Monday, January 26, 2015

The Essence of Retreating...


After what seemed like a busier than usual Christmas season, we stopped.  Our family had a few days available to get away, refocus, and breathe.  I'm sure other occupations require the need for such escaping, but since I only know the life of ministry, I have grown to see such time away as vital to the growth and life of continuing in the calling God has given us.  (I am also blessed to have a husband who sees this need too!)


Our time was not filled with schedule, but instead with food, walking, rarely glancing at phones except to take a picture here and there (since I forgot my camera!)  Time was slow and sweet.  There is honestly no other people in this world who I would rather be with than my girls and best friend. Getting away from the housework, the school work, the emails, and phone calls was a breath of fresh air!  So very thankful and yet ready to continue in the work God has called us to.


"Be still and know that I am God;" - Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Halfway Goals for January...


It's almost the middle of January, which may seem too late to set goals for the month.  But better late than never...  Laying out goals often seems like I'm setting myself up for failure, which may be true to some degree.  But in writing them down, there comes a form of accountability and a challenge to complete something, anything!  So these goals are nothing spectacular, just simply areas of my life that I hope to tweak throughout the year.

January Goals

1.  Try and implement a new daily schedule (not exactly sure the details yet...)
2.  Finish The Best Yes and read more of Notes from a Blue Bike (working on my "words")
3.  Fill out the paperwork and get pictures taken for passports (#operationokinawa - more info to come)
4.  Declutter our storage area (I must purge!! Girl clothes, school stuff, etc overflow from every crevice of our home. Starting with the storage area this month.)
5.  Order a photobook of 2014 Instagram photos. (I took more pictures with my phone this year and it's the everyday pictures that I cherish the most.  I'll share how it turned out.)
6.  Love the people in my life and show it through my words (an ongoing goal...)



"Now is the blessing.
Now is the time to love.
Now is the time to be."
by Eileen Spinelli in Now It is Winter


Friday, January 9, 2015

Words...


In the first hour of light, when my house is still quiet, our littlest and furriest member of the family requires some outside time and I am given a gift.  A gift of remembering how great our creator is.  The sky blazes with color and I'm encouraged by His Spirit to dive into His Word.

  
Word... words... that is my focus this year.  In the past, I've felt the need to focus on "grace," "peace & stillness," and this past year, on "trust."  But after much prayer, "words" stood out as something lacking in my life and something that I desire more and more to be present.

Psalm 19:14 says, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."  My greatest desire is to not only commit that verse to memory, but to live it!

May I be in the Word on a daily basis, putting aside all distractions (aka social media) until I've spent time reading His Words.  I'm really looking forward to reading a new devotional called Every Day with Jesus by Selwyn Hughes focusing on the armor of God.


May I take the time to really read words, in actual books, not just on some screen that looks flashy and takes little time to understand. May my nightstand be filled with new and old books to fill my mind and cause me to ponder and think. 


May the words that I speak be uplifting to others, especially my family.  It's easy to compliment others who you rarely see, but to show our appreciation and admiration to our loved ones, that takes thought and intention.  May my words be full of grace since grace has so undeservedly been given to me.

 


May my words be fewer in quantity, but more in quality.  May there be less words said and more words read.  I long for time to read aloud quality literature to my girls and for them to read to me.


May there be more words written, whether on paper, on the blog, or even in simple notes delivered by mail.  May even the words penned on a daily to-do list be uplifting and inspiring, rather than overbearing and overwhelming.


Ultimately, may the year 2015 be full of words that bring the God of the Word glory.





















Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finding the Blessings in the Busyness



It's already one third of the way into December and I'm still trying to catch my breath.  Even before Thanksgiving, I knew that December would be busy.  I knew that we would have something every single evening from December 1 until the week of Christmas. My insides fought it hard.  Some of scheduling could have been avoided, but once a commitment is made there is no turning back.  


So instead of focusing on the busyness, I want to focus on the blessings in the busyness.  


As we rushed to and from ballet yesterday, I glanced over to see a grandfather and small boy standing in the rain without an umbrella as they tried to cross the street to the store.  My heart broke and I was humbled by my grumbling heart.  I have a running vehicle that is warm and dry.  My girls are all healthy and we are so fortunate to have a close, affordable, and fun ballet studio for all three girls to participate in.  Count the blessings...


