Monday, April 21, 2014

If Any of You Lacks Wisdom...

         It says in James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." 

I was struck by a sentence this past week in a Paul Tripp devotional.  It said..."envy questions the wisdom of God."  Lately I have been praying for wisdom for both Matt and I as we navigate understanding and discipline with our son.  However, this sentence helped me think about wisdom in a whole different aspect. 

Through analyzing my thoughts I have been starting to identify that I am struggling with envy and contentment at the current time.  I have found that when I have more "down time", I actually have time to think about things that I want versus what I need.  For example...on my days off when my son and I are home, I almost always want to go out and do things.  This usually involves grabbing a latte and going and looking at things in stores.  The thought of staying at home all day actually scares me.  However, if I am out and about than my sinful heart wants to buy things.  I have found that if I stay home with my son for a good chunk of the day he sort of gets bored and then that requires me to do a lot of things with him in which I get weary and would rather be doing things around the house.

This lack of contentment carries over to other areas of my life as well.  I love to run/walk and participate in work out classes.  It is definitely my release but I have also found that I think it helps give me something to focus on besides my materialistic wants and selfish desires to use my time instead of having to use it on other things.

When Matt is home in the evenings and weekends, I don't have as much of a hard time with contentment and envy because I have less time to think about it and yearn for things that are not needed.  I often wonder....is this the way God created me...or can he give me more peace when I am not as busy and help me to be more content?

Where is the balance of trying to do things in your life to keep you less focused on yourself and more focused on serving God and others?  Parenting is so difficult for me at times.  I feel like when I was needed all the time by my son it was easier because I did not have a choice of where I spent my time.  Now...as he gets older I find it much harder to sacrifice my time again and get impatient with him often.  

I leave you this verse as I meditate on it myself...

"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."  James 3:16-18 

Monday, March 3, 2014

God Is Able

There is no better thing than to hear your 2 year old son, singing 'God is Able' in his crib as he tries to put himself to sleep for his nap.  It is amazing how God teaches us things in so many ways, many times through our children!  For the past 2 months this has been one of my son's favorite songs.  We watch this video by Hillsong United many times in a week. 

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend our churches' Women's Retreat at a local hotel.  We watched three different speakers that had spoken at various True Woman conferences in past years.  The first speaker, Voddie Baucham is a pastor.  A big take away from his session was again, God is Able.  He is sufficient and all we need in this life.  He also reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for. 

The past few months have been a roller coaster ride for me personally.  We are hoping to have another child and with our struggle of trying to conceive before and things not really seeming to be much better this time around I found out about another doctor that's specialty is hormone therapy.  I was able to get into see her right away and have some testing done.  In the mean time I started taking a 6-week nutrition class through Alexa Schirm, who I highly recommend.  Her website is www.simplerootswellness.com.  A lot was going on at my part-time job that was putting extra stress on myself, meanwhile all of the normal day to day happenings of caring for a home, husband and 2 year old!   I became highly emotional and was not dealing with my circumstances very well to say the least!

A good friend of mine came alongside me and spoke truth to me from God's scriptures and helped me identify what were some of my feelings and reactions to these things happening in my life.  She held me accountable.  Sharing all of the thoughts going through my head and helping me address some of my fears and lies that had been swirling around in my head was key for me to take my thoughts captive.  God is calling me to Trust him more in all areas of my life.  I so desperately want to control my life, specifically in expanding our family and yet the reality is that I have absolutely no control over this!

A verse that was studied at the retreat I attended this past weekend and was a needed reminder for me was, Colossians 3:15-17.  It reads:

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

We need God and we need each other!  I so firmly believe in the idea that we must live in community.  That means spending time at a church worshipping together in corporate worship once a week as well as being apart of a small group of people that are encouraging us to learn more about God and help us with whatever is going on in our life.  In order to form deep relationships with people, we must spend time with them and know what is going on in their life.

My husband and I attend Stonebridge E-free church.  It is such a blessing to be apart of this body!  We just started an additional service that is at 5 p.m. on Saturday evenings.  I am excited to see new people come to our church and find out what it means to worship a "God that is Able" and will fulfill your every need if you follow His way!

We are blessed!   

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Reflections On 2013 and the Year Ahead!

Wow!  2014.  In some ways it is hard to believe that Matt and I will have been out of college for 10 years in May.  However, as I look back, we have learned so much in our job experiences, parenting experiences, marriage and friend relationships and have been so blessed by God along the way.  I am so thankful that we are members and very involved in our church, Stonebridge EFCA.  The community that this church has provided for us as just a young couple out of college and now young parents is invaluable.

2013 was a good year for us.  I feel like we finally settled into life with a young child.  We figured out reasonable expectations for keeping up the house, exercise, what our priorities were as far as church, family and social outings.  Caleb just became more fun as the year grew on.  In fact, so far I really like the 2's.  He is just starting to be independent and have his own opinion about things and I realize that the discipline will get much tougher and yet I feel the trade out is far greater.  He talks up a storm and understands and interacts so much more and we can actually do things like play in the snow and paint now!  I am so thankful that God has given us the opportunity to disciple our children and teach them to love Him!

