Tag Archives: faith

The Spoon

Spoon 2

A few weeks ago I picked Karlena up from daycare and as we were driving home I noticed that she had a toy in her hand. When I asked her what it was she tried to hide it behind her back.

A pretty clear sign to me that she had taken something that wasn’t hers.

When we got home I told her to show me what she had. It was a small toy horse. She LOVES horses right now and it was obviously something she didn’t already have at home. But I knew it wasn’t hers.

She reluctantly admitted to me that it was Markel’s. When I asked her how she got it outside without either of us seeing it she said she hid it in her shorts! In the waist band to be exact! Can you even believe that?!

We had a long conversation about taking things that aren’t ours and the next morning we brought it back to daycare and she told Markel the truth and apologized for taking something she shouldn’t have.

This isn’t the first time that one of my kids have done something like this. Last year it was Elijah and some shiny treasures from preschool. I might have cause to be worried but the reality is don’t we all covet what we don’t have?

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I don’t remember how old I was but I do remember the tea set.

We lived on a hill and there was a family that lived down the hill from us that had 2 girls just a few years younger than me. Sarah and I became friends and often played together. Her dad also had a red corvette and every once and awhile he would take us out in the “cool car” to McDonalds for an ice cream cone. That was always such a treat!

At some point Sarah got a brand new, huge white tea set for a birthday or Christmas present.

Oh how I wanted that tea set. I loved playing with it and wanted to have one at my house. But I didn’t. It wasn’t enough that Sarah was generous in sharing it with me during our play time…no I needed to have one myself.

And when I couldn’t have it, I didn’t want her to have one either.

Why is it that we do that?

When someone has something nice/fun/new why do we feel jealousy, why do we covet what they have? Why can’t we be genuinely happy for others and their blessings?!

I didn’t want Sarah to have something so wonderful, so one day when we were playing I stole a tea spoon. I hid it in my pocket and took it home with me. Stuffed under pairs of socks, it sat like a dirty little secret in my drawer.

It isn’t much fun to play with one spoon.

It really isn’t fun to play with one spoon that is a constant reminder¬†of stealing…of a lie. I would take out that spoon and feel guilty. I knew that I should give it back. That Sarah wanted her full tea set together….that it wasn’t mine and I didn’t have any right to take it.

I honestly can’t remember if I returned the spoon or not. I hope that I did.

I have a feeling that I would have been the only likely “suspect” and maybe the truth came out…but if I didn’t, I want to apologize Sarah for taking that spoon!

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I was thinking about that story this morning as I was laying in bed. I am not sure what brought it to mind really but I find that as memories like this happen, I process them best at the keyboard.

I have been pretty silent here lately. There are some things that I do plan on writing about, but I am still working through them. Some ugly, icky parts of myself, and my past that God is healing and restoring.

It isn’t fun. Let’s be honest I am the type of person that would really like to skate around the difficult. I don’t like wading through the muck of my life. I want a quick fix to any and all faults/problems and I am finding again and again that God isn’t going to give me restoration on my time.

I am learning to savor the journey even if it means it is a slow, arduous process. (<====Click to Tweet)

If the end result is freedom from the things that are bondage in my life…well it is worth it.

One of the things that I want to find freedom in is this need to want what I don’t have.

It has been with me since I was young and started with the smallest of items, a tea spoon. It grew as I aged and became jealous of friends that had better, name brand clothes than I did. Maybe someone was smarter or prettier than I was. The cheerleader and the homecoming queen….I was never “enough”

As a wife and a mother I see all that you can do, and feel inadequate in my own family. I start to wish that I could go on the trips, or have the super romantic relationship with my husband that I see in other couples. Or the most well behaved children in church. ūüėČ

It is never enough. What I have is just never enough. But the reality is that it IS enough.

I have more than I could ever hope or imagine. SO many blessings in my life. No it isn’t always easy…but they are blessings none the less.

And I don’t want to paint a picture of someone that I am not.

I don’t have it all together. My children will mess up, but heck so do I – ALL.THE.TIME! I am not the perfect women/mother/spouse and it is ok! Thank God for grace.