The simple pleasures of clean laundry, coffee every morning, Christmas lights, baking cookies with my girls, an amazing church family, friends who not only watch my girls, but make it fun...


The list could go on, and I pray it does.  I've neglected counting His ways.  I'm so quick to focus on the stress, to get overwhelmed, and to lose sight of what this season is all about.  May we all find the blessings whether busy or not.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Choosing to Wait...


I awake, already behind schedule, and my mind starts whirling with all that needs to be done.  What should I do first?  Thankful for enough quietness to hear, the Lord reminds me, "Do this one thing and then after that, you can do another.  But don't worry about all that the day seems to hold."  

Coffee in hand, I choose what I need the most - time with my maker.  He blesses me with this verse, "Wait for the Lord, be strong & take heart and wait for the Lord."  One season of busyness is ending, yet another one is rapidly approaching.


Weeks ago, I felt this same weight of stress laying heavy, but from two different sources in the same day, I was reminded of this verse, "Wait for the Lord; be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."  I couldn't help but smile and savor the words.

When I looked at the previous verse, Psalm 27:13, I was even more encouraged, for the psalmist wrote, "I am still confident of this.  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."  Did you catch it?  The land of the living!  So instead of always focusing on the past or what's ahead in the future, I need to find goodness among the land of living, with those who are living around us whether in our homes, our neighborhoods, our work places...  May we be fully present in the upcoming season of busyness.  May we patiently wait for the Lord.  May we open our eyes enough to the beauty all around us and be thankful...


for homeschooling on location or just in the backyard...



for dog walks and baby dolls...



for the love of books...



for days of craziness and days of quiet solitude...



for my daily bread (and oatmeal)...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Loving Leaves and Letting Go...


There are seasons where life never seems to stop.  You struggle to catch your breath, getting ahead seems impossible, and moments disappear before you realize their brevity and beauty.  In ministry, this season is frequent and often a struggle, yet God is so good.  He allows late Saturday afternoons for us all to get away, to intentionally take time to catch those moments, and to stand in awe of His creation  






He is so good in allowing us the privilege of witnessing our second daughter take a step of faith.  Our little middle, who has struggled for years to even talk to others, chose to stand in front of an entire church and profess her faith in our Lord.  We have prayed again and again the verse in Deuteronomy, "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." (31:6)  He is so good!









 

And when the leaves turn and fall, and school work calls to be done, God is good in the raking, the jumping, and even in the arguing of sisters.  Their mama needs reminding again and again to slow down...

- to "wait patiently for the Lord.  Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." - Psalm 27:14

- to "be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." - Psalm 46:10

- that it is "not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit," says the Lord. - Zechariah 4:6


"When we make the choice to let go of distraction, perfection, and societal pressure to grasp what really matters, that's when our life although a bit unbalanced and imperfect - tastes sweeter than we could ever imagine." - Rachel Macy Stafford (Hands Free Mama)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Farewell October, Welcome November!


October could not have been a more jam-packed, calendar-filled, people-lovin' month!  Back in September, I knew that it would be, which is one of the main reasons why I chose not to blog everyday in October.  My unofficial goal of the month was to instead focus on praying each and every day specifically for my girls (and my husband.)  I can't promise that every single day started with my little prayer calender, but it certainly helped to remind and encourage me to take time daily to focus and pray over the gifts God has given me. 







As already mentioned, October was busy!!  From getting to spend the first weekend away in Charleston with some dear friends of mine to heading to Fort Caswell with my family and a bus load of students to the fall activities of pumpkin picking, farmer's marketing, and ferris wheel riding, life stayed full!  It was good full, yet now that November has arrived, I long for rest.








We've already embraced the joy of hot chocolate, pumpkin cookies and muffins.  Impromtu walks, trips to the library, and more time spent in the backyard are some of my goals this month.  November is the one of the months that I just long to breathe.  The cool crisp air invigorates me and the colors and crunch of the leaves pause me, reminding me of God's hand in all of this.  

November is a month of gratitude.  It holds the only holiday that has yet to be ruined by commercialism, presents, and activities.  It simply encourages us to remember the principles our country was founded on, to remember and give thanks for all God has done for us personally, and to focus on the people He has placed around us.  







Goals for November:

1.  Rest
2.  Read more
3.  Remember & give thanks
4.  Ready our home & hearts for the upcoming Christmas season