Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Peace and Quiet

I actually wrote this last week, but am just now getting around to posting it! Anyway...

What I wouldn’t do for some peace and quiet?

A pretty common question/request/desperate plea for most moms on most days, and dads too for that matter. More than that lately, I have been praying and hoping for Kellah to simply sleep in her crib. She falls asleep in my arms. I oh so smoothly transition her to her crib, trying my best to lay her down in the exact position she was in on my chest. She seems content, so I walk away, excited to have some “me” time or more importantly time to get some things done around the house. Two seconds later, I hear Kellah’s cries. Oh, baby girl…

Perhaps God is using my precious little one to teach me something. A lesson I should have learned already, one God is probably tired of teaching by now. He’s tried to show me the same thing in numerous ways, but I doubt His has run out of ideas yet. Like any good teacher, He will keep on teaching me until I learn...re-explaining the concept in new or different words, using various object lessons, giving me multiple opportunities to practice what He has taught me, etc.

And so here I am again…

I’ve mentioned before how I am an on-the-go person. I feel like I always need to be DOing something. If I have a spare moment, I immediately try to figure out what I can do with that time, what I can get DONE. I feel guilty if I just sit or rest or relax. If I’m not DOing something, then I am wasting time or being lazy or even selfish.

God is helping me to see how backwards this way of thinking is, how contrary it is to Kingdom living. Having a baby has helped slow me down, especially since Kellah likes to be held (and sleeps so much better when she is!). However, I have gotten pretty good at DOing things while holding Kellah. I have even figured out how to nurse her and do housework at the same time. I guess I still have a long ways to go in sitting down and taking the time to stop going non-stop so that I can actually enjoy life.

Not only do I need to do better at appreciating the opportunity to slow down, but I need to realize it is a gift from God. It’s as if God is reminding me yet again that I can use those moments to be still and rest in His presence, to enjoy the peace and quiet (as quiet as a house can be with an active 2 year old).

Once again He has used that other Sarah Young to teach me this lesson. Today’s devotion was called, “Sit with Me” and goes like this:

Take a moment and JUST SIT QUIETLY with Me. Let My love surround you and fill you. Feel the light of My presence, and enjoy My peace. I am using these quiet moments to do much more than you can imagine. Give Me this gift of your time, and then watch how I bless you and those you love.

Your friendship with Me is changing you from the inside out. I am shaping you into the person I want you to be. Don’t fight the changes, or try to speed them up. Let Me set the pace as I create a better you. Hold My hand and walk with Me – step by step.

There it is again. That phrase, “step by step.” Don’t lag behind. Though I tend to struggle with the other end of the spectrum: Don’t race ahead. Walk with God, side by side, holding His hand, letting Him be in charge, trusting Him to lead you the right way at the right time. Take one step at a time. Because more often than not that is all God shows you anyway.

And apparently, God thinks it is more than okay to take rest breaks along the way. In fact, He seems to insist they are quite good and even beneficial. He invites me to sit, with Him, to soak up the fact that I am in the very presence of God Almighty, the King of Glory, the Creator of the Universe, my Savior, my Friend. In those moments, those times of peace and quiet, God wants me to simply BE, to enjoy Him fully.

Far, far too often, though, I am fidgety and squirmy. I can’t sit still. Hmmm, sounds like Coralyn. Maybe God is using her to teach me this lesson as well. I do tend to get so frustrated with her when she can’t seem to sit still for more than .2 seconds. She always has to be on the move, to be DOing something. She can’t even go potty without grabbing a book or random toy along the way to the bathroom so that she can read or play while she is doing her business. Oh my goodness, I am more like my 2 year-old daughter than I would like to think! Sorry, God.

I do think I am making progress. Slowly. Oh so slowly. Thank goodness God is so extremely patient and gracious. Hopefully this morning was a sign that I am

changing into that person God is trying to shape me into. It’s Wednesday, so I really wanted to go to Chick-fil-A for Kids’ Korner. We didn’t make it last week because Coralyn didn’t wake up until 8:45, just 15 minutes before Kids’ Korner starts. I wasn’t going to rush around and try to get her fed, dressed, and out the door just to hang out at Chick-fil-A for an hour. I knew that hurrying would only result in chaos and frustration on my part. So, we stayed at home and enjoyed a peaceful morning reading books, coloring, stacking blocks, reading books, singing songs, reading books, painting, reading books, doing puzzles, reading books…well, you get the idea. Yesterday, Coralyn didn’t wake up until 9:45, so I wasn’t too hopefully about her getting up and around in time for Kids’ Korner this morning. And I am certainly not complaining about her sleeping in, as I have been enjoying the peace and quiet in the mornings. BUT, I was kind of looking forward to getting out of the house and enjoying some adult company while Coralyn played with other kiddos (also good for her!). Surprisingly, Coralyn woke up at 8:30, giving us just enough time to eat breakfast, get dressed, and loaded up in the car. Granted, we wouldn’t be right on time, but I was okay with that (and that is a lot for me as I like to be 5-10 minutes early for everything!). Today, Kellah is the one who “foiled” my plans. She went down for a nap around 8:20 and was still sleeping, in her crib, at 9. I wasn’t going to wake her up just to go to Chick-fil-A, seeing as how I have been praying and hoping and trying to get her to take her naps in her bed all week long. I decided we could just go later and play for a while. We didn’t have to be there for Kids’ Korner.

