Choosing To Be Cold?

Image

Every morning I stand in my kitchen waiting for the ‘big reveal’ of what each child will wear that day. They usually enter the room and find me at the stove with my fleece zipped up to my neck, shearling slippers on my feet, and warm coffee cupped between my two hands… doing all I can to be cozy and protected from the smallet draft of chill.

Without fail, however, every morning the ‘big reaveal’ causes the exact same words to fall out of my mouth with each child: “It’s really cold today… it’s only [add daily air temperature here]. You going to wear a jacket over that?”

What gets me more mama crazy that I care to admit is that, even when I’m witnessing a short sleeve tshirt, pegged pants that leave ankles exposed for wind-nipping, or light sweaters meant for summertime BBQs, the answer from my children is always the same, “No, I”ll be fine.”

“You won’t be cold?”

“No, mom, I’ll be fine.”

“But honey, it’s only [insert daily air temp here – with extra dramatic tone].”

“No, mom, I said I’m fine.”

“Okay, I just wish you’d be warmer out there.”

“Yeah, mom, I know.”

Oh, how time flies.

Gone are the days when my babies lovingly looked into my eyes as I wrapped them in their winter jackets, zipped them up, and said, “Oh, you’re so lucky you’re going to be so cozy outside today!”

Gone are the days when I could slip little mittens over their hands and big cozy boots on their feet to make sure not an inch of skin was exposed to the elements.

Gone are the days when I could make them do what I knew to be best… and in have come the days where they have opinions, and ideas, and ‘better’ ways of walking through the world.

But you know what?  It’s their choice.

In spite of how I dressed them as little ones, in spite of how many jackets and scarves and gloves I buy for them, in spite of the example of how I dress for the cold, in spite of my encouragement to dress warmer… they choose to be clothe themselves for the elements as they see fit. I can’t force them to be warm, or protected, or comfortable – they have to choose it.

I’ve learned it is the same with us – us humans. Our Creator is so kind and patient and good. He gives us perfect directions for how we should clothe ouselves as we walk through the world:

He says:

…CLOTHE yourself with strength and your garments of splendor.  Isaiah 52:1

…CLOTHE yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

…CLOTHE yourself with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14

…CLOTHE yourself with the armor of Light. Romans 13:12

…CLOTHE yourself with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:4

…[CLOTHE] yourself with the armor of God so you can stand firm. Ephesians 6:11

He gives me all these amazing things to clothe myself in, yet do I choose them? Or, do I choose to be cold in the thread-bare rags of anger, bitterness, impatience, unbelief, and pride?

If I’m cold, it’s my choice… it’s your choice.

PRAYER: Father, it’s cold outside… and with the businesses and chaos and demands of life, it can get cold in our spirit, too. Thank you for Your patience and for not turning Your back on us in spite of our stubbornness. I pray You be our strength and our warmth today as we face the bitter cold – and face the decisions and circumstances You have brought our way. I pray we choose to clothe ourselves as You instruct; and, through our willingness, I pray we become bright, warm lights of Your glory to our children, our husbands, our friends, our families, and all those You graciously bring into our lives this season. Thank you for watching over us. You are good and perfect in every way. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Sweet Reminder…

IMG_1533

This morning was one of those mornings where I drove the kids to school in my house-sweats. Hair undone, coffee cup filled – I was out the door.

We chatted, made small talk, and Seb told me all about the sharks he read about in class yesterday in a National Geographic:

“Mom, did you know that the hammer-head shark has a perfect head for hunting?”

“Mom, did you know that when a great white shark jumps out of the water with prey in its mouth, its eyes roll back in its head and are covered by something white so that, just in case there is a bird in the air with a beak that’s close to its eye, the shark’s eye will be protected from danger?”

“Mom, did you know that Bethany Hamilton wasn’t attacked by a Great White? She was actually attacked by a tiger shark and tiger shark attacks are really rare, mom.”

As Seb talked, sweet Kenna sat beside me writing out her three goals for the year: 1) to get straight E’s on her report card; 2) to get better in math; and, 3) to do a back handspring.

I love these kids. LOVE them.

