Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hello Summer, Goodbye Blog

Or something like that. Happy Blog Friday y'all!

I tell you what, my heart has been churning over the past month.  So to you, my precious friend taking his or her time to read this, I wanted to share a little update.  Big, earth-shattering news.  Ha!  (wink, wink)

I'm going to take the summer off from writing weekly blog posts.  And, ya know, weekly is an awfully generous word for what it really has been over the past few months!  But, many weeks, I've hit a wall when I sat down to write and that got me to pondering.  And listening.  My first reaction was, well shoot.  Guess it's time to stop blogging....I got nothin'.  But that thought left me more distraught than trying to work through and come up with words.  So I started pushing further and asking more about why that wall seemed to meet me every week.

The answer?  There are lots of reasons.  Naturally!  But, mostly I need more.  I want more.  I feel desperate for more vision, more focus, and more direction in writing.  Although this blog is basically something that my friends read, I am deeply honored that anyone would spend their time reading my words.  Bloggers are a dime a dozen!  You could spend hours reading blogs!  And that you choose to read this, blows me away. So, in some ways, I feel protective of your time.  I want my words to be life-giving and entertaining, but I also want them to carry some bit of content that will make a difference for you after reading. And that some 'bit of content' part is the one that hangs me up.

If I move forward with blogging, I want to do so with more intention and more vision.  And I honestly believe that it's there to be had but it deserves some set aside time to pursue.  For reals, when I get a blog post up it is barely up and there is little time or space for pre-thought, editing, or thinking much about writing in any other manner.  It's my season as a mom of little boys and I wouldn't trade it.  I would not trade it for anything, and yet I still feel my heart being prodded to take steps towards a dream: being a writer/speaker.  And not to take steps when my boys are in school or fully raised, but right now.  And that's straight up messy!  So, I've come to the conclusion that it's just not realistic for me to maintain a commitment to write weekly, and to create the time and space necessary to press into more vision/focus for writing/blogging.

I really love the back and forth that I feel with you when I blog.  I genuinely feel it and your gift of time to read my words is treasured.

Bottom line, I want to blog and I want to write and I think that God is in that.  But, I want to take some time to make sure on that last part.  Because if He isn't, then, well, then I think I may be in deep doo doo.  :) Just made myself laugh out loud.  Deep doo doo is funny!  I have appreciated the encouraging feedback so many of you have offered but just want to take some time to pause and lay it down and listen.

So, maybe I'll show up and blog a little here and there or maybe I'll go totally silent.  But, if I may be so bold, would you pray for me this summer?  I'm at a point where I don't need any more great ideas, I just want to make sure that they are His ideas.  Seriously, if you get anything for me as you think of me, please please please feel free to reach out and share it with me.  I'll have my notebook ready to jot down your thoughts :).

Thank you for your time, my friend.  Whether or not we know each other well, you are my friend and your time is a great gift.

SO!  Happy weekending y'all!  Happy summering y'all!

Hope to catch up with you again in September.....but for now much love,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dear High School Graduate: An Open Letter to my Girlfriends

Hello, hello!

Oh the sweet times. The past few weekends, some very special people in my life have graduated from high school.  They are each uniquely beautiful, starkly different one from the other, and genuinely enjoyable.  We may have more than a few years separating us, but we share passionate love for Ben and Jerry's ice cream, hunger for God, savoring the beginnings of sweet relationships, talking about travel and adventure, and honest conversations about things that are both hard and wonderful.  I am honored to be called their friend. So, I am penning a letter to them and to others like them as they close one chapter and and take a huge bounding leap into the next:

Dear Sweet Friend,

I think about how I was feeling when I was in your shoes.  Feelings of sadness, questions, nervous excitement, bold excitement, and relief flooded me.  It was sad to close the door to high school because you knew you could never go back to those sacred years.  But, I knew that what waited for me on the other side of summer was something I was aching to dive right into.  And scared to dive into. And relieved to finally be about to dive into.... you know what I mean.

So as you dive, I have a few wishes for you.

I wish for you to know that everyone is nervous when they start college.  There will be those that look not only confident, but as if they own the place.  Believe me though, everyone is nervous.  Everyone is starting over....even the ones who come in knowing people.  Starting over in life is one of the most precious gifts you will be given, so make the very most of it.  This is such a great opportunity to leave behind habits that didn't yield great fruit in your life and embrace the things about yourself that line up with the woman you envision yourself becoming.

I wish for you to press into God as you start over.  Only He can help you walk in simultaneous confidence and humility of spirit.

Your confidence can be founded in the truth that HE is writing your story and He is a really good writer.  He is faithful.  And He is the most diverse artist there is.  He doesn't have one style....He has millions and billions of styles.  Each person is a reflection of His style - so that means that you are a reflection of Him too. Sometimes that is easier to believe that of others than it is of yourself.  But believe it of yourself.

Don't let that make you proud, but instead, let it make you grounded in the truth that you are designed on purpose and with great intention. If you can press in to that truth, you will attract the people that will actually sharpen you and make you better. Take your time in finding your crowd. You want to and will attract the kinds of people who are interested in mutually beneficial friendships, not lopsided ones where it's all about you needing them or them needing you.  Search out those kindred spirits who have enough going on in their hearts/spirits/minds to want to be a good friend to you as much as you want to be a good friend to them.  If it takes you a few months to do that, I promise the wait will be worth it.

Recently, I have seen this quote from Oscar Wilde all over the place: "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken."  Now here's the funny thing about that for you right now: you don't know who you are yet!  I say that in the kindest, most empathetic way possible.  It's odd because the more accurate thing would be to say that you both do and do not know who you are yet.  In fact, it is absolutely thrilling to be exactly where you are because you are about to discover so much about yourself!  How exciting! You have inklings now of who you are and were created to follow those inklings. Follow those things that you do know about yourself.  God will delight to introduce you more and more to yourself.

So be inspired by those that you meet.  Be inspired by that great outfit.  By that unreal test score. By that brave performance.  Be inspired, but don't be jealous.  Inspiration allows you to see greatness in others and it causes you to dig deeper into the path that God has started to carve for you.  Be inspired by others and go for excellence.  You will never, ever regret the pursuit of excellence.  The pursuit of perfection, on the other hand, will lead you down a path that leads to lots of stuff you won't like in the future.

For you my friend, I pray that you will love learning.  Truly!  It is SUCH a gift to have a functioning and capable brain. Be a woman who loves to learn and is interested in intellect.  You won't each have the same version of that....but be a learner. If you approach each class as an opportunity to learn something, you'll be well served.  And listen, don't down math.  Math is important.  I got a marketing degree and used math all the time in my marketing/media job after graduating. I still use math skills all the time. You don't have to ace it, but don't dismiss it as pointless!  Do you want to be a woman who is successful in any way, shape or form? Then don't let numbers scare you. Okay, enough about math.  Back to loving learning.  Search out the professors that everyone talks whatever you can to get into their classes.  Don't always go for the easy classes.  Embrace the ones that will push you.  And here's the key: talk to your professors.  Go introduce yourself to them!  Push down the violent butterflies in your stomach and shove your hand out and introduce yourself.  Tell them that you just wanted to say hello and that you hope to learn as much as  you can.  And then go to their office hours when you're studying for a big test.  College is so much bigger than high school.  Talking to your teachers and being known by your teachers is a given in high school.  It isn't in college.  That's entirely up to you....even in the smaller classes it will be up to you to have a relationship with them in which you can actually ask questions.  And believe me, they (mostly) want you to succeed...even the scary ones.  So, if you are willing to be part of teeny tiny fraction of students who go to office hours and ask for help from the professor, you will get keys that others simply don't.  Your learning experience will be so much richer because of your willingness to initiate getting to know your professors.