A part of this walking into freedom is recognizing that I am who God made me. Yes there are flaws and imperfections but there are beautiful things too.

I don’t know if jealousy or envy is something you have struggled with, but if it is you are not alone! Let’s do something together and stop comparing, stop coveting, and start giving thanks for the very place that God has each of us.

It is going to look different for you than it is me. Let’s embrace the difference, there is beauty in that! And let’s start walking out of bondage and into freedom.

One spoon at a time.

Photo Credit: partycja

What a Zip Line Taught Me About Fear

Black Hills

We just got back from a week in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is our third year vacationing there and we rented a cabin in Lead. The cabin was at the top of a mountain and it took 9 minutes and 38 seconds to get up or down the road.

It was kind of a treacherous road as well..I will have more on that at a later time. It was long and bumpy but lead to a beautiful cabin and view. We were remote in many ways…including that we didn’t have wifi. It was a true vacation and such a good week.

One of the days it was rainy and Dominic and I took Isaac, his friend Zach and cousin Casey to go through Rushmore Cave in Keystone. The little kids didn’t want to go so they stayed at the cabin for a “rest” day with the grandparents.

The cave was fun…beautiful really, and for the most part, the journey through was manageable. There were a couple of interesting spots where you had to watch your step, but overall it felt safe.

Then we headed to this 7-D theater experience where I was in last place for shooting zombies. This didn’t come as a shock to me as I was with 4 boys! ūüėČ

The final part of our time there was supposed to be a zip-line ride. We headed up the hill and Dominic and I got on first. As soon as I was in the seat and my feet were dangling, I started to get second thoughts.

It wasn’t a terrible drop, but I am not one who loves the thrill of my stomach dropping in rides. I don’t like roller coasters and other rides like that. Panic waved over me and I said that I wanted to get off.

I know that Dominic was disappointed in me…he had just wanted to ride together. But, as in so many situations, when I feel fear, I want to run.

I didn’t think about praying, didn’t consider pushing through. I just got scared and I got off the ride.

Looking back this is so indicative of my faith life.

I can be happy go lucky if things are safe and going well…but the minute it becomes a little dangerous, or unknown, I bail.

As much as I feel I have grown this past 6 months in my dependence of God, this experience felt like a huge step back. I could have¬†asked God to calm my spirit, could have just had courage to stand up to my fear, but I didn’t.

And it has bothered me ever since.

I don’t want to be ruled by fear, limited in what I can or will do because I am so afraid of the “what ifs.” I think for me, right now, this fear is coming from the reality that we will be sending Isaac off to school in a few months.

We visited the school again while we were there…I have some concerns, less about Isaac and more about what the environment will be like those first few weeks/months. Let’s just say the freshman all get to wear a ugly green beenie hat for like 2 months or more (no one we have ever asked will admit to the actual length of time….all the students “can’t remember”) AND while wearing the hat they can (and will) be forced to stop, get on their knees and sing a “I love my beenie hat song” at the whim of any upper classman.

That along with the parties and alcohol etc., that will be available (and it sounds like all freshman get forced pulled into those first few weeks)…I am suddenly entering this place of being unable to control what happens to Isaac and what the outcome may be.

Not like I ever had any control right? Maybe the illusion of control when he lives upstairs…but 7 hours away with a bunch of students who try and humiliate and pressure my first born. Ugh, this mama heart almost can’t handle it!

I am on that ride again and I just want off.

I told Isaac that I thought he needed to stay home another year before going off to school ūüėČ …I just need more time you know?! Time to make sure he is prepared for the real world, to make sure he can melt chocolate without scorching it (inside joke)….I haven’t possibly done enough.

And as I type these words I realize…like literally right this moment, I can see that I am so darn afraid that I haven’t been a good enough parent.

I should have been stronger, prayed over him more, encouraged him and prepared him, told him I loved him and hugged him more. I suddenly feel like a failure. He is going off to experience one of his biggest life changes yet and I want it to be good.

I want to be able to wrap an imaginary swath of bubble wrap around him so that he doesn’t have to experience hurt and failure and disappointment. I want everything to be roses and the reality is that it probably won’t be.

And as much as I know that he needs to go through these life lessons, just like I did. Oh how I want it to be easier! 

