Counting It All Joy

Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  ~ James 1:2-4

I am on a journey…a journey to find joy in all things, ALL things.  And on this journey I’m learning that there is joy in the letting go and laying down — in the letting go of  perfection and expectations and in the laying down of busyness and distractions — expectations of who I should be, who my husband should be, who our children should be, and distractions that steal my attention from the truly important things in life.  I’m finding joy in trading the material for the eternal and trading perfection for what’s real.  Because it’s not a full schedule of extracurricular activities and a social agenda that makes a happy life, or a house full of all the latest must-have gadgets and toys.  It’s the rested mommy who has the energy for just one more story.  It’s the undistracted daddy who has time to throw the ball 5 more minutes.  It’s the family who gathers around the dinner table to share their day with their closest companions.  These are what make a happy life.  It’s the little things, the everyday things, the ordinary things, the monotonous things that matter, and it’s the sharing of these seemingly small things that turns a house into a home.  Day in and day out — caring for one another, sharing with one another, loving one another — it’s what makes a family a family.  And it’s what brings warmth to my heart, strength to my frame, and life to my soul.  It brings joy to my journey.

A New Perspective on Messes

I’ve been doing a lot of introspection recently and these are some of the thoughts I’ve been mulling over:

If I want my kids to grow up knowing that they can always come to me for help, should I ever refuse to give them my help now? Like when they have made a mess of their toys, for instance, do I really want to respond with “I didn’t make that mess; you clean it up.  If you made the mess, you can clean it up.”  Do I want them to become unwilling to help others with their messes?  After all, kids learn by example.

And why have I become so disgusted with messes anyways?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with messes.  Messes are good.  They are a sign that living has been going on.  I learned from Rich Mullins the proverb, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes abundant harvests.” (Proverbs 14:4)  You know what that means?  Life is messy.  The stall of an ox will get pretty nasty, but without the ox how will you reap your harvest?

And something else about messes…they provide the opportunity for much learning and development to take place.  How will my kids gain the responsibility to clean up after themselves without the mess?  And the bigger the mess, the greater opportunity for patience and perseverance exists.  They will achieve a sense of accomplishment and earn the right to be proud…the blessings of work.  Side note:  Work was not a part of the curse in Genesis; we were always made to work and to produce.  The curse was working laboriously.

So I’m learning to be thankful for all the messes that occupy my day, and that a perfectly clean house is not necessarily the sign of a good mommy; but rather the opposite is true.  The house of a good mommy will have toys scattered about randomly, and a trail of crumbs stemming from the Kitchen table, and perhaps a stopped-up toilet with too much toilet paper in it…all signs that there is living and learning going on.  The soccer balls and bikes might be littering the driveway and back yard, but a good mommy knows that there can be no fun without a little mess happening!

Far too long

It has been far too long since I have written.  I won’t bother with excuses, although I have some great ones.  For now it will suffice just to say that LIFE has been happening.  I’ll elaborate, I’m sure, someday, on the journey I’ve been on this past year, but not now.  I am taking this moment now to renew my commitment to write.  I am going to do my best to overcome all of my perfectionistic tendencies that has hindered the creativity and enjoyment that comes with expressing myself through words.  No more “I don’t have enough time to get it just right.”  I am going to write.  I’m going to write even if my work is less than distinguished.  I’m going to write even if my ideas aren’t completely developed.  I’m going to write even if it shows my shortcomings.  I’m going to forget all the things that are supposed to make a good writer, and  I’m going to ignore my need to be a good writer, and I’m going to just simply write…because I want to…because it’s fun.

Each One Is My Favorite

I don’t have much time to spend on my blog today, but nevertheless, I still have a few thoughts to jot down.  Through all the hustle and bustle and the busy, busy, business of everything I’ve got going on this week, I must not forget the things that really matter…the small things, the seemingly insignificant things, the everyday things, the ordinary things.  Now it might seem that my cousin’s wedding that’s taking place on Saturday (in just 3 days) - the one I’m in charge of making look spectacular – would be the top priority on my agenda, but it, in fact, is not.  My most urgent task, the one of utmost importance, is to spend every moment I can with my children, and to not let them slip away without me relishing the joys of mommyhood.  My goal is to convince each one of my children that they are my favorite…because they are…each one of them is my favorite.

This is a short little video that is well worth your time if you are a mommy.

A Time For Everything

The devotion from Bella’s Sweet Dreams Princess Bible that I read to her the other night was from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  The simplicity and realness of the words brought me to tears.

There is a right time for everything.  Everything on earth has its special season.

There is a time to be born and a time to die.