And oh, my friend, I wish for you to find friends that want to learn about pressing in to God together.  What I have learned that there is actually a lot to learn about pressing in to Him.  There is so much of Him available to us but my biggest seasons of learning that have come from putting myself in circles where others know a lot more than I do/did.  That can absolutely happen for you in college. Are there women who are older than you that get together to pray? Invite yourself.  You will learn so much about prayer from being around people who have been praying longer than you have.  It can truly rub off on you.  I assure you, it will! The same goes for reading the Bible.  There's a big wide world available to find others who want it too and push each other to go for it.  Don't be afraid of being the 'serious' one.  The 'spiritual' one.  Go for it and dive into the Lord like never before.

Lest you think that I only hope for you to have a serious, spiritual and academic experience beginning just a few months from now....let's talk about fun.  Have it!  If there's an opportunity to do something you've never done (of the legal variety, ahem), do it!  Go on road trips!  Do ridiculously silly things with your friends and laugh loudly!  Go see movies late at night.  Dance in the hallways.  Travel as much as you can.  If you get the chance to study abroad....DO IT.  Experiment with your hair.  Cut it because you can and hair grows back!!! Have your favorite restaurants and go as much as you can with the people who are close to you.  And here's a wild the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice in your room on a rainy weekend, surrounded by pizza and candy.  The food you choose for that experience is key. Choose well, young one.  Try different ethnic foods than what you are used to.  College is such a great time to find new foods that you love :) I guess the follow up to that is, don't love the food too much!!!! LOL!  Find the good coffee in town (not Starbucks) and drink that coffee as much as you can.  Embrace these years for the adventure they offer you and soak it up.

And finally, a few wishes for you on the topic of love.  If you find the love of your life while you're young, darling, love every minute of that story.  And if you don't, darling, love every minute of that story.  You, truly, have almost zero control over when love will become a part of your story.  So, please, enjoy your story either way.  Live life to the fullest and embrace it.  That sounds utterly cliche, doesn't it? But, believe me, those who trust the Lord enough to do this, end up having very interesting and beautiful stories that are almost irresistible.

But one note to those who do happen to find head-over-heels love young: don't drop your girlfriends. No one person was ever intended to be your all-inclusive need meeter.  Including Mr. Right.  Keep being a good friend and giving quality time to your girls.  It's a tough balance and sometimes you'll get it right and sometimes you'll get it wrong....and sometimes you'll get it right and the friends will still be frustrated with you...but just keep trying.  It's worth it.

And to the ones who don't find love young: guard your heart from jealousy.  Jealousy inevitably  makes you do really funky things and causes you to be someone you really aren't.  Your life is goooooood.  Live up your singledom!  Have fun and love life and love who you are....I promise you that someday Mr. Right will say that that was one of the biggest things about you that drew him to you.

Oh my friend, I am truly so excited for you.  You're getting ready to dive!  I just can't wait for coffee dates to hear of all your tales.

Much love, happy diving, and happy weekending y'all,

A few of the beauties in my life:

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Messy Kitchen and Me

Happy FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!

It's the early morning hours of Friday and although the littlest man in my home has just piped up with his first 'good morning sounds' of the day, there is something still sacred about being awake before the sun.  A little painful (ha!) but still sacred.

I hope you've had a good week!  Our week has consisted of rain, the last week of Mother's Day Out for Liam before Summer break, praying with friends, Mr. Shepherd struggling with some pain (which I've assumed was teething but we are heading to the Dr today just to make sure there's not something else I'm missing) and cleaning my kitchen all day every day.  My friend Natasha is pretty funny.  She has coined the term ADED.  Which represents All Day Every Day.  Ha!  No explanation necessary for any mommy type reading, right?!

But seriously, the kitchen.  For the past two weeks, it has become my arch rival on a daily basis.  Or I guess we could say, ADED.  The dang thing has won every single battle we've had recently.  I mean, truly, I'm not sure I've beat it in any one of our encounters.  I am fairly certain that I use every moment of free time that I have to whittle away at it during the daylight hours.  And some days, it really does come fairly close to being beat.  It looks good by the time I'm done with it.  But how quickly it resurfaces in it's messy winningness.

Seeing as how this battle has raged for a few weeks now, I have most definitely found myself doing deep, down to my toes, soul searching as I've scrubbed dishes for the millionth time.  Pondering questions of 'Whhhhhhhhy?' and 'What's wrong with me?' and 'How in the world can I fix this?'  You know, if you haven't been in such a wrestle with such a room recently, this may sound trivial!  But I assure you, it is very much all out warfare when you're stuck in the middle of it!

In all of that deep down to my toes soul searching, a few things have occurred to me.  Namely, I'm in one of those stretches of mommyhood.  You know the ones.  The ones where someone needs something ADED. Granted, I think that's the story of being a mom most days....but my experience has been that there are just these phases where it heightens and it's somehow more.  My big boy relishes playing with me and being at my feet, and my little boy is teething and just crawled for the first time yesterday and is doing Olympic level developmental leaps....which is delightful but means that there is not much putting him down for more than ten minutes.  And I personally struggle to be very productive at all in ten minute chunks.  And then there's my biggest boy who relishes quality time together at the end of our work days...and I do too.  That and, by the end of these days of mommying, I have very little steam left.

I've determined that what I really truly need is for everyone to go away.  HA!!!!!!  Mind you, I don't wish for everyone to go away (mostly)!  But if I could just be left alone in my house for 3-4 hours, I could beat it all down in a ferocious way.  I could practically run as I cleaned because there would be no so little hindrance.  I'd be like one of those fierce athletes that trains wearing weights so that when they get to the actual event to compete they feel like they can fly because their body is so much lighter.  Totally.

It takes very little imagination for me to fast forward my life ten years and look back at my mommy of little people self and say something like 'Sister, let it go.  Relish the babies.  If the mess comes with the babies, live it up!'  So I try to keep that in mind.  Because I do LOVE this season of my life. BUT, when you do not work outside of the home, sweet mercy, a messy house is really something to wrestle with.  Even as I'm typing, this all sounds a little over the top dramatic!  But, I kid you not, when you are swimming in a messy kitchen that you just can't beat - day after day - it starts to feel like a torture method a terrorists would use. No.....not overly dramatic at all. Smirk.

Of course, at the end of the day, the messy kitchen isn't really about the messy kitchen.  It's about how it makes me feel.  And, it makes me feel overwhelmed.  It makes me feel like I'm just not getting on top of life.  It makes me feel like I'm trapped. It makes me feel irresponsible.  At about this point, I'm a really hopin' you can relate!  Because if you can't, well that's just embarrassing then.