As a first time mama going through this, I am not sure how you survive?! I know that you do…I have seen others go before me. My own mom survived me and that was a feat in itself! ha!

I am at that moment where my feet are dangling and I know that it is going to be scary but I have to be able to trust that God has my son just like He always has me.

I have to let go.

I have to trust that God is with Him.

I have to trust that Isaac will go through what he needs to, and that his life experiences will hopefully draw him closer to God as well. He is a great kid and I just want amazing things for his life.

Will there be unknown? I am certain of it.

I am also certain that God loves Isaac even more than I do, and that He will be with him every step of the way.

Fear doesn’t have to control me. I can learn to let go and trust God. (<====Click to Tweet)

It probably won’t be a pretty journey on my part…but it is a step forward in the right direction!

If you want to see the lamo ride that I chickened out of you can check out the video below (or here¬†if you are reading in an email) ūüôā

For When The Wall Needs to Come Down

Wall Crumbling

We all have walls in our lives that need to come down.

I personally struggle with jealousy in a BIG way. It is a wall around my heart, the need to compare, the¬†envy of others and how “put together” they may seem. My focus on what is important is skewed.

It is one of the reasons that I started sharing my Mom Confessions here. I hope that I haven’t ever come across to another as “having it all together,” because I don’t. Ever. If sharing a few of my failures each week keeps me more transparent, well it is a necessary practice.

Sometimes God calls us to the hard. He calls us to step out in faith and do the seemingly impossible. We dream big God-sized dreams and often enter them knowing that without God’s help, we can’t accomplish them.

I have been in this place many times. My “word’ for this year is Depend and man has God given me multiple opportunities to put my money where my mouth is. Do I really believe what I say here? In the walking out of my faith am I actually trusting God with everything and not just saying that I want to?

This hasn’t been a fun 5 months. I would love to tell you that I have it figured out but I don’t. The one thing that I do know is that fear can have a huge factor in my actions.

What will people think? 

What if I heard God wrong?

What if this isn’t what He wants for me anymore?

How will I know….how can I possibly discern His will in my life?

Have you ever faced those questions?

I am convinced that fear is often what the enemy uses in my life to keep me from moving forward. (<===Click to Tweet)

I can be certain¬†of a calling from God, but then if when it doesn’t go exactly as I had planned/hoped/imagined…I start to second guess everything. I wonder if I have made a mistake and I start looking for an “out.”

Heck, I have a heart for community. Loved the idea of the turquoise table, FINALLY got one in my yard, shared the idea with my church. And guess how many parties I have had? NONE. It has been the coldest (weather wise) and busiest (work & family wise) 6 weeks we have had…and my passion sits on the back burner.

And if I can be completely honest, that table taunts me some days. ¬†“All talk and no action huh?!” “Maybe this was a mistake, besides hosting scares you…” “What a joke you are….”

The fear creeps in, the lies come more loudly and I start to doubt God’s call for community in my life.

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I have seen this in other areas as well.

Whether it is a project, a new business, a campaign at church…we prayerfully enter into new opportunities and trust God’s plan. We move forward, do our best, and set expectations that are God-sized.

We know we need God to achieve the plans He has given us….but when it doesn’t come together like we thought it would, the fear and the doubt start to creep in.

Did we hear God correctly?

Should we continue forward?

Don’t we have a responsibility to be responsible with what God has given us?

All legitimate and valid questions. All worth discussing and exploring.

But having walked through some unknown seasons of my own, I start to see things from a different perspective.

I can see how we so often act in fear, myself included. And quite honestly, I am sick and tired of living my life in chains.

Healthy fear can be ok. I don’t stand in the middle of the road, in oncoming traffic to test God’s plan for my life and safety. But I am choosing to walk forward in faith when God’s calling is present, even if it means it might be hard…or unknown.

In the Bible we see stories time and time again of people that God called to do something hard, impossible..unfathomable even.

Read the story of the Wall of Jericho in Joshua 6. There was a literal wall that needed to come down. So God tells Joshua that he and his men need to march around the wall, once a day for 6 days. And on the 7th day they marched around 7 times and once they had marched the final time around they shouted out and the wall fell.

