What If…

What if that choice is where He’s leading?

What if that fear is what He’s asking you to face?

What if that conversation is where He’ll be found?

What if your willingness will open the flood gates?

What if your honesty loses that person?

What if it inspires them?

What if that person can unlock the door?

What if that person will close it?

What if the friend you wanted so badly doesn’t feel the same?

What if opening up is where the healing is?

What if closing off is what’s necessary?

What if something you’ve always thought was true turns out not to be?

What if someone disapproves?

What if it’s family?

Will you still?

Jesus whispers “Peace, be still.”

He says He’s got you. He’s got this. He’s leading you.

He’s bigger than all of it.

Even if.

Watching Pandas…

I just returned from a trip to Washington D.C. I got some work in and lots of time and exploring with my husband. We got to visit some family in the area and enjoyed some slow starts to the day. These are even more precious considering his alarm goes off at 4:40 most mornings.

One of my highlights was getting to see pandas at the National Zoo there. I didn’t know D.C. had them! I didn’t know how close we’d get to be. I didn’t know I would get this thrill. They are my favorites..

There were three pandas in this exhibit and one was a baby. His name was Bei Bei to be exact. How precious is that? I could have watched them all day. Watched them eat, sleep (that’s what Bei Bei was doing), watched them just being them.

As we moved through the exhibit, we came across just that. A room full of cameras and behind glass so that we could see too. There was one lady researcher sitting at the desk surrounded by live videos of each panda. She could zoom in to get better angles of each of them no matter where they were. These pandas were being watched at all times.

They have no idea how much they are loved. They have no idea their every move, scratch, potty break, bite is being observed. One panda was completely passed out on top of a tree. Arms out, head down, asleep. And being watched. We’ve all been there too.

We don’t realize that we have a God who can zoom in on us at anytime and does. He loves, He sees, He watches, He cares. He can zoom in on that tear. He is watching. We have no idea how much we are loved, just like those pandas don’t.

One panda was begging to come back inside, probably hungry. Probably wondering why he had been abandoned. Why no one was answering. Why no one was letting him in. I’m sure the keeper had her reasons. I know he wasn’t forgotten because I could see the researcher watching him. But, I bet he didn’t. He didn’t know if anyone even knew he was out there.

A beautiful reminder that when we are feeling forgotten, hungry, passed out, or bumping into corners, we are still being watched. He loves us and we have no idea sometimes how much.

Rockabye

When I had babies in the house, by favorite time of the day was rocking them before bed. I’d hit rush hour traffic to get to them as soon as I could, make dinner during “witching hour”, and put them in the bath. As soon as that lotion and sweet baby smell took over, pacifier was popped in, and it was time to rock. Just baby and me.

This was when we could both get still and quiet. Sometimes, it took longer to settle down, but most of the time, once we hit that rocking recliner with jammies on, it was time for us both to chill.

I think about how this must also be God’s favorite times with us, when we rest in His arms and let Him rock us. He’s there for all of it. The hard times, the rushing, the washing, the crying, but in those precious moments when we let Him hold us, I imagine how happy it must make Him too.

As parents, holding our sweet smelling and contented babies, is when we can look past all the rushing and worries, and know it’s worth it. Sweetest times ever were holding my baby girls and feeling them relax into my arms. I miss it.

I know our Father in heaven must too.

We can do this anywhere. At our desk, in our beds, in our car. Let Him hold you. Let Him rock you. You are His precious child and that has never changed.

Building the New…

Are we focused on fixing the past? Or building the new?

Jesus has the power to make all things new….and one glorious day He literally and physically will. But, while we are still here, He helps us too.

He doesn’t erase the past, but He provides wisdom from it. He doesn’t change what hurt us, but He equips forgiveness for it and provides a testimony from it. He doesn’t remove the people, He teaches us new ways of relating to them.

In heaven, all our troubles will vanish. Until then, looking to Jesus in our hurts can lead to better decisions, courage, and change.

He doesn’t call us to live like our parents did, He doesn’t call us to live like our friends do. He doesn’t call us to cower to human beings. He calls us to follow Him. The King of the universe calls us to make Him the King of our hearts. And, when we do, we should expect change. Changes in ourselves and in our circumstances.

 Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there. Isaiah 43:19 (GNT)

He goes to work. Change is scary, but when we make Him the King of our hearts, we can also expect His help in these changes. He asks us to.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8 (NIV)

Sometimes, the new things He’s doing don’t seem good at first. They may even appear opposite. I’ve come across this many times. What I thought was a disaster, was Him making His way. So, I will trust You Lord. You are working. This is how You create change. In all things. We need to know He is still good and always good even and especially when things are not.

Last week, I apologized to my daughter for mistakes I’d made. Almost immediately, He lifted a burden. Today, no matter even her opinion of me, I’ve done what He called me to do. And, I thank God for that fresh start. May we trust His love enough to be human. To admit where we’ve messed up. To humble ourselves, receive His mercy, and show our kids how to do that. I believe God put that on my heart to better our future relationship. And, I thank Him for that.

Building the new is exciting. With Jesus in our hearts, we can expect help when the waves crash. He may not stop the storm, but He will show us how to maneuver and how to receive His peace and strength in it.

We can’t change our past, but we can learn from it. We can’t change people’s minds, but we can love them anyway and from a distance when necessary. We can’t force our way, but we can ask God for His and then follow step by gracious step.

What are you doing today to better yourself? Your relationships? Your health? Your finances? Your future? Your new? Let’s build.

I’m Done.

I’m done looking for love that was clearly never there to begin with.

I’m done explaining my choices.