I prayed with them as I always do before they got out of the car. We prayed we’d have eyes and hearts open and sensitive to someone who might need a gesture of kindness or a new friend. We prayed for good attitudes, the desire to do our best… and that our Father would protect all of us as we went our separate ways today. And then – they were off.

As I drove home I thought a lot about where we are at. I thought about the new friends my kids are making, the new friends I am making; I thought about where we are going – and I kept reminding myself of His promises “All things work for good for those who love Him.” (Father, give us strength!)

So as I began the ascent up the hill to our house, it doesn’t surprise me she caught my eye – an older lady, well-dressed with beautiful chocolate skin, a stylish haircut, and a modest handbag on her arm. What I call our ‘hill’ is actually a mountain, and it was obvious every two steps were more than a struggle for her.

I’ve never seen her before; she’s not a regular that walks our hill. But, without hesitation (and I’m not one that ever stops to pick up walkers, believe me – especially when I’m in my house-sweats), I stopped beside her, rolled down my window and said, “Can I give you a ride somewhere?”

Her eyes lit up as she looked at me and said, “Bless you! Bless you! Thank you so much,” as she quickly opened the door and slid into my sweet Kenna’s seat without hesitation. Her smile was bright and beautiful as she said, “This senior citizen was sure havin’ trouble out there!”

I smiled, said it was my pleasure, and asked her where I could take her and where she was coming from.

“Just right up here not too far,” she said. Her presence was bubbly, bright, refreshing. “I took a cab out here to surprise my grandson who just lives right up this hill, but the meter was clickin’ way too fast for me so I had him just let me out at the bottom.” She let out a lighthearted laugh, obviously convicted at how crazy the idea of walking up the hill had now become to her.

No more than 30 seconds of driving (and probably 200 feet of elevation) passed when she said, “Right here – this is it.” Her breaths were still heavy from the mountain-climing attempt.

I pulled over and she was beaming… just beaming with joy. “Oh, thank you,” she said again. “Jesus bless you.” Her gold teeth glimmered and seemed a perfect compliment to her bright eyes.

“My pleasure, I’m glad I could help,” I said with joy as she opened her door. With her body exiting the car, her hand trailed behind and she handed back a little piece of paper. “My grandson is just gonna be so surprised! Thank you, sweetie, you just made my day.”

I smiled, took the paper, repeated I was glad I could help, and off she went to walk up the stairs to the home.

As I drove away I glanced down at the paper – and I was dumbfounded. I started to well up with thankfulness and tears filled my eyes. “Thank you, Father,” I whispered to myself. “I know… I know.”

See, that paper she just ‘happen’ to hand back to me was exactly what I needed to hear. The moment before I pulled over to pick that sweet lady up, my mind had been racing through all the ‘things’ I have to handle today, next week, this year: school, and friends, and moving, and schedules, and stuff; I was starting to feel a little burdened.

Why she had this verse perfectly printed on a goldenrod paper on this morning when she got in my car, I will never know. But I do know this: right there, faithfully, in the midst of my burden, He sent me His heart through a sweet little old lady with shiny teeth and a bubbly spirit and reminded me: Elisha, don’t worry! Even when you are old, My girl, I will take care of you, even when you have grey hair, I will carry you. I made you and support you; I will carry you and rescue you.  

I hope that encourages you, too… and I pray you see Him and feel His presence today in the little things. Because He is True – He is real – He is GOOD.

An Herbed Quinoa Fennel Grapefruit Salad to Brighten Your Day

The house is quiet.

Kids are at school learning (thank God!), laundry is turning in the dryer, I hear the hum of a lawnmower out my window, and… I am breathing for the first time in days.

Breathing.

Thinking.

Processing.

Camping on this sweet verse from Isaiah 63:9: In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

Isn’t that beautiful?

It reminds today I’m not alone in my distress… this natural distress of discomfort I’m feeling as we slowly move into this new land with kids in new schools, new friends, a new home (soon), and new ways of doing things. (Oh, and the distress of thinking “how in the heck am I going to pack up this house?? Agh!)

But truthfully, I am so, so very excited to see how God grows and matures and teaches each one of us through this adventure. Because, if I know anything to be TRUE, it is this: His GOODNESS is present with us every step of the way.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share something good with you today – a yummy, ‘brightening’, ‘uplifting’ mama-meal like this:

DSC07929

Herbed Quinoa Fennel Grapefruit Salad

A mama-brightening salad for sure!