It is impossible.

Without God, it is impossible that men marching around a wall for a week would cause it to crumble. Some may have thought that Joshua was a little bit crazy, don’t you think? And after about the 3rd day…don’t you think the questioning started? Maybe the doubt started to settle in deep.

What if they had quit? What if they had believed the lie that this call wasn’t from God?

And then there is Abraham.

Oh you know Abraham and his beloved son Isaac? The entire story is found in Genesis 22. Go spend some time there reading it. Here is my favorite part of that story. Abraham was OLD, he finally has his promised son, who is guessed to be a teenager at this point. God tells him to sacrifice his son and both Abraham and Isaac start on their journey.

They even get to the point where the alter is built, and Abraham is ready to do what God has called…and just in time God provides an alternate sacrifice. He tested Abraham and because he was faithful, generations of people were blessed.

Generations were blessed.

There are so many more that I could share, but I encourage you to spend some time searching yourself.

You may find yourself in a time of testing. Can we trust God with the vision He has given us? Go ahead and ask the questions that come, spend time in serious prayer asking for God’s wisdom. But know this, from my experience I have seen this to be true…we can question and pray and explore the best angles but sometimes we are just called to keep walking forward.

If God didn’t want the wall to come down after all of that walking, it wouldn’t have come down. Joshua was faithful to what God had called him to, even if it seemed impossible, and ultimately God’s plan for the wall was seen.

Whatever wall you have in your life that needs to come down….march on forward.¬†Be prayerful, ask for discernment, but march on friends. March on!

Photo Credit: E.Briel

Why I Blog

Why I Blog

Recently, as a part of some God-sized Dream team building, we¬†were asked by one in¬†the group to share our “why I blog” story. It has been awhile since I have written about that so I thought it would be fun to revisit it today!

I started blogging in 2008. Honestly as I type that I can’t believe that it has been that long. We lived in SD and had dial-up internet. Writing a post took forever, uploading a single picture was 30 minutes at least! It is a wonder that I stuck with it for several years with those conditions! ūüėČ

I have always loved sharing stories and writing.

When I was young I had a journal, the Type A personality in me also had a clothing log. In my great efforts to become popular (it didn’t work btw) I would record in spiral notebooks my outfit of the day. Had there been blogging in the late 80’s early 90’s…OOTD may have been cool. But this was my sad attempt at making sure that I¬†didn’t wear the same thing in a 2 week period. Yes even then I had problems!

For a time I had a prayer journal and would write out all things I wanted to do or change in my life. And then for many years the writing stopped completely.

Life got HARD. I was unable and unwilling to see any good in my life and so I shut down. If I had a blog then I would have called it “Let Me Count the Ways My Life Stinks”…catchy huh?! At that point I didn’t believe God could really make a change in my life. I had prayed for it, begged even and He hadn’t answered my prayers…(or maybe I wasn’t listening…)

In 2006 God grabbed a hold of my heart in a BIG way. I could see clearly my desperate need for a Savior. I couldn’t keep living the way I had and became willing to do whatever I needed to find peace.

It was 2008 when I first heard the word blog. I had tickets to attend a concert with Point of Grace and Selah. Selah had to cancel our concert because the lead singer, Todd Smith’s wife, was pregnant with a baby who was “incompatible with life” and she was due to deliver any day. The radio station that hosted the concert asked for prayers and directed us to Angie’s blog where she had been documenting her journey.

My heart was instantly grieved for this woman I hadn’t ever met. In February, just a few short months earlier, I had lost a pregnancy as well. One that I was so excited about, one we had prayed about…a pregnancy that had felt like a “reward” for finally being on the right track with God.

So when I had a miscarriage I couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen. Weren’t we doing everything right? My heart hardened towards God and the relationship that I had been building over the past 2 years began to crumble.

But every morning I would go and read Angie’s words.

Filled with heartache and pain, but yet hope, she shared about her God. A God that was the same yesterday as He was today…regardless of the circumstances happening around her. Her transparency was remarkable. Of course she was heartbroken, she wanted a different outcome for her daughter, but she never stopped trusting God with all of it.