We ended up being able to go to Chick-fil-A around 10. Miss Julie greeted us at the door, disappointed we hadn’t been there for the story time, but glad to see us too. We chatted for a bit and then headed to the play place. I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend Heather with her two boys Bennett and Wyatt. While the kiddos played, we got to chat and catch up a bit, which was really nice. Granted, we had some hiccups to deal with – Wyatt pooping and his diaper exploding everywhere, then spitting up all over the place immediately after Heather got him into a new outfit. Oh the joys of motherhood!

Kellah soon let me know that she was getting ready for another nap and didn’t want to sleep at the play place in Chick-fil-A. We got our stuff ready and headed to Target for a quick errand (hoping she would fall asleep in the car on the way). My plan didn’t work, however, so I had a screaming infant on my hands while I tried to pick out a pair of sunglasses since my old pair had broken (still not sure if they got some help from

Coralyn with that). So I made my selection as quickly as possible and drove home, saying, “Shhhhh. Kellah, it’s okay. Kellah, just go to sleep. Shhhh.” And so on. She wouldn’t give in though. Not until we got home and I fed her a little snack. Perhaps, God was once again reminding me to slow down, not to try to squeeze so much in to the day.

Some day I will learn…some day! Hopefully sooner rather than later. To that end, I am going to end this blog and just sit quietly and enjoy the peace and quiet while both girlies are taking a nap, at the same time!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kodak Moments

Or should I say kairos moments :)

Really, just a bunch of pictures, mainly for the grandparents, but the rest of you can enjoy them too. Of course these snapshots can't fully capture all the joy and craziness of life in the Young house, but they will have to do...

When we found out Kellah was a girl, I was slightly disappointed.
We had really wanted a boy, since we want to have at least one girl and one boy someday. BUT, now I am so glad that Kellah is a girl. I love that Coralyn has a little sister to play with and have as a best friend growing up, at least that is my prayer for these girlies!

Coralyn has adjusted really well to her new role as a big sister.
She thinks Kellah should enjoy reading as much as she does, and so she grabbed a pile of books, climbed in Kellah's crib, and started reading to her!
Kellah wasn't all the interested, but it was still precious!

We've been having "school time" each day.
It's not for very long and we don't do all that much, but Coralyn really seems to enjoy it.
This week we have been learning about the letter Bb, same vs. different, and bugs.
We have focused specifically on butterflies and bees (since they start with "b").
She was quite proud of her work and wanted to show Daddy right away.

Tomorrow, Kellah will be 6 weeks old!
She is growing up so fast! Before I know it, she will be holding up "school" work she has done (I don't even want to think about how old Coralyn will be then and what she will be doing)!

See how they grow!
On Tuesday, we watched Abigail for a little bit. She is only 5 months old, but I thought she was gigantic compared to Kellah! Made me realize once again how quickly kids grow up!
So I had to stop and capture the moment, a kairos moment!

I have been reflecting on the "simplicity" of my life lately. In the past I think I would have considered my life very routine, and even boring (not sure how life can be boring when you have 2 little girls, but...). I do the same thing over and over again, day after day, week after week. Yes, there are some slight variations based on weather and such, but really it's pretty predictable.

And that is OKAY! In fact, this morning I told Lawrence, who is home sick, that I rather like my life. I don't really think I would want to change it, that's for sure. I am so very blessed. I get to stay at home with my two precious girlies, and teach childbirth classes on the weekend. I truly live a good life.

Well, one of those precious little ladies needs me, so off I go.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Swiper, No Swiping

Coralyn has fallen in love…with Dora and Diego. I know that I have mentioned her interest in these characters before, but recently she’s been asking to watch a Dora or Diego episode as soon as she wakes up. She would rather watch them than eat her breakfast! If you know Coralyn at all, you know that is huge; the girl loves to eat!

We do wait until after breakfast to turn on the TV, but getting Coralyn out of her pajamas and dressed for the day is another story. She simply doesn’t have the patience for such trivial things when Dora and Diego are waiting for her. I love watching her as she participates throughout the show. She is going to be speaking Spanish better than me before long (really that doesn’t take too much). And now when we are in the car and come to an intersection, I hear her saying, “Which path should we take? This path or that path? We should go right.” Plus, she is starting to count objects now, not just randomly running off a list of numbers. She loves animals too, and is able to identify quite a few (even uncommon ones) when we read books. I love that she is learning new things and having fun in the process.

Coralyn is a passionate little girl and, as Jeanne says, she does everything with gusto. Coralyn doesn’t know what half-hearted means; she goes all out, all the time. The same is true when she is watching Dora or Diego. I try not to laugh at her, but it’s super cute and funny to watch her jump up and down or dance or shout out answers. I always know when Swiper or the Bobo Brothers have entered the episode. Coralyn gets extremely upset and starts crying. She yells for them to go away, screaming, “No, no, no!” And she doesn’t relax again until Dora and Boots have scared Swiper away or the Bobo Brothers have said sorry for whatever trouble they were causing. I figured that Coralyn would know by now that Swiper hardly ever gets away with stealing something and the Bobo Brothers always freeze before anything too terrible happens. I always try to reassure her that everything is going to be okay, but every time Swiper or the Bobo Brothers make an appearance she gets really worked up.

