Unexpected Ease

We planned it months ago….Time got closer and closer. He got more and more excited, and I got more and more concerned. About the kids. About the money. About the feeding everyone. About the long road trip. What would happen? I feared the whining would make my ears bleed, or worse, his. When he asked me what I was most concerned about, it was that. The twelve hour road trip, just the six of us. For the first time…ever.

When I asked him what he was the most excited about, he had the same answer. The road trip!?!? He yearned for and was excited about the time together. Completely foreign concept. Even to me…

When we arrived at the condo, I watched him pull $1000 cash out of his wallet and lay it on the counter to pay the landlord. This was money I knew was hard to come by and that he needed. This was money he had set aside. This was money that could have easily been used elsewhere, but his priority was us and the memories we would make there. And, even though he paid for the place, he gave me the room with the queen size bed and separate bathroom. Meanwhile, he slept on the pull out couch in the living room and shared a bathroom with the kids.

With his aching back and all, I woke up to his warm smile, hugs, and coffee every morning. He was THANKFUL we were together and it showed. Different rooms, different beds, all the kids. But, together as much as possible in this season.

He showed love by playing games, cards, laughing, putting us all at ease. One of my daughters is super affectionate, the other one not so much. So, when I saw her take his hand walking through town, my heart melted. She must know. She must know he loves her back….

We enjoyed the clear water and white sands of Destin. It was my first time to see it. We enjoyed a condo by the beach, amazing food, quality time with our kids, and LOTS of laughs. All this considered, my favorite part was the unexpected ease. The kind of ease that makes me WANT him on every family vacation from now on…The kind, quite frankly, I’m not used to.

Traveling is one thing. Traveling with ease, laughter, joy, and love is quite another. Thank You, Lord!

 

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Sweet Smell of Rain

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My oldest daughter just started taking Bible studies at school with a few of her classmates. On our way  to school one rainy morning, we were discussing what she was learning and why. She shared a few verses and we talked about why it’s so important to know the Word of God. This led to a conversation about how God and the devil both speak to us and how it takes scriptural knowledge to be able to tell the difference. If we don’t know and cherish God’s Word in our hearts, we will very likely listen and live by the lies satan persistently and repetitively speaks to us. We need to know God’s truth to distinguish His voice.

As we were discussing this, my youngest daughter pipes in with “Mommy, Jesus is like the rain on our windshield and satan is like the wipers trying to wipe it away.” Brilliant! She’s four years old and gets it clear as a bell. I was so blessed by her words. She recognizes that Satan’s big plan is to wipe Jesus and His love for us off the map of our minds and hearts. Truly out of the mouths of babes. Oh, to have the faith and understanding of a loving, receptive, trusting child.

Satan can “wipe” as much as he wants, as fast as he wants, but he can’t stop the Rain. He wipes by telling us we’re not loved enough or good enough. He wipes with condemnation and guilt. He wipes by convincing us that what we did was unforgiveable or that we’ll never get it right, so what’s the use in trying? He wipes by distracting and enticing us to look elsewhere for comfort and popularity. He wipes by validating our revenge on those who have hurt us. He wipes by getting us to compare and compete with each causing jealousy and mayhem. He wipes.

Jesus rains. He rains down love and speaks to us through His Word. His Word is always there like a beacon in the fog. Look, listen, and feel. If we don’t read and learn, we won’t know who we’re hearing. In my personal experience, the devil speaks louder, so it’s taken a lot of prayer and seeking to hear God’s voice. So, I pray to hear Him. I read to hear Him. I strain to hear Him. He’s all I want to hear.

Leaning on Jesus for our past, present, future is the only way to get it “right”. Only through Him and by Him can we get “right” with our Father in Heaven. As much chaos and pain as Satan causes in our lives by trying to “wipe” Him away, Jesus’s love overcomes. He loves us and the devil hates it, therefore he wipes…..incessantly. It’s all he can do.

So, let him “wipe”. Let him discourage. Let him confuse and berate. Jesus brings clarity, love, peace, victory.

Let’s consider the blessing that rain is to us and how badly we need it when our ground is parched. Let’s consider the oceans and lakes we enjoy the sites and experiences of so much. Let’s consider the sweet smell of rain on a hot summer day. Let’s consider the powerlessness we feel when our plans are rained out or made better because of it. Rain comes when the rains come. There’s nothing we can say or do to predict when it will come or how long it will stay. No amount of disappointment will change the rain. Let us also consider a childlike faith and innocence when it rains and dance in it like children do. Thank you, Lord, for the rain. You do truly reign.

I say: “You keep wiping Satan, all that will accomplish is very tired arms on your part, because you can’t stop the Rain (Love of Jesus for me).”

Because….

 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

 

Hashing Out the Holidays

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After living through it as a child and as an adult, I have no doubt why God hates divorce. And, it becomes all the more evident over the holidays when sentimentality and family time is planned around, planned for, and deemed most precious. That being said, I also know God hates abuse and infidelity. God hates selfishness and pride. And, because of these traits, divorce is imminent in this fallen world.

Hashing out the holidays with my ex is always painful. Who wants to share kids on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning? No one!

Being a child of divorce, I’m well aware of the scheduling that goes into seeing everyone. We have multiple homes to visit and presents to open, along with mass quantities of food to consume. All blessings! I’m the type who wants to be everywhere with everyone I love….all the time. But, the schedule can get tight at times. And, we still want to make time for the personal Christmas with our spouse and kids. That’s hard enough married, but throw my own divorce in the mix and I just can’t do it. Well I can, but not with my kids. It’s painful and, no doubt, the hardest time of the year for most divorced parents. We want to celebrate the season, but without our children, there is a fog that’s hard to lift. There is definitely something (someone) missing.

