Monday, July 30, 2012

My Jesus just got bigger

My life, my thinking, who I thought I was…it’s all been turned upside down.
My Jesus, my God, He just got so much bigger.
This entry may or may not make any sense by the time I’m done with it. My mind is racing like it’s never raced before. I’ve started writing this and re-writing this post multiple times. I simply don’t know where to start, but here goes…
You know those light-bulb moments, those “Ah ha” moments, those moments when you realize you just get it? It’s kind of been like one of those moments for me lately, but on a whole new level.
This change has been “brewing” in me for some time really, but it wasn’t until I read the book Kisses from Katie that everything, I mean everything, changed for me. Jesus was made real to me through Katie Davis’ words. And I say this as a girl who’s been a Christian for 20 years.
Twenty years and I’m just now “getting it”? I think so.
The Lord used Katie’s words to change my heart. A heart that I didn’t know needed to be changed. A heart that I thought was mostly okay. A heart that was mostly content with this life I’ve been living.  A heart that I now realize was lukewarm.  A heart that wasn’t in love with Jesus.  A heart that’s been given new life and, that life, in such glorious abundance.
Kisses from Katie is the story of a young American girl, Katie Davis, who leaves her comfortable life in Tennessee because God calls her to Uganda. Once there, she adopts 14 children. She says “Yes” to God’s call on her life. Over and over again. Her words…
I realize that since I have chosen an unusual path it is easier for outsiders to look at my life and come to the conclusion that it is something extraordinary. That I am courageous. That I am strong. That I am special. But I am just a plain girl from Tennessee. Broken in many ways, sinful, and inadequate. Common and simple with nothing special about me. Nothing special except I choose to say “Yes.”
I don’t expect that this book would be so life-changing for everyone who reads it. I really believe it could be, but I have this feeling that God caused me to read it at just the right time in my life. At a time when my heart was open which allowed Him to open my eyes further to Jesus. I wish I could say that the time I’ve spent reading my Bible over the years has overwhelmed me with joy like Kisses from Katie has. Here and there that has happened, but now as I read God’s Word with this new lens, this new filter, His words mean everything to me. I see Him. I see His heart and I want that heart. I want Jesus. I want to know Jesus, I want the world to know Jesus and I want Him to know me.
“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” Galatians 4:9
God wants to know me? Me? This broken, ugly mess of a person. Yes!
“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
I am holy and dearly loved. Me? Yes!
If I know these things to be true, how can I not take these truths out into the world? How can that not transform the way I live, the way I view those created in His image?
I used to think my life needed to be closer to perfect before God could use me.
I used to think I could live in the comfort of my little home, with my little family in Gilbert, AZ and have contentment.
I used to think adoption was for those who couldn’t have children of their own.
Now I know that in me, little old me, is the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)
Now I know that He wants, even expects, everything of me. (Luke 14)
Now I know that life as a Christian is all about adoption. I am His because of adoption. In Katie’s words, “Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the Gospel in my living room.” (Ephesians 1:5)
I don’t know where all this leaves me, but God knows. And I know He is moving.
What I do know is that Jesus is enough.  He will always be enough. I know this with my entire being.
You know Philippians 4:13? “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” I always believed this to be true on some level, but now I know it to be true.
I want to do something for Jesus. He called me, He justified me and He is sanctifying me.  Jesus died for me.  I want to live for Him. I want the world to know Him.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Prov 3:27
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Tim 1:7
Jesus is my Abba Father.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15
Jesus loves me this I know.  For real.
























Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yes, I will...

Yes, I will let her dress herself.

Yes, I will let her dress herself.

Yes, I will let her dress herself.

This is what I repeated to myself over and over again when Charlee proudly exited her room dressed like this yesterday morning.

































Sadly, I didn't say anything to her about her outfit.  I didn't tell her I loved it.  I didn't tell her I was proud of her for picking out her clothes or thank her for getting herself dressed.

