some curiosity that calls you to look for truth – that curiosity didn’t originate out of your own good, because you’re not that good by yourself. That curiosity is put there by Someone who Loves you and is actively drawing you to Himself. That is enough reason to have confidence – because He has confidence in you. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24) If He calls you, He’ll be faithful to carry you through. Whatever thing you’re struggling with, it doesn’t have you. Because by faith you’re not the shrinking back one. By faith, you can be the assured and convicted, (Heb. 11:1) that God’s power is in you and in Him, you’ve got this.

May we take up the shield of faith that blocks every dart of the enemy (Eph. 6:16) and plunge onward in the name of Jesus as the victorious people we are.

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  For,

“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.”

– Hebrews 10:35 – 11:2

 

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

The Peaceful Truth in the Overwhelm of Parenting

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I want my little girls to love me. But this week I’ve been guilty of wanting that more than I should, and parenting through that lens always gets messy. On my own, I’m the shy mommy who parents out of the fear that her children will reject her. But I am in Christ and that is not who I have to be. Sometimes I live like my job description is to do what I can to get Amayah to like me. And sometimes I excuse it by saying I am giving her grace, when that is not truly what I’m giving at all. But I can best guide her into the secrets of her Maker when I trust Him to oversee what she thinks of me. I am here to give her grace as I have been given grace. And sometimes I need to remember what that means. Because grace does not always look pleasant. Often giving my daughter the training she doesn’t deserve involves being willing to discipline her even when it’s hard for us both. But without a focus, I’ll try to counter my child-pleasing by disregarding the needs of my daughter’s heart. In my efforts to not be the child-pleasing mom, I become the mom without compassion. This week I’ve needed to take time to replace the faulty job descriptions for mother that I build in my head with a job description that’s healthy and true.

My young girl desire was always to be called mommy… to be cook, maid, teacher, nanny and discipler for little people who also happened to be my children. Maybe it’s common for people to say, but as a pre-mom teenager, I assumed that if, as a parent, I was responsible enough to read the parenting books and stick to them, that my kids would naturally be well-behaved.

As a newlywed, twenty-year old momma, I spent the first year or so of my daughters life reading every parenting book I could get my hands on. And I was so confused. And this is why.

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Page 23, Homepreschool and Beyond, by Susan Lemons

Many of those books were in the bunch that I read, that were recommended to me by caring people. Each and every book was in disagreement with the last book, and I was overwhelmed to discover that parenting books only gave opinions. They haven’t gotten this down to a science at all.

After reading it all, I didn’t trust it. Not that I’ll never read another parenting book again, but I won’t be searching the books for do’s and don’ts the way I used to, because the practicality of parenting lived in faith will look different for me than it will for anyone else. There are no step-by-step, one-size-fits-all instructions on how to put a baby to sleep, or when its right or wrong to let the baby cry, or how to make a toddler stop throwing food on the floor, or stop kicking you and screaming no when you’re trying to buckle them into a car seat. There is a parenting book that has become my favorite. Its called Give Them Grace and is based on the few verses in the Bible that give instructions for parenting. It just didn’t give the specific, step-by-step, practicality of parenting that I went to it trying to find. Instead it asked me why as a parent I wanted so much to be told volumes of information on how to raise my children, when the New Testament, itself, gives parents only two verses that speak specifically to parenting.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

The Bible, Old Testament and New, gives clear and simple instruction on parenting, and God gives us faith for the details. I want parenting to come with a step-by-step instruction book, and instead I have grace for today, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit inside me. My job is to have faith that that will carry me through today.

My simple job description is to point Amayah and Liesel to God’s grace, with the instruction and discipline of the Lord, taking care that I do not exasperate or discourage their little hearts in the process. That is what I need to know for now and God is able to guide me into living it.

When I hear myself being the child-pleasing mom, or the one who exasperates her children, I can hold my God’s truth in my heart and trust Him to give them grace through me as I rest in His grace myself.

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Give Them Grace, by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

When You Need a Rescue from Yourself

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Last night, I was desperately longing for a rescue from my own self. Maybe you’re living there too. For me, it was two and I was waiting for bedtime. I was up with my girl who couldn’t sleep. I wanted sleep, and more than that I wanted time with my husband who’s been so busy trying to keep the bills paid. And I was having ugly, griping thoughts that I would rather you not hear. Ugly filled my mind. Then I thought about my thoughts and I felt yuck. Pitiful and messy. Hopeless wreck, that’s me. With eyes closed and to the tune of my girl’s cries that went on, I said the only thing my sleepy mind could think of that felt like a rescue from the ugly wife and mother that I saw inside this head: God is on the throne.