This got me thinking. I know, I know…I’m always coming up with some weird life connection when I watch kids’ shows or read children’s books. I guess I just can’t help myself. Anyway, I got to wondering if I am as nonchalant about Satan as I am about Swiper and the Bobo Brothers. Have I gotten so accustomed to his sneaky tricks or seemingly innocent attempts to botch things up that I don’t pay attention to him, let alone get upset that he is making an appearance in God’s story? I think I shrug him off when really I should respond more like Coralyn and insist earnestly that he leave, immediately. I need to shout out, “No, no, no!” and “Go away!” at the first indication he is sneaking into my life. Maybe he is trying to swipe my joy by overwhelming me with life’s worries or create chaos so I get flustered and impatient with the girlies. Whatever the case may be, he is up to no good. I know how the story will end. Just like Dora and Boots ultimately send Swiper away and Diego fixes whatever problem the Bobos created, God will be victorious over Satan. BUT, in the meantime, I need to be aware of Satan trying to ruin the work God is doing in my life. And as soon as I notice him, I need to get rid of him.

Thankfully, I will have a daily reminder to be on the alert for Satan and his sneaky little tricks. Every time Coralyn watches a Dora or Diego episode, and I hear her frantic cries for Swiper or the Bobo Brothers to leave, I will mentally shout out for Satan to scram as well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Silly Billy

Coralyn LOVES to read. We probably read at least 25 books, or more, a day. Often I read the same book multiple times. After awhile, I get tired of reading the same book over and over again, so I will ask Coralyn to read the book to me. And she does! Well, really she has just seen and heard the story so much that she has memorized the words, but still...

God seems to use Coralyn's children's books to teach me things about Himself and my relationship with Him. I guess He is meeting me on my level :)

Last night Coralyn had pulled out all the books from the library bag. She grabbed a handful and brought them over to me so I could read to her. I wasn't too excited, as I knew that I had read all of these books before, numerous times. I could probably recite them to you myself. My eyes lit up though when I saw a "new" book. I guess it had gotten "stuck" in the bottom of the bag, and somehow I hadn't read it all week.

The book is by Anthony Browne and called Silly Billy. The cover looked fun, so I was hoping the book itself would be good -- though you never can judge a book by its cover :). I thought it was going to have lots of rhyming words and things like that when I picked it out from the library. Little did I know God was going to have a lesson for me...about worrying and trusting Him (seems like this is a recurring theme lately!!!).

Billy is the main character (as you probably guessed from the title). He is a worrier. He worries about hats, and shoes, and clouds, and rain. He worries about big birds coming into his room and picking him up in their beaks and carrying him away. He worries about everything, very silly things really. As adults, we smile and laugh at the crazy imaginations kids have and the ridiculous things they worry about. Like any good parent would Billy's parents try to explain that he has nothing to worry about, but of course, their little pep talks don't do any good and Billy still worries. Silly Billy.

One night Billy has to stay at his grandma's, and this of course gives cause for Billy to worry. He tries to go to sleep, but he just can't. Finally, he gets up and tells his grandma that he is worrying, again. He assumes Grandma will think he is silly, but surprisingly she assures him it's perfectly normal, that in fact she herself had the same problem when she was a little girl. Then, instead of trying to get Billy to stop worrying, she gives him some Worry Dolls. He is supposed to tell all his worries to the dolls, which allows him to relax and sleep soundly.

Billy is so excited about his new Worry Dolls. Every night he tells them all his worries and is able to sleep. After a couple nights, however, Billy starts to worry again. About his Worry Dolls. He feels bad for troubling them with all his worries. So, he spends all day making Worry Dolls for his Worry Dolls. Silly Billy.

But, that night Billy is able to fall right to sleep, no worries. The book ends by implying that this cycle continues: Billy keeps on making Worry Dolls for his Worry Dolls for his Worry Dolls so that no one has to worry and can sleep without any problem. Seems like a lot of work to me...

The story is based on a legend from Guatemala:
The dolls were created by a young Mayan sister and brother whose mother -- a weaver of beautiful cloth -- had fallen ill and was unable to produce cloth to sell at the market. The children decided to use their mother's scraps to may tiny dolls, which they put in pouches that they also made from the scraps. The daughter is said to have told her worries to a few of the dolls, only to awake the next morning feeling much less troubled. And when the children brought the dolls to the market the next day, they met a mysterious stranger with a tall hat who listened to the sister's story and then bought all the dolls. According to the story, when the girl got home, she found the dolls from the night before in her pocket, along with a note from the mysterious stranger instructing her to share one worry with each doll before placing them under her pillow at night. To this day, children in Guatemala often trust their worry dolls to take away their worries as they sleep, and this custom has spread across the world.

I am more like Silly Billy than I would like to admit.

One, I worry about silly things. Granted, they may not seem very silly to me at the time, but if I look at life in the light of God's boundless power and wisdom, sovereign authority, faithfulness, goodness, love and compassion, etc. then really worrying about anything at all is absolutely ridiculous.

Two, I think that I can solve my problems by telling my worries to Lawrence, my family, my friends. I go to them for help, to get advice, to ease my mind, to find a solution to whatever difficulty I may be experiencing at the time. And that may indeed help...for awhile.

Three, I feel like I should have a three, but I don't...

Billy's story made me sad. Sad that so many people, Christians like myself included, live with worry. Crippling worry even. We fret. We fear. We doubt. We bite our nails. We wonder how in the world things are going to work out. We cringe. We shake in our boots. We droop under the pressure of the worry we carry around on our shoulders. Silly Billies we are!

Thankfully, we have something -- Someone -- much better than Worry Dolls. God doesn't want us to live with worry. He tells us to bring all our worries to Him, to let Him deal with all our troubles, to trust Him with our problems. Again and again He reminds us that He is in control, that He knows all things from beginning to end and is working everything out in the best possible way. He has all the details taken care of, and has for all eternity.

So why am I still such a Silly Billy?!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Month

Kellah is one month old today!

