Category Archives: Christian Living

My One Word 2014: Serve

As I mentioned in my last post, each year I prayerfully choose a word that I feel God is leading me to grow in. Through every trial and joy there are lessons to be learned and room to grow in Him, and this keeps me focused and looking for those opportunities instead of just passing through them without gaining any wisdom at all.

For 2014, my word is serve.

I like to start each year looking at the definition of my word and a few verses throughout the bible that pertain to it.
One definition of serve is perform duties or services for another person or an organization.

Today’s verses:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

…It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:24b

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;
Isaiah 1:19 (Willing and obedient, not just obedient…)

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Isaiah 29:13

Serving isn’t just about your actions, but also your heart. That’s the hard part for this mama. I can serve all day long, but if my heart isn’t in it, God knows, I know, and there’s a good chance those I’m serving know it too. Before I add any more to my serving to-do list, I have to make sure I’m doing what I already have on my plate with a happy heart.

Will you join me this year in praying for a word to learn and grow in this year? Or have you already chosen a word for 2014?

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, My One Word

2013: My word of the year – content (in review)

Each year since 2012, I have prayerfully chosen a word to grow through over the course of the year and learn about through our trials and blessings. This provides a way for me to be on the lookout for God’s wisdom and lessons in day to day life. It’s certainly not always easy or fun, but I guess wisdom doesn’t come cheap. 🙂

In 2013, it was content. I was nervous about it from the get-go. That doesn’t even sound like a fun word! But I was still on a high from the way 2012 ended (a new baby and a grand new adventure for our family!) to look too far into the future. Then reality hit.

Here’s a quick run through of some of our year before I get into what I learned about contentment.

– Jan. 2013
With three weeks notice, we moved 50 miles from the home I grew up in, crammed most our belongings into a storage unit and the rest, plus the 5 of us, 2 dogs, and a cat with newborn kittens, into a 950 sq. ft. house with literally zero yard, on a super busy street, in the middle of a new town.
My husband started a new job.

– Feb. -October 2013
Chaos.
We didn’t know many people.
I was starting to get depressed from the isolation.
Renters moved into our old house.
I turned 26 and had a fun date night with my husband and our 4 month old in Memphis.
We dedicated our baby girl to The Lord and found a church family.
Our renters moved out and we were back to paying rent and a mortgage and utilities on 2 homes.
Our new home started feeling like home.
Our oldest son played soccer for the first time.
We found out we would be having a 4th baby.
We moved back to Bono house that still hadn’t sold.
We signed a contract to sell our house in Bono a week or so later.

-November 2013
Chaos. Lots of chaos.
Two birthdays & Thanksgiving.
More time and money spent on our house.
We learned the house we had our hearts set on buying had been vandalized beyond what we had the time or money to repair.
I shed a lot of tears.
I threw a few fits.
We were told our house would close right around Christmas, so we packed up, put more stuff in storage, and moved again into the upstairs 2 bedrooms of my parents’ house.

– December 2013
More chaos.
An ice storm ruined our plans to have a weekend away for the first time in two years. (Oh the life of a lineman!)
A month long fight with our buyers’ bank to get a closing date, that still hasn’t ended.
Another birthday.
Our anniversary came and went without a chance to celebrate it.
We put in an offer on a house, but due to our issues from our buyers’ bank, we were a day or two too late.
I shed more tears.
Christmas.
Then the year ended.

In between all that stuff there were lots of other big stressors that popped up with sick family members, unexpected traveling, car repairs, our car was hit in our own front yard, my husband’s company went through a restructuring and laid off a lot of people, sick kids, and several other things that very well could have sent us all over the edge. We also spent nearly every single weekend and a ton of money working on updates and repairs at our old house. Did I mention chaos? Then, just like that, another year was gone. On New Years Day 2014, all I said was, “We survived.” It was not an easy year.
That’s not the truth though, at least not the whole truth. We did survive. We also grew. We loved. We somehow managed to make some fun memories along the way.
I learned a lot. I grew in contentment in ways I hadn’t really considered before, and I was thankful for the contentment I already knew in other areas.

Content – in a state of peaceful happiness
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Through my word content, last year I learned…

– through downsizing twice in one year, how to be content with far less stuff. I am honestly embarrassed by the sheer amount of material possessions my family had crammed into our 1200 square foot house.
– to be content in my home, with just the company of my children and husband most of the time. Before we moved, I was used to being constantly on the go and having the freedom to get out with friends for bible studies, late night coffee, etc. once or twice each week. After the first move, I rarely left the house alone. That was a big adjustment. Now I can’t wait to have my own home again, so I can enjoy that time even more.
– that I actually enjoy grocery shopping and cooking for my family all the time. So many complain about those tasks, but I am so thankful I have a husband at home each night now to feed!
– a content marriage is a blessing when facing lots of trials. Our year would have been so much worse if my husband and I had taken our stress out on one another instead of being in it all together.
– my husband expects far less of me than I expect of myself.

