On Our Son’s Sixth Birthday – What I Love About You!

Today our son Aiden turns SIX.

Somehow, six years have passed since we first saw his sweet face. Time is a strange thing – it seems like he has always been, yet it seems like I blinked because he was just born! And now I can hardly pick him up.

How. Did. That. Happen?

While I may not understand how time can fly and go slowly at the same time, I DO know this – we are SO proud of him.

We love him more than we can ever express.

And we are so grateful to be his parents.

I’ve spent the past few days savoring his birthday celebrations with friends and family. It has been so fun to watch him be the center of attention, and to see him laughing and enjoy being blessed by those who love him.

Today I want to celebrate his special day by expressing how grateful we are for who he is, and the way God made him.

Aiden, this post is just for you.

Love, Mom.

 

Six things I love about YOU & the way God made you

  • Cautiously Brave and Wise
    • I love to watch you make wise decisions. You have amazing, God-given discernment for a six year old! This is something you were created with. Since you were small, you have removed yourself when uncomfortable or afraid. You willingly step back from activities or situations you know you should not participate in, and you do it while still being kind to your friends or whoever you are around. You turn off TV shows that are not nice or are frightening without a second thought. ‘Be careful little eyes what you see’ is something you’ve always inherently known and acted on. While being naturally cautious, you bravely take calculated risks. You have regularly, bravely faced and accepted medical treatments that scare you because you understand you need them. And we have watched you excitedly try new things and boldly go new places while joyfully meeting and making new friends.
  • Puzzle-Loving, Problem-Solver
    • Not many six year olds I know get excited about doing a 1500 piece puzzle with their parents, especially when they know it will take a week or more to complete. It is fun to see how you approach problems and puzzles alike with determination and follow-through. You are great at following instructions and sticking with something until it is finished. You were building Lego sets unassisted so early, we were amazed at your ability to focus for long periods and to complete complex projects. It would not surprise me if you become an engineer some day. Certainly God has blessed you with attention to detail and a joy of taking on and completing challenges.
  • Lover of God’s Word
    • It was fun to help you fill in your ‘About Me’ book to bring back to school and share with your class today. My heart swelled with joy when you chose the Bible as your favorite book. And you know what? I believe it really is your favorite book. It amazes me how much you know about the Bible. We have read every night since you were a baby and you have absorbed so much from church and BSF. It is our privilege to read the Bible with you at night and to see how you apply what you learn from it to your life. You ask thoughtful questions that show you ponder what it says and take these things to heart. Some of the content in there has been concerning to your cautious mind, and yet you keep coming back to God’s word to learn more about who God is, and what the Bible has to say. I love how God is drawing you closer to Himself as we read.
  • Kind and Empathetic
    • At your school conference, your kindergarten teacher told us you are a good friend to others, and are always looking out for others. We nodded our heads proudly because we see this in you at home. You love others well and treat them with freely given kindness, compassion and respect. When you were three, we learned Ephesians 4:32 which states: Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. We see you living this out daily in the way you treat family and friends. It doesn’t mean you don’t have conflict with others – you do, just like the rest of us. What it does mean is that we see you being quick to forgive others and to move on after conflict has happened. You are also really good at stepping back to see the perspective of others in the situation, and are quick to say you are sorry. It also makes me so proud to hear your concern for others who are struggling and to see how you extend help to those you know you can help.
  • Big Brother
    • Being a big brother to two little sisters is a BIG job. And it is a job you did not get to choose. But you are a big brother and I am so proud of you in this role. You are so sweet and gentle with your baby sister Audra. She lights up when she sees you because she loves you as much as you love her. And it is no secret that Adelyn feels the same way. I love how you spend time with her, playing with her and hugging her when she is hurt or sad. You are thoughtful and considerate to include Adelyn in what you are doing and in playing with your friends. It makes me so proud when you encourage your little sister to follow rules or obey mom and dad, and to demonstrate how to do so with your own behavior. I love the excitement you have every morning about seeing both of them. Thank you for loving your sisters so much and for being the loving, protecting and kind big brother that you are.
  • Uniquely Aiden
    • There is no one on this earth who is just like you. YOU were knit together with care and love by the God who created the entire world and all the people and things in it. God made no mistakes and did nothing carelessly when He created you. I love who you are and who God made you to be. It is our prayer that you will see yourself as God sees you and that you will know HE loves you even more than we can, with His perfect love. We pray that you will continue to grow in faith and confidence in who God made you to be, that the most important identity you have is in Christ Jesus

