Faith in the Can

“Dear God. PLEASE let her sleep until I get the laundry folded and put away!”

It’s ok. I know you say prayers like this too- desperate prayers, maybe somewhat pathetic, first-world-problem prayers. That’s why I feel comfortable sharing, knowing that you won’t judge.

My little one had not slept great for her nap the day before, so I had a particularly severe case of naptime paralysis today. There were so many things I needed to catch up on that I ignored them all and showered instead.

Miraculously, she slept through me taking my shower. When I got out, I faced the loads and loads of laundry that needed to be put away (literally, right in front of me as I got out of the shower; there was no more ignoring it.). As I started to fold the shirts, the socks, the pants, I breathed my prayer of desperation. Little did I know the brief, but impactful journey my faith was about to go on while I folded, matched, folded.

My work was frenzied and anxious, because I desperately wanted to get this done before she woke up. And I heard God whisper,

“Why don’t you trust Me?”

Ouch!

“What do You mean, God? Of course I trust You. I know that you can help her to stay asleep until I get this done.”

“Yes, I know that you believe that I CAN, but do you believe that I WILL?”

I don’t know if you struggle with this or not, but I have no problem intellectually believing that God can do anything. Even with that faith, I found that I was struggling to trust that He will do things that I pray– not as a cosmic genie, but as a loving Father who loves (longs!) to hear me ask for help. I have faith in the “can”, but not in the “will.”

See, I have been struggling lately (truth: for a long, long time) with anxiety. Recently, I learned about the concept of breath-prayers. Short verses or truths that you repeat as a prayer to God to change your self-talk, to change your belief, to pray without ceasing (when breathing reminds you to pray- you pray a lot more often!). I have been breath-praying, “I cast all my anxiety on You, because You care for me.” And I think, during laundry He wanted to begin to teach me how to really believe that. He brought this verse to mind, Matthew 7:11.

Matthew 7:7,11 New International Version

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

God wanted my mommy heart to hear that in the same way that giving my little one just what she needs brings me great joy, He desires to help us in our struggles. He desires to hold us through our fears, to calm us in our anxiety. And I think He wanted you to hear this today too, because she is just waking up…

He lovingly pulls us not only

to have faith in His power that He can help us

but also

have faith in His love that He will.

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Things Ending in -ies

If my life were a jeopardy category right now, it would be “Things Ending in -ies.”

Does anyone even watch that show any more? Didn’t a robot win it or something? Or was that Ken Jennings?

Anyway back to my category… I’ll have Things Ending in -ies for $2000, Alex!

My life consists of blankies, milkies, foodies, walkies, splashies, and all other sorts of other “cute-ified” words. With two dogs and a baby, it’s hard to find time for “adult thoughts.”  I have been consistently reading, even if it takes months to get through a book. I was reminded recently through another woman’s blog (What My Mother Taught Me) that even within this adorable, mind-numbing season of life, it is SO important not to lose sight of myself.

Even more importantly, not to lose sight of the “self” that God created me to be and to work with my family, friends, and church to find ways to keep those pieces of me alive through these baby years. I have been ruminating on these thoughts quite a bit and landed on three questions that I pose as safeguards against losing myself completely in the land of -ies.

1. Have I been in the Word and prayer today?
2. Did I hear God asking me to do something today– something to encourage someone else, to lead a younger believer, to communicate truth, to change myself, to grow beyond my comfort zone- and did I do it?
3. What do I believe God is teaching me right now in this season to prepare me to serve Him in the next season?

It’s hard to keep up with all you folks who aren’t swimming in -ies, harder than I ever imagined it would be! (Of course, one of the beautiful lessons that I’m already learning is that there is no need to keep up. I am in this season now and it is perfectly where I am supposed to be (so freeing!).) Nevertheless, I desire to remain connected and grow spiritually, intellectually, physically, and emotionally at the pace that this season allows. I am thankful for the technology and time that we live in which allows for this to be an option.

Moms, how do you stay connected and growing through the little years? Not Moms, how do you think you can help moms from drowning in the -ies?

Seasons for Growth

Seasons for Growth

I lost my voice

If you’re anything like I was in the 90’s you practically (if not actually) memorized all of the lines in The Little Mermaid. Ariel makes a bargain with the sea-witch to trade her voice for a set of legs rather than her mermaid fins in order to get closer to her prince. Well, I’ve been feeling a bit like Ariel lately. Not because I made a bargain with a witch, but because I feel like my voice has been missing.

Traditionally, I have felt “most qualified” to write when I’ve recently been through something, when I’ve learned a life lesson or have been experiencing a trial or difficulty. The last month and a half have been pretty calm. We have been primarily ‘grinding’ out the time, as our family has been counting down the days to the end of my husband’s school semester. It has been a time of provision and blessing rather than need and testing.

It’s in those times, that I find it the most challenging to write because I feel like I don’t have anything to share.

God has been calling me out on this reality during this month, November, a month of thankfulness.

My theme verse for last year (2012) was Psalm 40:3 “He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.”

