For the One Who Doesn’t Feel Prepared

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If there was an award given for procrastination, I would be a top contender.

When people ask me, “Are you ready for Christmas?” the answer is, “No.” Not even close.

My kids received a Christmas card in the mail from Santa yesterday. It has no return address. It says he heard they’ve been very good this year.

How did he hear this? I have no idea.

Perhaps he is real and will be delivering all of their gifts down the chimney on Christmas Eve, saving me from the last minute hustle. One can hope, right?

In the midst of all the unmet expectations I place on myself, I know one thing is true. My kids have all they need this Christmas. They have the unconditional love of two parents who are loved unconditionally by our Savior. 

I asked my six-year-old what he wanted for Christmas and he didn’t give me a long list. He named one toy. A transformer named Chase, like his friend Dawson’s. I think I can handle that.

This year, whether you’re way ahead on your list of to-dos or far behind, like me, remember this: a pile of presents will never replace utter fulfillment in Immanuel: God with us. When we prepare our hearts for him, everything else will fall into place.

The good news already came. Let’s not forget it.

 

*Linking up for Five Minute Friday. A beautiful group of writers who free-write for five minutes each Friday on one word. Today’s word was: prepare.

More Blessed to Give?

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Three is going to be harder than two. Two weeks in, and I can already tell.

Maybe it’s the way he drops down to an army crawl every time I attempt to grab him to put on his shoes, get him ready for bed, or put on his jacket. Maybe it’s the way he fights me on every. single. thing. imaginable.

I’m learning to appreciate the little moments. Like the other day when he was watching Pajanimals, and he simply burst out in dance, song, and excitement when his favorite bedtime song played.

I could not stop laughing. Or smiling.

God gave me this gift that is so much life and spice and personality. So much fighting and testing and unpredictability.

And I want to give him the world. 

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

How often do we just dismiss that as a trite saying? Something to be discarded and thrown away.

How often do we fail to realize it’s not just the material things we give, but the giving of ourselves that matters?

I want to give him the world.

When we give of ourselves, we become more like the ultimate Giver.

We become more like the One who gave everything and expected nothing.

Can you think of anything more beautiful?

 

*Linking up with Five Minute Friday. A beautiful group of writers who free write for five minutes each Friday on one word. Today’s word was: give.

When You Don’t Think Anyone Notices

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The change was subtle. I didn’t think he would notice. A little less spice, a little more brown sugar. An hour of simmering on the stove to develop the flavors, the heat, the harmony between each ingredient.

I never enjoyed cooking before marriage. Before I had a family, quicker was always better. But now, this was my love offering to them. Although I no longer brought home a paycheck, I could do this.

I watched them enjoy each bite. I laughed after hearing my two-year-old say with satisfaction, “Mmmmm. Yummy.” It made it all worth it. Even the meals where I couldn’t convince him to take one bite.

He didn’t notice the change. But it didn’t matter. We were all here together, talking and eating and conversing about our day. We were in a warm house with the wood stove crackling and we were safe and full.

No act of love goes unnoticed by the One who is Love.

It all matters. Each stir of the pot, each scrub of the dish and brush of the cheek.

If you’re feeling like no one sees the offering you’ve poured day in and day out for your loved ones, know without a doubt that someone does. He takes delight in each act.

He knows your name and He rejoices over you with singing.

He sees what no one else does.

*Linking up with Five Minute Friday. Five minutes of free writing on one word. Always challenging. Always beautiful and fun. Click the button below to learn more.

How Will You Leave Them?

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I wonder what his disciples were thinking the night before He left. Surely they were fearful and confused. Surely they did not want Him to leave.

He promised to send them a Helper who would remain in them after he was gone. But what did that mean? I selfishly would have wanted Him to stay. To continue to lead and give me the Word that came straight from the Father. To give me the strength I lacked.

But He had to go. It was all part of the divine plan no one fully grasps, even now.

If that were the end of the story, we would have no reason to go on, would we? And yet he rose, and because he lives on, his Spirit lives in us when we accept Him and abide in Him.

Though he left, His Spirit lives in us and through us.

Think of this: You may be the only evidence of God that one person in your life ever sees. You know the one. The person God has placed on your heart. The one you feel the constant burden for.

