Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Simplicity and Joy

And a link up party
I had a fabulous dream last night.  In my dream I found a white circular laundry basket full of socks with no mates. Now I realize this sounds like every woman's worst nightmare but hang in here with me... After stumbling upon this basket of socks I took it to my room to be sorted out later. There in my bed room was another white circular laundry basket also full of socks with no mates. And they all matched up with the socks I had just found!!!!!!!! Everyone of them were paired up and put away. Not one destitute sock could be found in my house! I literally woke up smiling. To some of you this may sound a little absurd. But some of you get how truly fabulous this sounds, right?! 

I recently started clipping coupons, a friend brought me a bunch and I sorted cut and sorted again. It took me three hours to buy groceries trying to find just the right brand and size. On the way home I felt absolutely gitty. In the back end of my van were all kinds of little splurges. New cleaning supplies, a different kind of soap. My own little guilty pleasure that I only occasionally indulge in... fabric softener. I thought it was a little silly to be getting so excited about something so small. But I really was. 

Between that and my dream last night I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I was losing it. As I am sure you are beginning to wonder yourself. But I have found myself smiling through my day today with a realization. I am one lucky girl! I have what lots of people spend their lives searching for, true joy and contentment. I have the desires of my heart. It may seem like simple things - bathroom cleaners and soap,  but it is really so much bigger than that. Not so very long ago I was in a much different place. Wondering what in the world there was in this life - in my life, if anything, beyond diapers, and conversations with toddlers, and peanut butter sandwiches.  And you know what, in my life right now, there isn't. But this is what I spent years longing for. As a young girl I wanted nothing more than to be a wife and mommy - praying faithfully for my future husband, daydreaming about pigtails and dirty little hands. And I am here, and I have got it. God has blessed me beyond all measure with everything I asked for. Then He went one step further and taught me to take great delight in it. So you see I am not really some crazy lady fantasizing in the subconscious about a world with no miss matched socks. I am the daughter of the King having been handed a great inheritance and I get to be out right frivolous with it. Why not get excited about the joys of motherhood. The small ones, the big ones. All of this was entrusted to me by the one who knew I would hate early mornings, would make a mess of the simplest meal, and would lose my patience over one too many knock knock jokes. And yet He blessed me anyway. So there is joy in the simplicity of a good bargain on cascade, in a basket full of clean sheets, in having taught a person to tie their shoes, in first crushes, in secrets, in "I love yous", in "I need yous", in "I want yous". And I intend to continue to delight in every one of those simplicities. 

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What are you taking delight in? What is God doing in your life? I want to hear all about it. Share what God is teaching you,a verse, a talent He has given you (crafts, photography, home decor...) Anywhere you can give God glory in the world around you, please link up and share it here.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Taking A New Approach

Some people have to think things through, others like to talk them through. I seem to have a need to write them through.

I have shared a little about my current health problems. I have no idea what else to call it. Is it an illness, a disorder, an injury? I have been to numerous doctors, run a whole lot of tests, had surgery and so on. What I do know is, it stinks and I am tired of it. It's nine months today, nine months since all of this started. We were hopeful when my neurologist found the herniated disc in my neck. There was the belief that it could be causing some of my symptoms. Both my GP and Neurosurgeon were not quite as optimistic as my Neurologist but it needed to be done anyway and so we went forward with at least a bit of expectation that things would improve.

Waking up from surgery nearly three months ago I was sore, obviously, but otherwise felt pretty good. Arms, legs, hips - none of it hurt! This was a good sign. My gracious mother took care of me and my three year old during the two weeks of recovery while my husband was at work and my older children where in school. The surgery - in which they removed the herniated disc, replaced it with a cage and put in a titanium plate to hold everything in place - was not near as bad as I was expecting. It was so much easier to get around after that surgery than the c-sections I had had with the kids. But I was extremely sore and faithfully took my pain killers and muscle relaxers around the clock. After sleeping through the night once and missing a dose I did not make that mistake again. I set alarms and did not let any more time than necessary pass between doses. One day, about a week after surgery, as I sat in my parents living room feeling fabulous and full of energy I thought, "this is it! We have found the answer, I'm fixed!" I texted my husband at work and said, "I think I am actually going to get my life back!" After 6 months of being on the couch or in bed unless it was absolutely necessary to do otherwise I was ready!

Yes, it had only been six months but I was certainly relating to the second part of this verse. I had been begging God to heal me, to restore me to my usual energy. To feel good again. And I truly felt like as soon as my neck healed I'd be nearly 100% again. I was still having a lot of muscle jerks but they are mainly just annoying. I can live with annoying.