Although it's now Friday afternoon as I'm wrapping this post up (we've now started the day, enjoyed some quality time, I got to clean for 25 minutes (timer set), played cars and the Busy Town board game, gotten a summer hair cut for the big boy, picked up a charm at Vintage Pearl, ate a little lunch at Mimi's and now we are back and both boys are having room sleeping, one 'reading') and I've pondered the words I wrote early this morning.

It's always dangerous to take a pause when writing because the second-guesser inevitably shows up.  Thoughts of how ridiculous it is to write about how my kitchen has been my enemy for two weeks, thoughts of how petty it must sound to someone not in this stage, thoughts of judgement from those who truly excel at keeping order in their home or thoughts of judgement from those who see keeping order as far less important than spending all your time focused on little ones.......the list goes on.  But here I am, still writing.  Oh well, I say.  My kitchen really has been my foe over the past two weeks!  But do you know what.....the Lord does speak through most any situation in which we face a foe.

It makes me think of James 1:2-4:

  Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Count it all joy.  And the word 'let' in verse four really strikes me.  It is possible to face a trial and not 'let' the fruit come.  Let steadfastness have its full effect, that I may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  So by the grace of God, I press in to steadfastness because HE is steadfast.  And if HE is, and HE is in me and I am in Him, then I have the capacity to let steadfastness do it's work.  

And though I still press forward to gain the upper hand in my kitchen (come on weekend!), the Lord has reminded me of a few truths:

- When I feel overwhelmed, I panic.  It's hard for me to know where to start and I'm pretty sure I literally walk in circles.  So, make the job smaller.  Focus on one part and stick with it.  

- Set the timer and commit to cleaning for that amount of time and then stop.  Part of the reason that I HATE having my kitchen talk back at me with its messiness is that it genuinely robs me from time I'd love to spend playing on the floor with my big boy and baby boy.  If I set the timer, it gives boundaries to all.  Liam knows when I'll be done and I know when I'll be done and when that timer goes off, I walk away and settle onto the floor for some car playing.  

- Allow truth to walk me back from the edge of dire thinking.  The truth is: I am fully capable of getting on top of the kitchen.  I am not a perfect mom/home manager, but I'm good.  And the kitchen simply doesn't get to talk to me.  I get to talk to it.  Sometimes I feel like Adam and Eve....God gave them dominion over the creation, correct?!  So, I have to remind myself and this house and its little voice, that God gave me dominion - not the other way around.  This house doesn't own me or have the right to tell me who I am or what I am.  So back off already, kitchen!  You'll meet your maker when I get the window of time.  And you'll be sorry you ever breathed a thing to me :)........ Seriously as I type this I'm contemplating whether or not I'm entirely stable.  Ha!  

- Today is beautiful.  Even if I stare at a list of things that need to be done ADED, this day is beautiful.  And my baby boys will be full grown men bigger than me in the blink of an eye.  So pass me that squishy baby cheek to nuzzle and kiss, and let me stare into the deep and sweet eyes of a three and a half year old and hear his heart.  These are God's treasures that He's trusted into our hands to nurture and train into their destinies.  That's important.  

- But a clean kitchen is important too.  Because it makes my brain stop hurting.  And I'm pretty sure there is a direct link to a clean kitchen and peace.  Wink, wink. So, I keep pushing when I can.  

Uh, thank you LORD that it's Friday!  Vietnamese food with my favorite three men awaits me tonight and that means I won't dig my kitchen hole deeper.  Glory.  Highest praises!  HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!  

I sincerely hope you're on the brink of a delightful weekend.  And whatever your foe has been, I hope you find words to talk back to it a little.  Remind it of who's who.  A little trash talk feels real good.  

Love y'all and happy weekending,

Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday: Ponytail hair, boys and coffee, and the great pillow debate.

I'm not sure which city you're sitting in as you clicked the link to read today....but this Friday in Tulsa is that perfect kind of weather.  That is, if you like sunshine, short sleeves, and blue skies.  Ha!  If Seattle is your vibe, then you probably wouldn't use the word perfect!  Ahhhhhh perfection is in the eye of the beholder.
I'm going to be straight up with you: I have nothing meaty to write today.  No insights to share.  No deep ponderings to present.  Just my thoughts and goings about on this Friday.  Now for myself, the uber nosy person who actually does enjoy looking at paparazzi pictures because I love seeing glimpses into people's lives, this sort of post would be a totally legit way to spend my time!  But if you're looking for something that will make you better because you read it, keep on a lookin' my friend.  But don't really because I'd love your company for a few minutes.

So here's my Friday so far:

Sunshine makes me want to be in a coffee shop.  Of course, most any kind of weather makes me want to be in a coffee shop - right?!  Starting when Liam was a few months old, we enjoyed taking him to coffee shops with us.  I mean, if you start them young it will stick, I'm thinking.  Liam is three and a half (actually 3.75 if we're being technical) and Shep is seven months.  Gotta get Shep in the groove.  Within an hour of being up and around this morning - I knew that the coffee shop was calling our names.  Ran the idea by Liam, got a hearty yes, and the plans started churning.

We put Shepherd down for his early nap and Liam and I went to work getting dressed and cleaning up the playroom.  Other than prepare meals and take care of little men, I clean.  I am constantly striving to become better at cleaning.  I can't keep at it all of the time but mercy, it makes us all feel better when things are mostly put away.  Liam is becoming a great picker upper!  So while I wrangled my third day hair into a ponytail, he picked up all of his cars in the play room.  The cars had made their way into every square foot of  the room so I was impressed with his thoroughness!

Speaking of third day hair.... I am genuinely concerned as to what will happen to my hair if we ever have a third child.  Since welcoming Shepherd, I now go longer than ever before between washes.  Very mixed feelings about this!  On the one hand, it's so liberating!  On the other hand, when I feel clean and put together, I just seem to have better days.  Hmmmmm.... I guess that's one deep pondering that squeezed its way in to today's musings!  Let's check back on this topic when Shep turns one and see if I'm washing more frequently or sticking to the same routine.

We got the play room whipped into shape, I got fully dressed (accomplishment!), Liam got dressed, we got Shepherd nursed (actually only I got Shep nursed) and into the car we went to, DoubleShot bound.  Liam likes to say we are going to 'vroom' somewhere.  So we vroomed to the coffee shop.  The Lord heard my prayer as we drove and, lo and behold, there was a couch open and waiting for us.  We decided to bring books with us today and a couch was what we needed to spread out and get comfortable.  I'm telling you, it was just one of those delightful experiences.  Some days with little people are challenging from the moment growing feet hit the floor, and other days brim with delight.  So we soak up the days of delight!

Shep worked Sophie the Giraffe over with fervor and Liam and I talked and ate and drank and read.

After Shepherd started tuning up and beckoning us to make a speedy exit, lest we make quite the scene, we piled back into the car.  Which is where Liam donned his glasses and became, what I like to call, Little White Boy Pitbull.  You see it, right?  

We got home and my house still needs attention.  But if cleaning was my top priority every single day, I would never have friends, spend time with the Lord, write, play with my boys, or continue falling in love with my husband.  So, instead of continuing my tidying endeavors at the moment....I'm chatting with you and thinking about throw pillows while Shepherd naps and Liam has room time.

A few things: One - why are throw pillows so expensive?  Two - why can't I like the cheaper ones?  Three - it is quite the design feat to mix/match patterns.  I don't like matchy matchy and I want to bring more variety in, but I feel like you can go way right or way wrong with the eclectic approach.