The ugly is there and I hate feeling ugly. Ugly is often what my mind looks like and I know it well.

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

But this is the beginning of another reason to press deeper into what Jesus did for me. Because though I have broken God’s law yet again, this is the truth for me: “You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” (Romans 7:4) When I gave myself to Jesus, I let myself die so that I wouldn’t have to belong to the ugly person I saw inside me. I died so I could belong to Another.

The ugly I see inside me is an ugly person I carry with me, but that person has already died with Jesus. And since that person is dead, she has no ownership of me. “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:20) I hate the ugly me and I want to avoid her, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t live a day without seeing her.

That is why Jesus died. He is my rescue. He died so that this ugly person inside me could die. That ugly me will exist inside this body for all my time on earth, but the Romans killed her with Jesus on the cross. She lives inside me, but you know, she’s dead, and she has no say over me.

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)

It’s a truth I’ve been given to enjoy this week, a gift God sneaked to me through a shot at the dentist. That shot that numbed my face on Wednesday, made my mouth look a bit crooked, with one cheek bigger than the other. I really think it looks better in the pictures than it did in real life. And while it felt a little funny seeing the looks I got from people that day, it was also something that was fun to take pictures of because I knew I would only look that way for a little while. Because I knew that while that was in fact, my face, it wasn’t really my face. If I just remembered what I really looked like, or more importantly, who I really was, then my two-sided face didn’t really feel embarrassing.

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And God used that to press me further into the freeing truth of who I really am. This is what He did for me. Despite any ugliness I see in my life on this earth, holy is who I am because that is what He is. He is the one who owns me and that is the most beautiful rescue from that ugly, old, dead, sinful me.

Maybe you need to be rescued from yourself today too. I get it. The sinful you is downright ugly just like the sinful me and that’s the truth. May we live in faith to hold tight to our lifeline today, “having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.” (Romans 7:6)

Rest into Jesus and rejoice in who you are. Because in Him, you are downright beautiful.   

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Story Share: Shame-Free in Weakness

IMG_0911Today I want to invite you to read Abby Anderson Parry’s post about the subtle whirlwind moments of life, when life is spinning in circles around you and you feel like you don’t have what it takes to meet his moment. I love watching her reach into her inadequate-feeling moments as a mommy.

Some of my favorite words from her post…

“I don’t think that the Spirit is calling the death of Jesus to my mind in order to shame me. I don’t think He’s minimizing my disruption or negating it. I think that He is calling me to mirror Jesus in His acceptance, to acknowledge the pain and the imperfection and the wishing it could be another way and to keep going, to press in, to be willing to endure disruption, confident of the promises to come.”

Those are powerful thoughts for our small-feeling moments. May we be willing to receive the love poured through another’s words.

For today, Jesus, give us grace to not be shamed by the reminder of your sacrifice, but impassioned by the love of it. May the wrong attitudes in our disruption bring us to your cross. To come boldly, knowing you’ve taken all the shame of this moment on Yourself and to press into the promise of You in us. May we confidently live this day knowing we are in You. You are our great Comfort and Strength for every shy-feeling moment the enemy tries to throw our way today.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction , so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Because the job you do right now is sacred

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A couple weeks ago I was sitting in the doctor’s office. Holding my crying toddler, I was told she had double pneumonia and to take her straight to the hospital. And I am relatively new at parenting and when I hear words like that about my toddler I have no idea how to take it. And my mind did not hold to hope and I didn’t know how to respond and I went in and out of worry… worry that escalated when my seven month old woke up with a fever. I ended up caring for them both from home, one with pneumonia, one with bronchitis, nine days of fevers, two ER visits. Though I hear most parents go through similar things, and much more serious things in their parenting journey, it was a brand new experience for me to process. These were words written a couple days after our first ER visit when caring for them felt a bit glorious.

“Today I write from an overarching calm that has found a place, if but for these moments, to nestle deep into my soul. This week my girls are sick and I have worried too much and prayed not enough. This week I held my Amayah, weak and drowsy, while the IV gave her back the strength she needs to get well. This week I made the 4am WalMart run to get the medicine to lower Liesel’s temperature.