Her words, her story, gave me hope. (<====Click to Tweet)

I began to ask myself if her faith can stand firm in that situation…then why not me as well? How could I sit with my hardened heart, cursing God for not saving my pregnancy and Angie was praising God even in the storm?¬†How do you get to that place of complete surrender and full faith?

I wanted what she had, a faith like that. A hope in Christ in ALL things.

And so I started a blog of my own. A place where I could work out this shaky-knees faith. A home that I could share my hurts and my pain and hopefully one day share the hope I had in Jesus.

It didn’t come easily at first. I can say that in the beginning the words may have just been that, words. I wrote what I wanted to feel but didn’t truly believe them for my own life.

But God has a funny way of working on our heart and over time I started to see the blessings.

In late 2012 I started this blog. I probably should have called it KristinSmith.com, because according to people who tell you how to blog best…that is the way to go. But the reality for me really was this, it isn’t about me. This space, my ability to write and share stories, is all God. (<====Click to Tweet)

God gives me the words.¬†And by trusting in God and working through some difficult life experiences, I have a chance to be a light here. To share with someone who is hurting the hope that is found in Him. My life isn’t without problems today. But because of Christ I am lavished in love, riches that are beyond my understanding.

Oh it is my honest prayer that maybe just one person might rest here for a moment and find hope.  And that is why I blog!

Do you have a blog? I’d love to read your “why” story…would you share a link below?!

Photo Credit: JeanbaptisteM

Roadblocks

Roadblock 2

Recently I got an email from a sweet reader B asking about roadblocks. I have written several times about the various ways in which our family faced difficult times, changes in our plan etc. She is facing a roadblock of her own and she wanted to know they whys…and what to do about it.

While I am at times an expert in living with the roadblock, I unfortunately don’t always deal with them well. In looking back at some of the major setbacks we have faced, I can see more clearly. I can see why God has us walk another path…why we needed to go through the difficulty.

But honestly, in the moment, all I can see is pain and frustration.

Dominic and I were talking again yesterday about how God answered a very simple prayer with a seemingly¬†difficult answer. Almost 5 years ago Dominic started praying that God would bring him someone that would teach him another area of law…give him a chance to learn and thrive.

When we got that call from a head hunter about a position in MN, we did everything “right”. We researched the area, the type of law he would be doing, the man he was being interviewed by. We got down on our knees every morning and prayed together that God would clearly open or shut doors so we knew we were making wise decisions.

We didn’t want to make a choice based on money alone, and while the salary increase is what we needed financially at the time…we didn’t want to have dollar figures rule us. At the end of several months of interviews that resulted in a job offer, we took it excited to face the adventure ahead.

Dominic and I are the type that are comfortable in sameness. We don’t go out ¬†much, we are homebodies and do well with routine. Living apart for the following 8 months, he in MN and the rest of us in SD, was one of the hardest things we have been through.

On top of the difficulty of living apart, his position at the new firm quickly turned to a hostile one. The environment there was awful, to say the least, and Dominic was under so much stress he was wearing it on the outside.

Why would God lead us to this place that was so toxic?

We pushed forward though, prayed about selling our house which sold after 1 viewing, in 4 days. An open door to make a move to MN to all be together.

And then, as I have shared before, months later we both found ourselves unemployed. How did this happen? How could God let this happen?! Those were the thoughts that went through my mind each day.

That year on my birthday my sister gave me a plaque with the following saying on it.¬†“Sometimes God doesn’t give you what you think you want, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve so much more.”

At the time I couldn’t see the truth in all of it.

I was bitter and angry at God and just wanted to be done with all the struggle. Have you ever found yourself there? Just wanting life, everything to come easy?!

But as you know, those dark times led to big steps of faith. Those steps led to the opening of our own business, my transferring to the office to work with Dominic…and today a successful business.

It isn’t easy. We are busy and often stressed at the workload, but it is a good stress. One that we are grateful for because we know that God’s hand was in the entire situation. God answered Dominic’s humble prayer so many years ago.

He provided someone that would teach him the basics of this new area of law, and while we had anticipated that he would be working there for a very long time…God had bigger plans for Dominic. Ones that we couldn’t have thought or imagined at the time.