Ten days post op I got a little tummy bug. I was afraid it might have been from all the medicine I was taking and I hadn't kept down my breakfast that morning so I skipped all my meds that day. The next day, feeling much less nauseated I went back on my pain medicine but discontinued the muscle relaxers all together and backed way off on the pain killers. I felt good enough by the next day to take a short shopping trip with my mom. By the time we got back to her house my arms were beginning to feel achy. It was a familiar feeling and I was disappointed but hoped it was just some referred pain from my neck and took it easy for the rest of the week. Just like the onset of all of this it started with the arms but slowly the rest crept in. And soon I was feeling the throbbing muscles, achy - flu like feeling all over, I was sore like I had just done an intense workout the day before, my muscles were fatigued. All of the old symptoms - they had returned. At first I could make a clear distinction. When my muscles ached I was also having a "bad neck day" as I referred to it. But as time has gone on even on a day when my neck is feeling really well (and let me tell you those days are rare - this surgery has a very long recovery period) the rest of me still feels pretty much awful. It has gotten to the point where I dread buckling kids into the car, making wide turns into parking spots, rolling up my window... I can certainly testify that hope deferred indeed does crush the spirit. I am a little slow, it took me weeks to realize the obvious. When I was taking pain killers and muscle relaxers every three hours my body did not have a chance to feel pain. But as I backed off I certainly felt it. What I had thought was healing was actually just symptoms being masked by large doses of medicine.

I went to see the neurosurgeon a couple of weeks ago for my post op visit. He suggested that we give it another four months to see if a full recovery will make a difference. Yeah!!!! More waiting! Actually a break from all of this has been kind of nice. I am sad to say I have been surviving on pain killers in an effort to be upright and keep moving and get some sense of normality back. I have been waiting for a good opportunity to try some more natural things, to see if they might make a difference. This was hard to do while we were still trying to find a diagnosis. So many of these diseases that they have been trying to rule out are just a process of elimination - a whole lot of trying this medication and that. But here we are, 4 months of waiting. And so, and I am kind of excited about trying this, I am going to try to make some changes to my diet - one thing at a time. First up... drum role please... sugar! I LOVE sugar! I would certainly go as far as to say I am addicted. It may not be the source of any of this but it certainly can't be helping. Right?! I thought I'd kick things off by truly torturing myself with a detox of sorts. A few days of fruit, veggies, and whole grains. (I'm going to miss my meat!!!!!)  I have been eating SO bad, getting some of this junk out of me sounds kind of nice! And then it's bye bye sugar for a while.

Why am I sharing all of this here? I am hoping it will keep me accountable. I am truly hoping it will be the beginning of good news and I like to share good news right here! Maybe I can learn a few new things about health and pass on what I learn. Be prepared to hear a little more of this journey You can skip on past these posts if you don't care to hear about it. I promise this is not about to turn in to a health blog. But it is my blog and this is my journey.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oh Grow Up!

Funny how quickly we want to grow up when we are kids. Then, when it's not all we thought it would be nothing sounds more fun and comforting than being a little baby. My kids have gotten a kick out of hearing the crazy things they use to say as babies. Our drive to school in the mornings have been full of giggles lately. Elyse called crackers "I yas", as did Isaiah. She called caterpillars "packy hunkies",  and as far as Isaiah was concerned my dad was not Papa, he was "PooPoo". That one is everybody's favorite! We still love to hear Hannah call a hamburger, "hangburber". We ask her over and over again what it is called and then erupt into fits of laughter as she struggles with the word. Before you go feeling too sorry for her you should know she loves being the center of attention. She joins in with her own giggles every time! The problem is my kids all talked early and well. There were only a handful of cute little "misspeaks". But they are determined to think they were hilarious children. 

"Mommy what did I call a spoon?" One will ask. 
"Umm, spoon." I reply
"No I think I called it spoony"

And then they are all in hysterics. "Mama, can I have a spoony please." in far fetched baby voices. More giggles. This goes on for the entire fifteen minute drive. Sometimes they don't even bother asking me first. They have made up their own baby language and are completely convinced they remember talking like that all those years ago. 

A couple of my pretty babies... 
back when they were actually babies. :(

My kids, like all children, could not wait to start school. They'd carry back packs around the house, whine about when the day would come. Now there are tears, faked illnesses, and any excuse they can come up with to stay home. It's not all they thought it would be. 

Even Jarrod and I, old as we are, long for just one day of the simplicity that came with being a child. Nobody depended on us, we were responsible for our bedroom and personal hygiene and that was about it. Money was just there when we needed it, and fears could be erased with a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Doesn't that sound lovely? 