Today, and every day, I am grateful for YOU.

oct-16

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The Wonder Of It All – All God’s Grace in One Tiny Face

 

The Wonder of It All - All God's Grace In One Tiny Face | thisgratefulmama.com

Do you ever find yourself wrapped up in the bustling holiday schedule, and even though you keep Christ as the center of the events, you find yourself missing the feeling of WONDER? You know, the magic, the feeling of joy and mystery, and gratitude that seems to come so easily to children.

And lets be clear: I am not talking about the wonder of Santa, although I do not think Santa is a bad thing. But lets set the Santa discussion aside for another day.

I spent last Christmas, focused on Jesus, and while I certainly felt grateful that He came to save the world (to save me), I am sad to say, I didn’t feel AWE.

Why?

Because we are busy. Because I’m often guilty of being so analytical in my thinking that I lose my imagination; I read the facts and commit them to memory, but I have trouble thinking on a deeper level.

And, the story is familiar. Of course, I want scripture to be familiar…but it is never a good thing to think it doesn’t hold truths we don’t already know, just because we have read it before. It is meant to be treasured, each time, and then to be questioned, wondered at, and pondered.

So I’ve been reading the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth, over and over, and have been trying to spend time really thinking about what is said, and what IS NOT SAID.

In the process, I have generated more questions than answers, and the questions have left me with a sense of wonder…that this story has truths that are not revealed, that I cannot understand within the limits of my human mind, and that cannot be explained by science, reasoning, or deduction. Like much in the Bible, there are details and truths in this story that God intentionally left out; mysteries left behind for us to marvel at.

So while I don’t know all the answers, I do know is that the Christmas story – the miracles, the gift of God’s son, and the great work of God that began with Jesus’ birth deserves not only to be read, but to be studied, reflected on, and to be AWED at…with wide eyes.

In order to experience the WONDER of Christmas, I have to take time to realize what there is to wonder about.

As I posted last week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about Mary, and what her experience would have been like if it happened to, gulp, ME.

But today, my thoughts are all about Jesus. Fully God. Fully man…

My thoughts were on Jesus when I saw this sign in Hobby Lobby while trying to find a craft for my son to make for his preschool teachers:

All Gods Grace in one Tiny Face sign from Hobby Lobby

I’d seen the sign before and had thought about how cute it would be in a new baby’s room. But never before had I made a connection to Jesus and how these words are more than fitting to describe His birth.

It is easy to think of Jesus as a cuddly baby and to celebrate His birthday. I’m sure He was cuddly. I’m sure he was as sweet as newborn babies are. Complete with ten tiny toes, ten tiny fingers, and baby soft skin and hair. I’m sure Mary and Joseph thought there was never a baby as cute as Him. There was certainly never a baby as miraculous as Him, but we know Jesus was ordinary. By looks, I’m sure he blended in with the crowd – it was His actions and character that set Him apart.

The meaning of Christmas is more than just the miracle of His conception by the Holy Spirit and birth to a virgin.

God did not have to send Jesus. And Jesus did not have to abide by the Father’s will. God does not have to love us. And furthermore, God could have kept his plan limited to His chosen people, Israel. He didn’t have to blow the doors off their hinges and open the way for the rest of us to come to know Him and be saved.

The truth is, He doesn’t have to do anything. Which means…He chooses to love, to redeem, to save. Perfectly.

I have no reason to offer God that can make Him want to include me, to save me, to love me. In reality, I should be unlovable by God – sinful, ungrateful, selfish…I could go on…In God’s holy presence, I deserve judgement and wrath. He is far too holy to tolerate even ONE of my many, many sins. I deserve Hell; we all do.