There is a time to plant and a time pull up plants.

There is a time to kill and a time to heal. (This is where my tears began.)

There is a time to destroy and a time to build.

There is a time to cry and a time to laugh.

There is a time to be sad and time to dance.

There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them.

There is a time to hug and a time not to hug.

There is a time to look for something and time to stop looking for it.

There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away.

There is a time to tear apart and time to sew together.

There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.

There is a time to love and a time to hate.

God knows it is time, time for me to reap in laughter what has been sown in tears, and to live the abundant life.


You’re So Pretty

Bella has gotten quite good at handing out “You’re so pretty” compliments.  She says it to me often, but she also shares the same compliment with complete strangers – anyone we may pass in a store or on the playground or at church.  Disclaimer:  She does not get this from me.  She is far more outgoing than I ever was, or still am, for that matter.  Of course it makes me such a proud mother when I see how Bella’s friendly comment makes people smile.  I just have to stop and thank God for the blessing He gave us in that little girl.  She truly is a gem.

Today Bella paid me this particular comment, for the umpteenth time, and the thought occurred to me that she probably says “You’re so pretty” so often to so many different people because she hears it, herself, so often.  And as I realized this, all of a sudden it made sense to me why it’s so important for me to hear the voice of my Father speaking over me “You are beautiful.”  I need to hear Him say this to me, and hear it often, so that I can see others as beautiful.  If the idea of beauty becomes ingrained in my mind, I will be more apt to see it in the world around me.  I will be more likely to see the beauty of the world, and not the ugly.  I will start to see the beauty in others, and not the ugly.  For certain I have never heard Bella ever say that anyone is ugly, but then again, I have never heard anyone say that to her either.  It’s just not in her vocabulary. 

It is important for us to know that our Father does see us as beautiful, just for the sake of knowing how He feels about us.  Could we not even love Him unless He first loved us?  And could we not see Him, or anything else, as beautiful unless He first shows us what beauty is.  It really is true that you can’t love anything else unless you first love yourself, and even that originates with God.  We love ourselves, and love God, and love others in response to His love for us.  Freely we receive, so freely we can give.  Likewise, we can appreciate the beauty of all that God has created because we are already familiar with the concept of beauty.  Seeing comes from believing, believing comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word.  When we hear, when we listen, to Him say “You are beautiful,” and when we start to believe it, our vision for what beautiful really is is expanded.  And when this happens, we can truly have life, and have it abundantly.     

Dearest Arianna

Dearest Arianna,
It’s been 2 months since we lost you, and even though I’ve been carrying on and feeling happy again, I still can’t bring myself to say that I’m ok.  Truth is, I’m not ok, and I don’t really expect to be ok, at least not for a little while longer…

And I must to tell you that I love you and think of you often, and I’m proud of you.  Yes, I’m proud…just as proud as I would be if you had just been placed in my arms because you are my daughter.  And while I pray and wish for just a glimpse of your beautiful face, I still have your name, and I say it often.  Arianna Joy, most holy joy, I know you and remember you.

Baby girl, your life is one of greatness; I know because you have already been so loved.  Even as tiny as you were inside my belly, you evoked such love and joy inside all of us, and we are better because of you.

You are beautiful.  You are fearfully and wonderfully created.  You are my daughter, and I am your mommy.  And until I can be with you there, know that I love you.  Save a place for me, I’ll be there soon.



Every Time I Hear Her Name

I was just sitting here doing reading about a home schooling family with 4 children – Sarah, Joel, Nathan, and Joy – and immediately my eyes filled with tears.  Every time I hear her name, every time I see it in writing, I’m overcome with indescribable emotion – literally, I cannot describe what it does to me, except to say that it moves me to tears.   

Arianna, Joy, Arianna Joy

My eyes still fill with tears every time I hear your name

Every time I see those beautiful words in writing, my heart cries

There’s joy and love accompanied by a stinging pain

And some times it’s as if something inside of me dies

But then, in a moment of Divine healing

Hope returns with a song arising

A gentle hand, in love, starts peeling

Back another layer and there’s beauty surprising

Yes there’s pain, but there’s also glory

For I know this is not the end of the story

You are mine and will forever be

And you’re face I still shall see

In this I find comfort, despite the pain

Yours is a life eternal not spent in vain

Daughter, I miss you, but this is my boast

My future holds you and He who loves me most


Not sure this is quite finished, but we’ll see.