You know what does not sound lovely? Waiting around for a ride. The "dating game". Wondering what God's will for my life is. Not having Jarrod in my life. Not knowing and loving each one of my beautiful children. Having to ask permission for EVERYTHING, only eating what somebody else bought - what sounded good to somebody else. When I look at it that way, I am kind of fond of being a big girl. Independence is a beautiful thing! Making decisions, going when I want to go, getting to take care of somebody else... It is what I am preparing my own children for even now. It is God's design for us to grow up. 

He also desires for us to grow up spiritually. Some of us, myself included, would like to keep it simple, surfacey. We don't want to grow in our knowledge of Him. With increased knowledge of His word and will comes accountability to live it out. Fluffy sermons make us feel good, there is no challenge, no push to move forward. We don't want the suffering and pain that brings maturity. We prefer the good gifts and fuzzy feelings that came with our salvation package when we received it. 

But just like personal growth brings confidence and our own two feet to stand on, so does spiritual growth. I see it here in Proverbs 22:15, 17 & 18 - Folly is bound up in the heart of a child... Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. I have always desired that kind of spiritual maturity, where I am "ready to give an answer" (1 Peter 3:15) at any moment. But it comes from growth. It is not in us from the beginning. We get it by searching, being in the word, humbly listening to those who are wiser. 

I want to be like this guy. With my act together. Firm, steadfast, solid. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3) See the joy and blessings that come when we grow? We yield fruit, we have strength, we prosper. 

Remember when you were a kid and were in trouble? Remember that feeling of dread, waiting for the hammer to fall, for a decision to be made about what the appropriate discipline would be? I could not wait for the day to come when I was all grown up and couldn't get in trouble any more. Ha! I may not have a mom or dad handing out well deserved spankings, but by golly if I do not get myself into all kinds of trouble. Hebrews 5:11-14 says, "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Here I am 32 years old, by all standards (except maybe my mom's) a grown woman. Yet here I am still slow to learn, still having to go back to those first bible lessons I learned in sunday school. When clearly by now I should know how to behave, should really be teaching others how to. 

James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Even life itself, the struggles, heartaches, bumps in the road - are all meant to grow us up, so that we will one day be a finished work! I want that. More than mandatory nap time, more than getting to have somebody else make the tough decisions. I want to be a finished work, not lacking but complete! 

A favorite movie line for my mom and myself is from the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. I know, real mature, right?! Heath Ledger is talking to Julia Styles about her younger sister. He says, "I know everyone 'digs' your sister, but she's without." Hhhhmmm, it was such a romantic line in the context of the movie. It was also the ultimate slap in the face for the younger sister, had she been there to hear it. I do not want others to think of me as, "without". I'd much rather be complete. The full version of the Sarah God created me to be. Not some phony puny version that is "good enough to get by with". 

And now for the best part... The difference between personal growth and spiritual growth, and it is a fabulous difference - is that the idea behind growing up is to become more independent. As you grow up you grow away, in some ways, from those you have depended upon. With growth in the Lord, we are growing closer to Him. We learn that in our maturity we need to rely on Him more. I find it a comfort to know, now that I am older and long to NOT have to bear all the responsibility of myself by myself, I don't have to! He desires my growth, my ability to function with maturity, but not all on my own. Totally and completely dependent on Him. I like the idea of that!  

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm The Funny Face In The Mirror

And a link up at the bottom
I love going through my kid's school papers and finding these little treasures. This one my sweet Isaiah actually pulled out of his folder and brought to me himself. All shy grins and red cheeks. Isn't it just precious?

As I read it again tonight, the first part seemed a little familiar. 1 John 4:19 We love because...  of course the scripture goes on to say (because) He first loved us.

Let me just stop for a minute to say, there have been times in my life when God is "working on me" so to speak and though it's hard, I love it. I grow, my relationship with God grows and life is good. This past year, as far as God's work in my life... it seems to be one nasty revelation after another. It's like somebody is holding up a mirror in front of me. But instead of being one those fabulous Gap mirrors that make me look amazing in their clothes (until I get home). It's more like a carnival mirror. I look ugly, distorted - I'm not liking the reflection. The image I saw of myself this evening was no exception. 

My post last week was all about love. I even talked about the concept of loving others because of God's love for us. But here's how I think this verse reads in my real ugly life, "I love because God takes care of me." And He does, and I do take care of Isaiah and this is a fabulous way to show love, to feel love. But during a year filled with disappointments, frustrations and a complete lack of understanding on my part - if I am being honest, I have not been feeling the love for God. I love God, dearly when He is sweet and taking care of me. But when God's plan does not seem to be in my best interest, I'm only slightly fond of Him. 

