told to be… still

I come from a line of “doers” so when the nurse told me today that I need to stay off my feet, I thought it would be impossible- especially with a toddler.

For the past few days, I’ve had really strong and firm braxton hicks contractions when I stand up, walk, do chores, anything. They only subside when I sit or lie down. It’s crazy because right at the moment I stand up, my abdomen is as hard as a rock. I have six weeks left until baby girl Krieger’s due date and so far my husband and doula have a suspicion she could come early October.

Yesterday, I sat down for an hour while Jeremiah played with John and it was really, really hard. But I think I’m learning a lesson already.

I’m not still enough and I don’t listen to God nearly enough.

While sitting in our lazy boy with my chubby toes propped up, I was able to reflect more on life and what was really going on. Life can get so fuzzy when you’re so busy. I’m having a baby and my sweet little boy is nearing two. I have an incredible husband and God is building our little family the way He desires. What a gift. It was as if God whispered in my ear that everything was going to be fine and that He was in control. I didn’t need to worry about the logistics of the baby’s arrival, our time table, the lack of sleep coming up with a newborn, or anything. God was handling it. And He would handle it.

I sensed such peace covering my anxious heart.

God is absolutely sovereign. Yes, I will make plans as best I can, but he directs my steps. He knew that I would get to the point in my pregnancy that I would just have to get off my feet.

Who knows if our baby girl will come early, right on time, or late. I’d love to know. But right now what I need the most in my life is to be still and know that He is God, and I am not.

Do you find it hard to be still?

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Becoming a Stay-at-home Mom

Recently, we made a pretty big decision in our family. I transitioned from working in the office 30 hrs. a week to becoming a stay-at-home Mom. After a lot of thought, prayer, and counsel, we felt this was the best situation for our family, our son John, and baby girl soon to come in October.

It’s been a whole new world for me because shortly after John was born, I went back to work part-time while Jeremiah kept John and did his studies. It was a great situation to help him get through seminary and to bond with John. It was just what we needed in that season. But I had never known “life” exactly being full-time at home.

It was a bittersweet transition for me especially because I love everything I do as a writer for Bluefish TV. I loved my comfy office. I love the people I work with. I love using my gifts day in and day out, going in every day on mission and with a purpose. I was afraid of losing that. I feared what it would be like to put my dreams and career on hold to serve my family. I even wondered if I would lose my identity, as weird as that might seem.

9-5 Job vs. Being at Home

My mom had even told me before the transition that it would be easier to work a 9-5 job, than be at home full-time raising babies, but that it was worth every bit of sacrifice. She had been a stay-at-home mom all my life.

So far, I couldn’t agree more with her wisdom. My feet ache as I write this. I never sit down except during nap time. I spend about 3 hrs. a day in the kitchen attempting to cook healthy and delicious meals. I’m always thinking of ways to entertain John and get him outside or playing with others so he isn’t bored in our little 700 square ft. apartment. I regularly connect with other mom friends for the support and encouragement that is so crucial.

My phone conversations last about 10 minutes until there’s whining, screaming or a tug on my pants. I change clothes often from milk and peanut butter stains. Vacuuming and cleaning is a regular part of the day. I can handle about one or two big events in a day and after that I’m done. I’ve learned that I’m horrible at multitasking. And most of all, I’ve learned how impatient and easily angered I can become- especially when John has his fits.

And all this has been learned in just a matter of a few weeks. I’m not even a seasoned stay-at home mom yet!

Hard work? Definitely. And some days, more like exhausting. Worth the sacrifice? Most definitely.

Mom’s are always right.

Joy in the Sacrifice

In the midst of it all, including a tighter budget, less time with my husband, or for “me” time, I’ve found no greater joy than watching my little boy say new words, interact with others, discover beauty in the world, say “Mommy please, or Love you.” I love being able to cuddle with him when he wakes up cranky after a nap. I love that I can devote my time to him and let him know I’m fully there. I love that I get to teach him about Jesus in the small details of the day. I love that I’m the most important person to him simply because I’m his momma. I love knowing that if I wasn’t there for him, he would know it.

On the occasional days where I wish I was in my office again or where I feel like I’ve done absolutely nothing, it’s often that someone, something, or my husband reminds me that I’m molding and shaping John’s life day in and day out. That is the greatest job anyone could ever have.

And I smile again with renewed strength.

