April 25, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Friend

It's Friday! So here we are, hundreds of us, bravely writing for five minutes flat on the same prompt given by the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker. "No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real."

This is Five Minute Friday, where writing gets real.

This weeks prompt is FRIEND

GO!

It's a prayer answered. The desire of my heart fulfilled. I wrote this word on a scrap of paper on a cold winters night and sent it up to the rafters linked with hundreds of other prayers.

If Facebook tells me I have 371 friends, how could I feel so alone?

Then it happened. A whisper in my heart said to be a friend first. To reach and open and serve. So I did. Scared out of my mind I opened my home and wore my heart on my sleeve as I opened my heart alongside the door.

And the God Who Provides sent a friend walking through that door. And not just one friend. A few.

And I kept hearing whispers and friends kept showing up. Women who see me and love me anyway. And my heart! My heart it swells and overflows with joy and laughter.

I am no longer alone. My prayers were answered by a faithful God who loves me! Who knows that we all need friends. After all, Jesus surrounded himself with friends while on earth.

And now he has surrounded me with friends. With women who encourage and inspire me. Women who reassure me and build me up.

Thank you Lord for answered prayers.

STOP! 

Five Minute Friday

April 24, 2013

Rolling On the Floor Laughing

I love language. There is a beauty in the art of the way we use words to express ourselves. I have even on occasion referred to myself as a "word nerd". One of my favorite things to do is get out my Bible and a good Concordance and search through the original Greek and Hebrew texts to breathe new life into Scripture.

But for my love of words, I also have a hefty list of words I hate. Words like moist, rash, ointment, supple and squirt make me cringe. Boss, damp, and secrete (blech!) included.

I have recently started a list of Christian terms and catchphrases, i.e. Christianese, that I dislike as well. Topping out that list is backslide, doing life together, and being intentional.

The newest list of mine to emerge though, is the language and shorthand of online and texting. We lol and will brb cuz we R2 lazy 2 actually type real words. We are all guilty.

Twitter is abuzz with people WOOTing and we are left to wonder, does anyone actually WOOT in real life? And if you do, can you please, at least tell me you raise the roof while you do it?

And where the heck did ROFL come from? Because I'm pretty sure that if you're updating your Facebook status or sending a text you are in fact, not rolling on your floor. Chances are, you probably aren't even actually laughing! You probably cracked a smile and maybe let out one single little chuckle while you typed ROFL into your iPhone.

There have been only a few times in my life that I have actually rolled on the floor laughing. I can remember  three.

One involved a table I was standing on collapsing so I was on the floor by default. I was pinned underneath Stephanie, who had also been on said table, and we were laughing so hard that we couldn't get up.

The next was at a little place called The Village Idiot in front of the Big Buck Hunter machine with my friend Kat. I couldn't tell you 7 years later what was so funny or how we ended up on the floor. All I know is that it must have been pretty hilar because I would never even set my purse on that floor.

The third was today.

I keep a stash of Little People in the kitchen so that while I cook and/or clean I can set the baby at my feet to play. I finished my tasks and sat down on the floor to start collecting the little people and get them back into their container. I was completely blindsided when my five year old body slammed us both to the ground with the most mischievous grin and a case of the giggles that seemed to be contagious.

As the three of us lay on the kitchen carpet (yes, you read that right), we laughed and wrestled and rolled around until there were tears in our eyes and our sides felt they might split.

I seemed to be seeing it all in slow motion. The light in the redheads bright blue eyes as she was defeated by the tickle monster. The excitement in the face of a babe seeing such playfulness before her. I watched it all and breathed it in.

I spend so much of my life trying to get it all done and be it all to everyone that I often miss out on the ROFL moments in life. I'm too busy with the laundry or the dinner and I shoo away little hands tugging at my pant legs.

In those moments on the floor I saw it all flash before my eyes and visions of teenagers walking out of the door with car keys in hand flooded my mind. These days won't last forever.

These days won't last forever. That goes for the hard and trying and mundane and drive-you-out-of-your-mind days too.

And on that day that I stand in my kitchen and watch that teenager run out the door with car keys in hand, I don't want to look around and see how clean my house is.

