Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Deisres Of My Heart

Whew! October…what a crazy month! It’s always a crazy month for me, requiring extra hours at work. Add to that having just moved to a new home and starting a children’s clothing shop with my girls… and this year October felt like a marathon! Not that I really know what a marathon feels like. Since I absolutely do not run. At all. But I can only imagine ….

It feels good to have that crazy month over and turn a new page on the calendar. In my bible studying lately, I have become mesmerized by the Exodus. And the Wilderness.

The Israelites were in bondage for 400 years. That’s a long time. Hard work that only got harder. Slavery that only got more oppressive. And then, in one evening, they were free. Free!

What must that have felt like? No more harsh foremen. No more beatings. No more gathering straw. No more making bricks. Free. Take a deep breath…. Ahhh! That’s the smell of freedom.

But like a new car, freedom doesn’t keep that new smell for long. They missed the good old days. They missed the comforts of home. The security of knowing what’s going on. The familiarity of the norm.  The amenities of life in Egypt. Houses. Food. Schedules. Livestock. A place to call home.

But in their new-found freedom, their lives were changed forever. They were pursued at the start. They wandered. Were hungry. Were thirsty. Lived in tents. And ate the same. Meal. Every. Day.

No, ma’am, it did not take long for the whining to begin. It was only a short time after the celebration singing died down that they lost focus of freedom and missed their old life. At least portions of it. The fonder memories seemed to hold their place in the forefront while the beatings and hardships went unremembered.

Now, lest you think I am dissing the Israelites, please understand that I am not. In fact, if I had been in the crowd, the whining would undoubtedly have begun much sooner. It would have sounded something like this:

Me: “These shoes! I need new ones, Moses.”

Moses: “Sharon, what’s wrong with the shoes? They look fine to me. Do they hurt your feet?”

Me: “ No. I’m tired of them. I want new ones. These just don’t fit my style anymore. Can we stop at the mall? I want a new pair. Maybe in a bright color, maybe some sequins too.”

Moses: “I don’t see a mall around here; you’re just going to have to make do with the pair you are wearing.”

And at this point, girls, is where the whining would have began. Seriously. A new pair of shoes just makes the sun shine brighter. Are you with me?  40 years in the same shoes? Really? I like shoes. I like many many shoes.

My sisters enjoy telling the story of the time I limped behind them through the mall. Yes, I limped. And whined. In public. I wanted new shoes. My sisters had each gotten new shoes that day and I wanted a pair too. They were embarrassed by their little sister’s behavior. But desperate times call for desperate measures… and I eventually got the shoes. {grin}

Yes, had I been in the desert, instead of being amazed at the fact that my shoes didn’t wear out, instead of seeing God’s power through it, I’m sure I would have whined. No doubt.

Because when I want what I want I forget to want what God wants. All I can see is what I want. All that  makes sense is what I want.

The Israelites went from bondage to a foreign country to bondage to their desires. But it didn’t have to be that way. God wanted the Israelites to see His power. And see His provisions. And His protection. He wants me to see that today. He wants you to see that too.

How many times do you and I miss seeing God’s provision? How often do we miss seeing what God wants because we’re too busy seeing what we want? Are we too busy wishing for the things we want, that we miss the blessing of what He has already given us?

I want my own interpretation of Psalm 37:4 to prevail.  I want God to give me everything my heart desires. Because, deep down, I believe that is where happiness begins.

I want to begin with delighting in the desires of my heart, but God wants me to begin with delighting in Him. When I delight in Him. Pursue knowing Him. Study His ways. Lean into His love. He will put right desires in my heart. My heart will be delighted with Him.

And that is where is began in the first place. With desires in the heart. It seems when I am left to come up with my own desires, that is what gets me into trouble. But if I allow God to put His desires there, I find the freedom and comforts of home that I have been looking for all along.

 

Monday, September 29, 2014

3 Reasons Nursery Workers Rock

After being out of town for 2 Sundays in a row, I was looking forward to being back home in “my” church with my church family again. Then I noticed the nursery schedule.  It was my turn.  After I had just taught Sunday school. I fought the whine welling up inside.

I had missed the fellowship and theological discussions in our adult class and now I would miss the message again... for the 3rd week in a row.

Grabbing my things, I headed back to the bright nursery room to do the job required of me. As I began to talk with the toddlers and preschoolers, I was reminded in my heart that nursery work is important work.

These are little souls who need cared for while their parents are fed from the Word. Nursery time isn’t just about keeping kids corralled; it is the first phase of ministry.  The time spent with those little ones builds relationships that bring godly influence into their lives.