Yes we had to face roadblocks and setbacks through the process, but ultimately our prayer was answered with a result that is far better than we could have hoped.

I don’t know what roadblock you may be facing today. And like I told B, I wish that I could tell her the “whys”, and the “what nows.” I don’t have all the answers, and honestly as I walked through my own I didn’t do it with a lot of grace.

So instead maybe learn what not to do from me! ūüôā

Today I try and spend some time in the Bible each morning. I pray that God will guide our every step. And I try to remember all the ways that He has been faithful to us throughout the years, so when I face another roadblock (and oh they WILL come) I am prepared with my arsenal of faith stories to get me through in a positive light.

If you are facing a seemingly impossible situation today, would you leave a comment and let me know. You don’t have to give details if you don’t want, but I would love to pray for you!

Photo Credit: B4bees

More than anything, I want them to see You

merry go roundI am less than a week from turning 40. The BIG 4-0. And I am surprisingly ok with it all.

I wasn’t really dreading 40, I feel better about who I am and where I am, than I probably ever have. 40 isn’t something to fear or dread. It is just another year right?! And I am surrounded by some of the best family and friends a girl can have, so I am really just overwhelmed with blessings.

I have spent more years than I can count, and really that I would like to admit, worrying about trying to be the perfect person.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted what I didn’t have. I wanted the Strawberry Shortcake dolls that the girl down the street had, or the cute red Esprit jeans with the white hearts on them. (Oh how I coveted those pants and don’t even get me started on the matching heart sweater!!) Maybe it was the name brand jeans or a place on the cheerleading squad…there was always something missing.

I found myself wanting, lacking, and it wasn’t a place that I wanted to be.

So I studied hard so I would be the smart one and do something amazing with my life. Then I went off to college and couldn’t hack the career that I was certain was for me. And once again I knew that when someone looked at me, they just saw someone who was lacking.

For a perfectionist like myself, this is a terrible place to be. Because when you looked at me I wanted you to see beauty and grace and maybe the least bit of fashion sense.

But I was certain that what you saw was the opposite.

Have you ever found yourself there, on the merry-go-round of striving to be something, someone better than you feel you are? (<====Click To Tweet)

And yet it seems that no matter how hard you try, you come up short.

The past few years have been growing ones for me.

Yes I may have added¬†a few pounds towards my waistline, ahem ūüėČ that comes with the aging I am told but I am not talking about that today. No, even more than that I am discovering who I am. What I love and where my passions are. I have reconnected with my love of writing and that alone has brought me so many gifts.

This refinement process hasn’t always been easy either. Dominic and I are learning how to work well with one another in our business, as we also try to manage a reasonable balance between work and home life. We have big kids, and middle kids and little kids…and raising them isn’t always a cake walk.

I yell too much, and get frustrated about little messes. I often forget to take time to count my blessings.

But despite all of that, all of my shortcomings, I am filled with the overwhelming peace that God will use it all for His glory. (<====Click to Tweet)

I have seen Him do it in my life already. How He took all the messy and the ugly parts of me and healed them and then gave me a story to share. He gave me a heart for others, for loving them and sharing the hope that is found in Him.

I don’t head into the Big 4-0 wanting you to see me and how put together I am or what a wonderful wife and mother I am.

More than anything, I hope that when you look at me you see Him.

You see a woman who loves Jesus. A woman who is admittedly a hot mess most days, but even on the worst of them can see the potential for God to use it for good.

Yes Lord, it is my prayer for year 40 and beyond…as long as you have planned for me here, that when people see me, they see You in me. Fashion or no, good hair days and bad, muffin tops and veiny legs….none of it perfect Lord, but through You I have the faith that I will be perfected for Your glory.

And that is all that matters.

Photo Credit: Great Beyond

We All Need a Little of That!

Community

As many of you know just a little over a week ago I was surprised with a getaway birthday weekend to Houston. It was a weekend filled with love from my friends and family.

While Gindi and I shared a delicious BBQ chicken pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (which by the way was YUM!!), we talked about this idea of community. On FB the night I found out about my surprise I posted a picture of my letter and this comment “To say that I am floored and overwhelmed and crazy excited all at once is an understatement….not exactly sure where I am headed on Saturday but the “three birthday bandits” have completely surprised me!”