So here's the throw pillow that I have and am working around....we call these the talking chairs:

And these are pictures I took at Pottery Barn....I have decided that I just don't like other throw pillows and will figure out how to save my pennies to make these throw pillows reality.

We have a (large) dark brown leather couch that the pillows will go on.  So the bottom pic really should have been taken on dark brown background.  Ah well, I was 66% effective.

PLEASE pardon the blogger challenged picture alignment below.  I don't even know.

Seriously, the alignment drives me craaaaazy.

But here are my thoughts:  I love the blue pillows.  But, if I go blue it will be the first place in my house that I'm accentuating blue other than our master bedroom.  And that means I need to pull it in a little more elsewhere.  And that means spending more money.  In addition, I really love the chevron print in the bottom two pics but the print is a little cutesy and I want something that's a little more eclectic.  Which leads me to really liking the combo in the top picture.  It's still a chevron but it's not a cream background so it doesn't pop as much and the black looks kind of like zebra print.  And I like it even better in person than in the picture.  Follow me?  No?  Wondering why in the world you are spending your time reading these thoughts? Well I'm wondering why in the world I just spent time typing all of this, so you're in good company.  Thinking I'm on the totally wrong track?!.....please save me from total mental collapse and keep that opinion to yourself!  LOL.  The mommy brain can be a fragile place.....

Having said all of that, my friend I sincerely hope you've had a good week.  I hope that your weekend is full of grace, peace, joy and adventure.  I hope that you and me both press into the grace to choose for our weekends to be full of grace, peace, joy and adventure.

Happy weekending y'all!

Much love,

Friday, April 24, 2015

Girlfriending: A Scripture for Friendship

Hello you glorious Friday morning, you.  I greet you and welcome you.  May you bring me something delicious to eat.  :)

Every good break must come to an end.  I took a few weeks off of blogging because, well, I'm still not quite sure.  My heart has been churning a lot lately and sometimes when that happens it's like you're processing too much to crack into it and let just a little out.  If you crack in too early, some really half-baked stuff will ooze out. Or something like that!

But every single Friday I think of this space.  Of you and how you read my words...and how honored I am by that.  If you ever want to write me some words of your own, I'll read them.  I promise.

So can I tell you one thing that has been in my heart recently?  It's the one Scripture that I have come to believe is so key to becoming a person capable of true, genuine, and healthy friendship.

Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."

I think that's it you guys.  I think that there isn't a whole lot more to it than that.  I mean, of course there is, but when it all comes down this skill is the essence of being a friend to someone.

Truly, I've seen and experienced some of this in action recently and wow, it's amazing.

The verse contains only a few words but holy moly, to become a friend who lives that out is certainly not easy all of the time.

Think about it:

Rejoice with her, when she rejoices.  That means, when she has something beautiful happen to her, relish it together.  Even if you've had a hard day.  Celebrate the breakthroughs for her when you're in the trenches yourself.  Acknowledge the small victories that may seem small to someone who doesn't know her very well, but you know they mean a lot to her and her story.  And that really means - deal with the issue of jealousy.  Yeah.  Jealousy will stand in the way of true rejoicing with her every single time.  Jealousy will rob you of your capacity to offer full friendship to anyone.  By the grace of God, it is possible to see jealousy bound and gagged in your heart.  By HIS grace!

And then the weeping.... I don't think that this means to automatically cry when your friend cries.  I think it means, don't run the other way when she's hurting.  You wouldn't want to run the other way for lack of caring.  We run because it is awkward to be close with someone who is hurting.  Because we know that they often don't need us to fix it and we couldn't even if we tried....And to just be with someone in the valley when there is nothing to do but pray and be is one of the most beautiful gifts you can give.  I had friends do this after we lost a baby at 11 weeks.  They didn't have answers and they hadn't experienced it, but they said they just wanted to come be with us.  Words can't express how much that meant.  One of my mentors is walking this out right now.  A new friend of hers recently lost her oldest child...his life ended far too soon.  I mean, that is the kind of pain that hurts to even think about for more than two seconds.  But Carrie is choosing to not pull back from spending time with this mom.  Even though she has no capacity to fix her friend's pain, she is simply being in it with her.  Now that's friendship - brave, raw and true.

Lord help us grow in this!  Help me to grow in this!

My friend, I hope that this is something simple to grab onto as we pursue growth.

Happy weekending y'all!  Much love to you!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Praying For Your Man

Happy Friday, peep!

I'm feelin' a short post coming on.  Like straight to the point and done.  Three minutes of reading.  

Are you a wife?  If you're not a wife, are you a friend of someone? Is there someone that you really care about - a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend?  Have you ever uttered the words...."I'm praying for you!"  "I'll pray for you....." etc only to realize that it never actually happened?  

I think Facebook must be the absolute top place where it is way way way too easy to type those words out and never follow through.  

This week, I delved into a prayer exercise that really made an impact on me.  As a wife, I feel compelled to pray for my husband.  I want to.  I believe that my prayers somehow carry a weight in the heavenlies on his behalf like no one else's, because we are one.  I go through seasons of being more consistent with it and less consistent with it.  But recently, my heart has been stirring to refresh my efforts and I wanted to create a new prayer list for him.

This time, I didn't ask him if there was anything he wanted me to be praying about for him.  Instead, I got out my new journal......oh my.  It's my very favorite journal EVER.  It feels so so so good in my hands and it calls my pen out of the drawer and into my hand to get writing.  

Instead of thinking through what I should be praying over him, I prayed through what I should be praying over him.  It doesn't have to be weird.  It can be a very simple question of the Lord, "Father, show me what to pray for Him.  What is on your heart for Him?  Holy Spirit show me."  Then give it a little time and start writing.

Whoa.  What started coming through my pen as I started scribbling the list of things to pray over him was crazy.  They were things that I wouldn't have come up with on my own - I can tell you that.  They were things that were not coming from my heart, or frankly, my agenda for him.  They were from his Father's heart....and sister, I can tell you - it's more powerful to pray what the Lord is saying over him than what I want said over him.  

So, if your instant thought is doubt over whether or not God will say anything or that you will hear anything or that you will hear the right thing....put it aside.  The risk in this exercise is unbelievably low!  No one has to know!  And more than likely, what will come to you is positive stuff so if it's more you than God then no worries - at least you're praying good over your husband!   

My next step is to find Scriptures to go with each thing that came to me to pray for him and then I like to post my list on the inside of one of my cabinet doors so I see it and am frequently reminded of it.  Please.  I'm no prayer superstar.  But this is something that really helps me grab onto my commitment to pray!  

Oh man, this can be applied to any prayer focus, can't it?  It's not a method for wives only, ha!  It's just a great practice to ask the Lord to help us pray and it's one I want to get better and better at.  The other day I shared with Z one of the things God put on my heart to pray for him.  You should have seen his eyes....he felt so loved.  Give this a try!  Would love to know if it turns out to be as cool for you as it was for me!



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Connecting At The End Of The Week

FRIDAY you blessed thing, you.  Seriously.  I could do a jig.  I could just hug it.