How is that even possible?!

Where did the time go?!

In some ways, though, it seems like more than a month has passed. I have gotten so accustomed to life with Kellah that I can't imagine life without her. I can't believe we survived before she was a part of our family! :) She has added so much joy to our lives, in such a short time!

I remember doing monthly updates for Coralyn and listing all the new things she could do. I am at a loss of what to say about Kellah for this first month. After all, she is still pretty new :) However, she is growing, and learning, but it's just not as obvious as it will be once she is a little older.

She still eats about every 2 hours -- 3 to 4 during the night (thank goodness). Kellah doesn't dilly dally though; when it's time to eat, she is serious. Coralyn would take for-ev-er, or so it seemed. Kellah is finished in 10-20 minutes! Maybe that is why she eats often... I don't mind, really. I figure I won't get to hold and cuddle her all that long, so I had better enjoy these moments while I can (kairos, right!).

Kellah is sooo close to rolling over from her tummy to her back. She sure is giving it her best effort. And if she's not careful, big sister Coralyn is ready to help her. :)

Speaking of her big sister, Coralyn has done an amazing job adjusting to her new role. She loves, loves, loves Kellah. She wants to hold her, hug her, kiss her, bring her toys, and make sure she has a blanket. If Kellah is crying and I don't get to her right away (as in within 2 seconds), Coralyn gets quite disturbed and tells me, "Kellah's crying, Mommy. Don't you hear her?" Or, "Go get her, Mommy." Coralyn doesn't understand that Kellah actually takes naps and sleeps during rest time, so she is constantly asking me to "get Kellah up" so they can "play" together.

Coralyn has been great at teaching Kellah all about shapes and colors during her tummy time. And whether she wants to or not, Kellah has countless books read to her throughout the day as Coralyn brings me book after book after book to read. Pretty soon, Coralyn will be reading to Kellah on her own! :)

Kellah has the cutest faces and makes the sweetest sounds. I love when she stretches after she is done eating or when she yawns and her mouth makes a perfect little "o."

When she sleeps her lower lip kind of folds up, and it just makes me want to kiss her and eat her up! :)

I'm not sure if she is actually smiling at me when I talk and play with her or if she just has gas or something, but I think she telling me that she's having fun and loves her mommy.

Right now the little miss is sleeping contentedly on my chest. I am trying to get her to sleep in her crib now, and she's doing okay. However, she much prefers when I wear her in the sling or simply hold her. Again, I don't really mind. I know these times will be few and far between as she gets older (if she's anything like Coralyn, who can't seem to sit still for .5 seconds). I want to cherish these moments and enjoy them. BUT, I also want to get things done during nap time while Coralyn is sleeping, or at least playing quietly in her room. I am learning, though, that the dishes and toilets can wait. When my girls look back on their childhood, I would much rather them have memories of me playing with them than their clothes being neatly folded and put away. It's a struggle for a "doer" like me, but I am making progress. It's kind of like God gives me times like right now, with Kellah on my chest, to MAKE me rest, to sit and be still, to come back into His presence, take a few minutes to reflect on life and all that He's teaching me, and above all truly enjoy Him.

So, I guess I am done. I am going to soak up this kairos moment for all it's worth! Who knows when I will get another one today?!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting from Point A to Point B

I love, love, love when God tells you the same things over and over again, in a variety of ways. He's been doing that a lot lately. I think He has does it quite a bit more than I realize, actually. Hopefully, me noticing this more means that I am becoming a better listener and paying better attention to what God is doing in my life. I am sure I still have a long way to go, a very long way! At least I am making progress...

Speaking of making progress, last night in our small group we were talking about getting from Point A to Point B. We were discussing a cliche phrase so commonly used in Christian circles: "seeking God's will." Several of us commented how so often we fret that if we make a wrong decision, we will be out of God's will for our lives, get off course, mess everything up, and never reach the final, ultimate destination He had for us (point B). I mentioned how Mr. Clark, my high school Bible teacher, explained God's will to my senior class. Many of us were trying to figure out where to go to college, and being good little Christian boys and girls we wanted to make sure we knew God's will for our lives before making any decisions. We didn't want to make the wrong choice and end up somewhere God didn't want us or didn't intend for us to be. Mr. Clark made a dot on the white board with his marker and said most of us saw God's will as that small little dot. We had to make the exact right decisions to be in God's will; there was no room for "error." Then, he drew a large circle with lots of dots inside of it. He went on to say that God's will is more like the circle and all the dots inside are the choices we can make. They are all fine and dandy, all in His will, because they all agree with the principles taught in God's Word. As long as our choices are in line with Scripture, we are in God's will for our lives. Whew! Talk about a big sigh of relief!

We all agreed this was an excellent way of looking at God's will. Being reminded of this helps alleviate quite a bit of stress as we may not be trying to figure out which college to go to these days, but we do have important decisions to make: should we buy this car or is there going to be a better deal later; do we send our kids to public school, homeschool them, or pay for private education; am I supposed to get my Master's right now or wait; are we done having kids or do we want more someday; etc, etc, etc. How freeing to know that God gives us the opportunity to choose, to make decisions. He isn't a domineering dictator telling us exactly what to do every second of the day. As long as we live by His Word, we are good to go! Not only are we doing His will, we are pleasing Him in the process!