Not only will you feel light and clean and bright after eating it, there is JOY in the journey of making it! The fragrance of the basil and mint on your skin, the feel of grapefruit juice running through your fingers as you section out each little piece, the sight of the warm amber honey drizzling over the bowl of freshness. Talk about a party for your senses! And, hey, – isn’t that what all of us mamas need: joy in our journey?

So – enjoy!!!

Here’s what you need to make enough for you and a friend:

Beautiful and fresh ingredients...

Beautiful and fresh ingredients…

  • 1/2 heaping cup of precooked quinoa
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 small grapefruits
  • 6-8 basil leaves, diced
  • 10-12 mint leaves, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • a pinch of salt and black pepper
  1. Slice up your fennel bulb in thin slices like this.
  2. Section out your grapefruit pieces like this.
  3. Add pre-cooked quinoa, diced herbs, a pinch of salt and black pepper; toss lightly.
  4. Drizzle the warm honey over the top and, again, toss lightly.

That’s it!

Final notes:

** The basil and mint will turn brown if left too long in the salad… so this is best enjoyed FRESH. If you are going to eat only half and save the rest for later, add the herbs to your portion only.

** The juice from the grapefruit and the honey are the only ‘dressing’ this salad gets. I section my grapefruit right over the main bowl to capture the juice as I work. If you don’t want too much juice in your salad, you may want to section over a separate bowl so you can control how much juice you ‘dress’ the final product with.

 

 

Finding Courage to Release the “Stuff”

“You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and set your journey…”

Deuteronomy 1:6,7

Something you might not know about me is that I spent a season of my life ‘flipping’ houses.

My favorite ones were the total disasters… the ones others turned their noses up on – the ones it was hard to see as anything but a wreck of bones.

It was those houses – those that spent years being unloved, and unappreciated, and mistreated – those were the ones that drew me in with their longing to be revived and brought back to life.

116_1612_r1

120_2086_r1

146_4678_r1

148_4871

146_4654_r1

146_4652

148_4874

It was sooo rewarding to see something transformed.

Most of the time, the ‘turn’ was easy. We usually took possession of houses with a few things left lying around; we expected to pull out carpet and cabinets and bathroom fixtures. No problems.

Then, on the very last house I flipped before my season ended, we were left with mountains of debris that needed removal.

Mountains.

Hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of stuff needing disposal.

Piles and piles and piles of things the prior owner had hoarded over 40 years was ours to deal with. The rooms were packed. The kitchen cabinets were overflowing with food and dishes and junk. The basement hadn’t been touched and still had trails between stacks of boxes. And, the yard we thought had rolling hills? It was mounds and mounds of clothing that had been bagged, tarped, and grown over by years and years of weeds.

At first we thought we should sift through it all. I mean, what if there were ‘treasures’ hidden somewhere, right? So, we started going box by box, pile by pile. Day after day after day.

Soon we were hostages. The stuff – the years of things hoarded and held on to and ‘cherished’ – was consuming our every thought and just managing the stuff was starting to consume our budget. Our mission was always to get in, clean out, fix up, and move on, yet we found this particular house pulling us farther and farther away from our mission and deeper and deeper into a pit.

To say we were overwhelmed by the stuff is an understatement. We were confused, scattered, distracted, heavy-hearted. We didn’t want the stuff, but we felt we should deal with the stuff.

(Deal with the stuff. I mean, that’s what we’re supposed to learn in life, right? To just deal with it?)

Thank God, however, that one day my man and I looked at each other in our filthy clothes and with filthy hands after we had gone through the umpteenth box of nothing but trash and we did it: we said ENOUGH.

It was a miraculous moment of clarity. We left that day covered in dust from our burden and said to our guys, ‘Not one more minute can be spent ‘sorting through’ the stuff. Tomorrow morning push it out the door, into the dumpster, and get it out of the house.”

Enough was enough.

We needed to cut the reigns. We needed to get out of the pit of complaining the stuff had brought into our lives. No second guessing. No talking about it. No discussions of what-if’s or what-could-bes. We simply opened our eyes and reminded ourselves of our goals… and then made the (hard) decision to rearrange circumstances accordingly.