Instead, we sat down to eat breakfast and she said, "Mommy, do you like my outfit?  I picked it out myself."

My heart hurt when she said those words because I know exactly what it feels like when you want someone you love to notice you, to accept you, to tell you they are proud of you.  Of course, after she asked I did tell her those things.  I just wish I had said something before she asked.  It probably would have meant more to her.  Thankfully, however, I'm fairly confident that I will have many more opportunities to do so in the near future!

And a close up in case you didn't get the full effect from the first picture.
Even the way she walked around had "Mommy, aren't you proud of me?" written all over it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

KDSGONE

This was the license plate of a car I passed on the way home from church this morning.  And it wasn't just any old car.  I don't know my luxury cars, but it was some variety of Mercedes that surely cost over $100,000.  I saw it and I totally made a judgment that I had to repent of already.  But this is where my mind and my heart went...

Really?  So what, you've raised your kids and now they're gone so you feel you deserve this vehicle, that somehow you've earned it because you've completed the task of raising children?  What does that say to your kids?  That now that they are gone, you're living the good life?  That it wasn't so good while they were there, but it is now that they're out of the house, that life is fun again?  And what does it say to the world?  That having kids is great and all, but life just gets so much better once they're gone?  That life while raising kids is no fun, that you just suck it up and get through it because you have your heart set on better things?  Really?

Okay, so I have no idea what the real story is behind this woman, her car and her license plate.  It sure did get me fired up though.  Isn't that the message of this world?  Having children is almost like an item on the to-do list.  Something you just want check off your list, right up there with folding laundry and mopping the floor.  That really they are a burden, a hindrance to your life and your fun.  Because we all know that most of the things that go on our to-do lists are things we don't want to do.

I will not be that mom who thinks of her children as an item to be checked off the list.

I don't want to constantly look to the future holding out hope that I'll make it through the parenting years and that only then will I enjoy life.  I want to thrive in the parenting years.  I want joy now.  And I believe there is joy to be had now if we have the mind of Christ.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as theses (Matthew 19:14)."

If this is Jesus' heart, I want it to be mine.  I want to love my children so much that I pour into them every ounce of time and energy I have.  I want them to know Jesus and if I want them to know Jesus, then my life is drastically affected.  They will not feel as though they are hindering my life, because in so many ways they are my life.

I am Mommy because of them.

I am Mommy in the tickling and in the disciplining.

I am Mommy in the joy and in the pain.

I am Mommy in the trenches, the day-to-day, the mundane.

But I am Mommy and there is no one else who can claim that title for my little girls.

I will love them in their sin and selfishness because Jesus loves me in my sin and my selfishness.

He chose me so I choose them.

Friday, July 20, 2012

AMY with Gramma

Today, with Groupon in hand, my mom and I took the girls to the Arizona Museum for Youth. What a seriously cool place!  I've been to the Phoenix Children's Museum, which is truly amazing, but there was something about this place that I might have loved a little more given the ages of the girls.  I felt like it suited younger kids well, particularly a two-year old.  We had fun with many things...

A life-sized Lite-Brite!  Seriously cool.
























Crafting with clay.
























And dress-up.  Oh how we love dress-up.

































Meow.

































You mean they want us to put stickers on the walls?
























Workin' hard.
























And playing harder.




































































































Thursday, July 19, 2012

Joy is...

...listening to your two year-old humming this song while driving in the car.

The tale of a boy and his dream

Last night was a very exciting night in the life of a man named LarryB.  He was completely unsuspecting...precisely the plan.  There was some scheming and planning going on behind his back.  All for a very good cause.

You see, this man has had a dream for many years.  A dream that he hasn't had the time to make come true. A dream, however, that a special lady has known about for all these years as well.  And so, at just the right time, she made it come true for him.

LarryB is a busy man.  He is a travelling man.  He has a very kind spirit that is constantly, and I mean always, serving other people.  This LarryB is my dad.  And the special lady is my mom.  This special lady takes notice of the things he does, the way he never puts himself first and she decided to take it upon herself to bless him with something he never would have done for himself.

