Connecting with God When All You Have Is a Moment

dawn-nature-sunset-womanOnce upon a time, I was an adventurer. I was fearless. I lived each day to the fullest. Carpe diem and all that. I climbed mountains and flew across oceans. My passion to share Jesus was a fire burning, and I wanted to spread it across the world. I prayed aloud all the time, whether in the arms of my dearest friends or with complete strangers at the next gas pump.

As time passed, though, that fire died down until it seemed only embers remained. I think I got lost in the haze of day-to-day life. Over the last decade, my adventures have consisted mostly of navigating Walmart with three kids without causing a major public incident. The only mountains I’ve climbed have been the lofty peaks of laundry I step on to get to the dryer.

When I became a mother, I think I hit a pause button on being me. I think this self-imposed hiatus is something to which all caregivers can relate. It’s in our nature to give and give and give to our families. That’s part of what makes being a wife and mom so fiercely beautiful. This system we’ve set up seems to work–until the time inevitably comes when we have nothing left of ourselves to give.

That’s where I was just a short time ago. Drained. Short-tempered. Exhausted. Spiritually parched. Easily frustrated. One day, I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d prayed aloud. There were the bedtime prayers and meal blessings with the kids, but other than that, it just didn’t happen anymore. I’m not sure why. With church and small group and Bible study and MOPS meetings, there were plenty of opportunities. I would just sit there, though, with the weight of the pause pressing on my shoulders and the heat of the moment burning my cheeks. It’s not like I thought my friends or church family would jump to their feet, laughing and pointing at me. Why was I so self-conscious? I realized it was because I was out of practice.

I was disconnected. In my frantic need to take care of everyone else, I wasn’t making time to connect with God, and that disconnect was spilling over into all the other parts of my life. My identity is found in him. Unless I am spending time with the One who created me, I am bound to lose myself…

This post was challenging for me because it felt very vulnerable. Vulnerability is scary but authenticity is so worth it if even just one person is encouraged or says, “Me, too!”

To read more of this post, please visit The Glorious Table:
http://theglorioustable.com/2016/06/connecting-with-god-when-all-you-have-is-a-moment/.

Advertisements

To the Parent Whose Kid Didn’t Get Any Awards


to the parent whose kid didn't get any awards

I saw you over there from my seat on the back row.

We stuck it out, you and I. Two tedious hours of an elementary school awards ceremony to acknowledge all the hard work throughout the year.

Two hours of a seemingly endless list of names called out, a few over and over and over again.

I saw you clapping for each and every one of those names. Even when the same name was called out for the 17th time. I saw you smiling congratulations to the parents tripping over themselves to get the good photo spot in the aisle.

I noticed your smile grew a bit tight as the long minutes passed. I’m sure mine looked exactly the same as we waited, you and I.

The number of awarded kids grew and grew while we waited and waited for our kids to have their names called.

We knew going in that our kids probably weren’t the top grade earners in their classes. We knew they weren’t the captains of any sports teams. But surely there would be something. Some reason to hear their names called and to feel a bit of pride to be ending well.  Something.

I saw you look over to where your child was using empty hands to cheer on classmates collecting handfuls of awards. I saw you quickly wipe away that tear. My heart hurt with you.

We’re stuck in this gray area, you and I. There’s a tug of war between the two sides. One says, “Give every child a prize.” The other says, “The world is a tough place that makes us earn it and so should they.”

We’re torn. We understand both sides. We’re the ones in the middle.

The children who won all those awards should absolutely be celebrated and acknowledged. They worked hard. Their parents should be so proud.

But we should be proud, too.

While our children might have come home empty-handed, feeling embarrassed and left out, we still have so many reasons to celebrate.

Because there are plenty of achievements that don’t come with certificates.

He always showed up, even when it was hard.

She often shared lunch with a friend who had none.

He could be counted on to encourage classmates who were sad.

She worked harder on that project than she has ever before worked on anything else.

He invited the whole class to his party, even that one kid no one likes.

She is that one kid no one likes and yet she didn’t give up.

Make sure they know that what they accomplished this year is worthy of celebration.

Because the world is tough. It wears on our souls.

And this tough world sure could use a few more people who are compassionate, kind, and determined to make it a better place.                        Tweet: This tough world sure could use a few more people who are compassionate, kind, and determined to make it a better place. via @ashleydpooser

 

The Joy of the Lord


The joy of the LordWe were getting ready for a dinner party but ended up in the emergency room. I was six weeks pregnant and an ultrasound confirmed my fears. There was no heartbeat.

This was the first loop of the roller coaster.

Two days later, I followed up with my doctor. There was another silent and still ultrasound. There were tears. There were a lot of labs drawn. There was a brief glimmer of hope in the doctor wanting to wait before making a final treatment plan.

More loops in the roller coaster.

And this is where we were on the day my husband and I were to head out of town on a very rare getaway to see Rend Collective in concert.

I packed my overnight bag in a daze. We had been so looking forward to this trip. They are one of our very favorite bands and we’d already bought the tickets. Even though we were emotionally exhausted, we decided to make the best of it.

