..."popsicles on the porch"...what a great afternoon treat and our favorite way to spend time together! These are simple and precious moments! Princess #1 and Princess #2 along with Little Man #1 and #2 are my inspiration for most of these writings.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Don't Friends with Kids have Time?

My husband sent me the article below.  
No doubt he knew I'd get a kick out it as you will too I'm sure; especially those of you who are stay at home moms!  

I love the editor’s response to a lady who wrote in basically wanting to know what in the heck stay at home moms do all day.  
You know, because our jobs are sooooo easy!  
Yeah right!  

I love the line about "needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15!" 
Isn't that the truth!

I'm feeling this all too well these days as we unpack, remodel, and decorate our new home.  
How does one do this with 4 little ones all under the age of 6?!!

Thanks for shedding some light Carolyn!  

Monday, August 16, 2010

Attitude...it's your choice! :)

Last week was a pretty crazy week and if you follow Tim's FB updates, you'll recall for some unexplicable reason our Mac decided not to boot up one morning. That was a real bummer! To top the week off and make things even sweeter, to our surprise we discovered a pipe had broken in the attic in the girls bathroom, and oh yes there was sheet rock damage!

As we worked to get things squared away with the insurance company, overall things seemed to be looking good and best of all their was minimal damage done to our pocket book. Definitely a blessing! Hopeful to start a new week with this behind us, we came home from church yesterday afternoon and discovered yet ANOTHER pipe had broken in the attic; this time over our hallway near the garage. Ugghh.

In Phillipians 4:6 Paul exhorts us, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God which trancends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

So, despite the circumstances, I'm choosing to have a positive attitude and thankful heart. Thankful that a friend happened to come over that evening (the night the first pipe busted) and was able to help us, thankful for another friend that works with insurance companies was able to advice us on what to do, thankful we were able to minimize the damage, thankful that Opa was here to help when the second pipe busted, thankful for insurance, etc....

Amazingly, as I began to write these out I discovered there really was so much to be thankful for. It's a shift in attitude, a matter of perspective! Oh and did I mention that before we walked through the door and discovered the 2nd broken pipe, we had just gotten off the phone with Apple. They had called to let us know that our laptop would be ready later this week and the best part...it was FREE!!

Paul says, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation....phillipians 4:12 This is something God has been definitely been working in us this past year in so many different ways. As I reflect on how God has been at work in our hearts and his provision over our family, I am so thankful for the ways He is choosing to work the spirit of contentment in our hearts. I am thankful for his mercy over our family as I realize many others like Paul, face hunger,sickness, death, and etc....As I reflect on other families who have lost a loved one and have watched God be their peace and strength through their pain it simply amazes me. I cannot fathom the cross they have had to bear. It is humbling to witness the way God has worked in and through you. If you have experienced such tragedy know that I am praying for you now.

As Paul focused on God rather than His circumstances, he developed an attitude of thankfulness and as a result experienced the peace of God.

So, In the midst of life's unexpectant surprises our attitude is everything. I found the poem below especially fitting this Monday morning! It's a great reminder that perspective is everything and as my husband so gently reminds me, "Your attitude is your choice!" So, despite this less than desirable gaping hole I am staring at in my ceiling, I choose to remain JOYFUL and THANKFUL before the Lord today!

A little old lady went to the mirror one morning and noticed that she had only three hairs on her head.
As she looked into the mirror, she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today."
That's exactly what she did. And, she had a great day.

The next morning, at the mirror once again, the little old lady noticed that she only had two hairs on her head.
Looking herself right in the eye, she said, "Today, I think I'll part my hair down the middle." That's exactly what she did. And, she had a great day.

The next day, as the little old lady looked into the mirror, there was only one hair on her head.
She looked at that one lonely hair and said, "Today I think I'll wear my hair in a pony tail."
That's exactly what she did. And she had a great day.

The following morning the little old lady looked into the mirror and there wasn't a single hair on her head.
Her eyes lit up, and she said, "Yeah! I don't have to fix my hair today!"
~Dennis and Wendy Mannering

"Your attitude is your choice!"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friendship for Grown-Ups

I am a huge Lisa Whelchel fan and have read just about every book she’s ever written. One of my new favorites is her latest book, Friendship for Grown Ups. In this book, Lisa explores the challenges of friendship; particularly women friendships.

Let’s face it…friendships can be challenging! Lisa speaks from her heart as she relays her own story of how God tore down the wall she had so carefully constructed around her heart in order to prevent people from getting too close; thereby exposing her own neediness and vulnerability.

