Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Reason For Joy

"...the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is."
~Ann Voskamp

Thank you all for your kindness, support and love after my post on Tuesday. I'll admit it - that blog was a tough one to write. I constantly struggle with how much to tell, how much to keep to myself and what, exactly, God wants to share through me. From the many emails I received, the phone calls and texts - I'm assured that it was the right thing to do. I'm right smack in the middle of this crazy life, just like everyone else. And I'm so blessed not to walk it alone.

My first instinct when life gets difficult is to turn inward. To cut things and, sadly, people - out. In my rush to self-preservation, I just drop everything. It's selfish, it's unwise and, mostly, it's unrealistic. When I became a mother, my life became more about just me. And, as much as I'd like to stay in bed all day and lament how just plain unfair life can be, I don't have that luxury. My people need me. Not just "empty shell" me. Not just physical me. But me. My creativity and my soul. My insistence on life as more than just getting through the day, but living it, fully.

Yesterday I threw myself back into real life - starting with embracing the last bit of summer with my kids. I turned on the sprinkler and they didn't waste time looking for bathing suits before rushing right in. I sat and just watched them and let myself soak up in the joy and ease of childhood. Much better than sitting alone stewing, being with these carefree kids softened something in me. They shrieked and ran and played with reckless abandon. It reminded me of what it is to live free, secure in the knowledge that Someone is holding it all. Free to be happy, to sleep soundly, to smile bravely.

I forget that easily. I get hard and I get tired and I get to thinking that the only way to handle a crisis is to be serious and somber. But when I shrink back from all that is light in my life, I'm not doing myself any favors. I'm shutting the door on joy.

Joy is something I think about quite a lot. Why did God create joy? What purpose does it serve? Why is it something He so desperately wants for us? I'm not theologian so please take what I say with a very large grain of salt. But I've been thinking that Joy is more than just a gift. It's a necessary part of our lives in Him. Joy finds us when we fall deeper into the knowledge of and dependence on God's truth, grace and mercy. Joy finds us when we go looking for Him. Fear is replaced with peace found only in relying fully on Him, who has overcome the world. It's more than just being happy. It's heart surgery that's possible only when we are in complete surrender to His plans, contented with His will.

Maybe that's why it's so elusive during crisis. On the days when I'm gritting my teeth and trying to just on my own. I'm focused on the wrong things. I'm clinging tight to the comfort of what? My own feeble humanity? No wonder I'm so afraid.

True joy doesn't depend on circumstance. Joy is the balm of the promise of Heaven, wrongs righted, tears dried, longing fulfilled. It's a gift to those who break their clenched grasp of imagined control and let Him love. His way.

It's the only way to see the light, not just at the end of the tunnel, but along the way as well. Each day an invitation to find Him. Each moment an opportunity for greater gratitude. Just a little something I'm learning these days. I don't have to wait for it, for the stars to align in some sort of fairy tale perfection. I can hold it now. That's the reason for joy. Something to hold to, for such a time as this.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to future posts.  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Giving It Over, Giving It Up

A few weeks ago, my husband lost his job. I knew the moment he walked in the door that something was wrong, evident by how he avoided my eyes and absently patted the kids when they came up to greet him. He was distraught. Broken. Terrified and sick with worry. I hardly knew how to respond.

Sharing just this today over at my church blog today.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to future posts.  Thank you.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Modifying Me-Time #MindfulMotheringMondays

With school fast approaching, I'm making my lists of curriculum and sketching out our days. I consider all sorts of formats, all kinds of schedules, every possible angle on how this will work out. This year I'm homeschooling 4 children, with two littles to keep an eye on as well. It's a lot of work; it's practically a full time job.

While I'm dreaming and considering and comparing, there is one thing I want to be sure I don't write out of the picture altogether. Something that I know my home and family need. Something for me.

There's much said about "me" time. Some are anti, saying it's selfish. Others are pro - convinced that, without it, we'll serve ourselves sick, turning into mere shells of humanity. I've looked at both sides and, somewhat predictably, if you know me, fall somewhere in the middle. I know how it feels to just keep giving and giving and end up spent. But I know that pushing my needs to the forefront of my life doesn't sit well with being at the center of my family. There's a balance. I just need to find it.

I believe firmly that each Mother has her own unique set of talents and strengths that were not meant to left behind when they welcomed that first baby. These things about ourselves that make us tick, inspire us, refresh us - they are gifts. Things that are meant to be taken with us, to help shape what it is we do every day.

When you're homeschooling a crew of kids and keeping the baby from climbing up on the table every time your back is turned, the things you do to preserve your sanity and keep hold of yourself have to be modified. As much as I'd like to have a half hour of full on peace in my home each day, the reality of that amid the lifestyle we live is near impossible.

The only way I can continue to pursue my interests, to take a moment to breathe, to find a little bit of peace of grab hold of a verse of wisdom - is to do it right within the swirl of my every day. Using the gifts and talents I've been given, I can bless my family even while refreshing myself. So I knit during reading lessons. I practice yoga, often with the baby crawling under me and a kid or two working right along side. I sing their favorite songs and I write with someone on my lap and everyone else eating breakfast around the table. I fit me in without pushing them out.

The payoff? Not only do I keep one toe in the pool of who I am separate from the people I love and serve, but these kids get a front row seat to what it is that makes me tick. What's more, they realize that their gifts are not something they have to give up in order to give to others - but rather something about them that complements the lives they have been called to.

Me-time doesn't have to be a selfish pursuit of separation, an exercise in narcissism. The things that refresh and revitalize us are often the same gifts that we can offer back in service, blessing those around us and rendering our lives back to worship. Gathering my people up around me, being the Me I was made to be? Points straight back to the glory of the one who shaped us all, intentionally unique and richly studded with gifts and abilities.

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10

{It's Mindful Mothering Mondays, a day to take a deep breath and write out your mothering journey, whatever form it takes. A day to link up for encouragement from others who are in this same phase of life. A day of writing out the trials and triumphs and what you're learning right where you are, right now.

You might post recent struggles or thoughts. Maybe just a picture or a quote. Or maybe you'll just come here and read the links that others post. Whatever form your participation takes, this is a day for you.
We are all in this, together. Together, we can encourage and build one another up, be honest with our shortcomings and strengthened by community to keep fighting the good fight.

I chose Mondays because what Mama doesn't need a little encouragement on a Monday?

I hope you'll meet with me! Here's what to do ~

Link up your post below in the comments. Remember to put the link to the exact post you want to link, and not just your blog url. Include in your post a link back here so others who want to join in can find us! And visit some other Mamas who have linked up.

Post the community graphic within your post, so people who are reading your Mindful Mothering post can come back here and find the rest of us! You can use the hashtag #MindfulMotheringMondays on Twitter and Instagram to connect further.

Invite the writers of your favorite blogs to join in!

Share this meme with others on facebook and twitter. This community is for all moms, and the more that participate, the more we will be able to enjoy!!}

Grab the graphic here:


If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to future posts.  Thank you.