I’m sharing this story because, while I’m not flipping houses these days, we are ‘flipping’ our life.

We are moving.

Moving homes… moving schools… moving communities… all at once.

Why? Because we’ve found ourselves in a life like that house I just described to you – we started with one goal only to find ourselves way off track by ‘stuff’. The ‘stuff’ of busy-ness. The ‘stuff’ of driving here, and driving there, and of schedules, and ‘must-dos’, and ‘important’ things that, when it gets right down to it, are important… but not so important that they should have the power to distract us from the heart of our goal.

And what is the heart of our goal?

Family. Love. Closeness. Joy. Appreciation. Character. Play. Childhood. Laughter. Abundance that comes with simplicity. SIMPLICITY.

These are the things we say are important… but because of the ‘stuff’ of how our life is currently structured, they’ve been compromised.

Our family has been stretched and scattered and separated and go-go-go because we’ve been telling ourselves for years: we just have to deal with it.

But enough is enough… and our hearts are telling us: rein it in.

Downsize.

Simplify.

Stop driving.

Stop striving.

Turn, take your journey, and let God work.

It leaves me a little breathless to think of what the next two months will bring as we pack up, move, get the kids into new schools, and start living differently. It’s taken us years to find the courage to release this ‘stuff’… but we are filled with HOPE as we take the next steps and pray for clarity, wisdom, and protection as we walk into unknown territory.

And, you know what else? In spite of the ‘crazy’ this may look like, we are fixing our eyes and ears on the One who says: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Do not fear.

I am with you.

I will strengthen you.

I will help you.

{deep breath. exhale.}

Thank you, Father… here we go.

 

Raise and Release, Part 2

IMG_0590

At the beginning of last school year, my 12 year old baby girl went off to outdoor school… and I thought I was going to break. Why? Because this ‘raise and release‘ thing we  do is emotionally overwhelming.

We raise them – teach them, comfort them, coach them, guide them, nag them, feed them, remind them, stand beside them, stand over them, love them, tuck them in, and wake them up. We pour all that we are into these little ones and then, before we know it, we are standing with them at the tip of a branch surveying the field of life and, even though we want to snuggle them close sheltered from the heartache, and fear, and discomfort, and mistakes that come with walking boldly through life, there is nothing more we can do but stand behind and watch as they fly.

Because that’s life, right? Every season of life brings new ‘work’ – a new flight into new territory… a little longer, a little farther. The work of facing fears – of taking chances, overcoming obstacles, of letting go of mama’s hand and grabbing for His instead. And, without the work, we stay stagnant, wimpy, and unusable for the greatness God calls us to.

So today, in spite of the pit in my stomach and my own deep seated fears of letting go, I did it to my girl again.The branch was a little higher, the view was a little vaster, but the process was the same: I signed her up for an adventure, walked her to the edge, stood behind her with our breaths almost as one, and I said, “Okay, girl, you can do this: fly”.

She was hesitant to jump and test the strength of her wings. We stood for some time in the church parking lot and quietly watched other campers arrive and mull around. I could tell she was nervous; she didn’t know anyone and felt totally out-of-place. The one person she recognized we approached and said hello to, but the girl and her mom quickly turned to other friends and left us to fend for ourselves in the sea of giggling girls and mamas.

(It’s hard not to feel rejected, whether you’re 12 or you’re 40. We all want to be loved. We want to be brought in to the laughs and the conversations. We want to be noticed, acknowledged, desired. We want to feel special – all of us do. And yet, there I was with my girl: face to face with real life. The lot was packed with moms and kids – yet, she and I were an island. No one spoke to us. No one noticed us. Moms and kids grouped up – hugging and chatting and laughing. My girl and I? Totally alone.)

As tears welled up in her eyes over the fear of four days away and not a friend in site, I felt her pain. I remember being 12 – awkward, unsure, out-of-place. (When I signed her up I thought for sure she’d know a girl or two, but with a church our size, I’m guess I’m not surprised she didn’t.) I cut the ice with some mama-talk: “Honey, I know exactly what you’re feeling. Here I am 40 years old and I feel a little anxiety in my stomach over not having a friend in site. But you know what? This is the kind of thing that makes us stronger! This is the type of situation God uses to pull us out of our comfort zone and grow us – and new friends are often part of that journey. I know God has something so great in store for you this weekend – and I know He has a perfect friend for you, too. You’ll see.”