Once I changed my attitude, I actually enjoyed my time with those little smiling faces. We talked, snacked on animal crackers and read lots of books. I was reminded that I don’t go to church just for me, I go to serve as well.

3 Reasons Why Nursery Workers Rock:

  • They give up sitting in the service so you can sit and listen- in peace.
  • They care for your little ones even when they may be tired and want a day off.
  • They spend their energy engaging with your little ones, providing godly influence in their lives.

Be sure you thank your nursery workers. And be sure you sign up to work in there, too. The blessings go both ways!

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Move Your Faith From Private To Public




Have you ever wondered about the Bleeding Woman in Mark chapter 5? While we are on the subject, I seriously think we should consider giving her a name, that’s not something anyone wants to be known as. Maybe we should call her the Woman of Faith... But back to the subject. Or maybe it is part of the subject now that I think about it. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Instead of receiving healing and going on her merry way as I often do, she moved to a position of worship in front of Jesus. Her faith compelled her to go to Jesus for healing and her faith also compelled her to worship Him publically.

I don’t mind God knowing about all my junk, but I don’t necessarily like anyone else to know. Are you with me? I tend to want to only show the good and keep the bad and ugly hidden away. Keep it just between God and I.

To move in front of Jesus and publically worship for healing meant others would know her problems and that she needed healing. She opened herself up to the eye of the public. She had received the healing. She could have just slipped away. There was a large crowd. She could have just blended in. Mailed Him a thank you note or text message.

But Jesus called her out. He gave her the opportunity to come forward. The opportunity to worship. The opportunity to move from private faith to public faith. The opportunity to grow in humility.  The opportunity to be a living example. The opportunity to be forever labeled by her sickness but with her faith shining a different perspective on it.

We all have struggles, defects and problems in our lives. Just as she did. We don’t want others to know about these issues we have, we want respect and acceptance and privacy. We don’t want our reputation marred by sin, failures or shortcomings. But we need healing.  And a faith that is real is a faith that  brings us to Christ where we find healing.

So back to her name. Or lack of, rather. She is still centuries later known as “The Bleeding Woman”.  I’m just guessing here, but I bet that is not what she would have chosen to be known as, if it was up to her.

But maybe it is actually a good thing. God takes us as we are. We don’t have to hide our identity. We don’t have to become someone we are not. All He requires is faith. And He changes and perfects us from there.

Maybe she didn’t mind that identity, after all. It described who she used to be, but because of His grace, she was changed. Just maybe she liked the contrast between her past and present, showing the power of the One who healed her.

 

 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Are You Listening to God?

Grab a cup of coffee; I have a story for you...you will think it's funny, however, it took me some time before I laughed.  I do believe this is my best "blonder than she pays to be" moment yet to date, to put it in Beth Moore terms. 
 
I was scheduled for a class in Sioux Falls and my husband gave up precious hunting time to accompany me. We drove the 5 ½ hour trek; we left home around 3pm and arrived about 8:30pm.  That always seems like such a long ride, and we were glad when we finally reached our destination. 
 
There was a bit of confusion on the face of the hotel clerk as he searched for our reservation.  His reply stopped my heart, “Your reservations are for NEXT SUNDAY”..... I dug in my purse...to my horror, the conference registration confirmed his words.  
 
My husband tried to comprehend our predicament “So, we just drove 300 miles for nothing?"  My reply was a disbelieving nod; how could I have mixed up the dates?  I felt sick to my stomach. 


“You mean I could have gone hunting?” the ramifications were setting into Jeff’s mind.  Again, all I could do was nod. 
 
So..... we got back in the car and drove 5.5 hours once again and arrived home around 2 am.  Jeff never said another word about it.  (He's a good man, I tell you!)


Needless to say, I am not laughing yet and neither is Jeff but he does says there’s never a dull moment with me around.  It's ok, you can laugh, I know I will in time...

Two of my friends told me “There must be a reason, or the Holy Spirit wouldn’t have let you do it”… I would love to believe this, to believe that I am merely a pharmaceutical outlet helping God with His laughter-is-good-medicine ministry by supplying the world with chuckles. 


But, my mind can’t help but wonder if the Holy Spirit didn’t try to tell me.  Warn me.  Even just get me to look at my calendar….. If He did, why did I not listen? Why did I not hear?  What else was my mind so focused on? What was drowning out His voice?

I know driving 600 miles round trip for nothing is not a tragedy, but there is a deeper question lurking in my heart: have I missed God’s leading on truly important things just because I wasn’t listening?  Its definitely something to think on as I tune in to Him.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Back To School With A Bang



The air is cooler in the mornings now.