Then someone asked a very insightful question, "What exactly is Point B anyway?" I think we as Christians (or at least me) tend to think of Point B as heaven. That is our final destination, our eternal home, after all. Or, we could look at each segment of life as a journey from Point A to Point B, and each time we start a new phase Point B changes to something else. My favorite idea though, and what I think really hits the nail on the head, was that Christ Himself is Point B. In all our searching and trying to figure out God's will for our lives, in all our going to and fro from one stage of life to the next, God is ultimately drawing us closer and closer to Himself. Thus, JESUS is really our ultimate destination. He is our final prize, what (or Who) we are truly seeking. So often we forget this and get caught up with the little points along the way, making them Point B, instead of staying focused on what really matters. As Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us, "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith..."

I love the analogy of life being a journey (a race marked out before us). God has prepared a path for us, and as we discussed last night this road will probably have lots of twists and turns, loops and curves, and maybe even dead ends. AND, if (when) we get off course, it's like God is our GPS: He doesn't freak out and yell at us, "You've messed everything up! You idiot!!! Now you'll never reach Point B!" Instead, He calmly announces, "Rerouting. Rerouting." He shows us a different way to get to the place He wants us to be. Our destination hasn't changed, even if our route did. And the really cool thing is God is can still show us really awesome things along this new route; He will keep on working in our lives -- speaking to us, teaching us, and transforming us into His image. After all, He is leading us to Himself and as the Master Guide He will keep on redirecting us to make sure we get there!

As if the discussion in small group wasn't enough, God confirmed yet again this morning that He is in charge, has prepared a path for me, and I am supposed to trust Him with my future, following Him one step at a time. I don't have to know exactly what lies ahead; I just have to keep my eyes on Him and go where He goes. The devotion from Sarah Young's Jesus Calling for today went like this:

Start your day with Me.
You may have some ideas about what will happen today,
but I know exactly what will happen.

I know you want to see the whole map of your day,
every twist and turn, every joy and pain.
You think that will help you be prepared for whatever you have to face.
But My way is better. Let Me be your guide.
No, I don't show you every detail of your day,
but I will give you everything you need to handle it.

Start your day with Me, and then keep in touch.
If you find your thoughts wandering where they shouldn't, just whisper My Name.
I'll guide you back to the right road, because I am the best map you'll ever find!

Gotta love it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What Time Is It?

God is absolutely, completely, amazingly awesome!

I could end right there, as that statement doesn't really need further exclamation. HOWEVER, I personally enjoy hearing stories from other people about how God has shown His awesomeness, so I am going to share one of my own with you so that you too can be blown away by how He works.

And I love that He works in the "little," "normal," "typical" things of our everyday lives. He really does care about the details. That's what makes His work even more awesome.

Saturday, we went to church. We knew that our pastor would be giving his "state of the church address" or a vision message for the year. However, I didn't really expect anything too out of the ordinary or mind-blowing (maybe I should though, since we were going to get together with other believers madly in love with Jesus to worship Him and when that happens God does some pretty radical things).

We listened to announcements and enjoyed Jon's humor. Typical.

We sang some songs. And I entered God's presence and could sense His Spirit speaking to my heart. But that isn't out of the ordinary, thankfully.

The kids were dismissed for children's church. The adults chatted a bit. I went to the bathroom. Normal. Normal. Normal.

I sat back down and the screen came up with the title of Pastor Michael's message: Kairos Moments. That's when I did a double take and realized God was doing something extraordinary here. He was at work. His fingerprints were all over the "little" details. He had been behind the scenes making sure the timing was just right, that everything fell into place just so. Pastor Michael hadn't said a word yet, and God was already talking to me. Screaming, really. And He had my full attention.

Wait a second? What's so special about a regular ol' title screen for a sermon?

I'm so glad you asked. :)

On Friday, I had been perusing facebook -- something I do periodically throughout the day. No big deal. A friend shared a link to an article a mom had written about how she didn't "Carpe Diem." I have been on this big "enjoy every moment, make special memories while I can" kick, so I wanted to check out what this lady had to say and why she didn't feel the need to seize the day. Did she know something I didn't? Was I going about life all wrong?

The mom shared about how seemingly every time she would be out with her kids an older woman would comment about how she needed to enjoy every moment with them because the time would fly by quickly or something of that nature. Like most moms, this mother of three didn't truly enjoy every moment of parenting, especially not when she was in the long check-out line at the grocery store and her kids were behaving more like little devils than little angels. In response to the elderly lady's good-natured and well-intended remark, this mom shared how she was lucky enough to "carpe fifteen minutes in a row" and fell asleep exhausted at the end of the day. Her plan: instead of trying to live so intensely and feel like a failure if she didn't attack life with gusto 24/7, this woman looked for "God moments" throughout her day. These could be times when she really stopped to notice how beautiful her little girl was or when she didn't mind waiting in the check-out line because she realized her cart was full of groceries and she had the money to pay for them. Granted, these moments are fleeting, BUT she chose to seize them. And not just that, but to look for them and be intentional about appreciating them.

To do this, the mom pointed out, you have to understand that there are two kinds of time.

The first kind is chronos and deals with the minute-by-minute ticking of the clock. We moms often get caught up in this time frame. Didn't I just pick up those toys 5 minutes ago? Seriously, 28 minutes on hold with the insurance people? How much longer until nap time? When will Daddy be home from work? Bed time is when again?

The second kind kairos and deals with God's view of time. This is when God, who is above time, steps into our world and works within our time frame. We moms need to live here more often. Doing so requires slowing down and actually thinking about what we are doing and who we are doing it for -- most often our husbands and kiddos, whom we dearly love. Kairos means that we have to look and listen for God to work, sometimes in still quiet ways. Actually, that is usually how He does things -- His fingerprints are all over the "little," "typical, "normal" every day activities of our lives.