We have the divine opportunity to make God visible. Does that not blow you completely away? No one has ever seen Him, and yet through our lives we have the ability to give little glimpses.

When others see us, they should see Him.

We are asked simply to love as He loves. This is how people will know.

This is how we are called.

Because He left, but He will return.

Leave them with the Spirit of Truth.

 

*This post was written for Five Minute Friday. A brave group of beautiful writers who meet each Friday to free write for five minutes on one word. Today’s word was: leave. Click the button below to learn more.

When the Days Are Long and Tired

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Although the days have been getting shorter, within the confines of this house they have been long. Over the past couple of weeks as my entire family has battled sickness, I’ve seen my favorite season passing by. From our bay window I’ve watched the rain and the leaves give their last vibrant bursts of color before falling to the ground.

My fuse, on the other hand, has been short. I’ve counted the hours until my husband would be home from work to help care for whining babes. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve apologized more than once.

I’ve sent up prayers for recovery, for patience, and protection for my husband, the only one who has not fallen ill. And in the middle of it all, I’ve seen that even in this I am so, so blessed.

I’ve seen it in friends reaching out with words of encouragement. In hot bowl of soup from a kind spirit. In text messages, well wishes, and thoughtful gestures. Yes, I have so much to give thanks for.

When I focus on the gifts, all of the grumbling fades like a mirage. I see how long his love for me is, even when my vision is short-sighted. I see how long his patience with me is, even when my anger flares.

With all illusions gone, I feel that much closer to the One who gave it all.

 

*This post was written for Five Minute Friday. A beautiful group of brave, bold writers who meet every Friday to free write for five minutes on one word. Today’s word was: long. Click the button below to learn more.

Why Should I Care?

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“Above all, love one another deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 3:10

There are days when I don’t like myself very much. I laugh at inappropriate situations. When circumstances are awkward. I laugh to release the tension and then people look at me like I’m crazy.

I say the wrong thing and then wonder why I opened my mouth in the first place. Sometimes I just say whatever pops into my head at the moment.

There are days when I fail miserably as a friend, wife, and mother.

But you know what? In spite of all of these moments when I feel like I never should have gotten out of bed, I love. I love my community. My readers. My family and friends. My church. I care deeply for them and the details of their lives.

Even though I’m not always the best listener, I am trying to get better. I try to not just wait for my turn to speak.

Each time I make a decision to love and to focus outwardly, the Spirit wins. It rises above the selfishness of my flesh. And I am filled with joy because I am becoming less like myself and more like Christ.

He’s not finished with me yet. Even when I laugh loudly, look around, and realize no one else is laughing with me. Even when I make a dry joke that no one else understands.

He’s right there. Nudging me in his gentle way to keep focusing outward. To not focus so much on my mistakes, but the goal I am racing towards.

*This post was written for Five Minute Friday. A beautiful group of brave, bold writers who meet each Friday to free write for five minutes on one word. Today’s word was: care. Click the button below to learn more.

A Brave New World, or Not?

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“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

It is my natural instinct to fight against the new. To take a fight or flight response, trying to protect what is familiar. What is safe.

Today as I was waiting to get a haircut, I read an article in Time about the new Apple Watch. It said that Apple’s genius is not in the fact that they present new ideas, but that they revive old ones. They turn something that has failed in the past into something that becomes successful. Mainstream. The latest “have to have it” product. To the point where people forget about the old product all together.

Such is the case with the new Apple watch. And if it takes off the way they are predicting it will, social media will not just be part of our lives. It will be part of our bodies.

And to be honest, that scares me. My mind races to endless possibilities of what this entails.

Left to my own devices, my mind can do that from time to time. But you see, God doesn’t want me to live in fear of the new and the unknown. He wants to transform me.

He is making me new from the inside out.

So when my natural tendency is to turn to fight or flight, I instead flee into his loving arms. That’s where I find peace.

That’s where I realize that in the midst of the ever changing and the new and unpredictable, he remains the same.

He knows the beginning and the end because he’s already written the story. So when the world seems new and unsafe, I can find safety in Him. The Author and Finisher.

 

*Photo Credit

*This post was written for Five Minute Friday. A group of brave, bold, beautiful writers who free write for five minutes each Friday on one word. Today’s word was: new. Click the button below to learn more.