“Mom, stop,” she muttered through clenched teeth as she leaned in closer to my side for protection.

All of a sudden I heard His still, small voice say: This is where the rubber meets the road, Elisha. This is where your girl needs to see how to fly by YOU flying first.

The whisper of encouragement made me stand a little taller and I decided to take command of the situation.

“Okay, let’s look for someone else who is alone and we’ll go make friends with them.”

“Mom, no.”

“Seriously, honey, look around. Who looks like they could use a friend?”

Seconds passed. Minutes passed. Not a word. Finally, I heard a peep:  “Fine, mom – how about her.”

I looked in the direction she was looking and about 10 feet from us I spotted fellow wanderers:  a darling girl and two ladies looking just as lost as we felt.  I put my arm around Selah and whispered under my breath, “Okay – don’t be so obvious, but let’s work our way over there.”

We walked towards the small group and around the backside of one of the ladies and still for about thirty seconds. (It would have embarrassed my girl way too much if I would have just walked to them looking desperate. So, I had to be cool – I had to be smooooooth.)

When I sensed a break in their conversation, I went to work.

I put my palm on the arm of the gal closest to me and she turned around. “Hi – I’m Elisha. Do you all go to church her or are you just here for the camp?” Selah was about 3 feet from me, body language screaming discomfort.

“Oh hi,” the sweet mama said. “Yes, we do attend here.”

We chatted for just a couple of minutes about the services we attend, etc, etc, and then I said, “Yeah, we were nervous when we showed up because we didn’t recognize anyone and everyone seemed paired up.”

“We thought the same thing, too,” the mama said with a lighthearted laugh.

“Well, this is my girl, Selah.”

“And this is my girl, Natalie.”

Selah and Natalie looked at each other, said little girl hellos, and I could feel it: in that instant fear has lost the fight for my baby girl’s wings. (Praise God!)

We continued to talk as the campers were rounded up. It turned out Natalie had forgotten a camp chair just like Selah, so the two girls were summoned to collect one from the church office. Off they went, chatting, smiling. Friends. They were instant friends.

Before we knew it the bus was being loaded and off  the two little birds went. Side by side on the bus, and mine totally embarrassed I was trying to take pictures through the window. But you know what? She was flying! She watched me fly before and then, with confidence, she jumped off, too… and how could I not try to snap a picture of her courage?!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for opportunities like today – opportunities that let my girl test her wings where it is safe, and where You are present. I pray your protection over her and all the campers this week. May Selah and her new friend enjoy each other’s company and may they come back stronger than they left us. Finally Lord, may we mamas never forget that our girls learn more by our example than our words, and may we – Your daughters – be women that exude kindness, gentleness, goodness, and love. Should by chance we ever feel insecure, or overlooked, or rejected, which I know You understand is common for us mamas sometimes, may we be reminded You call us by name – You call us Your Beloved; and, may we stand tall and shine brightly as your Love so the women you’ve entrusted us to raise stand tall and shine brightly as well. Thank you for loving us. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Real Beauty

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Romans 12:2

_____

I’ve watched this several times now, and I cry each time. I cry because… I hear the voices.

…the voice of the girl in 5th grade that said, “Why is your forehead so big?”

…the voice of the old boyfriend that said, “You know, there are lots of girls more beautiful than you.”

…the voice of the ballet teacher that said, “Your knees are way to big to ever dance well.”

…the voice of the world telling me all my life, “You know you’ll never measure up to that… to her… to ‘something wonderful’.”

I look at the women that went through this exercise, and… I relate. I feel their weight of their heart and their self-descriptive words. I see the girl in me: Insecure, critical, self-deprecating. And that girl – oh, my heart aches for that girl that I was (and can still be).

But thankfully, the Sweetest Voice I’ve ever heard breaks through all the noise. It’s a voice unlike any other – it’s small and quiet and whispers drips of Truth into my heart.

And the Truth is this – the Truth I wish I would have known before a I allowed all those other voices a place in my soul: We are not beautiful because of what we look like; our real value is not determined by our appearance.