And yet, on that day, God became flesh – Emmanuel. God With Us. Why God would desire to be WITH us…I cannot answer. But when He came to earth as a baby, He not only dwelled here, but He paved the way for the Holy Spirit to dwell WITHIN us.

In us. A gift we don’t deserve. No words can express how priceless this gift is.

Jesus was fully God. Can you fathom what this means? Was He actively restraining His power at all times while on earth? Did He, as a tiny baby, have to allow Mary to take care of Him? He certainly had the power to meet His own needs. And yet, allowing others to raise Him, care for Him…Was that a part of how He humbled Himself to experience our life? Did He do it to show how only He could remain sinless as He experienced our physical and daily challenges and temptations?

I don’t think we’ll know these things on earth, but I can’t wait to ask Him in heaven.

When all will be revealed.

Our God is certainly powerful, but He also has the utmost self-control – The RESTRAINT required to live 30 years without showing His power…Oh my. It’s unfathomable.

He makes no mistakes. He committed no sins.

Not. A. One.

He MEANT to come, to carry out this amazing plan, to fulfill every single prophecy, to serve us and love us in this way. He was all-powerful, all-knowing, and able to do anything. But He lived a quiet life before His ministry began. His life’s sole focus was on fulfilling an eternal purpose. To save us. Us.

He chose no worldly glory – He didn’t come to reign as King and to rule over all, even though He is the ultimate King, of ALL Kings. Ruling here could have been His rightful place. But His plan was eternal. More perfect than we can understand; and a plan we could NEVER come up with. He aimed to save as many as possible. A plan to end ALL plans.

Certainly we cannot know the truth of all of these mysteries…but I believe HE KNEW all of this the whole time He was on earth. It doesn’t explicitly say in the Bible if as an infant Jesus was pondering these things, but since He was fully God, I believe He did.

I believe that when Jesus came as a baby, He knew how and when His life would end.

Can you imagine the self control, love, and faithfulness of living each day for 33 years, knowing the exact time and circumstances of your death? He knew He would be ridiculed, punished, beaten, spit on, and hated by those He loved and came to save. The sins of those who brutally crucified Him, He bore on the cross. He looked in their eyes, knew their names, and heard and felt their scorn.

Do you wonder how love could be so big? So deep? So motivating to God that He would do all this? Do you wonder how an all-powerful God could be so humble as to enter His own creation? To feel pain, physical exhaustion, and all of our frailty? And to be unrecognized, and to be rejected, all while not striking down those who certainly deserved it?

Only a God who IS love…

Jesus entered a world of sin. Full of sin. As THE Holy God. Every person who had ever lived before, and has lived since deserves His WRATH. Yet He held it back, even when surrounded by sinful men, women, and children.

Surely, the sin in the fallen world He entered repulsed Him. But despite His ultimate authority, He showed mercy. He demonstrated attributes that we struggle and fail to emulate…Unconditional love. Peace. Compassion. Comfort. Service. Sacrifice. Gentleness. Goodness. Kindness. Patience. Grace…

And oh, do we need His grace…But we don’t deserve it, and can’t earn it.

When I think of these things…when I WONDER about these things…

It gives a new perspective on Christmas. It brings depth, peace, joy and gratitude at a new level. Here I stand today, washed white as snow by the blood of Jesus, all because Jesus came as a baby…grew up…and died for me.

I find myself finishing this post, words blurred by tears of joy (If you know me, you know that tears do not flow freely for me very often – it holds significance here). They are welcome tears to someone who often sees the facts but often misses the heart of scripture.

I find my thoughts wrapped up in the mystery…in awe…in gratitude…at the wonder of it all.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 (ESV, emphasis added)

Merry Christmas.

The Wonder of It All - All God's Grace In One Tiny Face | thisgratefulmama.com

 

My Thoughts On Riots…More Heartbreak…More Damage

In wake of recent events, I think few of us have escaped the images on our screens and newspapers after the rioting broke out. No matter what your view of the Ferguson decision is, I think we can all agree that the rioting is heartbreaking. News stories like these grab the attention of even the most sheltered news consumer.

