Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Beauty in the Mundane

Before I begin this blog, I need to start with a back story. When I was a little girl, all I wanted to be was a mom. I saw how much joy my mom took in being with us and taking care of us. She was there to greet us when we came home from school and she was there to see us off each morning as we caught the bus. She made us snacks when we got home and I cannot remember her ever complaining about driving us to all of our sporting events that we had in the evening. She supported my dad constantly as he worked hard to provide a wonderful life for my brother and me. From an early age, I wanted to be just like my mom. When we would go to my brother's baseball games, I would find every little baby and ask to watch the baby while the moms watched the games. My dad used to say that if he could get me to love tennis as much as I loved babies- that I could have "gone pro." Even as I entered high school, my ambitions did not change. I hoped for a wonderful husband and children that I could be a mommy to. I believed (and still believe) this desire for wifehood and motherhood was what the Lord had called me to. I am by no means saying that this is what every woman is called to. Some women are called by Jesus to represent Him well in the workplace. That is their calling from Jesus and it is a blessing when He fills that desire for them. By the sweet grace of Jesus, He did give me my dream to become a wife and mother. He forms our desires and He fulfills them in His timing. I was able to marry my high school sweetheart and, though it took a few years and some heartbreaking miscarriages, Jesus gave me 3 awesome and crazy kids to raise. My husband works so diligently so that I can stay home with our children. I am so thankful that I am able to work the job that I feel the Lord has made me for (disclaimer- again, I do not think that it is wrong for some women to work outside of the home- we all have different callings from the Lord and must walk where He has called us).

With all of that being said, as a stay at home mom, there are many times where the mundane tasks of motherhood can become tiring and I can get frustrated with the daily tasks of raising my little ones and keeping our house in order. Overall, I try to walk in a spirit of gratitude to the Lord for letting me live out my dreams, BUT there are times when I give in to selfishness and I can start being ungrateful for my family and my ministry to them.

Last week, the Lord really woke me up and brought me back to the gratitude that I know He wants me to walk in. Last Friday we were visiting Sonny's family in Wharton and at around 9:15pm, I put Pax and Zoee in the shower at Grandma's house to clean them up a bit before we were going to put on their jammies and head home. I had been working out a little more intensely in the afternoons that week so I guess my muscles were a little tense and tired. When I was cleaning the floor after their showers (they had tracked in HUGE amounts of dirt), I went to stand up and a thousand sharp pains flooded my neck and back. I threw my hands in the air (that was the position that was the least painful) and I asked Zoee, through flowing tears, if she could please get Daddy. Yall, the pain was awful. I consider myself a mildly tough person and I try not to cry in front of others; yet in this moment, I could not stop the tears. Sonny's whole family was there. I tried to stay in the bathroom as long as I could but Sonny wanted me to try and sit in the recliner in the living room. There was no hiding the pain or tears at that point. Grandma, along with Sonny's aunt and cousins, were all there trying to help ease the pain. After a few minutes (and me quietly pleading NOT to go to the hospital), Sonny made the decision that we would not go to the emergency room but we would just drive home and try to get me some pain medicine and see if I could rest. We made it home and Sonny put all of the kids in bed. He helped get me situated in our bed with a heating pad and pain medicine. Neither of us slept much that night. The pain was still very severe and it was difficult to get comfortable. The next morning my mom came and took Pax for the morning so we could rest (the older 2 are pretty good about entertaining themselves and they understood that when I was in pain, they would have to step up a little bit and help out more. Pax just doesn't get that yet!). Sonny decided that he wanted to try and get me into a doctor that could look at my spine. I silently prayed that we could see our chiropractor instead of a spinal doctor. After calling almost every specialist (they were all closed on Saturday), Sonny decided that we should try our chiropractor to see if he could give me any relief from the pain. Our chiropractor was able to squeeze us in and after careful examination, he let me know what had happened. My muscles had been overworked and dehydrated and I had had a severe muscle spasm. He said I would be in pain for a few more days and I would be fine within a week or so.

I share all of this because in the midst of all of the pain on Friday night, I started thinking about the mundane tasks that I sometimes take for granted. When we got home Friday night, I couldn't help Sonny unload the car. I couldn't put Pax in his bed or even change his diaper. The next morning, I couldn't make breakfast for the kids or Sonny. I couldn't make our bed or even brush my teeth without being in pain. All of the mundane suddenly became beautiful. I prayed often on Friday evening and Saturday morning that the Lord would let me have the mundane back. Would He be kind enough to let me change my son's diaper again? Could I please have the ability to put clothes in the washer again? Before seeing the chiropractor, we thought I had a spinal injury. I was in so much pain and I didn't know if it was going to get worse or better. In that time of unknowing, I longed for the simple tasks that I had so often taken for granted.