I want to look around and remember the days we rolled on the floor laughing and thank God that I didn't let them pass me by.

So whether the floor is damp, the baby has a rash, or the kids are on your nerves like a boss, try to remember to be intentional with them and take the time to ROFL.

April 22, 2013

Rest

REST. 

When you're woken by babes crying and the go go go of meals and diaper changes and housekeeping and and errands and laundry and diaper changes and more meals and more messes and diaper changes and faces standing at the foot of your bed at 3am after a nightmare...

Rest? It's a foreign word to most of us. 

Heavy eye lids and aching bodies are dragged along day after day, weary and weak, as rest fades more and more into a distant memory. 

Motherhood is a 24/7 job. Someone always needs you and there is always something that needs to be done. So where in the world is a mom supposed to find rest? 

Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Matthew 11:28-29

Ye shall find rest unto your souls....

I breathe those words in and they feel like water on a hot summers day. Nothing sounds better. 

Yet with babes calling and and laundry piling, it can seem near impossible to find God in the midst of it all. A hymn over a pot of macaroni. A prayer while you scrub away the soap scum. Grace before a meal. Loving the littles when they are acting anything but lovable. It is in those moments that God will meet you. Right. Where. You. Are.

He longs to spend time with you. He yearns for you to knock at His door. He waits patiently for you to show up, ready to fill your cup to overflowing. To open His arms and let you lay under His wing and rest. All you have to do is show up.

Show up, right where you are. With Pandora praises. With soapy dish water prayers. 

He said, "Come to me...and you will find rest". 

He said, "Come to me..."

Will you go? 

For it is in the coming, in Him, that you shall find rest.







April 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday: JUMP

It's called Five Minute Friday. Where hundreds of writers come together and bravely bare their souls by writing from the same prompt, for five minutes only, unedited. Find out more at lisajobaker.com

Oh yeah, and this is our mascot. Why? Because who doesn't love a crazy Pinterest alpaca pin cushion?


Today's prompt word? JUMP

GO!

I didn't want to do this. I've sat back and watched silently and then not so silently for some time now.

I've never considered myself a writer. I'm just a girl who writes. The words of so many others with so much talent, so much bravery. I can't compare. I won't match up. 

But these women. These women who embrace me and accept me and encourage me. They spur me on and they make me laugh and they draw me into this community of beauty and make me feel like maybe I am brave too. 

Then it comes, clear as day. So clear it's almost audible when He says "Jump!" 

"Even though you're scared. Even though you don't think you can do it. Jump! Feet first. All in. I will catch you."

So I do. I jump. And here it is. Here I am, trying to be brave with all of the other Five Minute Friday rock stars. Trusting that God will give me words and courage and use these five minutes to do a work in me that I didn't even know needed to be done.

So here's to the brave. To the ball covered, pin cushion alpacas who stand tall and proud in all of their ridiculousness. Brave enough to be just who you are. 

STOP.
Five Minute Friday

April 18, 2013

This Body

At 7 months post partum it's no surprise that I have body issues. Everything is starting to get back into place (kind of), but I hate that I can't seem to lose those last few pounds. I hate that I know I could, if I would just commit to and stick with it.

What I hate most, is the way that it consumes me.  I spend most of the day thinking about what I will eat next or what I want to eat. When I'm on track, I think about the things I want that I am denying myself. And when I choose to indulge those cravings (which is more often than I'd like to admit these days), I think about how I shouldn't have eaten those things and mentally berate myself. It's lose-lose.

My life has become a constant battle between the food I love and my desire to be thin. Like if I just lose those last few pounds of baby weight, something magical will happen. 

But happiness isn't found in a pair of size 4 jeans. In fact, happiness is the very thing that changed this body and put those size 4's on the shelf.
I look in the mirror and see wrinkles and gray hairs and ugly, unmanicured hands. I see stretch marks and cellulite, and sun spots and acne scars.

And I hear God's voice. 
I hear Him say that those hands have labored hard over the years. Making meals. Scrubbing dishes. Wiping tears. Serving others. Serving Him.