“Vulnerability, trust and grace is not always easy to cultivate or maintain but isn’t that what we all want? To be seen, in all our glory, for better or worse, the good, the bad and the ugly and still be embraced? If only these kind of friendships were easy to find.”

As she begins the journey of discovering “real” friendship, the very thing she fears is that which God uses to chisel away at her heart. It is through the pain of broken trust and betrayal that God teaches her how to be real, needy and vulnerable in order to truly be a “real” friend…the kind of friend we all need.

I have not met many women in my Christian life who I can honestly say know the good, bad and ugly of Mel…and still embrace me. Perhaps they haven’t felt the same of me either. That really makes me sad. Don't get me wrong...I have some great friends that I love dearly and I know they care for me as well.

As I chewed on the quote above, there are only two women that come to mind, who have seen me and know the good, bad and the ugly of Mel. One was once my boss, and is now mentor and very dear, dear friend whom I will forever be grateful for. Sure, we have rubbed each other the wrong way before, but we know each other. She knows the Mel God created, has grace for the Mel that’s still in process and chooses to see ahead to the Mel God is creating me to be. That’s real friendship! That’s real grace!

The other is a girl I knew back in high school. Man, could we have some heated discussions, but our love and respect for one another went deeper. We might not have always seen eye to eye, but no matter what, there was a sisterly love for one another. Even today, though we might have different viewpoints, we can still respect one another despite our different perspectives and love one another through them. The best part is that though the years go by, we can pick up a conversation like it was just yesterday. She knows me. She knows the Mel God created and respects the Mel I desire to be. That’s real friendship!

Here is what I am wrestling with: Isn’t the church (not "A church" but "THE church" in general) the place where we should be experiencing more of these grace filled friendships and unconditional love? I just don’t understand how we can be the body of Christ and yet have so very little grace for God’s people. The very people in which God himself dwells! When I think about it like that, it just blows my mind and makes me cry out to God to help me show his child, my sister in the faith, more grace and love.

I am processing through all of this, but one thing I have discovered about myself in regards to friendship is that I tend to be an all or nothing kind of gal. There isn’t anything I don’t commit myself to without giving it my all. This is just the way God made me. The same goes with friendship. I am a loyal friend, which means there isn’t ANYTHING I wouldn’t do for you if I can; especially for a close friend.

Yet, what I have come to discover about myself, and this book only helped to further highlight, is that at times I can unintentionally expect the same things of my friends in return. The result is hurt feelings when expectations are not met. One of the biggest things my husband is holding me accountable to is not to infer the intentions or actions of other people. For example, I might say, “I can’t believe she said _______, I would have never said that to her” or “I can’t believe she didn’t _________ I would have done that for her.” Time and time again, my hubby will fire back with, “but she’s not YOU!!!” He says, “she is not going to do and say things just like you would. If it bothers you that much, ask her what she meant when she said, _______ but don’t infer. It leads you to a bad place.” Blah, Blah, Blah. The truth is, he’s right and I know it.

In Friendship for Grown Ups, Lisa Whelchel refers to this as helium balloons. Before you let the little balloon you’ve imagined float away, pop it by exposing it. Bring it to the light. Tell your friend, “I could be overly sensitive, but was I reading you the right way when you said __________?” Don’t just sweep it under the rug or worse yet, write someone off! I have been guilty of the latter. So needless to say, I have found so many nuggets of truth in this little 178 page book.

One of my favorite quotes that I have sadly found to be true is when she writes about our fear of being needy. Check this out:

“What has conditioned so many of us to be afraid to ask for help when we need it? Or to reach out for a touch when we are lonely? Or to forgo sharing a happy success for fear of sounding prideful? Why do we choose the safety of space in even the closest of friendships?"

As I reflected on this question (and have been guilty at some point of one or all of them), it really just blows my mind. I’m wondering… “Are we living in fear and lead by pride.” Fear and Pride…two painful enemies of the Christian life.

Afraid to ask for help….why? Because we won’t appear to have it all together; we won’t be the perfect mom who knows how to raise the perfect kids? Maybe it’s simply because we don’t want to bother already busy people and become a burden to them….we’re tough, self sufficient we can handle it…right?

Reach out when we’re lonely….why?? Isn’t that what the body of Christ is for??

Forgo sharing a happy success for fear of sounding pridefulwhy??? aren’t we called to rejoice with others?

Are we living in fear and lead by pride?