By the grace of Jesus, it was just a severe muscle spasm and I am working to restore those muscles. Though the thought of that pain makes me wince even now, the lessons that the Lord has taught me through this have been very humbling and eye-opening. I am thankful that Jesus loves me enough to remind me to walk in thankfulness and to not take on my daily tasks begrudgingly. He says in the book of Hebrews that His disciplines His children for their good (and ultimately for His glory). He is a good Father that wants what is best for us. It is best for me to walk thankfully and joyfully and thus He took me through this past weekend to kindly remind me of His calling for me.

For anyone out there who might not be walking in thankfulness, I just want to encourage you to look at the kindness of Jesus in your life. A Savior has come to take away your sins by dying on the cross in your place. If you can think of no other way that He has been kind to you, this truth is MORE than enough reason for you to live thankfully and joyfully. He is our peace. He has taken away our shame. We are called to declare His glory with our lives (1 Peter 2). How are we doing at declaring His glory through our lives on a daily basis? Do our neighbors see the joy of Jesus in us? Do our kids and husbands and coworkers see the joy of Jesus in us? Do we love others selflessly and humbly? It is my hope that we can all live out the book of 1 Peter well, longing for the return of Jesus but ready to joyfully serve Him as we wait for His return. Let us not let the mundane be taken for granted today.

1 Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Don't Neglect the Meat

Alright, this post might not make a ton of sense, but I felt like the Lord wanted me to document this so I could look back on it later and therefore- here we go...

The other day we took our weekly trip to the grocery store. When we got home, I asked the kids (as I normally do) to help me unload the groceries. We all worked together and got most of them inside. Zoee had been lagging a little so I let her know, "Zoee, I left one more bag of groceries out there for you to help with. Could you please grab that last bag and then make sure all of the car doors are shut?" I went inside to start putting away the groceries and Zoee followed me within a minute and we went about our day. I asked if she had remembered to close the car doors and she said she had remembered. Later on that day (around 4 hours later), one of my sweet friends Juliana came to watch the kids for me while I went to a photoshoot. When we came out to meet her (the kids love going outside to meet guests when they come), I noticed a small HEB bag lying behind the car. Oh man!! Zoee, who tends to be a tiny bit forgetful when she is excited (like her awesome Daddy!!), had remembered to close all of the car doors BUT had forgotten that last bag of groceries. There was that bag- it's contents roasting in the 100 degree Texas afternoon sun. My mind reeled quickly through the list of the groceries I had put away a few hours earlier. What had been missing? Fruit? No. Pasta? No. Cereal? No. Prunes? No. Chips? No. Popcorn. No.... I looked into the bag to find the most expensive grocery item that also cannot be left out- the MEAT! For a split second I thought it could be salvaged (I HATE wasting money!!!) but reason set in and I knew it had to be thrown out.

Later on that day I was thinking over the days events while I was driving to my shoot in Sugarland. I had some wonderful time with Jesus in the car (I was without the kiddos so it was nice to spend a little bit thinking and praying) and I started to think more intensely about the meat situation.

"Jesus, were you trying to teach me something? Why the meat, Lord? Why couldn't the Pringles have been in that bag?"