Honest confessions of a first time mom of a Spring Breaker: I think I blew it a little.  I mean, bless him, Liam really had no grid for Spring Break and I don't think he even realized that he wasn't going to school when he normally would have.  But we got into it and I realized I wanted to have more 'fun' planned than I did.  This is how I roll though....rarely prepared for things the first time I experience them - it takes me a time or two to get into the groove.  Some moms seem to be born ready for these kinds of things...I get there in time :). So NEXT year I'll be all over it.

Here's a question for you: Where have you been lately?  Not where have you literally been.  But where have you been?  Where has your heart been?  Where have your thoughts been?  Because even in the crazy weeks, our hearts continue living.  Our spirits continue sensing.  Our minds continue pondering.  You may be meeting this Friday in a frazzled state, just thankful to cross the finish line.  Those weeks inevitably leave me aware of only the blatant within me.  Know what I mean?  My most conscious thoughts are: Let's have fun.  I'm tired.  We made it.  These boys are so cute.  Lord help me not get angry today.  Is it time for a latte?  What can I eat?............

But even at the end of those weeks, the truest part of me and the truest part of you is still beating and experiencing life.  And oh so often, there is a dialogue going on in and it's there whether we connect with it or not.  But it's there my friend.

And, for me, that is mostly the place that my spirit is engaged and I am connecting with Him.

Do you feel dry at the end of this week?  Wondering how another week passed and you ended up here at the end of blur of activity?  Feeling like He's not speaking much at the moment?  Or maybe you feel overwhelmed by a particular situation that is unrelenting and consumes your thoughts.  Perhaps you arrive at this Friday, aware of just how much Grace has been extended to you this week though.

If I may, I'd love to speak right to the deepest part of you and simply say a few things that are indeed true....whether they feel true or not.


You are not separated from Him.  Romans 8:35-39

He is with you. Isaiah 41:10

He delights in you.  Zephaniah 3:17

He is speaking to you and you will hear him.  John 10:27-28

There's no substitute for truth and sometimes I have to get a little firm and confront myself with it. Truth really does bring freedom, doesn't it?!

So if you've arrived at the end of the week feeling disconnected, I'll just put out there a few questions I ask myself and a few things I ask the Lord to do to help me connect more deeply:

What situations have been filling my thoughts most loudly?
What thoughts have been running throughout my mind or heart on a quieter level?
What am I feeling beneath the thoughts that I've been having?

What I ask of the Lord:
Lord, give me eyes to see what you see and ears to hear what you hear.
Lord, show me my heart.
Father, help me to be quiet so that I can hear.
Jesus, what do you want me to pay attention to?

If those kinds of questions are new or feel uncomfortable, no worries.  Warm up to them and take them out for a test drive.  There's not really much on the line if nothing happens!  But, I think they help stir up your spirit and open you up to connect.

Be encouraged my friend.  No matter how you've arrived at this Friday, this moment is yours.  This moment can lead right into the deeper connection that every one of us longs for.  Don't be discouraged by thinking you need to carve out thirty minutes of silence.  Take two minutes right now and then pay attention when it comes to your mind throughout the day.  See what happens...because maybe something will!

You are loved.  You are desired.  And you are most definitely not separated.

Many blessings on your weekend and happy weekending to you!

Love y'all,

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Word to the Weary...

Oh Friday, how we welcome you.  We open our arms wide, wider, widest and wrap you up in the tightest hug we have to give!  This Friday brings me a play date, a lunch with friends (both of which are possible because people are willing to come to me these'd think I have ten little people in my care instead of two!), a deep inhale in after a full week, and then the main man coming home tonight when we will get two precious boys in bed and then collapse on the couch for a sexy Friday night of catching up on Jimmy Fallon.

Because I just can't help of the Spencer boys as of late:

My mind has been on weariness this week.  How a long season all of the sudden stirs up a weariness of soul. How weariness can hit you in the face out of no where....chugging along just fine and then suddenly you're not fine.  As much as we would love to snap our fingers and quote the right Scriptures or discipline ourselves into the right frame of mind in order to produce shortness of just doesn't seem to work that way.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28, NLT).  Now I wonder why he would have spoken directly to the weary among us.....Hmmmm....perhaps a reminder to us that weariness is a part of being human and being not-God.  Which is most definitely me: not-God.  Weariness is a part of every journey and every race.  Ask any marathon runner - they get weary during that long run.  They reach points where it is only will power and muscle memory that keep their legs going.  Weariness is a part of the journey....but not the end of us.

What a promise!  Come to me....and I will give you rest.  If you've been a Believer for long, you can probably talk the talk quite convincingly.  Even to yourself!  But I try to stop myself dead in my tracks sometimes and ask myself if I am really coming to Him?  Am I bringing my weakness?  Am I focusing on my need of Him...or focusing on all of my questions and the seeming lack of answers?  I tell you what, that's the journey for me.  Learning to come to Him more and more.  More truly and more quickly.  Because He will give us rest.

If you're weary today, there is such hope.  My Dad always says that a season changes suddenly.  Out of nowhere.  In an instant.  Does that not give us hope?!  Seasons change!  They do.  And in an instant!

If you're weary today, take heart.  Perhaps it's just been a long week.  Or maybe it's been a long few months.  Or maybe it's more than that.  No matter the length of the journey, there is fresh grace today to come to Him.  He will be good to His word.

Happy weekending y'all!  Much love.  I'm working up the next series and pondering options.  Throw an idea my way if one pops in your mind!!!


P.S....Someday I will pay someone to edit these for me.  Ha!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three Minutes On A Friday

Happy Friday Y'all!

Short is where it's at today, my friend.  About three minutes of reading on your end....considerably and ridiculously more minutes on my end to write what will end up being three minutes of reading.

I've just wrapped up two weeks of the sicks in our house.  Liam was the first week, Shepherd was the second week.  It is moments like these that I am oh so deeply in touch with what my calling is not: the nursing field.  It amazes me to see how God helps me to be the mommy nurse when I need to be.  Thankful to be coming out of these two weeks and thankful my boys are recovering.

So if your week has been like mine at all, you're tired.  A little spent.  Mush brain all the way.

I'm pondering these words today from Psalm 91 from the Amplified version of the Bible:

He who [a]dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].
I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!
For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

Ohhhhh yes.  She who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain STABLE and FIXED under the shadow of the Almighty.  He's able to be leaned on.  He's able to protect me.  He's able to cover me.  I so want to be found in that place, don't you?

Praying you have a good weekend.  May it be marked with reminders to dwell in the secret place of Him even if tons of activity swirls around you.  It's the deepest satisfaction out there.

I'm gearing up for the Oscars on Sunday!  Gan (my Grandmother) loved the dresses and now my mom and I do too.  Gan was a faithful Vogue subscriber for years and although I don't subscribe....I do just love love love seeing the dresses.  Can't wait to find my favorite this year!

Love y'all and happy weekending,

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Wise Woman's Advice on Marriage: Part Three

I tell you what, I could go on and on with this series because I am truly rich with wise women in my life. Carrie has taught me about carrying my own backpack in marriage and not picking his up to try to carry.  Rebecca gave me a particularly good piece of advice for the intimate element of marriage.  Dannelle reminds me to pray for my husband and how truly important it is.  Judy told me a story about nagging that has stuck with me for years.  The list could go on!

