Wednesday, April 30

6 things I learned in April

It's that time again. That moment when I realize I forgot to keep a running list of what I learned this month, and then scramble with a notebook in hand hoping to remember something from this last month.
My brain is a huge pile of mush lately. Could it be that I gained a new son last month? Probably. Or perhaps it's because I have lots of kids. Uh huh. Or that I'm in the middle of getting ready to launch a long-dreamed about new blog ministry for moms with a dear friend? Yeah, so that's my announcement. Not so slick, but there you have it.
A new website and podcast for moms will be launched out into cyberspace in just 10 days on May 9th! I'll be back soon to fill you in on all the juicy details. But for now, please pray for us? (Remember this gal?) We're total newbies at podcasting, and could use all the help we can get. We bought a special microphone and are having at it. So if you let us, we'll be coming through the speakers on your computer or gadget every month or two with a new episode along with fresh and encouraging blog content each week. Stay tuned, friends! And if you're willing again, we'll ask you to help us get the word out when the time comes.
So let's move on from brain mush and exciting news to this:
Emily Freeman hosts the What We Learned link-up community each month, and I have to say, it's my favorite. May it be serious or silly, it's all there. Okay, now on to what I learned, I did manage to recall a few things...
1.  Ooh. This one is bad. After eating a clean diet for 6 weeks, I flew to Oregon for a quick 3 day trip over this last weekend to a wedding with my little Emmy. I figured 3 days of eating the old way wouldn't hurt because it'd be a pain to go to the store and buy certain foods for just a couple of days. Well, it certainly didn't hurt as it was going down, but imagine the horror of getting realllly sick in the middle of the night just 4 hours before getting back on a plane to fly 1,790 miles with a lap infant. I'd say I learned a lesson here.

2.  Last summer at the She Speaks conference, Michael Hyatt mentioned in one of his sessions that there aren't many women hosting podcasts. That grabbed my attention. Because I had a feeling it might be in hanging out in my future. If I'd gingerly taken six months over the winter to figure it out, that'd be one thing. But putting the pieces together in a matter of weeks is a whole 'nother ballgame. Cheesy elevator-ish music and space-age weirdness abounds when you're trying to scour the web for upbeat and happy intro music for your show. Oh my word. I spent 4 straight hours yesterday alone searching. Again. Then my trusty partner in crime came up with the perfect one with an effortless click or two. We found one. Hallelujah!
3.  This next one was super interesting to me. The other day I was poking around on Google, for who knows what reason, and I came across the crazy news that isn't really news at all because it's been a thing for 30 some years I'm sure. Singer Ellie Holcomb's dad is Brown Bannister. The songwriting and music producing guru. Does that ring a bell to any of you? Well it should if you grew up as an Amy Grant fanatic like me in the 80's. His name was all over those cassette tapes and lyric sheets I used to pour over as I sang along in my room. Does this blow anyone else away like it does me? Maybe not.
4.  After two full months home, our new guy Jackson is even more awesome than we once believed. True story. And yesterday, he may have decided he wanted to follow Jesus. My heart squeezes over this boy.
5.  As I mentioned above, I traveled out of state recently. Right when the world up here was getting ready to burst forth with green leaves and grass, I went and cheated on us. At least it felt that way amongst the flowering trees and fragrant flowers which were already in full bloom where I was staying. It was strangely wonderful.
6.  Last month also brought a surprise visit from my sister. She's my best friend, and lives way, way too far away in Tennessee. She came for a whole week thanks to the generous gift of a ticket from one of her friends who couldn't bear to see us apart for any longer. Wow, huh? Plus, Jen hadn't met two of our kids, and hadn't seen all of us together in nearly four years. So sad. I didn't necessarily learn anything new here. I already knew I missed her like crazy, but I guess I did learn that you just never know what's around the bend. Hope might be sitting around the corner undetected just waiting to surprise you.

Share with us, what did you learn in the month of April?
Thursday, April 24

For the One Worrying About the Future

I'm happy to say that I've taught three of my children to read.

This is a huge accomplishment for me. Because honestly, one of my greatest fears starting out as a homeschool mom was that my children would never learn to read if I had anything to do with it.

Staying constant when things get mundane is not my strong suit. And teaching kids to read can be pretty mundane. So let's just say that listening to a kid sounding out c-a-t and t-h-e and h-a-t for the millionth time isn't my favorite.

I enjoy making fresh batches of play dough, observing kids working on math in blanket forts, and reading to them about the plight of the gospel around the world with a yummy cup of coffee in hand and the Dallas String Quartet playing softly in the background.

But the good news is that I have three readers. Three wonderful kids who love to read.

And then there's the bad news. I still have to teach five more kids to read. I just rolled my eyes and shook my head in disbelief at the screen when I typed that out. It's just so unbelievable. The only method I've used to teach my kids to read is the "wing it" method. It's akin to the "do the best you can in this season of life" method. Now, it might be tempting for you to throw out your favorite curriculum for teaching kids to read as a suggestion. Don't. I probably own it already, and should therefore start a lending library. You see, it's not a materials problem. It's a me problem.