Then I felt like the Lord spoke back. It wasn't audible but I felt like in my Sprit the Lord was trying to teach me something. I felt like He wanted to remind me that some things in life need more care than others or they will spoil. I had neglected something that needed extra care- something that would ruin if left alone. What in my life was Jesus talking about? After thinking and praying for a bit, I asked,  "Is there an area of my life that I need to be careful not to neglect?"  I felt like Jesus was trying to remind me about my role as a mom. As a stay-at-home mom, it can be so easy for me to focus on the "less important" things like keeping the laundry folded and the bathroom sink "dust free." I can easily get stressed when I can't see the vacuum lines in the carpet or if I catch crumbs on the floor or counters. At times I feel that my kids are neglected if we don't visit enough parks or do enough crafts or sign up for enough curricular events. Kindly, Jesus reminded me that those things are not "meat." Yes, it's nice to have a clean home and to encourage social events for the kids, but those things come and go. They are like "Pringles" or "pop-tarts." If they get neglected for a bit, it's not the end of the world. They can be "brought back" without any harm done. What really matters is representing Jesus well to my children through living out His truth and by teaching His truth to them. This is the "meat." I cannot neglect this no matter how busy or hectic life gets. My kiddos need to see the light of Jesus in me. They need to hear His Word. All of this is not something I can muster up on my own. In order to share Him with the kids- it is imperative that I enjoy and soak in my time with Him. He cannot shine through me if I haven't spent time reflecting on His goodness. I must spend time daily letting the truth of His Word change me (by His sweet Spirit that He gave me through Jesus' death and resurrection on my behalf). When I neglect to spend time with Him and teach Him to my children, I am doing something similar to leaving the meat out to ruin in the Texas sun. This time with my kids is so short- they will be grown up before Sonny and I even realize it. These are the moments to be talking with them about the King as we "walk along the way." I know that there have been countless moments where satan has tried to trick me into thinking, "you're too busy right now. you can read them His word later. You can pray with them later, you need to clean the house..." These are lies. The truth is- Now is the time. Today is the day that they need to see Jesus in me. I need to be near to Him. I need His wisdom to be a godly mom.

All that to say, I was so encouraged as I finished my time in the car. I was so refreshed in my role as a mom to these three little souls. I don't want to look back on my life and say that I had a spotless house but I was so stressed out that I never enjoyed teaching my children about the goodness of Jesus. I hope this is an encouragement to someone. Let us remember that the days are passing quickly. The kids are growing up. Their minds are little sponges and their hearts are being molded on a daily basis. Let us use our time with them wisely. Let us ask Jesus daily for ways that we can use real life examples to share His truth with them. I know that we will not regret these moments if we spend them intentionally with the hope that our little ones will come to adore the Savior.

A few months ago, I was reading Hosea and Hosea 10:12 says, "Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground. For it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you." This reminded me of the truths often taught in the New Testament. Jesus is coming back soon. We have a job to minister well to our families in the hopes that they might come to know Jesus. We can hope for them to know His righteousness through faith. Let's seek the Lord and be purposeful in how we use our time. Thank you Jesus for using grocery shopping to encourage me in my role as a Mommy. =)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

God Loves His Messes...

A few weeks ago Sonny was asked to teach on Sunday morning for The Church at Cross Lake. I love getting to hear him teach the Word and I love how the Lord graciously gives him so many real life illustrations to help the Word come to life for those that are listening. It's honestly so awe-inspiring to me to hear how the Lord will show Sonny so clearly how simple, everyday life situations correlate to His Word and His dealings with his children.

As is normally the case, the Lord chose to have a certain incident happen in our family about a week before Sonny was supposed to teach and honestly, I would have missed the spiritual connection if it wasn't for Sonny.

It was around 7 am on a weekday morning and Sonny and I were both getting ready for the day. He was all dressed and ready for his day in the business world (looking super sharp and handsome as usual!!) and we heard Pax moving around and talking in his crib. We usually take turns getting him up in the morning and Sonny said he didn't mind going ahead and getting him. A few minutes later as I was getting our coffee ready, I hear Sonny say, "Mommy! We are going to need your help in here..." I started heading towards Pax's room and before even entering, I could smell THAT smell. You know what I mean when I say THAT smell. Pax had gone "potty" in his diaper and then proceeded to take off his diaper and play in his "mess." It was everywhere. It was on his bed. It was on his stuffed animals and toys. It was in his hair and all over his face. It was everywhere! Sonny graciously took our son into the bathroom and started scrubbing the filth off of him while I began to clean and disinfect the room. By God's sweet grace, neither of us were too troubled by the incident (I guess that's what happens with the 3rd child- there aren't too many new surprises!) After getting everything cleaned (including our little man!), Sonny went off to work and the kids and I went about our day as normal.

Later on that evening Sonny and I were talking and recounting all of the events in our day when we started talking about Pax's morning adventurous mess. Sonny said that the Lord had shown him something really interesting through that incident. We are just like Pax. How often do we get so involved in sinful messes that we end up just wallowing in our own filth!? Before coming to trust in Jesus, that's who we were entirely- sinful people that were just wallowing in stinky sinful crud. Jesus came and said to us, "You're mine. I've come with my own blood to wash you clean and make you HOLY." Then, even after coming to know Him, we can often fall into sin and get all dirty again. Jesus doesn't disown us and go find new children. Again, He comes to us with the gracious love of a Father to remind us of our cleaning through His sacrifice and bring us back to Him. He reminds us that we are His. Nothing can separate us from His love. No filth that we get ourselves into can change the fact that we are His children through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf. What a great God we serve that we should be called sons and daughters of the Creator of the galaxies! How unfathomable is His love! How gracious of Him to take us back continually and lavish His love on us regardless of our faults and failures!