Henry Cloud writes…. “God made us to need Him and each other. We need God. We need his word. We need each other. The apostle John wrote, “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 12. Friendships require vulnerability, grace and action. You can’t build a friendship off of self sufficiency. You must reach out to others and ask for help. Neither can you build a friendship if you never make time for others and concern yourself with their needs. We need community, we need each other. God knew that. That’s why he blessed us with the church body. So, why do we push this precious gift away?

These are just a few things I’m pondering lately and wrestling with in my heart. This was the first book I’ve read that spoke honestly and directly regarding these sensitive and almost taboo matters.

If you want a good book you can curl up with and hang out with a girl who’s keeping it real, check out Lisa’s book, Friendships for Grown Ups. I laughed, cried and cried some more as she relays the bitter sweetness of friendships and gives practical insight on how to choose and cultivate “safe” friendships filled with grace, so we His people, can truly reflect his love to one another.

If you’ve ever experienced the pain of friendship or would simply like to know how to be a better friend, this book is a must read.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's been a while...


Hey Friends and Family! We’re back!

Life has definitely brought about a lot of surprises and changes including a new addition to the family, homeschooling, a new job, church, and new home.

Though this transition has been LONG and challenging, it has also been such a blessing as we have seen God at work in so many ways. After 10.5 long months of home showings, we’re finally on the other side. Whew!! It’s time now to get settled in and figure out our new normal…whatever that looks like!

Though we have most of the inside boxes tackled, we still have a mountain of boxes to sift through in the garage as this is the place where everything got dumped! L I’m choosing to look at the brighter side--we’re finally able to “move about the cabin!” No more bumping into boxes! Yea!! That’s not to say I still don’t hear someone yelling out, “mom, where is ________?” However, that’s more because mommy’s still trying to figure out the best places for everything to “live”—as my eldest would say.

It feels like we are moving at a snails pace (and we are),but hey with four little ones to attend to, this has been a major accomplishment for us. As much as I’ve wanted to get everything in order as quickly as possible, there are 4 little people who need their mommy and daddy. Life still goes on. Laundry still needs to be done, dishes washed, bodies bathed, dinners made, drinks to fill, babies to nap, and etc….So, needless to say, this is yet another way God is teaching me how to be flexible; a theme that has been reoccurring for the past 2.5 years of my life (Thanks Dale Carnegie)!

As I reflected a bit on this, I couldn’t help but think of my kiddos who have been alongside us during one of the most challenging seasons of our married lives. They have without a doubt been a living-breathing example of what it means to be flexible. What an encouragement they have been to me as I have watched them let go of the only home they’ve ever known. Not once have they complained. This is no stretch of the imagination. In fact, even though my 2yr old is unable to fully communicate, the first night in our new home when I announced that it was bed time, he picked up his monkey, looked at me and said, “alright mom” and then went straight to his new room! I couldn’t believe it! What a blessing that was as we were so physically and emotionally spent and desperately in need of some rest.

It’s funny, I kept waiting, trying to be ready with an encouraging word to offer or to wipe a teary eyed face. That’s not to say they don’t love and miss all their amazing little friends. No way! They simply said their goodbyes and trusted Mom and Dad’s word that there would be new friends to make and a new home that Jesus was bringing us to. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we came to our heavenly Father as simply and as orderly as that? No tantrums, no looking back, just moving forward and trusting that God is doing a new thing, even if we don’t have all the why’s and how’s answered.

Time and time again, Isaiah 43: 18-19 has been an encouraging verse through challenging seasons in my life. And even now, as we continue to trust and let go I have found it especially encouraging in this season.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See , I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43: 18-19.

That’s not to say out with the old and in with the new. Please don’t hear that. Like our kiddos, we too will carry these friendships in our hearts forever. You have been in our homes, eaten dinner with us, brought meals over, watched our kids, went on double dates together, celebrated births and walked with us in challenging seasons. You have been a blessing to us in so many ways and we are so thankful for the time we had together. We treasure the friends we’ve had to say goodbye to and know that no matter where God plants us, God has and will always bind our hearts together through Christ Jesus.

Yet, as we embrace what God is doing in this new season (challenges and all) we are experiencing the joy of seeing God’s provision and seeing how he has been at work even though we couldn’t see or understand it all. No matter how uncomfortable it is, there is a freedom that comes in knowing you’re in the middle of God’s will that gives you the hope and strength to persevere.

Even though we’re not through it all, we have not only seen the way he has provided for us physically (ask me about how we found our house), but he’s also been plowing through the muddy fields of our hearts. While not always pleasant, it is here God can shape, mold and refine us. Don’t know what all that looks like yet, but I have hope in what’s yet to come! J

Genesis 50:20-21 ….., but God intended it for Good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.