We can all be thankful for THIS…

There’s one thing you can be thankful for tomorrow. One thing you can jot down in your journal. Or mention at family dinner.

And it’s not what you expect.

Sometimes I go to bed at night thinking about how many times I failed during the day. Counting the number of moments I raised my voice. Regretting the minutes I spent on routine instead of relationship.

Shocked faces and broken tears because of Mom’s sin can leave scars too deep to forget.

You know what I’m thankful for as 2018 starts its conclusion?

…We all mess up…

Every stinkin’ one of us.

You get frustrated with your kids. You rush them to bed. You say things you regret. I know you do because I do too.

And we’ll both do it on Thanksgiving. The family time will feel long. And our patience will prove short.

Today, on Thanksgiving Eve, let’s embrace this truth…We will mess up because we’re all really big messes. We’re image bearers of God trapped in a body of sin. And the battle will overtake us.

But for grace.

The shock of my sin fuels the shock of His grace and fills my heart with overwhelming Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow let’s be thankful. God sees our messes as a chance for overwhelming grace.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ” (Romans 5:6-8) 

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Hmm…it couldn’t possibly be me behind that locked door??

 

 

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What we just learned about marriage…

Here’s a little marriage secret we’ve recently come across…

Marriage is easier when you like the one you love.

I committed my life to Jeremy on that hot day in July 2002. I committed to love him forever and ever til death do us part. And I do that. Stay in relationship with him. Through the good and bad. Hard and easy.

But it’s not easy. We’re not fools. We know the value of marriage counseling. We know the tears. We know the silent treatment.

Our walk in the park the last 16 years has been more like a climb.

But we’re at our best when the love is closely tied with the like. When we’re laughing.  When we’re doing something fun. When we’re acting like 18 year old “children” again.

When…tell me please… is there possibly time for “us” with kids and work and life???

It’s been tricky. We’ve had to prioritize date nights. We’ve had to budget for them.

We’ve had to value the “like” as much as the “love” to actually carve out time for us.

And it’s made things so, so much better.

Friends, marriage is tough. Let’s not be fooled. Only by God’s grace can we make it another day. Only by God’s grace can we expect one sinner to love another sinner year upon year.

But along the way. As His perfect love fuels ours. Let’s have a little fun together. Let’s remember what brought us together in the first place.

And let’s like each other while we love each other as we climb these mountains together.

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Psalm 118:23-“This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

II Corinthians 5:14-“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Family Date Marathon

The kids had been crazy lately. Mean really. They argued over every thing. Who opens the chili. Who rides the hoverboard. Who takes the dog out. I was full-time referee and done with it.

First, I prayed the desperate prayer of a tired Mama. These are the 2 verses I focused on-

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)–God, give us one, just one, peacemaker among these 5 hoodlums.

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)–God, help our kids to unite with You and each other as one not many.

Jeremy and I also wondered if maybe the kids needed a break from each other. Maybe there’d been too much togetherness lately. But how do we get all 5 of them on individual dates at one time?

Here’s what we came up with:

1.We need a sitter to keep those who aren’t “dating.” (For us that was Stephen…how do we have a kid that old?)

2.It has to be a big deal. Unexpected. “Guess what everyone…we’re having our first ever family date marathon tonight.” Followed by blank stares.

3.Every child gets to pick his or her restaurant but it has to be quick and close by.

4.Kids left at home get to pick a Netflix show for everyone else to watch (and to help Stephen).

Then we did it.

I took Kenan to Moe’s while Jeremy took Esther to Wendy’s.

We met back at home and switched dates. I took Jonathan to Wendy’s and Jeremy took Caleb to Moe’s.

Lastly, Jeremy went home and started bedtime while I took Stephen to a local taco truck.

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And for bonus these are the 3 questions we ask our big boys on dates:
1-What is the hardest (worst) thing in your life right now?
2-What is the easiest (best) thing in your life right now?
3-What is God teaching you right now?

In total, our family date marathon took 2 hours, cost less than taking our whole family out, and Jeremy and I ate samplings from different restaurants. And more importantly, our kids went to bed feeling cherished as an individual not a group.

Has the arguing gotten better? Some days yes. And some days no. Our kids fight the same sin nature as me and Jeremy so I’m not expecting a date night to fix that. But we’re still praying and trusting. Knowing that God has good plans for all of us because of His steadfast love and compassion.

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:10-13)

 

 

 

 

 

To Those With “Littles”…I see you!

Mamas of littles…listen…closely…tune out the crying from the other room…I have something to tell you…a little hope to offer…here goes…

It will get easier!

I can barely believe it myself. Nope, I’m not in the stage yet where I’m saying, “It goes by so fast. Enjoy it.” Truthfully, there’s still not a ton of this parenting gig I actually enjoy. But we’ve progressed a little and I’ve realized something huge. I’ll say it again…

It will get easier!

By around 3 and a half, the clouds begin to lift. Your kids will most likely be able to tie their own shoes, pee in the potty, buckle themselves in their carseat, get their own snacks, and even entertain themselves for a little while in the morning (while you….sleep in!).

It’s a breath of fresh air. You can read a book in another room while they’re in quiet time, confident that no one will die. You don’t have to worry about toys in the mouth or falling down steps. You can even take walks without a stroller. And there’s no diaper bag to pack before leaving the house.

Hear me out tired Mamas…3 years. 3 whole years. You can do this. You can do it multiple times.

God will meet you where you are today. He will strengthen you. He will give you patience. He will help you smile. He will wipe away those tears that no one even knows you’re crying. He’ll lift your tired head up from the playroom floor. He’ll redeem those arguments with your spouse because you’re not even sure you really know each other anymore. He is right there with you.

And His strength is perfect in weakness. Today. Tomorrow. For 3 years. For more.

It will get easier!

Believe this. And lean in deeply (so deeply) to Him. He is there!

 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)

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I don’t want this moment to be holy…it wasn’t planned!

Most mornings you’ll find me sitting on the closet floor. Door shut. Pen in hand. Journal open.

I write to think. To wake up. To assure our kids after I’m gone and they nose through my journals that yes…Mom really was a big mess.

But recently the kids have found my spot. They know where I hide. And they come in.

THEY.COME.IN.DURING.MY.ALONE.TIME.

The other morning Kenan was the culprit. Dinosaur pajama pants. Shirtless. Carrying a blue blanket.

And I wanted to frown at him. To shoo him away to an Ipad.

But for some reason I stopped. Put him in my lap. And just held him. Smelled his hair. Breathed deeply of our littlest who’s now 3.

“This is holy.”

That’s what came to mind as we sat there. In the silence.

My Bible was waiting. My journal entry was half done. But somehow the moment felt holy. And I held grace in my arms.

Friends…let’s read our Bibles. Let’s pray. Let’s journal. But let’s not miss the moments where He slips in and says, “This…Even THIS is holy.”

Jesus revealed Himself to people on boats, land, and sky. He spoke to fisherman, tax collectors, and children.

Let’s not miss His grace today in the unexpected places. Let’s BE His grace today in the unexpected places.

 “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)

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A couple things…He was asleep on me. I wasn’t faking this smile. And we were out of town sleeping on the floor.