We just have to get out of chronos to notice the kairos.

I read the article and didn't think anything more about it, except that the woman had made some extremely good points. I really didn't do the article justice in my attempt to summarize it, so you should just read it for yourself. 2011 Lesson #2: Don't Carpe Diem from momastery.com

Then, I get to church, look up at the screen, and realize that I actually know the Greek word in the message title! Like I said, Pastor Michael hadn't even opened his mouth, and I was on the edge of my seat with excitement, eagerly anticipating what he was going to say and find out how God was going to connect the article I had read the day before with what our church's theme for the year ahead is.

Pastor Michael didn't pick a special passage for his sermon; he just continued our way through Luke. We happened to be in chapter 9, verses 28-36. That would be the record of Jesus' transfiguration. Peter, James, and John go up on a mountain with Jesus and before their very eyes He is transformed, everything starts glowing, and Moses and Elijah show up to talk with Jesus about His death (all of things). The three disciples are speechless, except for Peter who suggests building tents for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. And even he doesn't really know what he's saying; he is just so blown away by God's glory that he doesn't want to leave.

The message was really good, and Pastor Michael explained how the event would have been super important to the Jews in proving who Jesus was and what He had come to earth to do. Like the article, I can't really do his sermon justice. You should check it out though. (It wasn't up when I wrote this post, but I am sure it will be soon. Just go to desperationchurch.org. It will seriously be worth your time!)

Pastor Michael's main point was that this was a kairos moment, a moment when God kind of stopped time and made Himself known in a supernatural and radical way. He emphasized that God doesn't always work like this, in big obvious ways. More often than not, God uses the "little," "typical," "normal" every day activities of our lives. We just have to be paying attention. Life is hard, but God is at work. And when He makes Himself known like this, when He gives us a kairos moment, we need to seize it. We need to grab hold of it and use it to help us through the rough parts of life. When things get difficult and we feel like we are stuck in chronos, we look back and remember that kairos moment. We are encouraged and realize that God is at work, that He has everything under control. And we push forward.

And so I have a new outlook, kind of. I still want to enjoy every moment and make special memories and all that, BUT I don't want to get so caught up in seizing the day that I am too busy to see God at work in the "little," "typical," "normal" activities of my life. I want to be attentive to what God is doing, to catch those kairos moments and hold onto them for all they are worth. Like yesterday when Coralyn was watching an episode of Diego and she was smiling ear to ear as she danced and clapped her hands and sang in Spanish along with the animals on the show. Or today when Kellah grabbed my finger and held onto it while she was nursing. These aren't big, huge mountain-top moments, although God does give me those kind of burning bush, radiant light shining so brightly you can't see moments too. Like last month when some people from our church gave us an envelope full of money. Either way, God stepped into my world and let me know that He is at work, that He cares about all the details of my life -- big and small.

He most certainly made that evident to me when a random article I read on Friday dealt with the exact same thing He had laid on my pastor's heart to speak about on Saturday, and to have as the theme for our church for the entire year! That was definitely a kairos moment!

I realize this may seem silly or insignificant, but it is huge to me. I am just blown away by the way God is at work, how He is speaking to me and guiding me, especially recently. I really feel like I can sense His presence, and I love that. At the same time it is scary because God is so much bigger than I can even begin to fathom. His ways are not my ways; His thoughts are not my thoughts. Oh no, they are far beyond my wildest dreams. Like I read last week (and blogged about) in Ephesians 3:20-21, "God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..." Guess what today's encouraging word is on K-Love? Yep, you guessed it. And then I also think of the verse, "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human mind has conceived of the wonderful things God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:8-10). And so, I am left with my mouth hanging open as I wonder at the ways God is at work in my life. I still have no idea what the year ahead holds for me, for my family, but I do know that God is present and that He has everything figured out, down to the tiniest of details.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sweet Dreams

Today's going to be a great day.
First, and most obvious, it's Friday, which means the weekend is almost here!
Second, I got up before both girls did and was able to have some time to myself.
Third, in about half an hour a family is coming over to meet us and set up things for daycare. At the end of the month, the plan is for me to start watching Brooks, who will be 2 in March, and his little brother Gabe, who is about 8 weeks old! God is so good to have brought this family to us and to provide for our financial needs.

Before the interview, and while Kellah sleeps and Coralyn is distracted with a container of rubber bands which she believes to be beautiful bracelets, I wanted to blog again. Sarah Young (the famous one) really must know me or be inside my head or something because today's devotional followed right on the heels of yesterday and spoke right to my heart. Either that, or God knows right where I am in life and is using this other Sarah Young to speak to me.

Today's devotional is called, "Dare to Dream MY Dream." Once again, it's so good and every word struck a cord, so I am just going to post the entire entry. (Remember that she writes as if it is God talking directly to you.)

Dream your biggest, most incredible dream -- and then know that I am able to do far more than that, far more than you could ever ask or imagine. Allow Me to fill your mind with MY dreams for you.

Don't be discouraged if your prayers are not answered right away. Time is a great teacher. It teaches you to be patient and to trust in my perfect plan -- even when you don't know what is going to happen next.

When everything seems way too hard, that is when you can truly see my Power at work in your life. Don't let this world's craziness drag you into worry. Instead, choose to see all that I am doing around you. Remember, there is not limit to what I can do.