Those hairs were once lice ridden from scooping children in Baja, Mexico and giving "caballos", piggy back rides, to the children running in the dirt filled streets. 
Those wrinkles were formed over years of laughter and smiles and joy. 
I hear Him say that this body, that I so wish would look different, has given life to 3 beautiful children. 

This body is the only home my son knows outside of Heaven. He lived and died here. And he left me a few tiger stripes to remember him by. His own way of etching "Noah was here" into my skin.

This body has sustained my daughter since the moment she was formed. Through gestation, birth, and every day since. To her, my body is life. 

Those scars and stretch marks and wrinkles, each are an alter, a reminder of the life lived. 

This body was fearfully and wonderfully made. The hairs that are always falling out of my head are numbered. Each day of my life, every square inch of this pale white skin was known and loved before it ever came to be. This body was created in the image of the Creator.

YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made. Each hair on your head is numbered. Every day and every square inch of your body was known and loved before it ever came to be. 

YOU are beautiful. 

It doesn't matter if you're a size 4 or a 14. YOU are made perfectly in the image of God, and He has made you just the way you are. 

So today, I will not look at myself and see everything I wish was different. No, today, I will look in the mirror and see the daughter of a King, loved and accepted. I will see each moment that gave me each mark. I will be grateful for the story this body tells and I will love it for what it has done. 

My prayer is that you will do the same. 

Because YOU are beautiful.

April 16, 2013

Breathe

It's quiet in the house. A rare moment.

When nap time collides with reading time and I throw on a sweater to escape to the porch. Except the porch is shaded so I crawl onto the walkway to feel the warmth of the sun on my face.

I need the air. I need the heat warming my back. I need to feel the cool spring breeze brush my skin.  


For a moment, in this moment, I can breathe. 

It's only a matter of time before life will summon me. Nap time will end or someone will get thirsty. But for a few solitude moments...it's freedom. It's rest. 

And sure enough, I all too soon hear the cry of a babe and motherhood calls me out of the sun and into the house. It may have only lasted a few minutes, but that was all my soul needed to recharge.

A gift.

A blessing.

I often pass up opportunities in my day to take a moment for myself. I see these small chunks of time as an opportunity to fold a load of laundry, scrub a shower, or return a phone call. With so much to do, how could I possibly pass up a few child-free minutes to accomplish a task or two?

The past few days weeks I've been struggling to keep it together most days. By nightfall, I am broken and beaten and I am anything but pretty to be around. I NEED a break. But there is so much to do. How selfish of me to want to just take a few minutes for myself! But what I realized today, as I felt the suns rays wrap around me, is that I was selfish alright!

I was selfish for thinking that I could do it all. I was selfish for clinging to my pride instead of admitting that I needed help. I was selfish for choosing impatience and frustration and yelling over a few minutes to myself.

Even Jesus needed to get away from it all. He hopped in a boat to escape the crowds. He retreated to the garden to be alone and pray. We NEED to take time for ourselves. It is part of who God created us to be.

On the seventh day, He rested.

Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy.

When did we as mothers get the idea that we were exempt from needing rest?

So if when you're feeling tired, and weary, and like you just need a break, take a few minutes to just get away from it all. Better yet, schedule time for yourself before you feel like you're going to break.

Maybe it's a trip to the gym, lunch with a friend, a drive in the car with the windows down and the music blaring. Maybe it's just a long, hot shower when you don't have to rush.

Make time for yourself. Take care of yourself. It's ok. It's more than ok. It's what you need. What you're kids need. When you are well, you are so much more capable to love and serve your family.


So get in that boat, mama! Go find yourself a garden to retreat to!

Find the air, and breathe.





April 11, 2013

Love

There are days when open eyes are immediately met with hot tears. Days when the sound of a wakened babe makes me wonder how I can get up and live it. I have nothing left. I've been used up and emptied and turned upside down beaten and banged until every last drop has been had. I need more sleep. I need to get away.

It's been 7 months since I birthed life earth side and the farthest I've been is the shower. I've nursed through meals, and lessons, and church services. Early mornings and late nights. So many, many nights I've been suckled and I've sustained her tiny body.