Today I was texting my husband a play-by-play of the events here at the house. From the comforting of the tears this morning, to Amayah crying till she fell asleep this afternoon, to Liesel spitting up, to warm baths and delirious words from my daughter… he got a play by play with pictures. And the girls fell asleep and I wonder why I felt the need to speak those things to him all day. And then I realized why and it felt so wonderful…

Partly, of course, I just wanted to let him know how they were doing, but there was something so energizing about what I was doing today.

Largely, I think I’m excited to let him know what’s going on, because what I’m doing feels so important.

Today my shirt is a spit-up catching, boogie-wiping, tear-soaking mess and it feels so sacred.”

And had my daughter not begun crying I think I was going on to say that maybe in the mess of comforting my two feverish ones through nine rounds of days and nights, I could feel the weight of something so meaningful. That right in the middle of those days, God delivered something that isn’t as easy for me to see in the every-day normal when what I do can feel so very small. It was a simple knowing that in order for these girls to get healthy someone had to care for them and keep track of their medicine and ensure their nourishment and I was the one to do that. It wasn’t that someone else couldn’t have done it for me, because they could have. It was just knowing that God had chosen to give me this task right here, right now. It was the sacred beauty of knowing the health of these little lives was laying in my hands. It was the art of rising to that call. There was a sacred beauty in my filthy shirt that day and the real beauty is that the same sacred call is given to me today. It’s not just the health of their bodies but the growth of their soul that is given to my charge. It may not sound as significant as shepherding a church as a pastor, or shepherding a community as a missionary, but I am indeed an under-shepherd to the true Shepherd. I am a shepherd to these two girls in my care. And though that might sound small, it is extraordinarily significant. These two souls in my care hold the greatest value to Jesus. For this day, these girls are the largest scope of my mission field and the task I am chosen to carry is infinitely glorious.

May we all feel the glory in it. We are all privileged with the mission of pointing souls to grace, wherever we may be. May we live out that calling with the greatest dignity in carrying Jesus’ victory, whether we carry it today to one thousand souls who hear the gospel preached from a pulpit or to one soul who sees the gospel preached in the way we match socks.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Writing Artistic Limits into Life

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Today, I need to write if only because it gives my soul room to breathe, if only because it feels as necessary to my life as eating, as if Someone has programmed me that way. Because life can feel like such a balance and writing helps to release something inside me under the strain of it and to understand the strain itself. Because I want to be relational enough and responsible enough, with enough sincerity and enough integrity. I want to savor the moments with my girlies in this fleeting stage of their lives, and just when I’m really enjoying it, the fear creeps in that I’m falling behind on other aspects of life. That there’s other callings God has for me too and what if I miss them? Maybe I try to live more like a black and white graph than an artistic portrait. Because I am beautifully and wonderfully made, someone who God designed to live His own beauty through. And maybe what I need is not more time, but a simple focus to live into and some artistic limits placed around it to protect it from the things that try to make me feel bossed around… a conscious affirmation of the first things God has called me to this year and a commitment to move, even if it’s just one little baby step a day in the direction of the other things I feel I must move towards.  

 

As someone who often feels pulled in different directions in the middle of wanting to fulfill my first calling for this season of life to be full time mommy to my little babies and wanting to fulfill the other things in life I feel called towards, I have let myself be pushed around by fear. And in the knowledge of that I have to change my complicated goals for the year to the simple: I want to dive all in and get my hair wet in my role as mommy. I want to do the things I’ve dreamed of, to teach them with passion and live fully there in the adventure with them. And for the other things I feel called towards I’m working on forming the habit of committing just a few short minutes a day to each of them, and being willing to rest them there. I long for the chunks of time to spend on those things but I never get anywhere because most days that just isn’t a reality for me. And it can feel like the things inside me (the callings, the talents, the desires, the avenues of service) where I think the Spirit inside of me needs to come out are at war with each other, bossing me around in the middle. And I believe that feeling is an alert to me to be intentional with the ways I choose to live Love.

 

This year I’m deciding to be intentional about my wife and mommy calling. Even though I have arrived here at a young age, it’s still true that I’ve spent years dreaming of being here and having the privilege to help my husband and teach my children. This is where I’ve wanted to be. I do have other callings in life, but I don’t have to be at war between callings. If I can just take one little baby step a day towards the other things and run head on in the main direction God is calling me, I don’t have to feel pushed around by these things. These are my goals for this year and being intentional about choosing a life focus feels so freeing.
Maybe you can relate to some aspect of this? Whether you’ve felt pushed around by your callings or not, may we be intentional about the ways we choose to live Love this year. May we choose those things that are most important and rebuke the fear that we’ll miss other callings. Those are the fears the enemy wants us to entertain. That’s how he messes with us and tries to get our focus off of the main thing God is trying to do with our lives. May we not get distracted with the ways we think the Spirit should be coming out of us and be bold to put the fears aside. May we strive to live Love just as Love wants to live in us. No more and no less.   