The entire four hour drive was spent waiting on pins and needles for the nurse to call with my lab results. I called her twice with no success.

Finally, as we were pulling into the parking lot, the phone rang. The labs were inconclusive.

I walked into the concert not knowing if my baby was alive.

Hindsight is a precious gift. At the time, I could not wrap my mind or heart around what was happening and the timing of it all.

But now I know the lesson God wanted to teach me that night. And His timing provided the best way to learn.

The concert was not a show. Not at all. It was a night of worship. And, if I’m honest, I was not in the best emotional place for that.

But God is on His throne and the Holy Spirit is not deterred by emotions. The Lord ministered to my heart and I could not help but worship the Creator.

My Creator. My baby’s Creator. I knew I had to trust God in His plans. No matter what the outcome might be.

There was peace. Such peace. And there was joy. Which seems so improbable. But the joy of the Lord is not situational.

God was merciful to us and the following week showed a strong heartbeat and a growing babe. We named her Abigail (“the Father’s joy”) and we’ll be celebrating her first birthday in just ten days.

God’s divine timing had us in the right place at the right moment to truly learn about the joy of the Lord. In spite of our emotions, we worshipped with abandon and chose to glorify Him no matter what. We got a chance to deeply experience the peace that passes all understanding.

Tomorrow night, we are getting a chance to worship with Rend Collective again and I am so looking forward to it. Our life has been less dramatic lately but still tough.

The icky things of daily life pile up one after another and it’s hard to shovel through when you’re not sleeping.

I’ve just been so worn.

I’ve found that sometimes a strong faith comes easier in the dramatic valleys of life than it does during the long hot trudges through life’s deserts.

Thankfully, the joy of the Lord is not based on my spiritual geography.Tweet: Thankfully, the joy of the Lord is not based on my spiritual geography. http://ctt.ec/LGX28+

I’m looking forward to celebrating Him tomorrow night.

On the Need for Community


on the need for community

Over Spring Break, I got a chance to sit out on the back porch of my parents’ house. They live in the quiet countryside of north Florida, surrounded by pine forest.

All throughout the day, the only noise is ours. Someone puttering in the kitchen. Someone else calling the dogs back in. Laughter and playing and the occasional argument between the kids.

But at nighttime, the woods come alive with a loud symphony of sound. Sitting on the back porch, with the frogs and crickets and birds all shouting their songs, God reminded me of something.

Each individual creature is tiny and fragile. On its own, it could be overlooked and not noticed. It could be forgotten, easily stepped on or quickly dismissed as insignificant.

But together? When they come together to raise their voices? It’s a choir that can be heard for miles. It will not be ignored.

The same can be true for us.

Individually, we feel fragile. But together, we are strong.

We are made for community.

I recently had the privilege of witnessing this firsthand.

Jennie Allen, a popular Christian speaker and author, was alone in a hotel room, trying to finish a book and realized her own need for community. With no real expectations, she tossed out a link for a Facebook group.

As of this writing, in the week since its birth, “Our Village” currently has 4,983 members.

Almost 5,000 people. Mostly women. Who immediately felt the need in their own hearts to connect and jumped in.

In the last week, I have seen hundreds and hundreds of posts. They mostly sound a bit like the one I wrote in my head and never posted:

Hey everyone. I wasn’t going to introduce myself because there are just so many people to know but I thought I might as well go for it. I’m so-and-so from somewhere. I’m a wife/mother/friend/sister/daughter/teacher. I’m glad to be a part of this group because _________.

And where that ________ is? Insert any one of five thousand incredible, unique, God-given stories. A story that might not have been told because there are so many stories that have already been shared.

And we tend to feel like our voice and our story isn’t as needed or as exciting or as important as the others.

But we are made for community.

We need to hear each others’ stories. And we need our stories to be heard. God made us that way.

For every reluctant introduction, the need to be known finally outweighed the fear of being overlooked. The need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves was stronger than the fear of rejection.

Strangers.

But strangers who are now a part of something bigger than themselves.

I have seen women jump to congratulate and cheer on successes. I have seen women humble themselves and bravely tell their truths once held hidden. I have seen women shower grace upon grace.

Strangers no more.

Sisters.

In community.

And again I’m reminded of the frogs, the crickets, and the birds. Each one a tiny creature. One small part of a much larger whole.

But together, we are strong. 

We are made for community.

Parenting in the Fire Swamp

My sweet precious lamb of a 9-month-old has yet to sleep much in her lifetime. Which recently gave me the opportunity to reflect on the last time we were in the throes of sleep deprivation and general insanity. I remembered this post I wrote a few years ago and decided to bring it over. It is like my 2013 experienced mom self  was writing directly to my 2016 new mom self. =)

*************************************************

From Stinker Babies ~ January 28, 2013 

The other night, Jake and I were flipping through the channels hoping to find something on TV that did not involve mighty math powers or latch-key bunnies.  (Seriously, where are  the adults in Max & Ruby?)