Beauty isn’t the exterior. It doesn’t come from fixing up our hair and putting on makeup and letting it all hang out for ‘admiration’. (1 Peter 3:3-4). No. That’s the world’s definition – the definition that keeps us women hostage and broken and vulnerable.

The Sweet Voice told me (and continues to remind me every day) beauty is borne in gentleness, in sweetness, in a laugh, and a friendly wink, and soft words that build others up and not tear them down.

Beauty is confident and strong, yet humble; it is modest and captivating, bright and gracious.

Beauty is tenderness with my babies.

Beauty is a confident, lingering kiss with my man.

Beauty is my uncontrollable laughter with my girls that brings out every wrinkle around my eyes.

Beauty is my warm arms wrapped around a sister in need.

Beauty is heavy tears shed with a friend over loss, or heartache.

Beauty is thoughtfulness and unselfish presence and compassion.

Beauty is kindness to a stranger.

Real beauty emanates from me when His Spirit emanates from me… when His brightness overtakes the darkness that struggles to keep it’s hold on me. It’s when His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control trump my human tendencies to be anything but. (Galatians 5:22-23).

Real beauty isn’t dependent on what I look like… real beauty is Him living out through me.

So, today: LET’S BE REAL BEAUTIES – REBEL BEAUTIES. Let’s remember that we can’t make this dark world more beautiful with more lipgloss – we can only make it more beautiful when the fruits of His Spirit bloom on the trees of our lives. (Psalm 90:17).

Motherhood: It’s A Tough Gig Sometimes

Lisa Leonard Designs

Mom Necklace by Lisa Leonard Designs.

This morning was pretty typical around here.

I got up a little earlier than everyone… made lunches, made coffee, and folded the clothes I threw into the dryer before bed last night. I let everyone sleep a few extra minutes – but then I handed out morning back rubs and whispered “time to get up” room by room and slowly woke the house.

For some reason everyone needed a shower this morning. So, while each of my girls disappeared into a bathroom, I took a few minutes and did something I rarely do: I made their beds. My heart was simply to surprise them – give them one less thing to do this morning as they hurried to get ready for school.

I returned downstairs and, within a few minutes, the beckoning began. One needed pants; another needed a shirt; one needed an entire outfit. I dug through my freshly washed pile of clothes and delivered the favorites to each of them. And man: there is nothing like fresh clothes out of the dryer after a shower, right?

Soon the tribe filed down, one by one. They ate the breakfast I made with the food I shopped for. They grabbed the lunches I prepared with their favorites foods – and a requested treat of some jellybeans. They were each sharply dressed in their clean clothes I stayed up late and got up early to wash and fold for them. And, as for the fact I made their beds? Not one of them noticed… at least, not one of them mentioned it even if they did.

So, we said our goodbyes as shoes were put on and backpacks were slung and frustration was had because one ‘couldn’t find her ring’ and I ‘must have lost it’. And then – they were out the door.

Peace. Quiet. A dirty kitchen. Aloneness. That’s what they left me.

Why am I sharing all this? Because when mornings like this happen – mornings where my love is overlooked, dismissed, unappreciated – I am not angry, or depressed, or surprised. I am humbled.

I am humbled as I think, Father, do I do this to you? Do I wake up and overlook your kindness and your sweetness and your blessing?

He wakes me in my clean bed with my faithful man beside me and His beautiful sunrise outside… and I rush into the day.

I make the coffee, and breakfast, and lunches He graciously provides; I clean my big house, drive in my dependable car, wear my nice clothes…  all without a second thought.

He is so kind and so gracious and so merciful to give me another day to breathe and be present – and… do I notice these things? Do I stop and see Him? Do I feel His love and His thoughtfulness? Do I notice the little surprises He brings my way – not because I need them, but simply because He knows I love gifts and wants to thrill me beyond belief?

The truth is: I’ve been getting better and better about thanking Him with my every breath. Maybe it’s because now that I’m a parent I see what it’s like to be overlooked; I see what’s it like to be forgotten and dismissed; I see what it’s like to have my children upset with me for no reason; I see what it’s like to lay all that I am on the line – only to have my children say, “Great – I got it from here.”

Motherhood is a tough gig sometimes… but, because of it, I get it.