I’m done trying to earn approval and hoping others like me.

I’m done pressuring myself to write or pressuring myself to stop.

I’m done expecting anyone other than God Himself to save me.

I’m done giving people God status. They are human, just like me.

I’m done letting my kids (or anyone else) tell me how to parent.

I’m done listening to the lies and accusations that I’m not a good one.

I’m done filtering my doneness. (That’s a real word, I looked it up).

I’m done trying to prove my love to people. Either they receive it or they don’t.

I’m done trying to do everything on my own.

I’m done looking for other things to make me happy.

I’m done. This is me, this is now.

Strength in a Spouse

One of the best things I’ve noticed since remarrying, is the strength I receive from him. He builds me up, supports my calling, kisses me every day, hugs me a lot, tells me I’m beautiful, holds my hand, sends me funny memes, prays over me, and texts me Bible verses when I’m anxious.

We have similar interests. We love to travel and can’t wait to be able to more.  We love to cook and try new places. Last night I hugged him and told him being married IS like a sleep over with your best friend, right? This is something I’ve never had. This is a happy happy thing. This is such a blessing, what marriage is intended to be.

He respects me and corrects me. Because of his tenderness, I receive it. He even encourages me to put myself first at times. He knows how hard that is for me. Just last night, he told me “Honey, sometimes it’s okay to think what about me?”

He is polar opposite of what I’ve experienced and his character is exactly what I prayed for. Kind, patient, strong, and supportive. I thank God for the growth I needed and went through to desire this. A true partner and friend to do life with.

He thinks I’m amazing and reminds me most every day. He helps inside and out. He admits when he doesn’t know something and his favorite place to be is with us.

He isn’t perfect, but doesn’t expect me to be either. His view of perfect is me being me. All of it. That’s his favorite version.

To feel stronger rather than weaker. To speak my mind more rather than less (he urges me to). To not fear disagreement because the love won’t change. To know that my smile is the most beautiful thing in his eyes and that my tears hurt his heart. To know I can ask for help or do nothing at all and his love is the same. To know he knows his own weaknesses and takes steps to protect himself knowing that protects us. To know he loves me that much.

This morning, I’m inspired to write this about him. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit. So, as you sleep honey, know I’m thanking God for you too. All of you.

Bracing for Impact

Teenagers.

We are coming in fast, and nothing can stop it. We have three teenagers in the house now. Well one is twelve, but will be in a few months and considers herself one.

We have a fifteen year old boy learning how to drive and twelve and thirteen year old girls in our newly blended family. It’s scary. I’m prayerful and it’s still scary. A new season.

We also have a mix of public and private schooling at our house. I’m blown away with what the public schoolers encounter at this age, and just as aware that the private schoolers will too, if they don’t already. It’s the world we live in.

Putting myself in their shoes has also got me thinking about how I was as a teenager…Not easy either. I couldn’t wait to go to college to get out of the house and have some “real freedom.”

I think about how much more trouble I would have gotten into if texting had been around then..

I remember my dad would pretty much only answer the phone if it rang after 9:00pm. And, that was to make sure boys and friends wouldn’t call the house after that time. If texting was an option, that wouldn’t have been an issue. I loved phone time. I remember talking for hours.

I remember getting caught on the phone in a lie. He happened to pick the phone up at the exact same time I did and heard stuff immediately that prevented him from hanging up. He caught me red handed. He asked me three times and I lied to his face three times. He already knew the truth, oh how that must have hurt his heart. The lying.

I’m going through this now. When our kid can look us straight in the face and lie, repeatedly, it kills us. And, we’ve probably all done it.

My dad’s punishment for that was swift and severe. He didn’t let me get my license when I turned sixteen and he sold the car I’d saved money up to buy the very next day. Severe. But, he knew me lying to his face was too. Righteous anger. And, I have some of that now too.

The video games drive me crazy, the constant secrecy of phones drives me crazy, the tablets annoy me, the staying up all hours drives me crazy, but I can’t help but think… “Would I be any different if I were raised in this age?”

My daughter has asked what I did all day when I was home for summer…I watched Price is Right, Let’s Make a Deal, and Young and the Restless with some movies thrown in. Same as them, except they watch YouTube and Netflix. I played Nintendo and they play graphic shooting games. The content is so much more risqué and/or violent than we had access too…Porn could be found, but not at the touch of a button. Google is wonderful, I use it almost every day. But, it’s made everything different. For better and for worse.

Summer downtime comes with summer boredom…Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. And, we’ve all fallen victim to them and to him. So, what’s a parent to do? Brace and embrace this season. Just like we did all the other ones…

So, as I write, by heart is racing and I’m bracing. But, still I will trust.

That our kids will lie and get caught and hide and also make us proud. That it will be hard, but that we will also have good times. That I will never know everything. That they will make good friends and not so good ones. That just because some friends or our own kids may lead to trouble now, doesn’t mean they always will.

Turns out the boy I got in trouble with is a preacher now. Every kid we encounter on our kids journeys are on their own too.

I will also trust that God’s grace will sustain us and that He will walk alongside us in this season too. May they come out of it knowing that no matter what get’s taken away (be it phones, games, tablets, or trips) that they are loved. And may we, as parents, model how much they have to gain when we lean on Jesus to get us through the hard stuff.

I don’t think it will be pretty, neither was having an infant. I don’t think it will be relaxing, neither was having a toddler. I don’t think it will be easy, neither is having a middle schooler. But, I believe it will be possible. Because, with Christ, He promises all things are. (Matthew 19:26)

And, I know seasons will change….because they always have.