His dream...to own a Jeep.
And so she bought one.
And we all surprised him.
And his face was priceless (after the confusion wore off).

The big reveal.
























Well that's cool, but who's it for?

































What do you mean, you bought me a Jeep?

































Still processing, but thinking he's pretty happy about this.
























Yep, feels good.
























Better make sure it drives all right too.






















The girls agree it's a keeper.






















LarryB and the special lady that made his dream come true.
























I think we may have another Jeep lover in the family...or maybe just a Grampa lover.
























Proud owner.
























Oh, did I mention LarryB is a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan?  So, it seemed only right that he change into a more appropriate shirt for this pic.
























Another small detail.  Kinda cute, huh?
























There's one more thing I cannot leave unmentioned.  A big, big thank you goes to my wonderful husband who really was instrumental in helping to make this all a reality.  With his desire to serve and love his parents-in-law (or maybe it was just his secret desire to get taken out for a ride one day!), he took care of all the behind-the-scenes dirty work.  All the wheelin' and dealin'.  Thank you, Adam, for loving my parents so much!  Pretty sure they'd agree that you're the best son-in-law ever.  And I love you too.

All right, Grampa, when can we get this thing dirty???

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My peace I give to you

I listened to another John Piper sermon today.  That man is such a wealth of wisdom.

The sermon was from John 14: 26-31
But the Helper, the Holy Spiritwhom the Father will send in My nameHe will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. "Peace I leave with you; My peace give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troublednor let it be fearful. "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. "Now I have told you before it happensso that when it happens, you may believe. "I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.
Piper says this, "If in history's darkest hour (the crucifixion) it was true that Satan and evil did not have the upper hand, but God had the upper hand for your good, then in your darkest hour that's true also."

Pretty powerful stuff.  So, if in my darkest hour, which is no where near His darkest hour, God is interested in my good, whom or what shall I fear?

And then this...and I love this point...

Jesus says to his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you..."  To which Piper says, "In the last hour of His life, He's helping ME not be anxious."  Me?  If in that hour Christ was focused on me, then can I not trust Him to give me the peace of which he speaks?  How can I then walk through this life with worry and anxiety?

I can't.

Instead I walk in faith and continue to trust Him with the building (Psalm 127:1-2).

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gilbert Water Tower Fun

So many girls, so much water, so much fun.

Today's adventure: Gilbert Water Tower Park.  With my Sarah and all our favorite little girls.

Running free.
























Happy campers with a little water, cups and buckets.
























And some splashing to keep things cool.
























So, the whole point of going to the Water Tower is the splash pad, right?

For some reason, Gracie seemed to be the only one who got that.
























Let's not sit too close so as not to confuse anyone into thinking we're actually friends.






















Spotted some cute toes. =)
























And some pruney ones.  (This is a real word even though spell check doesn't like it.)
























All this playing makes a girl hungry.
























Who can be bothered with eating when there's all this fun to be had?

































Sometimes big sisters do know best...Gracie's right, this is fun!

































Sittin' pretty.  And happy.

































Hey Charlee, I think we should do this again some time real soon!
























5 bathing beauties.  Little ladies entrusted by God to us?  Why is Jesus so good?

Andee, Charlee, Reagan, Brooklyn and Gracie.  Love them all so much.

Lord, build our house

It's July, it's Phoenix, it's hot and as a stay-at-home mom I've really been struggling lately to come up with new, fun and/or different things for the girls and I to do.  I want nothing more than to go to the park, to take walks, to build sandcastles, but those things just aren't an option right now.

One can only frequent Costco, Target, PetSmart, HomeDepot and, yes, even Wal-Mart when desperate, so many times.  I have been that mom just eager to get out of my own air-conditioned house to drive a few miles to another air-conditioned destination simply for a change of scenery.  Quite often, though, there's no purpose.  There's nothing we need and so we wander aimlessly.  There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but again there's no purpose to what we're doing and more likely than not I'm still frustrated because now I'm somewhere else where the girls have to be reminded not to touch, to keep their hands to themselves, not to run, not to ask to buy things, etc., etc.  It's really a waste of time and there's no time to waste.  My time with these girls is precious.  In a matter of a couple years they will both be in school full-time.  I won't have these little years again.