Something that I am pretty excited about in the coming year are some changes that I feel are a huge step for me.  Towards the end of 2013 we started to go through our house and get rid of a lot of things that we did not need or want any longer.  A lot of these things were clothes.  Matt and I have been fortunate enough to stay a similar size throughout most of the past 10 years and so many of our clothing styles have also stayed the same.  I decided that I would like to change my style of dress and try to dress a little bit more trendier.  Ever since college many of my clothing choices have been a little bit more modest, especially in the pants area.  I would choose looser fitting pants and recently those pants have just gotten to be too big.  Some of this choice was also more mental.  As I was not comfortable with the way God had created me.  So...I am happy to share that I purchased a pair of skinny jeans and some scarves and cardigans to start wearing.  I have also purchased the boots below.  I am very excited about them.  I am so thankful that God has been working on my heart in this area for the past 10 years and I know will continue to work on it as it will probably always be an area that I struggle in.  

      
I am also excited about continuing to eat a more Paleo/Gluten free type lifestyle again.  We already do this a lot but I have gotten off track some and would like to strive to cook/eat more like this again.  I found this great gluten free flour at Costco recently.  I have had some of their other products before and have loved them.  So I am hoping it will be good! 


I want to leave you with this verse from Psalm 145:17-18.

"The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.  The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."  

We are so blessed with a God that knows our every need.  He is trustworthy and full of grace.  However, we must seek Him out and follow His ways.  I pray you find the hope that you need in God this coming year!  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thoughts Running Through My Head...

So, it has been a while since I have blogged.  I use blogging as a way to process things in life and also put into words what I think God is teaching me.  However, most of the time I am careful what I share.  Today though, I want to share all the thoughts that are going on in my head.  This is a busy time of year with the holidays, my son's birthday, yucky weather and then throw in there the ups and downs of life and it can be interesting. 

Negative Thoughts:
1.   If I don't work out, I will get fat (I wish this thought had never appeared)
2.   Why do I not have very many close girlfriends that I feel I can share most anything 
      with?
3.   Why are so many people not committed to things in life and why are we all so busy?
4.   Our house sure needs cleaning, but boy do I not feel like doing it
5.   Am I spending enough time with my son?
6.   Should I feel bad that I do not know a whole bunch of things to do with my son?
7.   I am trying to eat less sugar but why do I keep craving sweets?
8.   Why are we having such a hard time having children?  Can't we figure out the
      solution to make my body get fixed without much effort?
9.   Can we move somewhere else?  I really don't like winter.  I need sunshine! 
10. Every where I turn there is something that is bad for us...how do you decide what is
      best?

Positive Thoughts:
1.  I am so thankful for Matt and our son.  They are huge blessings in my life.
2.  I love having family live close to us.
3.  I am very thankful to live in a small town with a bigger city close by.
4.  I love Christmas!  God made me a giver and I also love to receive gifts. 
5.  We have a great church family and body of believers we are apart of. 
6.  Matt and I are both so blessed to have great jobs that provide so much more
     than we need so we can give to others!

As you can see, I have far more negative thoughts running through my brain than positive.  So...I sure am thankful for the grace that God gives us through his son Jesus' death and resurrection on the cross.  He gives us a fresh start each new day and the Bible to refocus us on His goodness and love.  Without this, I would not have the hope in this life that I do.  Praying you can find some HOPE this time of year and always! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Being Fruitful, A New Perspective

In just a few days, a good friend of mine and her family will be moving away.  She has a little boy that is 2 1/2 years old and he and Caleb get along so well.  We have been blessed to have some very fun times with this family and I would say have become better friends since having children.  In fact, my friend and I were talking about how people change a lot when they have children. 

Lately I have been reading a short book called "Loving the Little Years, Motherhood in the Trenches," which I would highly recommend.  In Chapter 6 it reads,

"Think about yourself and about the things you do.  Look at it like fruit.  Are you holding yourself back on things, afraid that the end result will not be worthy of your labor?  Are you afraid to fail?  Is there some domestic activity that you would love to know how to do, but don't want to try in case it doesn't turn out?  Are you afraid to try new recipes?  Are you afraid to put energy or money into something that might turn into nothing?" 

It continues ..."I think that in some ways we have let our cultural admiration for efficiency get into places that it doesn't belong.  Speaking for myself, sometimes I am working away on something and just cannot shake the question, 'Why am I doing this?' Is this a ridiculous use of my time?  Should I be doing something that matters, rather than (say) knitting a costumed mouse?  But it is very freeing to laugh at yourself -- laugh when you know that apple you were working on may very well fall to the ground, and who cares?"