I have thoroughly enjoyed this little mini series on some of the best marriage advice that I've been given by wise women.  And I have so appreciated your comments and seeing that we are all tracking together on this journey called marriage.  Even the not married jewels!  So much truth about marriage can be applied to any relationship that is important to us.  If you want to check out part one on letting each spouse play to his/her strengths, click here.  And for part two, on the realities of being on the same team, click here.   It was so much fun to give a pot of cookies to Samantha, a friend for many years!  I wish I could have given one to each of you - that's how great they are.  Maybe next year.....ha!  When I've come into considerable money....

To wrap up this series, I wanted to share a piece of advice given to me by one of my mom's dearest friends, just before I got married.  It comes back to me all of the time and has proven true repeatedly.

The Wise Woman: Rachel Samuelson

The Wise Woman's piece of advice: You hold your husband in the palm of your hand.  Speak words of life to him, and you will be shocked by how much of an impact it makes on him.  

Rachel went on to elaborate and I will paraphrase what she said:

"Abi, I have been married for ten years now and I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that Mike has absolutely blossomed since we got married.  I have chosen to speak into him with encouragement, affirmation and words of life instead of the opposite and it is astonishing to see how much he has grown since we got married.  YOU hold your husband in the palm of your hand.  You can crush him or you can watch him grow."

Whoa.  You can crush him OR you can watch him grow.  I don't think that she was saying to avoid confrontation so that you'd never say a hurtful thing to your spouse.  I think she was saying - 'You have no idea how powerful your words to your husband are.  Don't underestimate how much he feeds on the words of life. And not just anyone's words....your words carry an impact that no one else's have.'

(Let's take a moment to discuss the above picture.  Weird.  Is it a jello heart?  Whatever.  I saw it and couldn't pass it up :)

I was watching part of the IF: Conference this past weekend and I saw a part where Bob and Maria Goff were interviewed.  He said something so very striking.  He said, 'Women, guys are the funniest people.  It's basically like this: if you say it about us or to us, we will become it.  If you remark on our integrity, more integrity will come out.  If you praise our gentleness, we will become more gentle....etc.'

Again, I think the word whoa is the only appropriate response.  Whoa.

The instant Rachel's words hit my ears I knew there was truth in them.  I have the capacity to do one of two things to Zion, as his wife.  One, I can stunt him and shut him down with my words.  Or two, I can breathe life into who he is destined to be and to the beauty and strength I see inside of him.  I have certainly missed the mark in this area on countless occasions.  Not one of us is perfect and thank you LORD that You have mercy over our humanity.  But I every time I have chosen to directly speak life into him, the fruit is there.  I mean, who wouldn't grow from that?!

I think it should be noted that this isn't meant to be utilized in a manipulative sense.  I.E. I want you to load the dishes so I tell you how much I love your dish loading expertise and overall dish loading sexiness.  That is self-serving.  Instead, this is a conscious choice to be the best that you can be to your teammate and to call out the best in him.  Imagine a track team.  One teammate heads out to do her individual part of the race.  Is the rest of the team sitting passively on the sidelines?  I'm thinking not.  I'm thinking they are on the sidelines narrowly watching the teammate's run around the track and screaming out encouragements as she passes in front of them...."Go! Yes! Great corner! You're almost there! Lean in!  You've got this."  We are calling each other to run our races well.  And the more we focus on calling out the strength inside of our teammate, the stronger he becomes...every single time.

Here's another running example.  Have you ever run a race that was hillier than you expected it to be?  By the time you see the finish line your muscles are quivering and you really feel like you may not be able to make it across that line.  Never mind running....walking seems to be the only feasible option.  But then your eyes fall on the crowd that has gathered at the finish line and by the grace of God, somehow you find the people that you know who have come to cheer you across that line.  They are waiving arms in the air and yelling as loud as they can, smiling and cheering you.  I tell you what, no matter how much quit your body is fighting off, there is something about hearing those specific voices break through the other cheerleaders.  Everything inside of you grabs on to the sight of them and to the sound of their voices and you breathe in oxygen and push.  Where the energy comes from is a mystery, but there is a sudden urge to run as if your legs are fresh and you find yourself sprinting to the finish line.  Only God knows how those cheering voices have the power to flood your body with desire to run across that finish line with everything you have left.  But they do.

It's a holy thing to hold someone in the palm of your hand.  And as a wife, it is something to lean into the Lord for.  I want to partner with what the Lord thinks of Zion and let that fuel my words to him instead of offering words out of flattery.  Simple prayers like, 'Lord give me your me to have your words...' yield results that sometimes surprise even you.  And mercy, I don't want to crush him.  I don't think we should be obsessed over whether or not we are going to be the end of our spouse with our words.  After all, we don't have ultimate power over anyone or anything - thank goodness.  But it is so right to acknowledge that our words have deep impact on our men.  And they do have the capacity to bring more life to them instead of more doubt to them.

Happy Valentine's Day Weekend!!!!!!!!!  I love celebrating love!  And I have loved focusing on some of the great marriage advice that's been given to me from very wise women over the years.  Thank you for reading! To those who are married and to those who aren't - I appreciate your time more than you could know.

Happy weekending y'all,


Friday, February 6, 2015

The Wise Woman's Advice on Marriage: Part Two

Happy Friday!!!!  One of my strongest love languages is words of affirmation so buckle up because you're about to be affirmed.  You did it!  Another week in the books!  It may not have been perfect but you're here.  You loved and lived and had a few bumps in the road but take a moment to breathe it in.  THIS is destiny.  This moment....not two years from now.  Not twenty years from now.  You are playing in the big game NOW and this week counted.  Another bit of your story was written this week and regardless of what you see or feel - it was an important week and a good week.  It's a beautiful moment!

Ah the countdown to Valentine's Day.  It commeth!  I can't wait to celebrate this year.  The past few years we have gone to see a movie and eaten popcorn for our romantic dinner out - so fun!  I LOVE seeing movies when the theater is full and there's so much energy in the room.  It reminds me of the first time I got to experience that.  I was in college and went to a late night showing of Ocean's 11.  It was a theater full to the brim of students and everyone laughed together and experienced it loudly and expressively (is that a word?!).  We clapped at the end.  I mean, so fun.  I'm sitting here smiling at the memory like a goof.

Did you catch the word in the air that I get to do a GIVEAWAY this week?!?!  I'm just so excited to be able to share with one of you something that I'm so passionate about!  Ha!  Check out the end of the post to enter because it's a POT OF LIBBY'S VALENTINE'S DAY COOKIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But first we get to delve into another piece of marriage advice that was given to me by one of my wise-woman-friends.  This one challenges me to grow every single day.  Let's go!

The Wise Woman: Dannelle Newnam

The Wise Woman's piece of advice: Be on the same team.

Huh?  I mean, isn't that an obvious one?  Well, for you I'm sure it is!  Ha!  For me, well, I'm choosing to focus on this as much as I can.  Because the truth is that as obvious as it may seem - I find it's something I have to consciously choose and press towards to make it a reality.

There's a story on how this advice was handed to me.  Quite a few years ago, we found ourselves on opposite sides of an argument that resurfaced again and again.  It was a big one for both of us and we too easily allowed ourselves to become entrenched in our individual positions.  Finally, we had to call in help. We asked our friends Michael and Dannelle to come over and hear us out and HELP.  They are particularly gifted in marriage guidance and there is just nothing more meaningful than having trusted people whom you can cry in front of and be transparent with in order to work through something together as a couple.