I've been convicted recently to be a mom of greater purpose.  I don't want my girls to one day have flashbacks of red shopping carts and bull's eyes.  I want more out of the day-to-day, the ordinary.  Whether it's making play-doh, coloring, jumping in the bounce house, baking, or reading...I desire more.  The how is the hard part.  I feel inadequate to do the "building" of the foundation for these little people I'm raising.

But God...

Oh, how He is so good to me.  So loving.  So kind.  He spoke to me today as I was listening to a sermon by John Piper on Psalm 127:1-2.
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
I can desire to build, and build and build.  I can desire purpose for what I do, but if I'm not allowing the Lord to do the building then it's all for naught.  So this morning I prayed that God would go before me and help me to hand the building over to Him.  I had peace.  Removed was the burden of trying to figure it all out.

This afternoon, I did something that is very commonplace in our home.  I read the girls a story.  Not a new story.  Not even a Christian story.  Nothing special.  But there was something different in my reading today.  I was overwhelmed with peace.  Peace because I knew that I was right where I needed to be.  Peace because I knew that I had handed the details over to God and really, true felt as though I was doing exactly what I've been called to do.  To be a mom.  To love my girls.  To be there in that moment with them and no where else.  I was not laboring in vain.  The time was savored and not wasted.  Thank you, Jesus.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A "Yes" Moment

It was nearly 7:00, time to get home, time for two little girls to head to bed.

That is, until Charlee and Grampa made a discovery.  The rain from earlier in the afternoon had created a slight bit of a lake at the side of the house.  As I rounded the corner to find out where Charlee and Grampa had wandered off to, I saw excitement.  The potential for joy written across her face.  And then the struggle began.

We really just need to get home. We've got church tomorrow.  It's getting late.  The earlier they go to bed, the more time I will have to myself tonight.

All right, all right. We'll stay and check out the water for 2 minutes.  It'll be okay.  It'll only set us back a few minutes and they just want to play with rocks and put water in the watering can.

Oh, wait, wait, wait...  I didn't say anything about walking in the rain water.  Oooh, and I didn't say anything about running through the puddle and getting drenched with dirty, stinky, fishy rain water.

Too.  Late.


























This wasn't on my agenda, my to-do list, part of my plan for the evening.  Well, at least it'll only be Charlee running through the water.  I can handle one wet child.  Andee's not gonna go for getting wet in unsanitary water.

Or is she?

































She's off. And running.

































Yes.  A word I'm trying to get acquainted with.  A word that I'm noticing results in a lot more smiles on these precious girls' faces.  A word that allows for new experiences and memories created.  A word that causes this Mama to step outside her box sometimes.  Yes.  A word that I'm praying will be spoken more often in our home.  Because, quite honestly, I often don't have enough reason not to say it.

This was the result of a "yes" today...

































Oh, and I can't forget to mention that Grampa graciously held onto Charlee's Hello Kitty purse the whole time to "preetect" it from the water.  Stunningly paired with a St. Louis Cardinals shirt.
Thank you, Grampa.

All made up

Leslie is one of my closest friends and she also happens to be a makeup artist.  Today she came over to do a "consultation" for my mom.  Fun.  I'm not much of a girly girl, but I love makeup and now I have a friend who's considered an expert.  The best of both worlds.  How great is that?  With all the colors, shades, tools, and techniques out there how could it not be fun?

Just look at all that makeup...it's a beautiful thing.






















Pretty ladies.


Gramma at work.
Charlee takin' notes.
Lookin' good Gramma.
And while the older ladies played with colors, the little lady played with "Ampa."
She LOVES her Ampa.
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