All year long, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness and love. I also learned that all those people that told me 3 kids were easier than 2 didn’t have 3 kids in less than 3 years. 🙂
Mostly, I learned being content isn’t just accepting your lot and going on. It’s having peace, happiness, and joy in everything you have and do.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, linelife

A few good books

It’s probably no secret, I love to read. I definitely didn’t do enough of it last year though. I think I finished 2, maybe 3, books? Maybe it was 4. I’m not really sure, but I know the last several weeks, I’ve been glued to a book most nights while I waited to win the war with my children over bedtime. I’ve shared a few quotes from some of them on Twitter and Instagram and had several ask what books they came from, so I decided to compile a short list of some of the most recent books I have read or am currently reading. One of the books I started a couple of years ago (and sadly still haven’t finished!) suggested moms could benefit from, as often as possible, choosing books that were both interesting, but also encouraging or educating. While I do enjoy reading fiction, I’ve found that over the last few years, my heart hasn’t been in it as much. So, without further explanation, here are a few reading recommendations for those looking to start out the new year with a new book.

Tender Mercy for a Mother’s Soul: Inspiration to Renew Your Spirit
book cover  By Angela Thomas
  This was given to me by a good friend, and I’ve read it in full twice and also read bits and pieces here and there just because I love it that much. Lots of helpful insight and encouragement all in one little book. I’m beginning to think the best books by moms for moms are the shorter ones. Those are the moms/authors that get it, and understand that I do not have time to read a lengthy book in a short amount of time anymore, and I will get annoyed and discouraged by that fact if I try.

 

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches
book cover for Loving the Little YearsBy Rachel Jankovic
Another book that was gifted to me that I am oh, so thankful for! As a mama of three tinys and one on the way, this one was very encouraging. It’s also another short book that packs the good stuff in without taking up lots of extra pages a mom of little kids doesn’t have time to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Decades of Fertility
By: Natalie Klewja, Carmon Friedrich, et al.
I came across this ebook through the blog of onebook cover of the authors and it immediately piqued my interest. I finally bought the Kindle version of it just a couple of weeks ago, and I am really enjoying it so far. Each of the authors does a good job of being very real about life and pregnancy as a mother of many and how God has blessed them and taught them amazing things through letting HIM have control over every aspect of their lives, even the very private part that our culture tells us to take control of.

 

Life Interrupted
By Priscilla Shirer
9781433670459_cvr_web-1  Another one that I am currently reading. This was also a gift from a friend. Really, my friend Heather magically finds way more reading time than I have and she has awesome taste in reading material. I adore this book for so many reasons. I’ve already gifted a copy to someone else, and I haven’t even finished it. This is a great book for anyone dealing with big or small “interruptions” in their life.

Leave a comment

Filed under book review, books, Christian Living, parenting, Reviews

“Is Daddy coming home?”

This year hasn’t been the easiest. We started the year off with the biggest blessing and answered prayer – to be together every day as a family. But with that has come lots of stress, changes, adjustments, and quite a bit of uncertainty along the way.

One of our biggest hurdles has been the stress and expense of two houses, and this week, when we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, things changed again. I’ve been frustrated, angry, and worried. Then this morning, my three year old asked the same question that he asks nearly every single day. “Daddy, are you coming home tonight?” And his daddy said, “Yes, Baby. I’ll be home tonight.”
That makes it all worth it.

I smile, but it breaks my heart. Most kids ask all day, “When is Daddy coming home?” My son asks me everyday, “Mama, is Daddy coming home today?” Even after a year of my husband being home nearly every night, my baby boy still carries that uncertainty. But each time he asks me that, I stop grumbling about the bills, the tiny house we’re all piled in with no yard, or not having a dishwasher and I remember my favorite verses, Psalm 30:11-12.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

Then I remember Deuteronomy 4:9…
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Ouch. I pray I never forget, and I pray I can impress upon my children how God has so greatly blessed our family over the last year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living, linelife, linework

Motherhood: Live a life worthy of it

Moms…

Was yesterday a bad day? It was for me. Really, bad isn’t the word. Terrible? Nope, still doesn’t fit. Anyway, you get the picture.