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners (complete messes!), Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 (italics mine)

It was so encouraging for me to see this illustration so clearly through what the Lord had shown Sonny. How easy it is for us to miss these seemingly small but very important illustrations. My hope is that I can try and slow down throughout my day and ask the Lord to show me more of Himself through every season of life that He takes us through. I'm so thankful for each season- they all have lessons that He's trying to teach us if we will just slow down, ask, and LISTEN! His wisdom is crying out in the streets but we are often so busy and rushed that we can't even hear. Praying that we would HEAR Him each day and grow in intimacy with the Lord who sacrificed Himself on calvary that we might know Him and be known by Him.

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square
Proverbs 1:20

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

God and the Minions

I'm not really sure exactly how to start this post so I will just give it a go... My mentor Krystal Helbig has always taught me to see Jesus working in both the small and large things in life. She would encourage me so much when she would pray for small things and then get to see Jesus working as He answered her. I was always in awe of her relationship with the Lord because Jesus just seemed so near. James 4 reminds us that "we do not have because we do not ask." Krystal was living proof of the opposite. She saw (and continues to see) Jesus work because she asked to see Him work in her everyday life.

I am reading through Jeremiah and was encouraged this morning with Jeremiah 32 and it reminded me of an event recently where I was so encouraged to see Jesus working in our lives in a very small way but a way that made me feel that He is so close and involved in our daily life. In Jeremiah 32, the Lord used a house deed to encourage Jeremiah that He was working in Jeremiah's life. For me the other day, God used a Minion.

We live about 1/2 a mile away from the mall and thus we often walk to the mall to just get fresh air and let the kids play there. We were getting Zoee's ears pierced the other day and while in the store, Asher noticed a little Minion figurine that he wanted to buy. Asher asked Sonny if we could buy it for Asher and he could use his own money to pay us back once we got home (it was $5). Sonny said that was fine and bought it for him. Well, this day was really cold and we were all bundled up for our walk home. We made one more stop at another store before walking home. When we neared the corner to our home, Asher said, "I can't find my Minion. I think I lost it." My heart sank a little for him. To spend $5 and lose it on the trip home... bummer! I know how much Asher values saving his money and how he tries to spend it wisely so this just made me sad for him. We looked through his jacket and scarf and didn't find the Minion. Right when we got home, something inside me said- "This is a great opportunity to teach your children about prayer and about My character." I barely said two words to Sonny... I just said "I'm going for a small run outside. I'll be right back." I changed into warm running clothes and set out. I ran as fast as I could (while looking as intently as I could), praying that the Lord would let me find the TINY Minion so I could teach Asher about our sweet King Jesus. I literally prayed something so similar to Jeremiah 32:17

"Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You!"

I went back to the last store and asked (yes, I actually asked the workers if they'd seen a small Minion!!) and they hadn't. I started back home. I remember praying one last time, "Jesus, you don't have to do this for me. I love you. I know it's so small but You created the heavens and the earth and you know where this little Minion is. Please let me use this to teach Asher about You." I'm not kidding you - right when I finished praying, I see this little yellow thing in the middle of the road where we crossed over from the mall to our section of the neighborhood. There was the little Minion. I couldn't run home fast enough. I was smiling from ear to ear. I raced through the door and saw a sad little Asher. He had still paid his Daddy for the lost Minion. I came in and with joy shared, "Jesus found your Minion!!"

I told Asher that Jesus is near to us and wants us to communicate often with Him. While He can (and will) often say no, there are times where He will say "yes" to us and show us how near He is to us. He loves His children and wants to be close to them. Prayer is one of the main ways that we are near to King Jesus- who created the heavens and the earth! The kids were so excited to see that Jesus had answered this prayer and I think they were really in awe of how the Lord had helped me find such a small toy amidst a vast area of places where the Minion could have been.

***Please, please don't get me wrong and think that Jesus will always "find" your lost toys! My main point here is that Jesus is concerned about the "mundane" AS WELL as the "massive." We can come to Him with both and it's so encouraging to see Him work in our lives.

This story continued to encourage me for days. How great is it that our King wants to be so near to us. He hears both the small and the great requests and wants to speak to us. Let us come to Him often and I really think we will be encouraged to see the ways that He works. Oh how I love you Jesus!!