Can you feel it?  Fall is approaching. It’s in the air. And it’s bittersweet. I love the cool freshness of fall, but I hate to see school start and the busyness of life begin again.

Where did the lazy days of summer go? It’s been a full summer.  Filled with to-do’s and projects and trips and packed with lots of fun and sun as the days flew by. 

As summer turns to fall may we not let the busy life eat up our days and good intentions. 

What are your goals for this school year?  What do you want your kids to learn? How do you want them to grow?

I’m not talking math or phonics.  I’m talking character. Character is built in the midst of solving story problems and learning spelling words. It is grown while we carpool or homeschool.

What is your purpose for this school year? What goals will encompass the day in day out routine of your Monday through Friday?  The time will go quickly, and more so each year, you know.

How many “back to schools” do you have left, anyway? Whether it is 12 or 2, they’re running out.

Are those young ones in your care learning the character that you want to see in their lives as adults? Don’t miss the opportunities during the morning rush to get ready, or the after school homework, or the extra-curricular activities or the weekends. Use those opportunities to teach.

Without goals this school year will be just like any other year- surviving daily grind and hoping for good grades.

But they need more. More than passing 2nd grade, more knowing the 50 states, more than graduating.

They need character. They need to know how to love others. How to be kind. How to work hard. And how to enjoy learning.

What will it be? Will it be learning patience? Or kindness? Or joy? Or thankfulness? Pray about it. So as you shop for new pencils and notebooks and crayons, remember to choose some fresh goals for the year as well.

Make a plan of action to do more this school year. More than just reading writing and arithmetic.

Who your children are is what will matter when there are no more school days left in your home.


Thank you to my friend, DeDee for the photo above!

 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mamas Under The Influence


Summer, wonderful summer – when the kids are home all day, swimming, bike riding, and outdoor play fill the days. It’s the middle of summer and what better time to share a few laughs with other mamas! These days are full and also a bit exhausting… which is usually when my list grows. My list of Mama stories.

We could compile a ginormous list of stories, us Mamas.  We each have our own stack and laugh together as we swap our latest … while husbands just shake their heads in amazement at the things we do under the influence of “Mommy Brain”.

Like leaving the stroller in the road after forgetting to load it into the van - and then driving away….putting the milk away in the cabinet and the cereal in the fridge…stocking up at a meat sale and forgetting it all in the trunk – all day – in August…or paying for your groceries and not realizing until 4 hours later you never brought them home.

Those just are a few of mine, I’d love to hear your stories!
So take some time, sit down with an iced latte and visit a bit with us! What have you done under the influence? Laughing together is so rejuvenating! Share your stories in the comments below! Happy Summer Day!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Is There Anything Sweeter?



Call me Grandma …again! {squeal!}

We welcomed Little Miss Allison Grace into this world just 2 weeks ago. That makes 4 granddaughters! (you can read about the others here, here and here.) Let the tea parties begin! (And she already has her pinky ready!)

Is there anything sweeter than a newborn baby? So cuddly. So new. So precious!

Her whole life is ahead of her. And  I wonder what her personality will be like. I wonder if she will be adventurous or cautious? Boisterous or quiet?  Silly or serious?

I wonder what God has planned for this little life that I hold in my arms. What does the Father want for her? What does He have for her to do? What has he designed her for?

I pray she will love Him with all her heart. I pray she will reflect His love to others.

That is your prayer for your little ones, I know.

The days of Mamahood are filled with many tasks. I know you are tired. And busy.  Diapers, dishes, dusting, all are important and must get done, but don’t forget to sit and cherish the time.  It’s one thing that won’t wait. Soon that time will be gone.

Those little ones, they won’t be little for long. Soon they won’t want to sit on your lap. And soon they will be off to activities and jobs and college.

So sit and cuddle them now. Pray over them. Pray with them. Love on them. Take time today to cuddle each of your children and pray for their futures. I wonder… what does the Father have planned for them?

Monday, July 14, 2014

4 Things Every Mama Needs To Do


 

Eight and a half months pregnant with our first baby, I moved 1000 miles away and in with family friends so I could be closer to my Knight while he would be in training for a few months in DC.  After being there just 2 days, I went into labor- 2 weeks early- while my Knight was still in Texas, waiting to board an airplane to join me. And so, long story short, I had our first born son without him.

I remember holding that precious little one afterwards.  There are no words to express the emotions that surge through a new mom.  Wonder. Love. Exhaustion. Love. Love. And even more Love. And awe.