Don’t dwell on it. Pray. Repent.

Repent at my rebuke!  Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,  I will make known to you my teachings. (Proverbs 1:23)

Hug the sleepy little one that just shuffled down the hall to sit with you on the couch. Write a scripture or two on your hand, and pour a cup of coffee.

Look at your children and remember your calling. Motherhood.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)

Live your life today worthy of that calling.
Live a life worthy of the children God blessed you with.
Live a life worthy of the hugs and laughter.
Live a life worthy of the tears.
Live a life worthy of the hot baths (however rare they may be).
Live a life worthy of the messes.
Live a life worthy of the late nights.
Live a life worthy of seeing the sun rise.
Live a life worthy of the crying baby and ornery toddler than gave you both of those.
.
Live a life worthy of your calling.

Live a life worthy of being chef.
Live a life worthy of being housekeeper.
Live a life worthy of being laundress.
Live a life worthy of being taxi driver.
Live a life worthy of being personal assistant.
Live a life worthy of being teacher.
Live a life worthy of being wife.
Live a life worthy of being friend.
Live a life worthy of being missionary.
Live a life worthy of being mom.

Live a life worthy of your calling.


Don’t expect to do and be all those things perfectly. We are not perfect. Live a life worthy of those opportunities and blessings though.
God gave us all of these because He wanted us to have them. We didn’t earn them. We were blessed with them.

my boys sitting together

my baby girl at almost 9 months

 

 

(This is just as much, if not more,a post for myself as it is for you.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living, family, home, parenting

Rejoicing comes in the morning

Having three young children is a joy, but it is also difficult. Add to that them being very close in age, moving to a new town, downsizing your home (by about 250 sq. ft.), losing almost all your family help and babysitters to distance, and a husband working 50-80 hours each week, and you have a recipe for a very stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed mama. I almost became that mother. I let The Enemy tear me down. For months. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was very, very ugly. I had prayed for this opportunity for my family for years, but the answer God handed us didn’t look anything like the answer I thought we would get. This answer was hard, uncomfortable, and for a long time, lonely. And to be transparent, it still is those things some days.

But, late one night I was standing in the kitchen washing a huge pile of dishes for probably the 4th time that day, staring out the window at the plain little house behind ours with tears streaming down my face. I was wishing I was looking at a rice field with a single tree standing in the distance – my kitchen window view for the past 20 years. I remembered a book I had once read about a mother in a similar tiny home with lots of littles. Basically, she found herself crying over some chore at midnight and started singing praises to God, so I did the same.

running water in the kitchen sink

“Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name…”

I reminded myself, happy or sad, smooth sailing or difficult trials, God is still worthy of praise and obviously my whining and pity party wasn’t going to help anything. Even through my tears, I recognized my blessings and His worthiness.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

The next morning I felt better than I had in months. I suddenly realized Satan wasn’t winning anymore, but he had been. As long as he kept me feeling lonely and overwhelmed, he was silencing me. I wasn’t telling anyone about the awesome blessings God had given me in my children and how He had taken care of us and blessed our entire family. Rejoicing comes in the morning… when that bright light breaks through the horizon and highlights all those shadows you were staring at in the darkness. Then you see what was making those shadows. Miles separated my husband and I for years, but He made our marriage strong. Then he brought us back together on this new journey. He answered my prayers that our firstborn would have a wonderful bond with my husband, despite the time spent apart. My second son will never remember Daddy not being home all week, and for that I am grateful. Lincoln still asks if Daddy is coming home nearly every day, and it breaks my heart…but that’s a shadow of the amazing bond they share.

There will always be hard days. After all, being Mama to lots of littles isn’t for sissies. 🙂 However, now a few lines from the song Trading My Sorrows always comes to mind when I’m feeling frustrated at washing dishes for the 4th time in the same day, or my ears are ringing from the sound of the dryer echoing off the tile in the kitchen all day, and when I’m really just having a pity party because I don’t have a yard where I can send the rowdy boys out to play.

…I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord…

Singing to my Lord reminds me that every step of my day is a step in which I can worship Him, even if it is through scrubbing dishes or teaching my cooped up wild ones how to do jumping jacks to burn off some energy*. It’s not about me. It’s about me laying down my own discomforts and selfish desires and saying “Yes Lord, I’ll do this now for my family and meet their needs,” or “Yes Lord, I won’t complain. I will be thankful for this situation because I’m truly blessed to be seeing my husband every day.” I’m not alone. He’s by my side. He does care. That’s why I am here. I will look past those shadows to the blessings. And I will continue to tell the world of those blessings.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:11-12)

God answers our prayers, but not always how we want. They’re still answers though, and that is worth rejoicing over. Maybe even more so than when we get the answers we do want. Those surprises show that we serve an amazing God that sees all and knows all, and chooses to give us what we need instead of what we want, and certainly not what we deserve.