I have often been guilty of turning off the TV during times like these. To shut it out and pretend it isn’t happening. My life is easier that way. My soul, lighter. But this summer the news of persecution in Iraq threw me for a loop and I was challenged to approach difficult news differently. While I don’t write about emotionally charged topics like these often, sometimes I can’t sleep until I do. In fact, I’ve written and rewritten this post several times, searching for peace-of-mind over these events in the haven of writing. Here are my thoughts and reflections – I apologize in advance that they are a bit jumbled; this is hard to wrap my head around.

According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, “ri·ot (noun): is a situation in which a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way”

I guess if rioting had a purpose, it would be to attract attention. So, in that way, I guess the rioters in Ferguson achieved their purpose.

Attention.

However, I must say, the effectiveness of rioting goes no further. The kind of attention they have drawn does nothing for their ’cause’.

Now, I am a suburb-living, stay-at-home mom, living a generally sheltered life. So let me be CLEAR that I make ZERO claim to know whether this decision served justice or not. It is not mine to decide and I am so far removed that I would consider myself far too ignorant to pass judgement. Please don’t read into these words as me saying what was right or wrong about the incident that sparked these riots. What I am pondering here is the riot that ensued. What I know is that what has resulted from the decision is utter chaos.

And yes, rioters, we are ALL seeing this; WE SEE YOU.

But instead of making me want to understand what has transpired, and who has been hurt and why, I find myself shrinking back, and just SAD. This behavior isn’t going to change or fix anything. A riot is painful to watch; painful to ponder.

Damage being done to the physical property of residents of the community, BY other residents. And to what end? Neighbor against neighbor. Creating a greater rift between the people and those who swear to protect it. And which of those store owners who were looted were involved in the event that sparked this? On what planet did their store and livelihood deserve to be the punching bag for your unleashed anger?

Where healing is needed…an already deep wound is instead ripped open. Exposed. Infected.

Uncontrolled anger and hate is a tangled and sticky web, snatching up more as it spreads. Those whose lives were already at risk serving the people are at even greater risk of harm.  In danger, just because of their uniform as people stew in emotion.  A riot can begin from just ONE person, intent on violence. I wonder if those who began this riot were trying to express an opinion, or just to stir up trouble and cause chaos? I wonder if the decision had been different if the riot would have occurred anyway?

Whether the anger and hurt are justified or not, these actions are NOT.

I’m sure some who joined in the chaos did so because they got swept up in the moment and did what others were doing.  I’m guessing many ended up where they maybe didn’t intend to be. These hurt, frustrated, and at-the-end-of-their-rope people rioting in the streets, requiring force to be subdued to restore the peace. People finding themselves arrested. Jailed. Now a part of criminal acts against their own city. For many, a city they actually love.

Was it worth it?

As the national guard and police restore the calm…the peace is fleeting. A mask. Covering the swell of emotion, rising up, and uncontrolled. Deep rooted. Bubbling over. What has been accomplished here? Nothing. Just more damage.

The damage is much more than bruises, burned cars, and broken glass. The cost is higher than the insurance claims. Riots perpetuate despair. Afterwards, all eyes have seen the emotions, but little has been accomplished. Now those who have felt wronged are seen as wrong.  Their purpose of being seen has certainly been accomplished, but they’ve tarnished our empathy. The problem isn’t their emotions; they may have been justified in feeling hurt, angry, bitter. In fact, I have no doubt that the emotion they felt was powerful and painful and awful…it was the ACTIONS that were born out of those emotions that were not right.

Now they have taken what is already a deep-seated issue that needs miraculous healing and have made it worse. Adding to the pain. Adding to the fear. Adding to the damage. Collateral damage. There was no healing here. No pain was relieved. Instead, this historical, emotional pain leaves another physical scar.

And it breaks my heart.