That stupid carnival mirror popped up in front of me again tonight when I was reading the bible to my kids. Do any of you other parents get more out of these simple children's bibles than your own grown up version? Please tell me it is not just me. As the story told of Gabriel appearing to Mary to tell her she would give birth to the Savior, these simple little words, "So Mary trusted God more than her eyes could see." just kind of reached up off the page and slapped me in the face. Oh to have Mary like faith. To trust more than what my eyes can see. And to say, even when I don't quite get God's plan, I love you, period. I use to be there. It was the story of my life, the soap box I preached from. Apparently the fall that came from that pride was far and hard. It's like God said, "Oh really?!" and then brought me to my knees. Sometimes being human is a drag. 

Lord, I want to love, because you first loved me. I want that to be enough. Help me to trust beyond my own understanding. Get me back to the place where I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are in the deep trenches with me, working, and bringing glory to your name - and precious growth to my life. 

One of these days maybe I'll have a post about how I have already arrived! That's the dream. ;) 


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So what is God doing in your life? I want to hear all about it. Share what God is teaching you, a verse, a talent He has given you (crafts, photography, home decor...) Anywhere you can give God glory in the world around you, please link up and share it here.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Life Is Hard But There's A Simple Answer!

And also a link up party at the bottom of this post

I love God's timing... When I write a blog post I generally sit down, write what is on my heart and hit publish. This post was a little different it took longer than usual. I am talking days. Writing, thinking, praying, coming back to it and starting the whole process over again. And now I know why. I went to my monthly mom's meeting Monday, this post was still on my heart and not quite finished. We were so blessed to have Dawsie Meek from Moving Forward Ministries speak to us. It was fabulous, she always is. But I was especially struck with God's goodness as He reconfirmed what He had been speaking to me and continued to open my eyes to this revelation. 

My oldest came to me the other day and asked, very simply, "Mommy, what should I do? I keep blowing my nose really hard but instead of snot coming out it's blood."

Being the smart aleck that I am I teasingly said, Umm... don't blow so hard?"

"Oh... ok," she said cheerfully! And off she went.

Tehehe!! I had no idea she was really looking for such a simple answer. I like simple answers. I crave them sometimes. Remember the Staples commercials, the ones with the easy button? Those commercials are great! I always wanted an easy button, especially for situations just like the one represented in this video: 

If only there were simple answers in the "real world". How do I handle difficult people? What do I do when I feel so alone? How do I prioritize my life? I'd like an easy button for those. Some simple answers would be nice. 

Good news! I've got the inside track on the easiest of easy buttons for life! It seems the Beatles knew a thing or two when it came to life's big questions. All You Need is Love! They may not have had the biblical concept in mind when they wrote the song, but they were certainly on the right track. 

Let me just put it to you the way Dawsie did, "We will not love until we know we are the beloved."  

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. John 4:7
God seems to continually be showing me the simplicity of this one little concept. Love Him! If we do nothing else, this is enough. Love God! It can be the simple answer to your problems, your easy button for life. 

How do I handle difficult people? Love God. 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 
The neighbor, as we all know was not referring to some friendly lady next door who bakes you brownies and offers to watch your kids. This was the verse that lead to the parable about the good samaritan, a story of arch enemies. Talk about difficult people. Dawsie pointed out today how we can love people the right way by having it filtered through our love for God. Notice this verse does not say, Love your neighbor as yourself and then love the Lord your God... We love Him, he loves the enemy through us. 

What do I do when I feel alone? Love God. 
In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. Love the Lord, all his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full. Psalm 31:22-23 
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Psalm 116:1

Praise God we are not alone! We have a heavenly father who loves us deeply and longs for us to love Him back. You cannot have a more intimate relationship than the one God ultimately created you for, with Him. Love Him, because he first loved you. He hears you when you cry out to Him. He is simply waiting. And when, out of affection for us, He answers, we love Him all the more!   

How do I prioritize my life? (you know every woman is asking) Love God. 
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 
And see Him take care of the rest. 
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33  
This, my friends is the simple answer, it is our greatest commandment, (Matthew 22:37-38) it should be our response to Him (1 John 4:19). 

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This will be the last feature for awhile! 
The always faithful Kim from Steph and Kim and Becky from Time Out: Devotions For Moms linked up last week with wonderful posts... go check them out! 

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