Um....yeah. I ended yesterday's post with 3 dreams, big dreams, that I have. I said I didn't know if these ideas are from God or just my own wild imagination, but that either way God would have to do the work to make them a reality. As I wait for Him to show me if these are my crazy ideas or His perfect plans, I am trying to trust Him with the future, live one day at a time, and do my best to follow hard after Him wherever/however He may lead.

I had no idea today's devotion would encourage me to dream this dreams. And not just that, but to believe God can do things even bigger and better than my hair-brain ideas. As the passage for the devotional reminds me, God "is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

I also mentioned that I have no idea what the future holds, that I am playing the waiting game right now. When I have to wait, I often get extremely impatient. Sarah Young must have known this about me :) since she wrote, "Don't be discouraged if your prayers are not answered right away. Time is a great teacher. It teaches you to be patient and to trust in My perfect plan -- even when you don't know what is going to happen next." Well, God, that is exactly how I feel right now. Thanks for the reminder! Now please help me do the whole patient thing and trust You while I am waiting. I can see you revealing Your plans little by little, and it's been absolutely amazing so far, so help me keep following You one step at a time, ready to go wherever You lead and do whatever You may show me.

One last thing. Sarah Young must also be aware of my tendency to worry since she wrote, "Don't let this world's craziness drag you into worry. Instead, choose to see all that God is doing around you. Remember, there is no limit to what He can do."

And so that is what I am going to do today, or at least give it my best shot. Which makes reason number four that today is going to be a great day: God is at work and doing things far beyond my wildest dreams. And that is pretty darn sweet!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Win or Lose?

Well, we successfully went to Aldi, Wal-Mart, and Hy-Vee this morning to get groceries! And now, for at least a little bit, both girlies are sleeping. Yes, Coralyn is actually taking a nap today!

So, while I can, I want to expand on my post this morning.

The entire devotion "got" me when I read it, but certain parts really struck a nerve.

If you know me at all, you know I am competitive. Really competitive. I like to win, and I really don't like to lose (honestly, who does?!). The situation doesn't matter; I want to win. Whether we are playing a casual game of backyard volleyball or competing in an actual tournament, I want to win. Lawrence and I even make up games to see who will win. Ridiculous games. We try to touch each other's teeth to get points. Like I said, ridiculous.

Today's devotion is titled "Winning My Way." God explains that winning, in HIS book, doesn't mean being the best or coming out on top. Or what spoke to me personally, winning isn't "being in total control." Not only am I competitive and like to win, but I also like to be in control. I like to know what is going to happen, when and where it's going to take place, who's going to be involved, and anything else I feel is important. I need details. Uncertainty is not my friend. It scares me. And so I am a planner. Having a plan gives me purpose and helps me feel like I am in control.

However, if I am going to play by God's rules striving to be in control makes me a loser. And I hate to lose!

So I had better change my definition of winning. Like Young says in the devotion, God says I am a true winner when "I let God have total control." God has really been showing me this lately. I feel like the theme of my life recently has been surrender. I have had to give up my plans and ideas of what I thought would be great for our family. Not only that, I have been waiting for God to show me what His plans are. He hasn't exactly been quick to do that, at least not in my mind. And so, I have had to be patient, to accept that I don't know what the future holds, and to be okay with this uncertainty. The only answer God seems to give me when I ask what He wants for me is for me to trust Him, to believe that He really does have everything under control and is doing what is best for us. Thus, the only thing I know for sure is that God does have a plan and that He will guide me through it, one step at a time. My job isn't to know all the details. God's got that covered. All I have to do is follow His lead.

It's like Young knew exactly what has been going on inside my heart and mind when she writes that God defines winning as "admitting that you need Him an then trusting Him to lead you."

Then she goes even further, as if she knows me personally (we do have the same name) and my tendency to come up with a wonderful plan (in my mind), immediately go to work to make that plan happen, and then almost as an afterthought ask God to bless me and my perfect little plan. I have gotten things backward. And I'm still not truly surrendering to God. I'm not actually letting Him be in control. I'm not admitting that I need Him because I am still trying to figure everything out on my own. And I'm certainly not trusting Him to lead me because I am running out ahead of Him, gung-ho about whatever latest idea popped into my head and seemed like a good thing to do at the time.

Young hits the nail on the head when she writes, "Don't just ask God to bless what you have already decided to do. Ask Him what He wants for you." I truly feel like I have been doing that, more than ever before. And not just asking Him, but actually waiting for an answer from Him. That's been the hard part: I don't feel like He has given a definite answer yet. And so, I have been scared, worried, fearful, doubtful as I wait, as the uncertainty creeps into my heart and mind. At the same time, however, I have been excited, full of anticipation, as I wait for God to show me His plans. I am learning that His plans are always better than mine and that if I let Him have control and lead me in His way that He will blow me away with the amazing things He does in my life.

Once again Youngs' words spoke directly to me, "God may fill your heart with a dream that seems impossibly far beyond your reach. And that dream will be bigger than anything you can do on your own. But remember, nothing is beyond God's reach."

I still dream of becoming a published author some day. I don't know if this is my dream or God's plan. I am still waiting to find out. But I do know that either way being an author is something too big for me to accomplish on my own. I have to have God's help to make this dream a reality. For now, I just write blog posts...

Recently, I have become more and more interested in childbirth. I love teaching classes and am excited to have the opportunity to doula for a friend when she has her baby come February. But, I have thought about going beyond that, at some point, and becoming an actual midwife. Again, this is a dream way too big for me to accomplish on my own. I don't even know if this is an idea from God or just something I thought up in the days immediately following Kellah's birth. For now, I will just keep on teaching classes and hopefully get more doula experience...