Another One For The File

Shew, that was a close one…I almost missed my weekly blog, but it’s just 7:36 pm and there’s still a few hours to spare before the day ends with me falling asleep on the floor of the boys’ bedroom.  (What happens most nights when trying to keep Justice in his bed.)  As I’m sure you can tell by now, today has not been the ordinary Wednesday for me.  But then again, I seem to be saying that a lot lately, so I guess it’d be more accurate to say that I just don’t have ordinary Wednesdays.

What would a normal Wednesday look like for me anyway?  It’s hard for me to say any more, which kills me.  I thrive when I have a set routine.  I feel successful and accomplished and productive when I have lists of items that I can check off as I do them, even if they’re just mental lists.  But even though I work best with lists, I find myself getting caught up in all of my daily duties and not taking the time to use them.  And why?  It would be, or seem to be,  so easy to just start the day with collecting my thoughts and organizing them into bullets of what I wish to accomplish that day.  Yet, day after day, I find myself being drug out of the bed, either by Jason or any one of the kids, because the day has already begun.

Ideally, I would be getting up somewhere around 5 am, while everyone is still asleep and the house is quiet, to have some time to myself.  I would start with Pilates (a morning stretch always feels so good to me), then read my bible and pray, and then have breakfast started by the time everyone else woke up.  That really is my goal for the start of every single day, and sometimes, sometimes, it does happen.  But when it doesn’t, I try to not to freak out, but just start right where I am.  That’s the phrase I have to recite to myself often, “Just start where you are.”  When the kids are running around the house begging for cereal and milk, and Jason is rushing to start work, and the dishes didn’t get washed the night before so there aren’t any clean spoons, I have to tell myself to just start with washing the spoons.

I comfort myself with the realization it won’t always be this way.  Soon enough, the kids won’t be so dependant on me for such small tasks, and I will miss it.  And I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job with giving myself a lot of grace in this area; it’s evident with how often the dishes aren’t washed, and how behind I am with the laundry.  But I no longer kill myself to get everything done before I go to bed.  Like Scarlett O’Hara, I can “think about that tomorrow.”

Through all of the chaos that comes with raising and homeschooling 3 kids (all 5 and under), and cooking and cleaning and laundry, I have had one constant…Wednesday Morning Watch.  It’s a special time of prayer and worship, harp and bowl style, from 7-8 am every Wednesday morning at The Vineyard, and it’s pretty much the highlight of my week, one of them at least - a time for just me to spend in God’s presence.  It is saaaa-weeeet.  So while my schedule for the rest of the week still needs tweaking, I am consistent with Wednesday mornings…mornings, that is.  Which is why that is the time I have committed to my blog, to make sure it actually gets done.  So for better or worse, here’s another one for the file.

Lord, I Need Help

My heart is heavy tonight.  What started out as a great morning turned into a “let’s-stay-on-track” noon time, and a “let’s-pull-it-back-together” afternoon time,  and a “we-can-still-turn-things-around” evening, and a “what-in-the-world-happened?” bedtime.  R-O-L-L-E-R-C-O-A-S-T-E-R – the only word that I think adequately describes the emotional state that we have all been in.  And I’m totally aware that the madness that has been going on originates with me.  I’m suppose to be the peace and joy and stability of our home, but instead I have just been a wreck.  I feel so raw, like my heart is bleeding.  Yep, that’s me – the bleeding heart- only not in the usual sense.  I am far too apt to lose my happiness these days, and I am too quick to begin feeling hopeless.  I feel so weakened by the sorrow I have experienced that the normal, every-day little trials have been getting the best of me.  This week started out rather good.  I felt happy, energetic, and ready to tackle all of my responsibilities.  But as each day has passed, I have felt more and more run down by from all the running around and trying to get caught up on and staying on top of things, and tonight I am just purely exhausted.  Each trip to town, every load of laundry, all the dirty dishes and scattered toys, every minute of school, and all the trying of my patience - it has all just wiped me out.  My strength is failing; I’m wearing out.  I feel the way Bilbo Baggins described in The Fellowship of The Ring, “Thin, like butter scraped over too much bread.”  And as I’m sitting here saying all of this to myself, I realize that I need more of God…much, much more of God, cause what I have isn’t enough.  Or perhaps I have it all wrong, because He has already given all there is to give.  Maybe it’s that I need to give Him much, much more of me.  Yes, that seems right.  That would be the better way, the easier yoke, the lighter burden.

Lord, I need help.  I know I can do nothing in my own strength, but it seems that I have been trying.  Why is it so easy for me to forget that I don’t have to?  But I am weary, and once again I turn to you.  I am calling out to you for a strength exchange.  All I have are ashes and heaviness, but I know you can make them into something beautiful. I will gladly take your joy for my weakness.  Just lay Your hands on me Lord, and I will be brand new.