And you. You, like me, have spent every inch of yourself on the miniature feet that trample your halls. You have fed countless meals, washed countless loads of laundry, and sacrificed yourself.

You have given up everything you once loved for the ones you love. To give them everything. And just when you think you have nothing left in you, you give some more.

When one more "Mooooom!", one more fight, one more tantrum or one more "I need you" feels like your back will break. When it all comes crashing down on you and you just can't give any more, you do. I do.

Because we love.

And what else is there in this life but love?

Sure, love is patient and kind, and I am not always those. But love keeps giving. Love empties itself over and over again.

Love lets your coffee sit cold because a pink shoe is missing. Love rearranges the meal table because the sun is too shiny. Love is tired and weary from sleepless nights and lullabies.

And we give all our love because He first loved us. Love gave all He had, and tears of blood poured out in a garden begging for any other way. Weary tears that knew it had to be done. Just like your tears. Like mine.

Love emptied itself with nails in His hands giving every last drop and it was finished. Love gave His life.

So we give our lives to show them love. To show them Love. So that they might know that He loved them first.

Because what else is there in this life but His love?

April 10, 2013

Not Alone

My throat was tight and my stomach turned as I paced between my kitchen and my living room. Each pass took me right by the front door as I eagerly and nervously awaited cars. I prayed for cars.

God had told me to extend the invitation. I had felt it in the depths of my heart that I needed to open my home. But what if no one came?

My entire life, girl friends has been a short list for me. At this particular point in my life, I was feeling lonely and isolated. Motherhood was hard and with a brand new baby, I felt like I was drowning some days and no one understood me. My husband could be supportive, but he had no idea what it meant to have to use the bathroom with a baby latched on your breast because you just couldn't even find a minute for yourself. I needed someone who had been witness to as many meltdowns and pairs of soiled underwear as I had.

Months prior, I wrote the word "Friends" on a slip of paper that was then attached to a paper chain at our church's Christmas Eve service. It was my prayer for the upcoming year. That God would provide me with someone to have a meaningful relationship with.

So there I was awaiting the first meeting of the book club that I initiated, not even realizing what was before me. I was nearly paralyzed with fear that I would be sitting in my living room alone that night. Or even worse, ONE person would show up. One lone person to witness the rejection and humiliation.

Two women showed up that night. And I survived. I did not melt or fall apart. I did not spontaneously combust. I lived through it. And actually, had a great night.

Two weeks later, 5 women entered my home and I'm not sure any of us had any idea what we had walked into. This was not just any book club. This was the beginning of something bigger than that.

Over the past few months, bonds and friendships have formed. We have learned to trust one another and true community has been built. Prayer requests, praises, as well as daily groans and encouragement happen in a group of women who not all that long ago were feeling desperate. And there are days when we still feel that way, but we know that we don't have to do it alone.

We were created to live together in community and to share our lives with others, yet we live in such an isolationist society. I'm not even sure that before we started meeting that any of us realized just how much we needed each other. It was like it had never dawned on us that us moms need to stick together. We need to be there for each other in real ways.

In the "My little one needs to see the doctor, can you sit with the others so I don't have to drag them all?" way. In the "I'm feeling lonely and if I don't have an adult conversation soon my head will explode" kind of way. In the "I just need to get out of my house for a little while" kind of way. In the "I'll pray for you" and you actually pray kind of way. In the text or email to tell you you're doing a good job kind of way.


Never in my life have I been a girls girl. In my wildest dreams I never imagined my kitchen counter lined up with cards and notes of encouragement from other women. And next to them, new life sprouting, growing with us. I never imagined that a group of women would regularly cross my threshold to talk about life and cheer one another on in good times and bad.

But that's why I get for using my imagination instead of God's. It was when I listened and obeyed that I got what I needed. And I got so much more.

If you find yourself reading this, lonely and desperate, know that it doesn't have to be that way! Put yourself out there! Grab a few girlfriends! We started our group by reading the book Desperate together. Reach out to other women in your life! I promise that you are not the only one who is longing for friendship.

And you can always come here. A place where we can laugh, and cry, and be in it together. Because life is hard. Motherhood is hard. Being a wife is hard. This world is hard. And here, in this space, you are not alone.

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