The start of the final paragraph of the chapter reads, "Some of those apples will fall to the ground and rot.  But God uses rotten apples -- to fertilize the ground, to start more apple trees after little animals plant them, and just to make the air smell sticky sweet.  You cannot know the depth of His plan for your fruit."

This whole chapter has really challenged me personally.  We so easily try to control our day to day situations and outcomes without even knowing it.  All of our time, resources and giftings belong to God and yet we try to figure out how they should be used, when they should be used and want to make sure they get used.  I can think of many things that I have been afraid to try or do because either I know that I might not be so great at it (pride) or as it states above in the book, is it practical?  What if it will amount to nothing? 

I feel as if God is constantly reminding me that our life is to love Him and love people.  All the rest of the details are really up to him.  We are called to give generously and not wonder how what we have given will be used.  That is again left up to God. 

The desire that Matt and I have is to live each day with a hope and trust in God that frees us up to be used by him.  When  you don't hold onto fears, wants and expectations it is amazing how freeing your outlook can be.   

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Season of One....

Matt and I finally got to watch the movie, "October Baby" last night and would highly recommend it.  It is such a good reminder that each baby is a true miracle and that God cares about the 'least of these.'

It also hit close to home because of the current season of our family...being a family of one child.  I think I have mentioned this in my blog posts before but Caleb is a true miracle to us.  We had a very difficult time conceiving a child and as we think about the future of our family, we have to wonder...will we be able to conceive another child?

I am currently finding it hard to adjust to this new stage of parenthood.  At times I find myself bored.  Caleb does not "need" me in the same ways he did in his first year of life but he still needs me to watch over him.   He has a very short attention span and there are many things that I need to get done but am still not able to get done because he would either be into everything while I was doing it or I would get interrupted every 10 minutes or so.  I like to take him places like the library, play areas, parks, etc. but that can also get a bit overwhelming and exhausting if I am not mentally and physically prepared.

The other aspect of this season that I find hard as an extreme extrovert is finding people in Mount Vernon or even in our church in Cedar Rapids that want to get together.  Most people are either with no children, have a baby in their first year or have more than one child and are just naturally more busy because they have more things to do with more children.  When we go out and about I am tempted to spend more money which I do not need to do.  I keep asking myself, what is the best use of my time to glorify God?  My family definitely comes first but there is still room to do other things as well.  Many times I often think....maybe it will get better when Caleb is older and he can do more things?  However, I don't want to wish these years away.

As a mom and also as a couple, Matt and I desire a deep community.  We want to truly have  relationships with other believers that will grow us, keep us accountable and help us to process life through the lens of God's word, The Bible.  Have you found that community? A great passage from Hebrews reads:

"Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."   (Hebrews 10:19-25)

  


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Transition Time

I have had so many different topics that I have thought about blogging on during the past month and a half but with so much change and happenings it has actually felt a little overwhelming to figure out what I actually want to express.  So...here we are, writing about Transition!  :)

Yesterday, I started a new job back at our church, Stonebridge Evangelical Free as the Children's Ministry Assistant.  It is part-time and I am very excited to be back working at a place that I love and using some of my gifts to further God's kingdom.  However, it was also very hard to leave my job for the past two years, a barista at Wit's End coffeehouse.  These two jobs are so completely different and yet I love both of them!  It is at times of transition that I always am reminded that I do not do change well.  I firmly believe that is why God made me a passionate person.  He helps me commit and dive-in full board right away with things I am excited about so that when I get into what I am doing and think, " I can't do this," or "What am I doing," I realize that I need to forge ahead and it will go just fine!  After all, God is the one in control and if he has given me the peace about a decision, I must be following His will!  Below are two pictures of my last days at Wit's End! Such a great place to work with wonderful co-workers and customers!   
Mondays were called "Red-headed Mondays"! :)
 August also means that Matt heads back into work at full steam.  Since he works in education, we are very blessed to have a chunk of time out of the summer that he is off.  We cherish that time and Caleb loves spending time with his "Da-da".  This summer we were able to go out to Colorado for a week to visit friends and family.  Below is a picture from our trip there.  

"The Crew"
Recently we have also found out about a few friends that will be moving away in the near future.  Many of my close friends over the past 10 years or so have all moved away.  I have come to see this also as a way that God pushes me out of my comfort zone.  If my friends that I get along so well with were where I lived and always stayed near me, I might never reach out to new people.  We only have so much time in our lives for relationships so this is one easy way to help me to reach out to new people! :) 

Last but not least, Caleb is transitioning as well.  He is no longer a baby but a toddler!  He has his own likes, dislikes and wants to be independent.  It is fun to see him develop but can also be frustrating at times.  Matt and I are in a new season of parenting and it requires a lot of patience, prayer and asking God for wisdom!  Many days we just look at each other and think...."We have no idea what to do!". :) 

Hiking in Colorado!