130 people liked that post and I had over 40 comments…

I don’t say that to brag, it is a reflection of how much something like this would mean to so many people.

“Best present ever!!”, “I want to get kidnapped”, So fun, can’t wait to hear about it”…and on and on.

People, women especially, long for this type of community.

Maybe we don’t say it or admit it…but it is true. We love to feel loved. (<====Click to Tweet)

I think it is in our nature, it is how we were made. I know so many women who love big and love well. But this experience for me was proof that we all have a secret wish that someone would love on us in a HUGE way like I was.

And I don’t want it to end with me.

I realize that many of us might not be able to plan such an elaborate surprise like I received…but as Gindi and I talked I was challenged to think of ways that I might be able to love on others well, here in my own front yard.

Because we all need a little more of that, don’t we?

Of community, friendship, lavish and unconditional love?

This may mean that we have to step out in faith…and what if it isn’t well received? What if we put a Turquoise Table in the front yard in April, invite our neighbors over, and no one comes?

It could happen.

It probably won’t, but there is that risk.

But you know, I have found that by being willing to take the risk, the crazy leaps of faith…that I have been given back so much in return.

If I hadn’t been willing to open my heart to the idea of online friendships…well last weekend would have never happened. And what a blessing that was in my life.

I hope you can understand that I face these challenges with the same fear that I expect many of you are facing. We are in this together!!

That is why I felt like it was so important to write about this today. I often make decisions based on fear, especially fear of the unknown.

But when we see a need – how can we NOT respond?! Maybe your response isn’t with a surprise trip, but instead a call to a friend for a lunch date. A card in the mail to a neighbor or introducing yourself to a “stranger” at church.

The act itself¬†doesn’t have to be monumental, but I am seeing that the small things can become monumental if we are invested in and working at community. (<====Click to Tweet)

So I come here willing. Prayerfully considering how this looks in my own life and open to being pushed to where I may feel uncomfortable…because if I can be the hands and feet of Christ here…who knows what might happen!

Photo Credit: Niall Kennedy

It Is Well

It is WellI decided on a whim to do a makeover on our toy room. Call it fresh starts, or Dominic’s absolute distaste for the clearance red paint that I put on the walls over a year ago….it felt like it was time to liven the space up.

I love it already. Seriously, I may go missing and be found hanging in the space. I still have so much to do and now have run out of time…but I am excited to see the progress happen!

I spent the better part of the day on Saturday priming and painting. And I just listened over and over to the Bethel Music – You Make Me Brave album. My favorite song thus far is “It Is Well.”

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Through it all.

I felt God calling me to depend on Him this year. I didn’t really want that to be my word because it scares me a bit. What might He call me to? What may He ask us to walk through?

And as I thought of these things on Saturday, the words of this song flooded my spirit.

Through it ALL. My eyes are on you Lord, and through it ALL, it is well.

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Even when I can’t see the whys, even when I don’t know the future, when there are trials and unknown….even when my eyes can’t see Lord, it is well.

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

Yes THIS – let go my soul and trust. Trust in God, trust in His plan for me and my family…He has control over all, the waves, the wind….He has it all.

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You Lord
Through it all, through it all
It is well with me.

Most of our lives we deal with the unknown. We can’t see what unexpected circumstance may come our way. We don’t know how our children will go through life. For someone like me who deals with fear and worry about those unknowns, this can be debilitating.

But God.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

God goes with me in each moment of my day. And through it all, it is well.

I find comfort in those simple words this morning. While today I am not faced with a major crisis, or decisions (except for maybe pink eye, which is another post all together…) I can trust that whatever I face in my day to day, God is going with me.

Through it all, my eyes are on you Lord and it is well with me.

Making Time to Be Intentional in Your Prayer Life

As I write this post I am sitting in a beautiful rental home that our extended family gathered in over Christmas. The fireplace is flickering and warming the room, the sun is shining and right now I have some time to reflect by myself.