God has been showing me that it’s in THESE times, times of rest and provision, that I have the best opportunity to praise Him for all of His benefits and that THIS can be a great opportunity to show others why I follow Him. The danger during those times of provision and blessing for me, at least, is that I find sufficiency in myself. I think that I did something to find myself here- that my power and my strength has provided for my family. God warned Israel about forgetting Him during times of plenty-

Deuteronomy 6:10-1210 “So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— 12 then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

I think that is why I had nothing to tell, but by God’s grace and his patience, He has given me a new song-

Praise to our God!

Seasons

It took 30 years, but she’s finally done it.

Minnesota brainwashed me.

This shoulda-been-born-in-California-Summer-Loving-Flip-Flop-Wearing Minnesota girl is…

E.X.C.I.T.E.D. for winter.

Never. Ever. in my life did I ever think that I would say that, but I’m thinking fall seasonal allergies may have something to do with it ;).

This past month at a team bbq for one of Adam’s classes, I mentioned that I LOVE Minnesota and couldn’t imagine making anywhere else home, at least not long term. This was in the presence of a transplant from Georgia, one from Panama, and others born and raised in Minnesota. Nearly ALL of them looked at me with that crazy look, you know, the one of “what kind of stuff have you been smoking?” But I stood by my claim, giving the best rationale I could muster under pressure- “I can’t imagine living anywhere that didn’t have all four seasons” I said with a smile.

There is just something about the nearly constant change and the cyclical nature of that change that is so healthy for us. My dad always says, “If you don’t ilke the weather in Minnesota, wait a minute.”

Seasons

The cycle of the seasons is like our lives. There are seasons of new growth and regeneration, rejoicing rest and time on the beach, times of loss and comfort food, and times spent in a deep freeze of struggle, wondering if the sun will ever be warm again.

If you don’t live in Minnesota, you might not know what 30 degrees below zero feels like physically, but I bet your soul does. The times when it hurts to smile, when you wonder if you’ll ever be able to take a deep breath, and your snot freezes… ok, that last one might be stretching a bit. Change challenges us and reminds us of our strength. There are good reasons that people refer to us as “hearty Minnesotans.”

But it’s not all Seasonal Affective Disorder and frozen nostrils up here, there are good things too- like the fact that enjoying a Mint Condition from Caribou Coffee when it’s cold out is exponentially better than when it’s just nice out. Warm, fuzzy scarves are a GREAT way to look like you accessorize :). And summer?! Well, you appreciate summer a WHOLE lot more when you’ve come through a long winter.

Just like the seasons outside our windows, the seasons inside our hearts have so much to offer. Seasons teach us patience and how to find hope. Seasons teach us hard work (think: MARRIAGE, raising kids!, building a career…). Seasons teach us how to relax and celebrate. And seasons teach us how to dust off the running shoes and start over.

Life is a continual cycle of seasons- growth and change.

Our challenge is to find the latte that comforts us and the growth that makes us stronger in every season.

How about you? How do you find comfort in winter and rejoice in summer?

Just Grown-up Kids: Truths from the Global Leadership Summit 2013

If I could rewind the last 48 hours and invite each of you to come to the 2013 Global Leadership Summit, I would. This is Adam and I’s third year attending the Summit, and every year we leave with renewed focus and with our leadership fires lit for the coming year.

The last two years, I took so many notes in our Summit notebook that I treasured the books as gold at the end of the two days- pages full of insights that I could refer back to throughout the coming year. BUT this year with a four-month old in tow, my notes are a little sparse (to say the least). In spite of that I’d like to share with you a few themes that I heard during the Summit that have especially tugged at my heart- things that I believe God put me there to hear.

Grown-ups are really just big kids.

This thought was a passing comment that Patrick Lencioni jokingly said while discussing his book, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers, which digs into the reasons why people hate their jobs, underperform or leave. Lencioni was referring to our need as humans to belong. to be heard. to be seen. to be known. We “grow up” and pretend that we don’t need anyone else. That we can make it on our own. But reality is that everyone needs to be seen and known. If you are in or have been in a workplace (or church) where this was not the case, you know that it can make you miserable.  This became the theme of my Summit experience preparing me for the other lessons that I needed to hear.

What kills love kills organizations.

Dr. Brene Brown authentically delivered a challenge to leaders to break down their walls of pride. Dr. Brown reiterated the need for people on my team, for the (little and big!) people in my home to be seen and known- to be loved. Her research found that what kills love kills organizations:

  • Shame
  • Blame
  • Lack of Respect
  • Betrayal
  • Withholding

Two of my favorite quotes from Dr. Brown- “We are so desperate to belong that we will form groups of intimacy based solely around people (or things) that we hate.” And “You can have courage or you can have comfort, but you cannot have both. They are mutually exclusive.”

Time spent alone is wasted time that you could be investing in the next generation.

This shot to my heart like a bullet. Pastor Oscar Muriu challenged me to get off the couch, get out of my comfort zone and get in the leadership game. No excuses, even being the mommy of little kiddos. My kiddos are the most obvious future leaders that God has entrusted to my stewardship, but they are not the only ones. I am fortunate to be working with an awesome group of young women at my church through the youth group program, but I can do more with them! Look around you- where can you dive in to start now to encourage leadership in the next generation?