Riots for this reason are not new. Perhaps you remember Cincinnati in 2001. It has happened before but we haven’t prevented more from happening. And as of now, I don’t see an easy way to prevent this from occurring again. This is not a post saying I know how to fix this. I don’t. The solution is not clear-cut. It will take WORK from all in our country, or history will repeat itself in a different city, as it has before.

So while I can’t fix this, I can do my part to step back and ponder if I can do my part to love others. If I can do my part to make sure my actions do not cause others to hurt, or to feel that lashing out is OK. On days like these, especially before a holiday when we’re supposed to gather together and express our gratefulness, we must consider how our actions affect others.

We must realize that justice is only rightly served by God. People are, well, human. Flawed. And our system is equally flawed. Regardless of the issue being decided, someone will always disagree. This is WHY we have courts to decide these things, or we’d have vigilantes deciding for us. The emotions will be strong any time a life has been lost and people have been hurt. Because we love and miss what is lost. I know the rioters are hurting. I have no words to soothe them.

When we lose what we love, why respond with hate? No matter how much it hurts, hating never brings a GOOD solution. It brings more darkness. More pain. More grief. We must THINK before we ACT. And see the long-term consequences of our actions. We must learn that emotions betray us and that they can lead us down a very dark, and destructive path. We must think about how our actions teach children, and how they will learn to either promote peace, or chaos by our actions. 

Chaos and hate are dangerous things. Adding to pain, fueling the fire where emotion has been smoldering, waiting for a chance to erupt.

There are some deep and very real issues at the root of this riot. As a society, we must acknowledge those issues and the hurt and pain associated with them. As a Christian, I know that we are the ones who need to lead the way. We are called to LOVE others by the one who CREATED love. And we are called to love with not just a ‘feeling’ but with action – With a sacrificial, laying-down-MY-rights-for-another kind of love. When so much hurt and hate has ruminated like this for so long…only love can overcome.

While I am saddened by these riots, I find myself angry. But I don’t see how my anger helps anything. I’ve written this post 4 or 5 times in the past couple days, and pretty much every word has been typed, deleted, and rewritten. As I mentioned at the beginning, it has been very difficult for me to write about this, to find words, any words, that adequately describe the mixed emotions I have been thinking and feeling. And now that it’s written, I am sure I could rewrite it again a few more times, but at some point, I need to move on. To think of happier things.

To move to action. But what action? Here are the best I can come up with for now:

First I need to set aside my own anger. While the riots do infuriate me, today I set aside my anger and say that I know I don’t understand where the rioters are coming from. Who am I to judge? I have no right to judge them. So while I do not condone the actions performed by the rioters, I also know that they are hurting. Not a surface level hurt, but a deep and profound, hurt. I won’t diminish it. They don’t know what else to do. I decide to love them and to pray for them. And I ashamedly admit that I was not ready to pray for them yesterday – I know that isn’t right. Lord, forgive me for my OWN anger. It only adds to the problem.

Today, I pray for softened hearts around the country. Hearts open for healing. Hearts willing to seek change and to lift others up when hurting, rather than lashing out and causing more harm. And I pray for the country to stand up and choose hope and love over hurt and hate.

And I pray for a mighty healing work to overcome the hate, so the next riot doesn’t happen. 

I’d love to live in a world without riots. Wouldn’t you?

What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match?

What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match? | thisgratefulmama.com

Standing in front of a mirror in June, getting ready, I found myself displeased with how my clothes fit. I sighed, wishing I had bought something new to wear for family photos.

The image I saw mirrored my own self image, not just my outward appearance:

  • A wife who still forgets her husband sees her as beautiful, despite his words and compliments
  • A tired mother, wishing she could have slept later than the baby who woke at 430 am
  • A mother of two whose body is different than it used to be
  • A woman who doesn’t spend time to get ready or to reflect on how she sees herself most days

On a normal day, I usually manage to put on mascara, face lotion containing sunscreen, and a little powder before a child needs something. On that particular morning in June, my husband was graciously taking care of the kids so I could spend a little more time getting ready.