They listened so patiently.  And when we were done putting it all out on the table, Dannelle looked at us and said, "Guys, I think one of the biggest issues here is that you're not playing on the same team.  You're on different teams: opponents."

Those words hit me because I knew the moment she said them, that they were so very true.

It could be assumed that because two people are married - they are a team.

In some ways, that's true.  But it doesn't mean that two married people are always acting like a team. Feeling like a team..What if it were really that simple?  Guys, be on the same team. Truthfully, making that shift can put you in a vulnerable place.  It's a big step of faith!  If you decide in your heart that you are going to move forward as a team, you are deciding to prefer and prioritize what is best for the team - which at times requires you to lay down what you think is best for you. And that's where we need help, isn't it?

Making the shift to a team mentality also means that you start seeing your spouse as your teammate instead of your opponent.  Which means that you're not on defense against him.  You trust him.  You work with him. You cover for him and he covers for you.

In our marriage, we had mostly great teamwork.  We saw ourselves as a team almost all of the time.  It was just when those dang little issues would pop up.  You know the ones.  The ones that circle back around repeatedly because no resolve has come and neither side is willing to give up ground.

And it's at this moment that I must say, I have no earthly idea how people do marriage without the ability to lean into God's strength when they feel weak.  I'm at a loss for words when I think about it.  How does one shift from being an opponent against her spouse to a teammate with him unless she digs in to Truth?  Unless she allows the Lord to come and breathe new life into her hope and give her faith that she can do it.

I think there are moments when we have to choose being a team when everything inside of our flesh wants to categorize an argument as one of those and prepare to take our ground.

A few practical things have helped me in moments like that.  One, I try to pull out of the hamster wheel of thoughts and break into the craziness with truth: Zion is for me.  It doesn't matter what the feelings are telling me...I have to shift to simply believing that.  Because it is true!  It IS truth.  And it's a game changer when I make that shift.  And two, I simply try to start identifying within myself that I'm feeling like we are on different teams.  Send up the alert!  It never goes well when we are on different teams so simply identifying that we are heading in that direction helps us both take a deep breath and try again.

My dad always says that yes, two people do instantaneously become one when they are married.  But, they also become one over a long period of time.  My personal theory is that we will forever be on that road of becoming more one...and it's beautiful.  It is so very worth it my friend.  Take it from one who's still in the process and has to remind herself to play on her husband's team....becoming more one has big payoffs.

And now it's time for the giveaway that brings SO MUCH happiness to me!  LOL.  Of course it's cookies! Can I tell you about Libby's cookies?  They are yum.  Libby makes one thing and she makes them with excellence: sugar cookies.  She took her grandmother's famous recipe and turned it into a business.  These cookies are everything a sugar cookie should be.  They are fat.  They are not dry.  They are the perfect combo of soft/chewy/dense.  And there is the best hint of almond throughout it.  You taste it and you say to yourself - yep, this is what a sugar cookie is supposed to taste like.  So let me give you a pot of her adorable Valentine's Day cookies!  All you have to do is go back to my facebook post and comment to be entered. (Blogger is the worst for letting people make comments here....planning to switch to WordPress this year)  This is a local Tulsa prize, so if you're not from Tulsa still enter and you can either choose someone here to have the cookies delivered to or I can choose someone who needs an extra special pick-me-up and give them on your behalf.  I can't wait to see who wins!  I will put the number of comments in a bag, one number on each piece of paper, and if I draw 6 and you're the sixth comment - YOU WIN!!!!  I'll do it on Sunday afternoon and deliver cookies on Tuesday!  And please go follow Libby on won't be sorry.

Lots of love and happy weekending to you!  See you next week for the last blog on marriage advice from wise's going to be a good one!


Friday, January 30, 2015

The Wise Woman's Advice on Marriage: Part One

I love Valentine's Day.  Pink, red and white bring a smile to my face!  I love love and celebrating love and....eating love.  Ha!  At this very moment I'm attempting to talk myself out of ordering a dozen Valentine's Day cookies from my friend Libby at OKCookieMomster.  Her sugar cookies are beyond.  And they're big. And they're beautiful.  I mean, if you are a sugar cookie person you know - there are sugar cookies and then there are sugar cookies.  Libby's melt in your mouth and have the best texture and taste.  If you're in Tulsa...find her.

If you've been married for more than one day, you know.  Love within marriage is sacred and thrilling but it does not come and stay without intention.  It's kind of like my mom and I joke, "If we aren't trying to lose weight...we're gaining it!" :)  If we're not mindful of a goal then the scale will just keep inching upward!  Ha! And the same is true of love....if we aren't mindful of it and in pursuit of it, it's likely not growing.  And a growing love within marriage is worth working for.  It's worth focusing on.  It's worth going after with all of your heart!

This year we get to celebrate our tenth anniversary!  I cannot believe it.  I'm loving how much excitement is building in my heart to get to celebrate the milestone with him!  Ten years.  Ten years of being married to this person who has helped me grow, who loves me, who likes me, who pushes my buttons, who believes in me and who causes me to grow in respect for him every year.  

I'm not the biggest self-help book reader.  But, I do search and seek out wisdom wherever I get a hint of it in the air.  Wisdom on marriage is so valuable!  At ten years in, I feel like I'm still in the thick of learning and so I hold onto the bits of encouragement that have been passed to me.  And there have been three women, who at three different times have given me wisdom that has really impacted how I think.  Ten years in, I can actually say that these pieces of wisdom don't just sound good....they have really helped me grow as a wife.  

Each week I'll focus on one of the three pieces of advice leading right up to the day before Valentine's Day.  Here we go!

The Wise Woman: Cheryl Booth (aka my mom, my friend and Mimi)

The Wise Woman's Advice: Let everyone play to his/her strengths within marriage.  Let each person bring his/her strength to the table on behalf of the unit.  

It sounds unbelievably simple!  But the longer I'm married the more I'm certain that it is anything but simple! Mom has proclaimed this truth for years but it takes a bit of marriage seasoning to really start getting what she's saying - or it did for me at least.  

I think of that one of life's great challenges is wrestling with the concept of 'normal.'  Normal is nearly always a figment of something we believe to be true but often doesn't pan out to be that consistently true.  And it tends to stir nothing but issues when it's applied to marriage!  

It is far too easy to have an idea of what a normal husband/wife does, is, or thinks/acts/responds like.  And often, we have that image in mind when we come to a point of conflict!  Everything inside of us wants to scream...."WAIT THIS ISN'T NORMAL!!!!!!"  

But normal is a love and life killer if ever there was one.

The more I lean in to my mom's wisdom, the better my marriage becomes.  I want to let myself play to my strengths within marriage...even if it's not what I consider normal.  And I want to let my husband out of the 'normal' box and let him fully be himself - playing to his strengths on behalf of us.  It all sounds so straightforward but my experience has been that this is a hard core choice you have to make at certain points.  

What if my strengths for our unit don't look like my other married friends strengths?  And therefore my marriage looks significantly different than her's does?  What if the way my strengths combine with his strengths look different from what it looked like for my parents and in the home I grew up in?  The list could go on and on....