Battle Lake 3

It is easy to see God’s beauty in a place like this. The frozen lake glimmers with light from the sunset, the Christmas lights offer a warmth and glow to the home. It is perfect. And when things are perfect…well, I can find it hard to take time to be intentional with my prayer time with God.

Battle Lake 1

Do you struggle with that too?

Sure I cry out to Him when things are rough. I know all to well the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness…of trying to make sense of the hard and ugly places that life has taken us at times. God becomes my 1-800-helpline as I demand changes and results.

But this week, surrounded by family and beauty…all my wants and desires are met, and so my quiet time with God is pushed aside.

This isn’t how I want to live my days though. Seeking after God only when I have a need. No I want to develop a relationship with Him that is one of intentional seeking of His plan and purpose for my life. A relationship built on faith and trust and one that comes with an intentional seeking of His face each and every day.

Several months ago I was invited to participate in a 40 day prayer journey. A friend¬†was starting Mark Batterson’s 40 Day Prayer Circle Challenge and she asked if we were interested in keeping each other accountable through it. I had heard encouraging things from others that had gone through it so I joined in.

I bought the audio book so that I could listen to the devotionals in the morning. In one of the first days Mark encouraged us to get a prayer journal and to start writing out our prayers. He said that when we write out the prayers, big and small, we can then go back and see how God had answered our prayers.

And so began my 40 day prayer journey. I am sharing more about my prayer journey over at Christen’s site for her 21 Day Prayer Challenge. Will you join me over there?!

When Anger is My Expected Response

Last week I shared a little bit about my struggle with anger. Of course when I¬†open up and share the ugly and my¬†hopes to overcome the struggle…I have to anticipate that I will be given plenty of opportunities to “practice” a different response.

Anger

This past week I have had some failures and some successes. For a bit of light today, I want to share a success and why it was a reminder once again that my attitude and response to my kids can make such an impact.

On Wednesday last week, Dominic and I took Isaac back up to SDSU for a college visit. Becky (Dominic’s mom) was in Marshall and picked up the kids from school for us because we weren’t going to be back in time.

Usually the after-school pick up is the time that I have with just me and Gabriel to ask how his day was. Depending on the day he usually has a good, or a bad point to share. ūüôā It is less than 10 minutes really that we have together, but it has become an important time for both of us.

We got home from the college visit right before it was time for Gabriel to go to Awana. So he and I jumped in the car and drove the 15 miles to our church.

I took the time to ask Gabriel about his day and he paused, sighed really big, and said that he just had to tell me the truth about something. He seemed stressed, so I told him to please go ahead.

He said that he lost his folder. His main folder that holds his homework, contains his reading log…it is kind of a big deal. He was unable to participate in math class because he didn’t have his homework…and he feared telling me because he anticipated that I would be angry.

You see when anger is my first response, I teach my kids that anger should be the expected response. (<====Click to Tweet)

When Gabriel told me about his folder, I honestly wasn’t angry about it…but he was afraid that I was going to be. He said that he didn’t want to tell me, but he remembered once when I told him that I would rather know the truth and deal with a situation right away, then not be told the truth.

I said that I was sorry he had lost it, that it had caused stress during his afternoon. I asked if he wanted to pray about it and he did. We prayed over his finding his folder. We prayed a prayer of thanks that God forgives, and I reminded him that we all make mistakes. I said that he could learn from this and work a little harder about checking to make sure he had everything he needed when he left his classroom.

After it was all said and done he thanked me.

It honestly broke my heart, but he thanked me for being comforting and not getting angry.

You see he has experienced me being angry at him enough, that when my response is one of compassion, he thanked me.

It was a reminder why this journey is such an important one.

I want my automatic response to be one of compassion, not anger. (<====Click to Tweet)

Yes we will all make mistakes, and while there are consequences, my attitude doesn’t have to make the consequence worse.

Such a stronger reminder to me that my response can have such an impact.

And the next day Gabriel found his folder in his block 2 class. Praise God.

Lord, I thank you for giving me opportunities to “practice” at being a better responder. My prayer is that my response will not be one of anger, but of compassion and patience. May my life be a reflection of all the patience and compassion that You have shown to me. In Jesus Name, Amen