But in this case, those added moments staring in the mirror weren’t doing me any favors. I was certainly NOT feeling pretty, no matter how many times I changed my clothes or makeup.

Instead, I was doing something very unproductive; sinking into the pit of self-loathing.  I was annoyed with myself and my lack of exercise, healthy eating, and the realization that my body is simply DIFFERENT than it used to be.

I’m sad to admit that this problem didn’t start that day – it was bigger. Let me tell you how I got to this point. This moment was several weeks in the making.

During the weeks before our trip, I searched my closet and several stores for the perfect outfit. I was supposed to wear something navy, white, and/or khaki. Sounds simple, right? I had 3 tops, and own 2 pairs of white pants and several pairs of khakis.

These clothes are all in ‘new’ condition, but were all purchased before our second child (some before our first). I like them, but frankly, I felt like they didn’t like me! They no longer FIT as they did when they were purchased – a common problem these days and the reason why I wear the same few outfits over and over despite having a full closet.

After finding new clothes in the store also didn’t fit as I desired, I decided it was a problem with me, and resorted to wearing Spanx under my pants. You know, to just make something I had ‘WORK’.

Yep.

So as I stared into the mirror in June, I was squeezed into spanx (which are NOT physically comfortable), in order to ‘FEEL’ comfortable in my BRAIN, in a navy shirt and khaki pants.

I thought this strategy would give me peace of mind so I could relax during photos.

Right.

Relax in Spanx. Ha.

I could hardly breathe. But at least I wasn’t having to focus so hard on sucking in my stomach?

That was my frame of mind as I coated my hair with hairspray to make it ‘stay down’ and put on more makeup than usual, in a weak attempt to cover my perceived tired eyes with mascara and concealer. As I applied mascara, my eyes caught words written at the top of the mirror in black marker.

“What do you see? What does God see? Do they match?”

I immediately felt the pang of conviction and mixed emotions. First, remorse that I had yet again forgotten this truth. And, at that same moment, I was overjoyed by the remembrance that God sees me as useful, beautiful, and of eternal value.

I can’t take credit for those words. You see, I was getting ready in my niece’s childhood bedroom. We were staying at her parent’s home as we gathered to celebrate her wedding day. She is an amazing woman, niece and friend. She wrote these WISE words long ago.

I stood there, pondering the words as my son and daughter tumbled into the room a few moments later as my husband tried to rally them for a bath and to get ready.

They both had wicked bed head and mismatched pajamas.

Beautifully imperfect.

Still struggling with mixed emotions, I saw the joyful sparkle in their eyes, high energy movements, and simplicity of my emotions as I watched them.

If I see my children as such beautiful, amazing, and earth shattering little people, how much MORE does the Lord see in me and in them?

He made us. Every detail. With loving care we can’t even imagine.

If you’ve given birth, you know that a tiny baby can only be made by a loving creator. They are too perfect. Tiny toes, fingers and noses. These children are EXACTLY as God made them, and their days and birth were all ordained beforehand by Him.

All these thoughts remained with me as I finished getting ready.

I put on a necklace and forgot to care what I looked like to the world and was just glad the necklace was a great distraction for my daughter to play with.

Because of truthful words on that mirror, I was just me. As I was that day; wife, mother, woman, and child of God.

We had fun taking pictures. There was much laughter, play and joy. My daughter had one outburst of tears, but that is expected from a 1-year-old. Everyone was relaxed and after taking some posed pictures, the entire family went down to the beach to wander and let the kids play.

Had I not seen those words, I am not sure I would have relaxed or stopped worrying about how I looked.

I would have missed out on having fun while preoccupied with my own perceived inadequacy.

Instead, I spent the day with a refreshed view of how God sees me, reinforced by how I see my own children.

Here’s one photo from the day that thankfully doesn’t look like I am slathered in makeup and fully doused in hairspray.

What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match? | thisgratefulmama.com

Not long after returning home, I came across this passage, and was reminded of that moment.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Matthew 6:25-34 (RSV, emphasis added)

The next time you struggle with your body, clothes, hair, or skin, remember to check if your self-image reflects that of your maker.  