Dividends in the Future

God did open the door for me to still work a few hours from home each day and be connected to my work at Bluefish and it’s been a huge blessing, one I don’t take for granted. He’s taught me that I can still use my gifts at home. It will just take hard work, time and planning so it doesn’t take away from the needs of my family. Their needs are number one.

Whatever the future holds for Jeremiah and I as we build our family and think about our dreams and goals, the decision to love and disciple our children by me choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, is one I know we will never regret.

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Made to Make a Difference with Max Lucado

For the past few months, our creative team at Bluefish TV has been in the process of creating three video-driven youth Bible studies with Francis Chan, Max Lucado, and Doug Fields. In early August, the studies released and it’s been so neat to see the final outcome. I had a blast writing copy, editing, finding real-life stories, and networking with some really great people on this project.

Made to Make a Difference was the Bible study we worked on with Max Lucado and his daughter Jenna. This study in particular is so unique as it challenges students to get beyond themselves and to step out and make a difference in the lives of others.

Here is a 2 minute glimpse into the study. I get chills every time I watch it. I hope you’ll pass the info along to anyone you know involved in the lives of youth.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSvCA_wXTU8&feature=player_embedded]

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how a child makes love stronger

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.”  – Author Unknown

My “baby” is now an active 22 month old toddler and I can relate so much to that quote. John’s life has instilled something within me I never knew was possible: to love deeper and to see my future truly worth living for.

Even in the challenges that come with raising John, I’ve found no greater joy that I get to help mold and shape his life and who he will become one day. And the even more incredible thing is that in turn, my own life is being changed. As the months pass by so so quickly, God is using John to make me more like Christ- exposing my impatience, selfishness, pride, and helping me become more patient, selfless, and humble.

With a baby girl arriving late October, I know the nights will be longer again, our bank account smaller, and my clothes will probably be stained and shabby. But I know that yet again, her little life will help me see that the future is worth living for because I am the only one she will ever call “Momma.”

I’m not exactly sure how, but I know that God will use her, yet again, to show me more about His love.

How has your love grown stronger?

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dwelling

This past Sunday, I struggled with anger. And it came out of nowhere.

Everything under the sun bothered me and I let it out on Jeremiah. I remembered a blog post I read a while back from a well-respected Christian man who discovered that his feelings of discouragement and depression at the end of the day were often just a result of being overtired.

I came to the conclusion that my anger must have been from being overtired. So I went to bed.

I woke up in a better mood, but I still had feelings of guilt from my behavior.

I sat down on our lazy boy and picked up my pen, journal, and leather-bound Bible. I begged God to show himself to me. That he would help me swallow my pride and confess my sin from the night before. That he would fill me and give me his grace in my weakness.

I read the words from my quiet time: “For in this tent, we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened- not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Cor. 5:2-4).

I was totally there. I felt myself groaning, longing to have a new, sinless body. I wanted to give up, but was so encouraged as I continued to read in verse 5: “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” His Spirit is within me as a seal to help me persevere when I’m not living how I should.

Knowing that my earthly body will one day be clothed in the perfection of Christ gives me so much hope. What a beautiful promise that is for each of us, especially on those days that are frustrating. Maybe for no reason.

That scripture was all I needed to be refreshed at the start of a new day. And by grace, Monday ended up being a great day!

How has God’s word encouraged you in your struggles?

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Baby girl’s very first gift

I first found out about Ashleigh Slater through a great webzine for young women called Ungrind, which she is the editor for. Over the past few years, the articles on Ungrind have been a warm cup of coffee for my soul and I love the ministry Ashleigh has through it.

Several months ago Ashleigh miscarried her fourth baby girl Noah. Her husband wrote about their loss here on Boundless. Noah was due right around the time our baby girl is due. Ashleigh’s loss really opened my eyes to just how precious life is and Who is ultimately in control.

As part of Ashleigh’s healing process, she made this beautiful quilt for baby girl Krieger. This quilt is so special because of the story behind it all. Because of the hands that made it. And I was so surprised and overjoyed to found out last week that Ashleigh is expecting again!

Thank you Ashleigh- this quilt will be one of our most treasured gifts in our family for years to come. You’re continually in our thoughts and prayers.

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Marriage: Finding Beautiful in the Messy

A few weeks ago, Jeremiah and I took the ENRICH relationship inventory. Last Wednesday, we went over our results with our mentor couple John and Pam. Our results astonished us, revealing that we were a vitalized couple. But the truth of the matter is those results wouldn’t have been that way 3 years ago.