I squealed when we came across one of the greatest movies in the history of mankind.

The Princess Bride.
Buttercup had just tossed Wesley down the hill and we were already reciting the lines right along with them.

As the two lovebirds bravely headed off into the fire swamp, I had the most incredible epiphany.

Parenting is like the fire swamp.  The fire swamp is parenting.  Mind = blown.

All the ups and downs of sleepless nights and diaper explosions and teething and potty training and the Terrible Twos and Traumatic Threes and Frustrating Fours and…okay, you get the picture.

“It’s not that bad.  Well, I’m not saying I’d like to build a summer home here but the trees are actually quite lovely.”

We make it through the days of packing up the entire house to run to the grocery store.   We survive the sleep deprivation.  We celebrate the end of potty training.  And after a bit, we look back and we see the loveliness of the trees.

But just when we’ve mastered one phase, a new challenge is on the horizon.  Eventually, we’ll realize we’ve learned and grown.  We’ll hear the pops that precede a flame spurt and know how to avoid the fire.

“Well, one thing I will say.  The fire swamp certainly does keep you on your toes.  This will all soon be but a happy memory.”

There will be days, though, when we find ourselves feeling defeated and discouraged.  Maybe we might even find ourselves having a day when we’re sobbing on the kitchen floor.

“We’ll never succeed.  We may as well die here.”

Even though Buttercup is a bit of a drama queen, that attitude is sometimes familiar.  But!  We can’t give up.  We can do it!  Think about all the challenges we’ve faced.  Think of all the ways we’ve learned and grown.  We are growing daily as we’re molded and shaped by our experiences.

“No, no.  We have already succeeded.  I mean, what are the three terrors of the fire swamp?  One, the flame spurt.  No problem.  There’s a popping sound preceding each.  We can avoid that.  Two, the lightning sand, but you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid that, too.”

I know what you’re thinking.

What about the R.O.U.S.s?

That’s why we have each other.  In parenting, it is so extremely important to have some sort of community.  We’ve got each other’s backs.  We can do this together!

Together, we can make it through this fire swamp.  And one day?  (Maybe even many years from now.)  But, one day, we’ll look back on the “terrors” of the fire swamp and our first thought will be, “How lovely were the trees.”

candgbackyardblog

You Don’t Need a Perfect House to Make a Perfect Home

It’s not much to look at from the outside. The paint is faded, the driveway is cracked, and the garden is dead (again). But if you come inside with me, I think you’ll see much more than a tired little house.

Watch your step as you come in. My husband carried me through this doorway when we bought this place ten years ago. We were still newlyweds, fresh-faced with bright eyes, and we were ready to conquer the world.

If you walk down the hall and peek into the first room on the left, you’ll see the walls we spent hours preparing for our first baby. I must have sampled eight different shades of sky blue to find just the right one. The shade tree and flower garden murals are the products of aching arms and full hearts as we dreamed of a sweet new life.

Throw open the window there, and you’ll see the hydrangeas lining the fence. I can’t believe how big they’ve grown. Every year, I look forward to their cheerful blue and purple blossoms. We fill our house with summer when we bring them in, as many as we can carry. Every household object becomes a potential vase.

Across the hall are the shower tiles that held me up one cold Sunday morning when my beautiful, feisty Mamaw went home to glory. She fought an all-out street brawl against cancer, and did so with classy southern grace. My heart has never known such a deep ache as when I had to wake up in a world without her in it.

In the backyard is the playground we inherited when another family’s kids left childhood behind. With tears in their eyes, they set it up for our toddler son and told us to cherish the memories we were sure to make. We made our first memory there when we plopped Caleb on the swing and told him he was going to be a big brother…

To read more about what I learned from saying goodbye to our first home where so much life happened, click through to The Glorious Table.

http://theglorioustable.com/2016/01/you-dont-need-a-perfect-house-to-make-a-perfect-home/

candgbackyardblog

For Everyone’s Safety, Let’s Let Go of “Perfect”

The big red circle on my 2014 calendar was creeping closer, and I still had no idea what I was getting for teachers’ Christmas gifts. This season always creeps up on me, and I am continually surprised when Christmas happens every December. I wanted to do better this year. My daughter was in preschool, and I’m pretty sure she helped her teachers achieve sainthood that year. While they truly deserved a vacation, a thoughtful gift was the best I could do.

At the beginning of the year, we received a list of the teachers’ favorite things. I held on to the list and did everything short of laminating it to keep it safe. I obsessed over The List for an entire week before the Christmas party. I scoured Pinterest for hours, desperate to come up with something that would hold its own among all the other thoughtful, crafty gifts from room mothers who could rival Martha Stewart. How could I combine the teachers’ favorites into a unique and thoughtful gift, thus proving our undying love? …

To read more about how my quest for Pinterest perfection almost poisoned more than just my attitude, click through to The Glorious Table for the rest of the story!

http://theglorioustable.com/2015/12/for-everyones-safety-lets-let-go-of-perfect/pexels-photo