But there's an even bigger problem at play here. It's the jumping out of today, and worrying about the future problem.

Sometimes situations in life come up, and we aren't sure how to handle them. We wish the Bible gave us more specific instructions on certain topics. For instance, when you're trying to figure out if you should move to Hawaii or Italy for that job transfer, you wish the ten commandments had included, "Thou shalt not ever reside in Hawaii." It'd make it so easy.

Even though most of the specific decisions we have to make aren't always answered in the Bible, there are some very specific instructions for how to behave and where to park our minds. And fretting about the future is not one of those places. Jesus makes it pretty clear when He spoke of it on the mountainside during the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 6:33-34

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

So instead of worrying about all that may go wrong in all of our tomorrows, we should seek His kingdom here in today. What are we to do with today? Isn't there such relief in that thought? One day. We can do one day. He's given us everything we need for today.

Joy and trust cannot coincide with worry and fear. But that's what we try to do. We try to cram it all together as if it's supposed to work that way. We think, "I can still be joyful and trust God while at the same time make myself sick with anxiety thinking about all of the hard stuff in my life and how it's going to affect my future."

If we learn to leave worry and fear out of the mix as we move into a new day without projecting it onto a day in the future, we'll be able to experience joy and trust God with our lives in a new way. And then we'll do the same for the next day, and the next.

Thursday, April 17

He Calls Us His {An Adoptive Mom's Story}

There was a time in my life when I thought I understood God's love for His children. After all, I was a mom, and I was used to sacrificing for the ones I love.

But I was wrong. I didn't fully understand the depth of His love and just how far He'd go to bring us to Himself until we were walking through our first adoption.

Today, I have the pleasure of being a guest over at My Little Corner, the blog authored by the lovely and wonderful Cindy O'Brien. I met Cindy last summer in North Carolina at the She Speaks Writers & Speakers Conference. She is an adoptive mom as well, and has been gracious enough to let me share in her space.

To read the post click HERE.

Monday, April 7

Difficult People {How to Deal}

I change seats three times at the coffee shop before settling down to work because my favorite spot in the corner is taken. I'm used to this game because everyone else knows it's the best spot too.

I creep closer to the good spot as the seat next door becomes available. But also because I don't want to sit near creepy guy. But that's just me. I'm the awkward girl who can't sit next to a man I don't know for fear they are in fact a creep. I know. Aaaand I said creep three times in a single paragraph. Wait, make that four.

I settle into my delightful spot at the counter that has finally opened up, put my headphones on and play a Christmas song on repeat. In April. The other day I discovered that playing Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix on repeat turns me into a writing machine. The words just pour out of me as I try to remember that the whole coffee shop really doesn't want to hear me sing accapella on repeat. So I refrain from singing along and go with it because I need all the help I can get.

It's finally time to quit stalling and do the work. But who really wants to talk about difficult people? Definitely not me.

I'm not good at dealing with difficult people.

They infuriate me.

They say and do things that just plain hurt.

They're confusing and I mostly try to avoid them.

And usually I think they should just knock it off.
Don't they know how awful they're being and how miserable they're making us? It just. doesn't. compute.

Then I remember compassion. Oh, yes that. And love.
And also their past. That matters too.

Sometimes when we hear the words compassion and love thrown in with the topic of difficult people, we're tempted to think of doormats and push-overs. Two things we don't want to be. So how should we do this?

I know of no other source more suited than the Bible to help us out here. Paul, in his letter to the church at Colossae gives us these words:
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

So, from the looks of it, we're to put on, or act with

Even when they're being a jerk.

And also
and love (most of all)

We're to
let Christ's peace not be crowded out
and be thankful

Read God's word
letting it simmer and dwell within us

Teach each other in wisdom
praise Him with thankfulness

Do everything for Him
and again, be thankful

Sometimes love means boundaries. That's super hard, but often necessary.
And sometimes you can forgive and the relationship isn't restored. That's still okay.

A restored relationship may not be possible right now if it's abusive or unhealthy. We're called to forgive and love, which will restore our hearts. The act of forgiving another person isn't saying you approve of what they've done. No, it's much different than that. Forgiveness releases your heart and mind from dwelling on and being held captive by their actions any longer. It doesn't mean you're accepting what they did to you as okay, it simply means you're going to be okay with them not taking up residence in your mind any longer as you move forward. You're going to clear the counter off. So to speak.

I may not be good at dealing with difficult people. But I can be good at love because Christ is good at loving me.

They may infuriate me, but I can be compassionate because Christ has been endlessly compassionate with me.

My job isn’t to fix the difficult people in my life or enable them to continue their destructive behaviors. My job is to be obedient to God in the way I act and respond to them.

This will forever be a work in progress in our lives. But there's no better day than today to start making some progress.
This post is linked up with Holley Gerth and company over HERE!