I dream of going back overseas. Where? I don't know. Doing what exactly? I don't have the details worked out :) It's just an idea that won't go away. Both Lawrence and I have the desire to serve overseas, but we are still waiting on God to make the path very clear to us. Until then, Lawrence will keep on teaching and I will keep on mommying...

The passage Young suggests that you read on your own is Psalm 34:17-18, reminding us that God hears those who call out to Him and is ready to rescue them. He is close to the brokenhearted and heals those who need comforting.

I thought of Psalm 37:3-7,
"Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, and your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act..."

I guess my New Year's resolution is to live out these verses. Last year the passage that made the deepest impression on me was Hebrews 12:1-2, challenging me to keep my eyes on Jesus and run the race before me, at all times...even when I didn't like what was happening or know what was going to come at me next. Fittingly, Young opened today's devotion with the verse, "But we live by faith, not by what we see." As I wait, in what I feel like is the dark unknown at times, for God to show us His plans I must remember to apply Paul's words to my life.

I will have to give up control.
I will have to admit I need God, desperately.
I will have to trust Him to lead me, one step at a time.

I will have to become a loser, in my book. Only then can I truly win. Luke 9:23-25

A Win-Win Situation

The devotion from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (the "other" one) was so fitting for me this morning. For now I am just going to post the devotional itself. Later, when I have more time (hopefully the girls nap at the same time again!), I will write more.

What does it mean to win? Your friends -- and maybe even some grown-ups -- may say that winning means never messing up, never failing. It is being the best, better than anyone else, and being in total control. That is how the world sees winning.

But I have another definition. Winning -- for all eternity -- is about letting Me have total control. It is admitting that you need Me, and then trusting Me to lead you.

Don't just ask Me to bless what you have already decided to do. Ask Me what I want for you. I may fill your heart with a dream that seems impossibly far beyond your reach. And that dream will be bigger than anything you can do on your own. But remember, nothing is beyond My reach.

Yes, you will mess up sometimes, and you will make mistakes. But when you depend on Me, I will use your mistakes to grow your faith and help you win -- My way!

Like I said, I will write more later. But this spoke directly to my heart. I know putting this into practice will be hard. It may seem like I am losing at times as I give up my own hopes and dreams, my plans and what I think is best for me, and surrender them to God. BUT, in reality, it's a win-win situation!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I Am Learning as a Mom

I read a college friend's blog today and was inspired. She was sharing about how she has changed since moving to China. Her list included taking toilet paper with her wherever she goes, saving plastic bags, paying with exact change, and other such "little" adjustments she has made to adapt to her the culture around her.

Her blog got me thinking. I don't live in a foreign country anymore, but staying at home as a mom is certainly a completely different culture than teaching 5th grade. So I thought I would reflect on what I have learned since I stopped teaching (in the official school setting that is, as I can't help but do "teachery" things at home) and how being a stay-at-home mom has changed me. Well, I really should say what I AM learning and I it IS changing me, as each day is an adventure all its own and brings with it at least one new lesson.

And since the process is never-ending, I am sure I will think of more things tomorrow, or 5 minutes after I post this blog. But, for now, this is what I have come up with:
*Getting things done doesn't always mean you had a good/successful day. Sometimes, accomplishing absolutely nothing on your "To Do List" makes for one of the best days ever because you had more time to play and enjoy your kiddos.
*Little things are really big things. Making snakes out of play dough or pretending a laundry basket is a boat or finger painting or reading the same book for the 134th time are actually super important. Your child will remember the time you spent with them, not how clean the living room was or how their laundry was neatly folded and put away every Monday and Thursday.
*Big things really aren't that big. Your child could care less about having designer clothes or the latest toys or a bigger house or a nicer car. They are content to play with cardboard boxes and don't know the difference between hand-me downs and brand new clothes or toys. So invest in what they do value and appreciate: spend time with them, make every day count, and create special memories out of every day activities.
*It's okay to sit and read a book or take a nap or spend more time than you planned on pinterest. I tend to feel guilty if I am not "doing" something. If I am not accomplishing something or checking something off my to-do list, then I am wasting time. I am being selfish. BUT, I am realizing that taking time to rest and/or relax is okay. In fact, it is good. I need to do this. When I am quiet, I can hear God a little better! I can enjoy His presence.

On the lighter side:
*The only time I ever get to go to the bathroom by myself is when Lawrence is home or if we are out and about and the kiddos stay with him.
*I can go to the bathroom and wash my hands afterward while not only holding but also nursing an infant. I can multi-task and also do the following while feeding Kellah: fix supper, get Coralyn dressed, vacuum, and check email and/or facebook.
*I can have a good 10-20 minute conversation with other moms about pee, poop, or snot. In fact, I am quite certain that this topic will come up whenever I get together with my fellow mom friends.
*I can sing the theme song to both Dora and Diego. Plus, when we run errands I use the Dora format of "Where Are We Going?" to explain to Coralyn which stores we will go to and in what order.
*I often feel like my life is on repeat and every time Lawrence comes home from work my answer to his, "How was your day?" or "What did you do today?" is always the same: changed diapers, fed the baby, read books, cleaned up the same toys 15 times, etc., etc. I tend to feel boring as well.

BUT, I wouldn't change my life for anything! I love being at home with my girls. I am blessed to be able to do so! Being a stay-at-home mom has taught me many things and is definitely changing me. I think God is using this "foreign" culture to shape and mold me into the woman He created and designed me to be. One thing is for sure, after becoming a mom I have come to appreciate God as my Father more than ever!

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