Thank God for family to celebrate with. Thank God for children to buy for. Thank God for a family who understands my situation. Thank God for places to be. Help me, Lord, with patience and the aching heart that comes along with absent children at each and every event where I crave their presence. So much more than their presents.

This year, I want to focus more on peace than fighting. I’d rather give too much than fight one more day. I’d rather know my kids are loved at both homes and give up time if necessary, than argue over going back and forth. I’d rather forego family traditions on my end than stubbornly fight to uphold them if all it causes is chaos and stress. I’ll make new ones. New ones full of peace, love, and sacrifice. And, I’ll also stand by the fact that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I will once again grieve the old and embrace the new. I will choose peace. Isn’t that why Jesus came as a baby anyway? Peace. I choose to lay it down and let it go…

If this post leaves you with anything, I hope it emphasizes the importance of presence over presents. When you are loved and not present, you are gravely missed. Once again, looking forward to the day we can all be together…..all the time. Happy, healthy, and whole.

 

Far From Perfect…

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I’m far from perfect, but I am forgiven and deeply loved.

Being a mom reminds me of this when my kids get in trouble. My oldest daughter got in trouble last week and is grounded this weekend because of it. Downside of having a grounded kid and being a single mom, other than the obvious disappointment in her behavior, is that all our plans were cancelled. This weekend we are all kind of grounded. Upside is that now all our closets are organized!

Her dad and I discussed her punishment with each other and with her. We are standing firm and united in dealing with this situation and taking it seriously. Which is good….and hard! Even though discipline doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to work on it and remain firm because her behavior made me very sad. The nurturing part of parenting comes a lot easier to me. Regardless, this needs to be addressed and followed through with. And we are…

When our kids get in trouble it reminds me of how much God loves us regardless of our behavior. He forgives us and loves us no matter what, but there are still consequences for our choices. Our God is a God of so much grace and love that He does discipline us. His discipline is why so many turn away, but it is because He loves us that He does so. A parent who disciplines their child, loves their child and wants them to learn from it. Discipline isn’t easy! Parenting isn’t easy! It’s hard on us all. But, worth it. Just like God’s discipline. He disciplines us because He loves us enough to. And wants to teach us through it.

My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)

Being a parent opens our eyes to many acts of love. Providing, comforting, teaching, nurturing, playing, laughing, listening, forgiving, reminding, transporting, helping, clothing, feeding, AND disciplining are all ways we show love to our children. As does God, only better. He is the perfect Parent. And, because He is perfect and I am far from it, I am forever thankful that He is helping me raise my girls. I need Him every day.

Just like my love hasn’t changed for my daughter because of what she did, His love never wavers for us. He loves us before, after, and during our mess ups. Our behavior doesn’t dictate God’s love for us. His love changes our behavior. When we KNOW He loves us, we don’t want to hurt Him. The more we know Him, the more we are aware of what hurts His heart. We don’t like to hurt those who love us and He loves us the most. This is what changes our behavior. His forgiveness. His grace. His love.

My Babies…

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Feeling overwhelmed with love for my girls tonight…My oldest is 9 and just started 4th grade. She is smart, strong willed, and so brave. My youngest is 4 and just started full time PreK. She is sensitive, thoughtful, and so thankful. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They are happy girls. Watching them walk into school in their uniforms and backpacks gets me every time. Kissing them goodnight gets me every time. Seeing their sleepy bedheads in the morning gets me every time.

My babies:

  • Bring me deep joy
  • Make me want to be a better person
  • Hold my heart
  • Have pushed me to Jesus
  • Drive me crazy
  • Love me like crazy
  • Need me
  • Pulled strength out of me like I’ve never had
  • Induced love like I’ve never known
  • Will always be my babies

It’s Your Choice…

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Our lives consist of choices…what do we want NOW vrs. what do we want MOST?

Whether it’s that third cupcake, a quick cure for loneliness, or a distraction from boredom, it’s usually a matter of flesh vrs. Spirit. At least, it is for me. Our bodies craves what our flesh wants and we want it now. It takes divine patience and discipline to choose what we want most over what we want now. Following our flesh feels good in moment, but how we feel after is the true test. Satisfaction may be felt in the short term, but if regret and sorrow follow our choices, they were made in the flesh. Choices made in the Spirit may be difficult to make in the moment, but lead to joy and peace afterwards.  The peace that passes all understanding.

Indulgence can be a wonderful thing at times, but not when it’s followed with a load of regret. We all know how that feels…and it usually makes whatever we indulged in not worth it.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it. Isaiah 30:21

It takes supernatural self control to deny our selfish desires and walk in God’s direction. Yet, He has promised to supply that strength. It’s our choice whether we seek His opinion, submit, and/or obey. These are OUR choices alone. God won’t force Himself or His ways on us. There’s no place I’d rather be personally than smack dab in the middle of God’s will. Choices made in light of eternity will always be worth it in the long term. Our long terms are eternal. Our lives here are merely a flash in the pan compared to where we are headed.

Our choices don’t only affect us. They affect our children, our friends, our families, and next generations. If our choices have that much impact, aren’t they worth some prayerful consideration?

Please, Lord, help me listen to Your voice and make choices accordingly. Help me make choices that fit snuggly in Your will. Choices that lead to peace and joy rather than regret and sorrow. Choices that inspire others to live for You. Choices that reflect a loving example to my daughters. Choices that portray my worth in You. Choices that prove I am thankful to be chosen.

Before the creation of the world, He chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in His presence. Because of His love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this so that the kindness he had given us in His dear Son would be praised and given glory. Ephesians 1:4-6

His choice was us.