I see what’s it’s like and I know what it feels like – and that’s what pushes my heart even closer to my Father.

I get why He sticks it out with me.

I get why He he loves me in spite of me.

I get why He continues to show up and help me through the tough stuff… even though so often I’ve pushed Him away with “Great – I got it from here.”

I get why He constantly reminds me, “…I will be with you; I will not fail you or abandon you.”

I get why, even though I turn my back on Him, He loves me unconditionally.

I hope that today you get it, too. Because while mothering can be tough, we have a Faithful Friend to strengthen and love us through the journey.

PRAYER: Father, help us mamas to see the blessing in every breath we take today. Sometimes this mama gig is a tough one: we get overlooked, are often unappreciated, and more often then not, we are exhausted from service. But thank you that You offer us strength! Thank you that when we cling to You, we can be selfless as You are selfless; we can be strong as You are strong; we can love unconditionally as You love us unconditionally. Thank you for being a perfect example of what Love looks like… and thank you for loving us in spite of ourselves. May we serve with joy today – and may we not forget that our men and our babies need our warm arms, our sweet voices, our gentle spirits, and our encouraging words.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

A Call to Rebuild

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately remembering… remembering my childhood, specifically.

For every good memory I have, there’s a jar of heartache that sits beside it. That’s what comes from growing up in a dysfunctional family: laughs and good times are never far from terror and tears.

Thankfully, my heartaches were covered years ago by a gracious God. Now, in my adulthood – in this place where I stand as a woman, wife, parent – I know without a doubt that those that walked me through my early years did the best they knew how. I take comfort in that – comfort in the fact that none of the heartache was maliciously inflicted… it simply came with the territory in a land of brokenness.

Now that I am farming my own land, however, it’s my past perspective that wakes me up to the bitter roots I need to diligently purge from my present ground: chaos, selfishness, envy, fear, pride, separation. These are the roots that shoot up through the toughest of concrete, destroy the path, and cause others to stumble along the way as they follow in my footsteps.

My goal is to be a rebuilder of the broken roads I walked, thereby giving my children steadier feet, brighter eyes, and wider wings than I was ever given. I want them to step boldly, confidently…

I’m sharing this today because I’m in a season where I’m face to face with a 12-year old young lady coming up behind. She is strong, she is beautiful, she is determined… and, for all my good intentions, I often fail at being the love she needs. When struggle ensues, I find old ways of relating well up in my chest: I harden… I get weary… I shut down.

I hate it. I hate feeling like I’m perpetuating the cycle of my past!

But, the good news I’ve learned – and the truth that keeps me going – is this: every moment is a gift and a chance to change. Every moment is an opportunity to be more patient, to love more, to have compassion, to offer kindness, to rebel from the the junk of my past that I swore I would never perpetuate. No matter what I was born into or ‘born to be’… I have a choice: I can continue to walk a broken path… OR, I can choose to rebuild.

I can ask for forgiveness.

I can exercise self-control.

I can be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

I can be love.

Brick by brick. Moment by moment. Word by word.

Rebel on,
Elisha

Get to Work on the Trees…

You ever feel like you deserve ‘better’?

You ever find yourself wishing you could be healthier, or fitter, or more patient, or more friendly?

You ever look at your life and wish you read more, or loved better, or took more walks?

I do. Not a day goes by where one of these thoughts don’t pop through my mind. The funny thing, however, is that they pop in… but, then I push them out. How? By just taking one step in the direction I want to go in.

That’s it. One step.

That’s the thing about life. We can ‘want’ all we want… but, unless we are willing to put one foot in front of each other and do the work to really possess the life we’ve been given ‘wanting’ is all we’ll ever do.

Another thing I do when I face these thoughts is I remind myself of a great old testament story where the 12 tribes of Israel were being assigned their lots of the promise land. Joshua parceled out a particular area to the decedents of King Joseph, but they didn’t like their lot. Nope, as they looked around at what other people were getting, they complained to Joshua and basically said, “This? But, it isn’t fair! We are better than this! You gave us a bunch of land that requires too much effort to make it something: we have to cut down trees and fight enemies. But, we want the low country where it is beautiful and easy. We deserve it; we are great people and, therefore, we want the land that they have – but, not this.”