What do you see?

What does God see?

Do they match? 

When we know our true identity is defined through God’s eyes, self-critical thoughts are seen as what they are.

Lies.

What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match? | thisgratefulmama.com

If you don’t know who God says you are, will you commit today to make time to find out?

This question will be written on our daughters’ mirrors when they are old enough to have one in their rooms.

And since this experience clearly demonstrates my own struggle with identity, it needs to be on mine as well.

 

This post was shared on the Salt & Light Linkup (#16). Head on over to see a wealth of  encouraging posts by a great set of bloggers. You’ll be so glad you did!

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What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match? | thisgratefulmama.com

Happy Father’s Day!

Today we honor the fathers in our life and I am reminded to be grateful.  My husband, Seth, is a fantastic dad. He loves our two children and is actively engaged in their lives. He leads this family by demonstrating godly character. He serves us selflessly, works incredibly hard at his job, is a great husband, friend and parent.  It is a blessing to be his wife and to parent with someone who strives to ensure we are are consistent and on the same page.

This is the first Father’s Day where my son understood we were taking a day to honor his dad. He participated in making a Father’s day gift. In addition to a photo desk calendar, we framed Aiden’s answers to some open ended questions about his dad.

The FIRST thing I said to him was “My daddy IS…” and he answered, unprompted, “Proud of Me”.

My heart almost burst.

The rest of the answers are not as serious, and some are downright silly. One thing is clear: Aiden knows the heart of his dad, even at 3 years of age. His answers make my heart overflow with gratitude to the man who is the father of my children.

We went to church this morning and celebrated our Father in heaven; the ultimate example. Then we went to my parents home and celebrated with my dad and my grandpa. It is very neat to celebrate with three generations of dads; a legacy of godly, dedicated, and honorable dads.

We are also thankful for the fathers in our family who we did not see today (Drew, Papa John, Jesus, David and Brandon). Each of them are different, yet unified in the purpose of fatherhood. And, all excel at the job.

Thank you to all Fathers today. You deserve to be honored EVERY DAY. Your dedication to your families blesses us all.

You are the dads our sons will aspire to be.

Below is the image of Aiden’s present to his dad. I love the 3 year old brain. Happy Father’s Day!

Fathers Day 2014

Sweet Moments

This morning I woke up at 5 am to the sound of a screaming, teething, drooling one year old. Not quite what I had planned for the day.

Initially bleary eyed and annoyed, I decided to break my rule of no bottle during the night to see if she would go back to sleep. I should have known when I entered the room and she started giggling at my presence that even a warm bottle would prove futile.

One bottle, 30 minutes and plenty of rocking time later, I laid her down and she resumed her screaming; only now she was screaming “MaMa” (aka Don’t leave me).  Not wanting my son to wake up, I broke yet another rule and scooped her up and took her into my room to snuggle in bed. I didn’t really expect this amped up baby to snuggle, but figured it was worth a try.

For one rare hour, she snuggled up, talked quietly and sweetly, waving her feet and hands through beams of light streaming in through the blinds. She giggled, smiled and drooled excessively, soaking her shirt and part of mine. All she really needed was not to be alone as those teeth fight their way in.

Teething is a nasty business.

I found myself tired, wanting sleep, but blessed to have some special time with her, and snuggles (she is much too busy these days for snuggling). When she finally got squirmy and noisy, we ventured into her brother’s room and she ran giggling and screaming into the room to greet him.

I don’ know if there is anything better than watching two children, overjoyed in the morning as they reconnect.

Of course, today the joy of seeing each other again lasted about five minutes before my son was desperate for food. Today we ate breakfast quickly and since we were up earlier than normal, got ready quick to try to make it to the MN Zoo by 9 when it opened. A perfect escape since my husband had been traveling and we didn’t have any plans for the day.