When we talk about loving well, wouldn't this be included?  That we invite another to be fully who he is?  Bringing his strengths to the table and being celebrated for them instead of pondering endlessly why his/her strengths are different than someone else's?  I know that I so appreciate it when Zion welcomes my strengths instead of pondering my weaknesses.  It breathes such life into me!  

So here's to a piece of wisdom that continues to teach me so much.  Here's to my mom for practicing this truth so well.  And here's to embracing the combination of us within our marriages that makes each couple unique, quirky and strong!

Happy Friday y'all!  Happy Weekending!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Nice Talking Mommy

Another week conquered!  PRAISES!

Last weekend I went to a book study group that my mom is teaching on the book Shepherding Your Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.  My mom is pretty awesome.  Since I was heading out the door, Zion was doing the bedtime routine with Liam that night and I was getting ready to leave.  Liam's at the age where you can't really slip much past him.  It's much better to be straightforward with him, tell him where I'm going, why, when, etc.  So he and I were having some time together before I left and bedtime started.  He asked what I was getting ready for and I told him that I was going to a meeting for mommies.  We were going to learn how to be better mommies.  Thankfully, he accepted that reason (likely thinking to himself....'shooooot there couldn't be a better group for you girl!' Ha!) and I sensed his little brain was churning.  So as I reapplied powder, concealer and lipstick I asked him...what do you think we'll learn about being better mommies?  His instant, did not take a moment to think, reply? "You'll learn how to talk nice."

Out of the mouth of babes......

(At his first dentist appointment!)

Such a little window into his soul those words were!  Truthfully, I give myself multiple pats on the back because I KNOW how many times I want to be rougher with my tone or a little harsher with my words than I am.  I KNOW how much resistance and discipline I am exercising to not lose it at least once a day.  But this little man soaks up every single moment of communication we have.  His heart is waiting and watching.  And when I do lose it - you can see his heart in his eyes instantaneously.

Which, truly, is that not maddening?  Honest mom moment alert.  Don't ya just wish that you could go bonkers/lose-it/scream as loud as you'd wish in some moments and not cause little hearts to break?  No?  Just me?  :)  Sometimes I just want to let all the ugly come sprinting out and spill everywhere - loudly.  Like I really really want to.

We talk about talking kindly at home a lot.  It's as much for me as it is for him!  No matter how justified we feel in being harsh, or mean, or bluntly frustrated - little hearts are listening.  And big hearts are listening too!

If there is one thing I'm not, it's a perfectionist.  Frankly, I know that I am going to lose it as a mom.  I am.  I know that it is simply not realistic that I will or can avoid all moments of freak out entirely.  I had a mini-lose-it session last night over a toy filled room and a tripping occurrence.  There's really nothing like a toy filled room to all of the sudden push my buttons.  And it's not to say that I aim to have a sugar sweet voice all of the time because I think it's pretty important for little ears to be able to quickly tell when something is serious.  But, I have been given little hearts to steward.  To shepherd.

Sometimes I just need to remember that the way I use my voice impacts a certain three year old.  It's funny because he doesn't seem to react when I need to suddenly get very firm with my voice because he is disobeying or in danger.  But it's the dang 'lose-it' moments that seem to penetrate his heart.  The moments when he wasn't in the wrong...he just happened to be there when my limit was met.

So what's a not-perfectionist to do when I know it will happen again?  I just keep reminding myself that there is GRACE for me to step into in the moments when it seems that my limits have been far surpassed.  That there is literal grace for my mouth to stay shut.  For me to lean into Him instead of letting my mouth run.  And then...I humble myself and directly and clearly apologize to the little heart that all of the sudden became insecure because I felt I had to let it all out.

I'm sitting here a little amazed because this was not the blog post I sat down to write!  But as I wrote I realized that I missed the apology part last night!  So - listen - this one is for me.  This mama has an apology to make to a three year old after he's buckled in from school pick up.

So here's to the weekend!  Full of family which means full of opportunities to receive and give grace.  Full of opportunities to 'learn how to talk nice!'  We can do it!!!!!!

Happy weekending y'all,

PS....Talking nice does not equal a lack of honesty or firmly dealing with discipline issues as they arise :).  Two different things!  And all the mamas and papas said amen!!!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

January Sunshine and the Naked Christmas Tree

Hello, hello!

It is Friday.  The sun is shining in Tulsa.  The high is 61 degree today.  I mean breathe that in!  I'm sitting here at my old school computer and I keep getting distracted by the Christmas cards still taped to the door to my left.  When I was a little girl, I would literally sit down for an hour with the church directory and pour over the pictures.  The same pictures over and over again.  I love seeing people!  And I looooove looking at the families God has brought into our lives - again and again.  The cards always stay up until February :).  No shame!

And then of course there's the view to my right.  The naked Christmas Tree.  Ahhhhh yes.  I swim in a perfection deficit, like, all the time.  But hey, the ornaments are off and I celebrate that accomplishment!  LOL.  Hope this is making you feel a little better about the fact that Christmas has been long put away in your home :).  You're doing great!  Give yourself a little pat on the back if you're feeling so inclined.  I'm patting myself on the back for a non-ornamented tree :).

I so wish I had more than the little window of time that I do have to sit and write and interact with you.  The two-boy life is a busy life!  January has brought me the very welcomed feelings of getting into a groove and feeling like I'm back a little bit.  The fall was newborn zone of consciousness and then came the holidays and now here I am.  Shepherd is 3.5 months old.  Liam turns 3.5 years old on February 4.  We are all settling into the new normal and I am more thankful than words could ever express.  It is exhausting to feel overwhelmed all of the time!  LOL.  Now I just feel overwhelmed every other time, ha!  I smile as I type that - because it's true but it's also true what a huge difference just feeling overwhelmed every other time instead of every time makes!

So guess what?!  I have plans!  Isn't that delightful??  I'm starting work on a new mini-blog-series leading up to Valentine's Day...the three pieces of marriage advice that have been given to me that have made the biggest impact on my marriage.  I'm excited to simply recall them for myself and really ponder what it is to love and to give yourself to the ever-ending journey of learning to love.  There is no way under heaven I could be considered a marriage expert BUT I do get excited to talk about the gems of wisdom that have been given to me by some very wise women.  The series will start two weeks from today!

This is just a little ditty of a post today but there has been one bit stirring around inside of me to share today.  I've been camping in the first chapter of John this week.  It's loaded.  This verse keeps getting me:

John 1:14
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

My study Bible has a note on this verse that I have been pondering.  It says that the original Greek for 'dwelt among us' in the text is translated as 'pitched His tent.'  I LOVE THOSE WORDS.  He came.  He came and pitched his tent among us.  The very Word of God came as a man and set up camp in our imperfections.  He didn't just come and glide above us.  He didn't take a day away here and there to get a break from the craziness.  He pitched His tent with us.  All of that to provide a way to be intimate.  To be one.  My mind is still reeling.

So if you're like me, with a limited mental capacity for much more than when the baby should eat again and what that sound is the three year old is making, just keep it simple.  Ponder this truth with me!  The Word became man.  He came and pitched his tent.  He moved in right next door.  Now that's love.

Love y'all and happy weekending!