I wish I could connect all of the dots for you and deliver a neat and compact summary of the Summit, but trust me, it just isn’t possible. The best I can do is encourage you to attend next year (it is hosted at 230+ sites around the world- there’s probably one near you!) and check out their website and social media feeds for more in-depth followup.

Tongue Sit-ups

Didn’t your mama ever tell ya?

To think before you speak.

Mine did, and I’ve been thinking recently just how much I still need to learn how to put that advice into practice. Sometimes, I find myself saying the dumbest things! The first time I heard the phrase “word vomit” I knew I had found the exact words I needed to describe what comes out of my mouth more often that I care to admit. We giggle when we think of the “darndest things” that kids say, but isn’t it true that sometimes we say things that are “darndest” too?

I was at the park yesterday with a few of my good friends. One of my friends kiddos was off playing at the park when another little girl used some rather unkind words toward her. My friend informed this little girl that her words were not kind and in fact she was being rude! Don’tcha just wish you could grab their chubby little cheeks and say, “Didn’t your mama ever tell ya?!”

As moms, it is SO important to teach our children the power of our words.

The words that we say are the most direct and forthright method of conveying our thoughts and feelings. My words can build up or tear down another human being. That is a lot of responsibility and immense power!

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Proverbs 18:21

The consequences can be positive or negative. I wish we could just do tongue sit-ups to reign in our loose tongues and make sure we are constantly delivering life through our words. Don’t you?

A good place to start reigning in our tongues is to think before you speak. My fifth grade teacher, Ms. Wohlenhaus taught us to ask three things before we opened our pieholes. I deliver them here to you.

Is it TRUE?

Is it KIND?

Is it NECESSARY?

Let’s try to bring life through our words this week and teach our kiddos to do the same.

Peer Management: Stop the Mommy Wars

Becoming a mom automatically entered me into the largest sorority of sisters on the planet. I have never had more interaction at Target or the grocery store in my life, especially from adorable older women. And I love it. Liliana loves it. There is nothing sweeter than hearing compliments directed at your sweet baby.

Unfortunately there is also a dark side of the sorority that comes with the not-so-secret sisterhood!

Mommy wars.

Now, this isn’t really exclusive to moms and definitely occurs in the workplace as well. We all have the opportunity each day to build one another up or tear each other down. I propose, however, especially as moms- we need to lay down our weapons of people destruction and replace them with life-giving actions instead. Here are just a few of the biggies:

Replace JUDGEMENT with ENCOURAGEMENT

Judgement often sounds like “I can’t believe she…” or “I would never…”

Instead try to think and use words like “How is your day going?” or “I really like the way you talk to your kiddo. I hope I can communicate that well.”

Choose positivity over negativity.

Replace COMPARISON with REALITY

We all do it. We all shouldn’t. Especially as women, we tend to rank ourselves on the social totem-pole based on exterior things- the way we lose the baby weight or don’t. The way we keep our house or don’t. The way our kids behave or don’t. The way we fill-in-the-blank or don’t. We get discouraged when we think someone else is more “super mom” than we are and we get an ego boost when we can say, “Well at least I am better this way or that.”

Comparison is defeating and deadly to self-confidence, both yours and the mom you’re comparing to. So stop! For heaven’s sake, stop. Compare yourself to yourself yesterday. Become a better you each day and don’t worry about other moms. This is even more difficult in today’s digital world because we get to choose what to share on our public profiles, leaving everyone else to believe that our lives must be perfect.

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Quote Source: http://thejoshuacollective.com/2011/08/16/behind-the-scenes/

No one’s life is as perfect as it may look from the outside. Realize that everyone struggles and everyone has outtakes. Be kind to yourself and gentle with others who may look like everything is perfect, but may be secretly struggling with something. Looking past someone’s perceived perfection may also open your eyes to another opportunity to be an encouragement.

Replace GOSSIP with REPUTATION-BUILDING

Nothing kills friendships or relationships more quickly than talking behind someone’s back. If you talk to friend A about friend B, the. first. thought. that friend B is having is, “Wow, what do they say when I’m not around?” It is never a good idea to gossip.

Gossip sounds like, “Did you hear what [negative thing] she did?” or sometimes, “Wow, we really need to pray for friend B.”  Be careful what you share with others when you have been confided in.

Replace these with,”Did you hear what [positive thing] she did?” or “She is so great at party planning [or other positive attributes].”  People tend to rise to the occasion when they hear they have a positive reputation for something.

For example, I laugh awfully loudly. I realized this when I was younger, but did not realize until I was older that people really appreciate my laugh. When I realized that my laugh encouraged others to relax and laugh, I released the full potential of my laughter and never apologized for it again.

Or in the workplace, speaking positively of a colleague’s work in front of them will boost their confidence and their motivation to continue to work hard to maintain their positive reputation.

In the end, the mommy wars is something I don’t want to tolerate. We can do better, moms!

Take a challenge with me- tell one other mom today something that you noticed that they do great! It only takes a moment, but can bring life to someone else’s day. Happy Friday!