*Am I the only linewife that can’t type energy without accidentally typing Entergy first? :-p

TheBetterMom.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living, family, JOY, parenting

“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.”

 

“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.” – Psalm 66:16

 

He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done. -Proverbs 19:17

I love the way God speaks to me – so direct – because He knows that’s what it takes for me to be certain that it’s His voice and not my own mind making things up for my selfish desires. However, I still sometimes hear that little voice and stop to think too long before doing what I’m told. I begin to over-analyze, afraid to do the wrong thing. (Yes, when I put that in writing it sounds stupid to me too.) Sometimes it causes me to miss the opportunity. Don’t do that. When God puts it on your heart to do something, do it. This week I was reminded why I need to just listen to His voice and act, not question it.

A few weeks ago I read the above verse in Proverbs. I have read the entire book of Proverbs many times, but on that day, this was the verse that stood out to me. I was a bit confused, as I knew God was trying to get me to see something in it, but I had no idea what. I read it several times. Finally, when my kids came back in the room needing something, so I got up and went about my day.

Later that day, when scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post from a friend, that a neighbor was in need. God said, “Help them.”  I stumbled over the idea, But I would need to check with my husband… “Do it. You can talk to him before it’s finalized. He will not say no to helping someone else.” Ok, Lord. I feel a little crazy…

But of course, afterward I was so happy that God had given us that opportunity to help someone else. This week when I was given the opportunity to help that family again, I jumped in without a second thought.

Today while my kids were napping, I finally drug the bills off the fridge and called to check on the status of a couple of Sylvia’s hospital bills. We’ve been going back and forth with the hospital and insurance for six months. Apparently when the hospital first billed our insurance company, some of the paperwork was incomplete, so it had to be refiled. Then of course we moved, things got lost in the mail, and it’s just been a big mess. So, I called the hospital today to check one more time, to see if they had gotten another response from our insurance company.

I gave the woman on the other end of the phone our account number and waited for her to pull up our information.
“Ok, what can I help you with ma’am?”
“I was just wondering if our insurance has paid anything yet or if y’all had even heard back from them?”
“Yes ma’am, they paid everything. You have a zero balance.”

I just sat there for a minute, hoping I hadn’t misheard. I thanked her, twice, and hung up. I got down in the floor, next to my 6 month old baby girl, held her little hand and put my face in the carpet praising Him. You see, that wasn’t just a bill from an office visit or two. That was Sylvia-Kate’s week-long hospital stay, three days of which were spent in the NICU. Even after insurance paid, we were expecting four digits before the decimal point. In that second I heard His voice reminding me that I had been listened and been obedient….

I’m not sure why God chose to give us this blessing, but I’m so very thankful.
I’m also not sure why I’m sharing all of this, except that every time I read Psalm 30:11-12 and Psalm 66:16, I am convicted and reminded that I need to not just praise Him with my heart, but praise Him with my words, and, “tell you what he has done for me.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living

Hold on Sweet Baby

Note: This is Part 3 of the story. If you want to start at the beginning CLICK HERE.


 

Thursday arrived. I was officially 40 weeks pregnant, and my husband was somewhere on the coast of Maryland.  I went about my day as usual. I had a checkup with my midwife. The look on her face when I told her where Steven was is  something I’ll never forget. I’m certain she thought I’d lost my mind as I calmly explained I didn’t know if he’d be home anytime soon. I remember laughing as I showed her a picture one of his co-workers had posted on Facebook that morning.  Only we could have this kind of crazy stuff happen…

Friday arrived. Our baby was officially late. I kept hearing over and over, “Wow, I bet you’re ready to have that baby!” or “You’re OVERdue? I can’t imagine!” At 40+ weeks, it’s not really a big deal though. The baby had dropped, so I wasn’t terribly uncomfortable other than being tired. It was just a waiting game to me, and each minute that passed was a minute closer to Steven coming home, whether that was before or after baby arrived, I didn’t know. I really wasn’t sure if I wanted our little one to wait it out or just hurry up and be born so we didn’t have to worry about it anymore.