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Fear’s Rising Tide

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Saturday night in Garland, TX, we huddled in closets and sent up prayers to the background music of thunder and pounding rain. Some felt laughter, some felt horror. Because when the reality strikes close and the wind tears into your city, with no mercy for the value of life, you feel the questions. It’s where horror lives. How do you claim peace when wind monsters can jump from the sky and claim life? You can feel the tide of hearts rising, the door opening for the entrance of fear, the suppression of love. Because whether you’ve been directly affected or not, when that kind of disaster comes to your city, its not natural to feel peace. The questions rise, and the rolling tide they send in seems impossible to stand against. But I am one who belongs and a voice inside whispers truth. I am not my own.

This feels so small, this tide that’s rising. I have not seen death’s face close by. But even in this, there’s a Spirit inside whispering truth. Victory’s been won over fear already. The tide rolling in has no power. The peace state of my soul has been branded safe for eternity’s time. Peace is not a question, not a distant hope. Peace is mine to claim, because death and destruction is a lie to one who belongs to Christ. He will not give more than is bearable to one who has the Spirit living inside. The threat of death is not true for me because I am His child and if I just hold on a little longer I’ll see the truth of peace unfold. It unfolds today in the nooks of my heart. Soon, very soon, it will unfold for all time.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

What I Learned in October

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Emily P. Freeman is one of my very favorite bloggers. I check her page almost daily to see if I’ve missed anything. And at the end of every month, I read the new post in her What I Learned series, tell myself that’s such a great idea and I’m going to join in with the link up this time.. and I don’t. Well, I’m finally, actually joining in today. A little late, but yes. So, today I’m telling you what I learned in October – from the little silly things to my favorite October lessons. And I’m including some fun fall pics of my girlies!

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I say sorry a lot. Your own kids are just the very best at showing you your own way of living life. My Amayah is two and a half and seems to be picking up on mine a bit. And this month she started saying sorry for the most random things. She drops her toy and says it. She trips, falls down and says it. So, we’re working on that. Together.

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Halloween is not as easy as it looks. I had the best plans to have my Amayah be Dorothy this year. I found the cutest blue dress. We had a basket for her. “Doggy” who she sleeps with was going to be Toto. Come Halloween weekend, I got the dress on her and she hated it. Passionately. She yanked on the tutu and bit into the frills and the dress came off. No Dorothy. Didn’t want to make a big battle over that. We’ll try again next year.

I learned what memoir means. Maybe everyone else knows this, but I didn’t. This is so very valuable to me because I learned that the “book” I’ve been trying to write is, in fact, a memoir. In the words of Marion Roach Smith:

The best memoir is about something, and that “something” is not “me.”

In the best memoir, the writer illustrates something but is not the subject of the tale. The subject is mercy or honor, growth, transcendence, patriotism, love, or some other universal theme, and our stories – and all of us have a million of them – illustrate those themes.

I like that. And it gives me so much clarity moving forward.

Write 31 days is not as achievable as I thought it was. At the beginning of the month, (when I had just started my own series to participate in Write 31 Days) I read another writer’s confession: last year she only got to 22 days… I was sure I could do better than that. Wrong. My 31 Days series was in reality 17 days.

Taking up the challenge to write daily teaches you bunches about yourself. I realized how much good it does me to write every day. I also learned how sporadic my “me time” has often been and that if I’m going to try to commit to “being a writer” I need a plan to keep from letting writing override my priorities. It made me finally find a routine that helps me order my priorities right and allows me time for my own things too. One that’s not too hard to stick with… Of course, that’s the hardest part.

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I learned a bit about battles. You can’t expect to get far in a battle if you don’t acknowledge the enemy or the way the enemy is attacking you. So just that. In a roundabout explanation of what I mean, God’s been trying to teach me this month to run to Him in repentance when I am not living from the boldness of Him in me. That I need desperately to hear moment by moment that my identity is in Him and I must find my confidence there. My identity is where the enemy seems to throw his darts the hardest and I must acknowledge that if I want to join in the battle to claim the victory Jesus has won over him.

So there’s what I learned. And the pictures were part of a sporadic photo shoot Luiz decided to do one evening last week and I just love them! Hope you enjoyed.

 

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.