Our marriage has needed some hard work done on it, a hard look into the deeper matters of our sinful hearts.

Some of it ties back to the day we sat down together about a year ago and read the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

As two people who followed Christ, we knew that those fruits didn’t characterize us as much as they should. We began to pray, reflect, bring our struggles before those we do life with, and most of all humble ourselves to find change.

God began to shine his light on the sin that was taking small bites out of our marriage. For me, I had allowed anger to inch its way in. Impatience. Ungratefulness. Harsh words and tone. Bitterness. I didn’t always see the degree to how destructive it was. But God didn’t give up on me.

Over time, God’s word began to change me and heal me in those areas. I’ve become less angry, more grateful, more self-controlled with my words and tone and more quick to forgive. I haven’t arrived and never will, but in God’s strength, he is making me more like him.

God continues to do an awesome work in Jeremiah and I respect and love him with such a greater depth than when we said “I do.” I value our relationship so much more and we both know that our marriage is the greatest treasure God has given us.

I’m so thankful that God’s promises are true. He is truly a God who takes the messy, broken parts within us and makes them beautiful. He turns marriages around so that His image can be better reflected in the world. And he will continue to do that if we let him.

Well after celebrating the good news of our ENRICH results, we agreed that there’s a temptation to get complacent in our relationship or even prideful. I’m sure we’ll have some kind of other “test” this week to make sure that doesn’t happen 🙂

Have you found anything “beautiful” in your marriage or other relationships lately?

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Tyler Merrick & Project 7

I’m always inspired by individuals who take risks for the sake of being obedient to God’s call. Tyler Merrick left his family business in Amarillo three years ago and moved to Dallas to start Project 7a consumer goods company that gives 50% of their profits to seven areas of need around the world.

Maybe you’ve seen some of their products in Whole Foods, Books-a-Million, Caribou Coffee and other stores. I love what Tyler and his team are doing, but even more so I love that he views his business as ministry.

That’s mainly what we talked about when I interviewed him on the phone yesterday for a project at work. He told me about the disconnect he saw between his professional life and personal ministry. He said, “I wanted the marketplace to be my mission field.” And so it has. With the platform God has given him, he’s had countless opportunities to build relationships and share his faith all over the country as the founder of Project 7.

And Tyler is making such a huge impact for the kingdom without being on staff at a church.

So how can you help? Check out this list of where Project 7 products are sold and go buy some bottled water, gum, mints, or a T-shirt so you can make a positive change in the world. Last night, I checked out the water aisle at our local Whole Foods, and found a  Project 7 water bottle. The writing on it read HELP THOSE IN NEED. It was so exciting to purchase, and then give back.

http://vimeo.com/4263078

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Summer days

This past weekend we were in Michigan for Jeremiah’s brother’s wedding.

Bubbles were the hit for this little guy.

20 months old but really a gentleman

This groomsman is a little distracted

And more bubbles

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On perfection, good works, and falling short

This particular morning Jeremiah and I were driving down the road on our way to get breakfast when we caught a glimpse of a church’s marquee to our right. In black letters it read: No Perfect People Allowed.

Out of all the crazy church marquee signs out there, this one was a breath of fresh air. I figured the church must have gotten the phrase from John Ortberg’s book.

Growing up in the church, there were times I felt I had to be perfect to be accepted. So much that I kept up a certain image inside the doors and another one on the outside. But I was totally missing the mark in my faith and in the gospel and here’s why:

Perfection or “good behavior” isn’t the goal of our faith. I fall short every time when it is. The goal is depending on God’s grace and love to work in our hearts and transform them. Any good works we produce are evidence of a life that has been changed by Christ. Behavior modification doesn’t mean life change has truly happened from the inside out. Anyone can look holy. And we can’t mistake this for the gospel.

These truths have lifted certain burdens like: If I could just follow that rule closer… If I could sin less in this area… if I could just appear to love that person, then.. This thinking is all about me and what I can do and not on God’s grace to ultimately change my heart and help me put sin to death.

On our drive back with a belly full of chocolate chip pancakes, I glanced at the sign again. While my good works won’t get me anywhere, I became more thankful that an absolute dependence on a perfect Savior to change my stubborn heart, always will.

Do you ever focus too much on good works instead of grace? Any church marquee signs catching your eye lately?

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