Then it hit me. This little guy was solely dependent on us! The heavy thought settled in.  What are we doing? What were we thinking? We don’t know what we’re doing! We are responsible for this child 24 hours a day – we can’t drop him off with his parents – we ARE his parents!  Do we even know enough to keep him alive? I had taken care of my 21 nieces and nephews countless times, but this was different. This child was mine. I was his mom. And so my mama-journey began.

I wanted to do this mama-thing well. This little life was placed in my care and I had the awesome responsibility to direct how he would see life. To shape his views and beliefs. To point him to the Savior.

I read every mom book I could find, attended retreats and went faithfully to both women’s bible study and church. It sparked in me a desire to do well. To do good…then better…then best.  As Elisabeth George puts it, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better, best.”

4 Things Every Mama Needs To Do:

1. Pray. Then pray some more. Ask God to grow you to be a godly mama. This is not something you can do on your own. You need the Spirit’s leading and teaching.

2. Faithfully attend church. Make a commitment to be there. Being spiritually fed on a regular basis is so valuable to every area of your life, especially as a mama!

3. Join a bible study. Get involved in a group and study the word with other women (or couples). Small groups are where friendships are made and application is turned into action.

4. Read books and blogs that inspire you to be a better mom. This is an avenue to be mentored daily, right alongside messes and mayhem, without even leaving your home.

So what about you? How did your mama-journey begin?  What emotions filled you as you held your firstborn? What do you do that helps you in your mama-journey?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

You Don't Have Time To Not Have Time


 


“I wish my kids were older so we could do more things together.”

“I wish I had more time to spend with my kids.”
“If my kids weren’t so busy, we could do more things together.”
Ever feel this way? These are deceptive concepts. The truth is, you don’t have to wait until your kids are older to do things together. You do have time to spend with them. And you control your kids’ schedules, so if they are too busy, cut some activities out.
You only have about 18 years with each of your children. You simply don’t have time to wait. They will be grown and out the door while you are still wishing they were old enough to do things with.
You can start involving your children in daily family life at a very young age. When they are 1, they can help put away silverware after washing. Yes, it will take longer as you guide their little hands in putting away each piece. One. At. A . Time.
And, yes, that silverware will end up with tiny little fingerprints all over, but that’s ok. We’re not in a Martha Stewart competition here, girls.
We are raising the next generation and if we don’t engage them, someone else will. And no telling who or what that will be.
At 2 they can help sweep, rake, and bake right along side mommy and daddy.  When they are 3 they can learn which tool is which and help daddy work on the mower or find worms for fishing.
I came home one day to find my 7 year old using a circular saw and my 5 year old on the roof of the clubhouse. I panicked. Moms don’t like to see such things. But they were working on a project with Dad. He told me to go inside, they needed to learn to be men.
You know what? He was right. They needed to learn these things. They needed to spend time with their dad. How else would they learn? What better way to learn?
He could have waited until they were “old enough”. He could have built the clubhouse without them. He could have just wished it all. My heart would have felt better. But those boys would have lost out. Lost out on learning skills, lost out on time with their dad and lost out on learning the art of work ethic.
We spend time on many things. Which of those things can you involve your children in? Yard work, house work, golfing, crafting, collecting? The list is endless. They really aren’t too young, tailor the activity to involve them at any age.
Feeling they are too busy? Kids don’t need to be constantly going going going. They really don’t need to be involved in all the activities.
What they really need is relationships built with you. Cut some activities out, scale back and spend that time engaging them, share daily life with them and watch them grow.
You’ll be thankful you did.

(The photo above is my husband and firstborn back in the day.  He has been a dad who involves his kids in pretty much everything. And I love him even more for it!)


Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Battle Worth Fighting

    
photo courtesy of creativedoxphoto / freedigitalphotos.net

 July 4th. Oh, the fun memories attached to this holiday! Sparklers…watermelon…parades…swimming… We celebrate our freedom in many ways with family and friends. But our freedom was not won easily. Many lives were lost. Families were left mourning loved ones. It was a battle worth fighting, but it came with costs. Costs I’m thankful many were willing to pay.
     As Mamas, we fight a battle too. The battle for our children’s souls. The battle for our children’s freedom from the enemy’s control. It rages around us every day. This battle comes with costs. Floors left unswept…homes not decorated for each season… saying no to this committee and that opportunity…no time for yourself…. And you know in your heart, it’s worth it all.
     As you celebrate this weekend, celebrate the freedom we have in this great country because some were willing to fight for it.
     May you be renewed and refreshed to continue the battle you fight day in and day out. May your children one day celebrate their spiritual freedom because they had a Mama who was willing to pay the cost.