(Can you relate? It’s easy to think everyone else has it ‘better’ than us, isn’t it?)

You know what Joshua said?

He said, “Well, okay. You are right – you are great, and you do deserve better. But this is what you get – so, choose to go up and make use of what you’ve been given. Go up and cut the trees, defeat the enemies, and make something of the land you call ‘nothing’. (See Joshua 17:14-17 for the full context.)

What does that have to do with me today in 2013? It tells me simply: what I have is what I get. I get one body. I get one mind. I get THIS life – with this husband, and these babies, and all that comes with.  I can either complain and ‘want’ for more, or I can get to work on those trees that are blinding me from seeing the beauty of what I have – and that are holding me back from making the most of my lot in life.

That is the message I preach to my kids, too – my precious babies who are daily battling a culture that says what they have isn’t enough; that says they need ‘more’, and ‘better’, and ‘different’ to be happy.

Because here’s the thing: whether we like it or not, life is not fair. There will always be someone who travels more than us, who has better hair than us, who is taller, who is more petite, who has more friends, who can knit better, who can cook better, who is happier, who is healthier, who wins more, who laughs cuter, who has a ‘sweeter’ husband, who has nicer legs. Always.

Always. Always. Always.

So, instead of getting caught up in this cultural focus of what we don’t have and what we could use ‘more’ of, I try and always bring them back to what we do have; my message is always consistent and simple: Celebrate YOU and the blessing of YOUR life; your stature, your hair, your gifts, your talents, your laugh.  You have been assigned a lot in life – a lot that is beautiful, and abundant, and needs YOU to bring out the best in it. No one else can fill your shoes! Instead of looking at what other people have, figure out what lies in your possession! Do just one thing today that makes your lot more beautiful: cut down a tree, dig out a rock, plant something new. Do the work to make the most of what you’ve been given. 

It’s what I tell them… but, it’s also what I tell myself – all the time. It’s a constant reminder I feed into my spirit – the reminder that my lines have fallen in pleasant places… and, life only grows more beautiful when I’m actively working the land.

So, today, be encouraged… and do just one thing, just one!

Maybe you choose water instead of soda today.

Maybe you eat quinoa instead of pasta.

Maybe you choose a book before bed instead of watching TV.

Maybe you go for a walk instead of taking a nap.

Maybe you tell your man he’s lights up your life, instead of waiting for him to say it to you.

Whatever it is, keep walking, sister. Just keep walking… and then, tomorrow, get up and keep walking some more. One choice at a time.

Because what you have is beautiful… it’s just that sometimes what you’ve been searching for is  just beyond the trees.

Rebel on,
Elisha

Children of the Rebel Grain

As you all know, my ‘big girl’ turned 12 recently. The ’12 years old’ of today is not the 12 I experienced. She is growing up in a culture of narcissism and instant gratification; a culture that is sick physically, as much as it is emotionally.

The fight for what is good and right and pure is a tough one.

I bring this up because, as much as I want her to eat intentionally, I want her to live intentionally. Just as I am training her to make the right choices for her physical body, I am training her to make the right choices for her spirit:

I want her to choose kindness.

I want her to choose humilty.

I want her to choose modesty.

I want her to respect authority, always recognize she has something to learn, and understand she was put on this earth for one purpose alone: to bring glory to her Creator through all that she is…. whatever she may choose that to be.

Be careful little eyes what you see…
Be careful little ears what you hear…
Be careful little mouth what you say…
Be careful little hands what you do…
Be careful little heart whom you trust…
Be careful little feet where you go…

I’m not naive. I know I will not always be with her when she’s at the food buffet with plate in her hand – just like I will not always be with her when she’s presented with life’s buffet of choices and temptations.

God will be with her, though. And, if I can train my girl up to keep her eyes on Him, then she’ll be able to rebel on through life with the supernatural humility and grace that we are hard pressed to find in today’s culture.

See, I don’t want my girl – or any of my kids! – to just blend into the sea of humanity. Not physically, not spiritually, not emotionally. I want them to stand out… to shine… to be set apart. I want them be bold – I want them to fight for good, for truth, for purity. I want them to be rebels that live against the grain of this world.

In the world, not of the world.

The Rebel Grain.

Rebel on,
e-