 

Saturday arrived.
With a jolt.
At 4 a.m.
And a trip to the OB floor of the hospital.
Much to my relief, the on call doctor assured me everything was fine, but my body was definitely showing early signs of labor. God was giving us an unexpected notice…and hopefully time to get daddy home. Oh praise Him! As soon as we left the hospital, I started calling Steven. Another bump in the road. He was now somewhere in the mountains of West Virgina, wading through snow, waist deep in some areas, with zero phone signal. The same was true for all his co-workers too. It would be 6 or 7 before they got back to a phone signal. A little after noon (after 1 pm there), he just happened to be walking out a line (in search of the two guys that had been sent to do it earlier that morning) and found a random spot higher up with a small signal and took the opportunity to call me. If those two guys hadn’t had trouble, he wouldn’t have been looking for them, and he probably wouldn’t have called until that evening. Once again, there was God. Always there with a bigger plan than what we could immediately see. I told him what was going on, still not sure if he would have any way of getting home. His company was short on trucks in the area, so I knew he couldn’t just drive one home. He didn’t hesitate, “I’m coming home. Let me work on it and call you back.” That was the longest afternoon and evening ever. He was in rural West Virgina. Everything there was closed on Saturday. No one was answering the phones at the small airport an hour away from him. The one car rental business in the nearest town closed at noon, an hour before I had talked to him. I was praying fervently and very anxious. Finally, at almost 10 pm, he was able to reserve a rental car online. It was 2 hours away from him. It was 12 hours from home, and he couldn’t pick up the car until 10 am the next morning. I could hardly sleep that night. I laid awake for hours praying.

 

Hold on sweet baby. Daddy’s on his way.

 

39 weeks

This was the last belly picture taken. I believe it was taken the Friday before he left. 

PART FOUR…

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Living, linelife, pregnancy, Uncategorized

“Being patient is waiting happy.”

I have always considered myself to be a rather patient person. Slow traffic doesn’t bother me; i don’t get upset about waiting in line at the grocery store; it doesn’t bother me to be stuck behind a tractor on the highway. Waiting is something we all have to do, so why get upset about it? My 2 year-old on the other hand, doesn’t yet understand this concept, and it can make me a little crazy. When he wants a cup of juice, he wants me to drop what I’m doing (even if it’s making him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) and get the juice. He stands next to the sink in the kitchen, asking me 20 times in 30 seconds for apple juice.  He only stops when he sees me getting a cup out of the cabinet and pulling the juice from the refrigerator. No matter how many times I say, “I’m working on it,” or “Yes, just give Mommy a second,” he doesn’t believe me until he sees me doing it.

Last Sunday the pastor of our church gave a sermon on Genesis 16 and 17. God made a promise to Abram, but after waiting a while, he decided he better work on it himself. From that came the birth of Ishmael. In Genesis 17 God reassured Abram that he had not forgotten his promise, but God didn’t need Abram’s assistance in fulfilling it. The covenant would be fulfilled through Isaac, the son of God’s plan, not Ishmael, the son of Abram’s plan. Until God laid it out in front of him, step by step, he didn’t believe him.

Much like my 2 year-old.

And myself.

You see, I may be patient with everyday inconveniences, but the big stuff? Well, I’m realizing lately that’s a different story. On and off, for years now, I have prayed a similar prayer over and over, and over. I cringe to think that over the last 2 years I have sounded like my own 2 year-old to God. It makes me so very thankful for 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient…” I’m glad He can (and does) overlook my whining! He understands that while I hear Him saying, “I’ve got this. I said yes, now let me work on it,” just like Abram, and my son, I have a hard time believing it until I see the details laid out before me.

Now I have changed my prayer. There is no need for me to continue asking God for something He has promised me. Instead, I will thank God for His promise. I will pray that the details will all be worked out and that I will have the patience, wisdom, strength, and words to help my family deal with the waiting also.

This morning I decided to start Beth Moore’s Esther study again. I have done this study once before, but it has been on my mind for a week now, so I figured I better listen and go get it off the shelf. Sure enough, there in black and white, on page 14,”When we trust our lives to the hand and pen of an unseen but ever-present God, He will write our lives into His story and every last one of them will turn out to be a great read. With a grand ending. And not just in spite of those catastrophes. Often because of them.”

Patience isn’t just a matter of waiting. It’s remember God’s promises to us and waiting for His answer. His plans and timing are perfect, even if we can’t see all the details. Trust in Him. A good friend recently told me that she explains patience to her 3 year old daughter by saying, “Being patient is waiting happy.” I think that’s a good definition for a 3 year-old and a 25 year-old.

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

PS – As I was typing this my son finished his cup of milk and asked for a cup of juice. Twice. And took his diaper off. Twice. This is a lesson on patience in parenting too. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living