Because We Need to Know We Are Not Alone

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I will never forget the moment when I finally got it. When it finally sank in. I was sitting on the couch of our 30th St. Rancher in Ogden, Utah reading The Purpose Driven Life with my husband. The opening chapter is aptly named, “It’s Not About You,” and those words changed my life.

I made the decision to follow Jesus while reading that book, and for the first time, I understood what that meant. Surrender. Seeing him in every decision I make, everything that I do. Putting Him front and center.

I had prayed the sinner’s prayer several times growing up. But I never got it. It was more of an emotional response than a life changing decision.

I also was petrified of getting up in front of hundreds of people to proclaim my faith to everyone.

Although I made the decision in the privacy of my home, the next day our pastor decided to end the service with an open baptism. Unannounced. As I looked at my husband, knowing what I should do, I was scared. But I also knew it was my time.

As the pastor lifted me up out of the water and asked me to proclaim my faith I looked out into the audience and tried to make out faces, but everything was a blur. The bright light made it difficult to see.

Although I can’t remember everything I said I do remember saying this: “I don’t have to be alone anymore.”

I have been passionate about writing for as long as I can remember, but for most of my life I never shared my writing with anyone. I blog because of the experience I had that night on the couch. I write because words matter, and because somewhere, someone thinks they’re alone in their struggles, their depression, their doubts and fears.

I write to scream in the loudest voice I have, “You are not alone.”

I write because it is my voice.

 

*This post was written for Five Minute Friday. A beautiful, bold group of writers who free write on one word each Friday. Today’s word was: because. Click the button below to learn more.

Learning When to Release the Hold

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I remember my oldest son’s first trip to the ER. He was covered in hives and his face swelled up like a balloon. Food allergies. The news that no parent wants to hear.

When I first saw the symptoms, I had no idea what was happening and stared in horror as my son, though still breathing, was having visible difficulty doing so. But my husband immediately recognized the signs and rushed him to the car. The staff at the hospital called it a “mild reaction.” I thought they were crazy.

Looking back at the incident, I see that it was during those scary moments racing to the ER that I realized how little control I had over my son’s life. Sure, I played an important role. A critical one. But there were so many things that could happen that were unpredictable. So much uncertainty.

Years later, when my son started kindergarten, I was afraid to let him get on that bus. Every time the phone rang and I recognized the school’s phone number, I thought they were calling to tell me my son was in the hospital. In fact, they were usually calling to ask me if a particular food was okay for him to eat.

As a parent, I struggle to let go. I want to hold my kids and protect them from every force of nature that can harm them in any way. I want to put a protective blanket over them and keep them safe.

But that was never God’s plan.

One of the hardest lessons to learn as a parent is knowing when to release the hold.

I still don’t always get it right. I’m learning every day. But the more I let go, the more I find that there is freedom found in the release.

 

*This post was written for Five Minute Friday. A group of beautiful, bold writers who meet every Friday to free write for five minutes on one word. Today’s word was: hold. Click the button below to learn more.

 

Five Minute Friday: Ready

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“Do you believe Mormons are Christians?” The question left me fumbling for words, not knowing what to say to this person who I’d just met weeks before. Her faith had been attacked by someone who no doubt called themselves “Christian” and yet their actions said otherwise.

I didn’t know what to say. At this point in my life, my faith was so small. So wavering. I told her I knew so little about what they believed I didn’t feel like I could answer. This was true. But it also left me feeling like a cop out.

The conversation left me with one realization. I wasn’t ready. And I needed to be. I needed to know the reason for the faith I had, however small it may be. I needed to know the answer for my hope. I needed to be able to say with confidence who my hope was in.

Over the next few years, I dove into scripture. That little mustard seed grew and became rooted in the deep, long and wide love of Jesus. I realized that when the King arrives with a sword coming out of his mouth and the trumpet sounds, there’s only going to be one question that matters.

Are you ready?

And the answer to that question depends on one thing. Who is your King?

I believe that when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” he meant it. And I believe in a God who is just, loving, and knows each person’s heart.

No one knows the hour or the day. But I can now say with confidence I am ready.

 

*This post was written for Five Minute Friday. A beautiful, bold group of writers who meet each week to free write for five minutes on one word. Today’s word was: ready. Click the button below to learn more.