The cooler weather this morning was perfect for exploring the outdoor trails, including the farm and new bug exhibit. My daughter fell asleep in the stroller at lunchtime (no surprise since she was up at 5), so my son and I wandered back through some of the outdoor exhibits instead of rushing home to get her down for a nap.

It is rare to have as this much high quality one-on-one time with each child in one day.

After 5 hours at the zoo, we returned home with one content but tired 3 year old, and a happy, well rested, teething 1 year old. A few snuggles on the couch and off to grandma and grandpa’s house for dinner and some time playing with their toys.

Today was one of those rare days where neither child cried, got in trouble, or yelled “MINE” at the other. I was privileged to watch two delighted, curious children enjoy animals and the beautiful MN weather. I haven’t cooked a meal all day, and welcome the change of walking instead of a p90x workout video.

When we got home our neighbor and her son were outside enjoying their new driveway (we live in a new construction neighborhood full of dirt piles and no grass). The kids played a bit and got to know each other while I got to know my neighbor. She is lovely and fun to talk to.

I am now sitting at home, both kids in bed, feeling pleasantly worn out and content. The zoo pass may be the best money we’ve spent all year. No matter how many times I take them there, they always have a nice time and say funny things.

As with the last trip to the zoo, my son’s favorite animal at the zoo was the huge cow peeing (yes, that is correct; a humongous bull was peeing…A LOT…again) and the big mechanical bugs (even though he was mildly afraid of them).  This child is ALL BOY.

Feeling grateful for this lovely day that started with an early morning wake up call.

Time to go to bed early because I’m sure to get another one tomorrow.

It is Well…

A year ago, I was invited to attend the Tuesday morning women’s bible study at our church. Initially I was somewhat apprehensive about joining this already established group of women. My apprehension  was not only unfounded but silly. I was welcomed and warmly received.

The women come from all walks of life and age groups. They encourage, love and accept each other. What is shared is not spoken of elsewhere; it does not become gossip or rumors. I view these women as dear friends. We gather each week while kind, willing volunteers watch our children.

This year I have been vulnerable before them, expressing deep fears, struggles, and joys. In turn, they have shared, encouraged and we have lifted each other up. This group has been an incredible support to me as I spent my first year at home with my kids.  They have shared their wisdom and advice about being a wife, woman, and parent freely and without judgement.

Last Tuesday morning, as we gathered for our last meeting before summer, we learned that our leader, Ruth (fondly called Ruthie), had passed away early that morning. At 80 years old, Ruth lived WELL. She struggled with her health and was called home to spend her Tuesday bible study with Jesus. Ruth led bible studies for 25 years.

Over the past week, I pondered what I knew about Ruth. I did not know her well, but I find myself grateful for her. She lived her life on purpose and that purpose was to serve others and serve the Lord. She served us. Each week she imparted words (or songs) of wisdom from her life experiences to us; she did this joyfully and always with laughter. The woman was witty! Despite health struggles, she did not feel sorry for herself.

Today, as I sat in Ruth’s funeral, I heard her loved ones stand up and give accounts of how she touched their life. She demonstrated love for others and for the Lord; she taught by example. If you knew Ruth, you knew she loved Jesus. She leaves behind a legacy of faith. She trusted God and found joy in Him and in her family, regardless of her circumstance. Her funeral, although charged with the feeling of great loss, was truly a celebration of her life and a time to express how she was loved. 

To close the service, the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” was sung by the congregation. This hymn is a special favorite to me. I often find myself humming this hymn in times of both struggle and joy. It is posted by the front door of our home. It reminds me that no matter my circumstance, my soul belongs to Jesus. The victory for my eternity is already won. I am reminded of what God has already done and will do in my life. It was a fitting end to a celebration of the life of Ruth, a good and faithful servant. 

Today I am grateful for Ruth. It was a blessing to get to know her and to remember her today. She is a real-life example of what I aspire to be. A loving mother, friend, mentor, and a woman known for her Godly character. Even in the short time I knew her, she has impacted my life and challenged and encouraged me to be better than I am now. I long to leave such a rich legacy of faith. Thank you Ruth.

PicMonkey Sample

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul.