Glory in the Mundane

I wipe crumbs off counters and scrub sticky honey from laminate and I look over at the to do list and the stack of projects a mile high and wonder when?!  And the door bell rings and a child asks for help and the dog barks and a text comes in needing to be answered.

And this is how we live our life.  Interrupted.  A constant stopping and starting.  And it’s hard to make progress when you can only chip away a bit at a time.

Perhaps you are very dissatisfied with yourself….Mediocrity seems to be the measure of your existence.  None of your days are noteworthy, except for their sameness and lack of zest.  Yet in spite of this you may live a great life.

Do the most everyday and insignificant tasks knowing that God can see.  If you live with difficult people, win them over through love.  If you once made a great mistake in life, do not allow it to cloud the rest of your life, but by locking it…in your heart, make it yield strength and character.

We are doing more good than we know.  The things we do today – sowing seeds or sharing simple truths of Christ – people will refer to as the first things that prompted them to think of Him.

Streams in the Desert, February 24

And so I daily learn to embrace this interrupted life and I do those “everyday and insignificant tasks” knowing God sees.  Thirteen years into parenting and nine years into home schooling and it still it does not come naturally and this life it only speeds up it seems.  And I want life to be more than this everyday mundane but then I realize that may not be what God has for me.  At least not now.  And to walk in obedience in the daily monotony may be the greatest training ground of all.  Because in the big things there is action and activity and movement.  But in the small things there is the daily sameness and washing of counters and washing of feet and washing hearts and minds with the Word.

Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this Man was true.

John 10:41

And Big Things and miraculous signs are not God’s plan for all of us. Some of us are called to live our days (or at least seasons) in obscure mediocrity.  But when these days end, may our children, our loved ones, our families and friends be able to look back and say that all that we said about this Man was true.  May they be able to see through our broken and sinful flesh to a life that was characterized by pointing to Christ.  May a true and genuine love for the Savior wash over the mistakes we make.  And like John the Baptist, may we not all perform miraculous signs and wonders, but may all our days point to Jesus.

For His Glory ~

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Reflections on Lies We Believe

This one from the archives.  And while some of the details are different now, the heart of the message bears repeating…..

Last week was wild busy and I didn’t have time to think about the downward spiral my mind was caught in, the rapid free fall my thoughts had given way to.  How does a depression that I can count on coming always manage to catch me off guard and suck me in before I realize how bad it’s gotten?  It came early this year with the realization that the holidays would be spent without Amania and I just couldn’t ever get off that emotional roller coaster.  And last Saturday night it all came crashing down.  Matt and I sat at dinner and I cried over my chimichanga.  We talked long about kids and marriage and life and ministry and so much more.  We went to bed, depleted and numb, and I opted to stay home on Sunday morning, unable to come up with the energy to put on my “church face” and pretend like all was well when absolutely nothing seemed “well” at all.

So, God and I, we sat and talked over coffee and the Bible and a legal pad.  I listened and I took notes.  And I recognized the lie that the devil had been whispering to my soul for months.  I don’t know when it happened, I know it sneaks in from time to time, but I picked up that old lie again – that lie that I have to be someone else, we have to be someone else.  That their marriage is better; that their kids are better behaved, better adjusted.  That her home is  cleaner, better decorated, more peaceful.  That she’s in better shape, seems to have it all together, never gets discouraged.  That her husband does this and their kids do that and she never seems to struggle, so what’s wrong with us?  That in everything, in every way, I have failed.

And God, He so gently reminded me that He made me just the way I am.  Yes, I am expected to grow, mature, and become more like His Son, but that doesn’t mean becoming some other created being.  When He made me so long ago, He knew what my bent would be – how I would love, how I would mother, how I would teach, serve, live.  He knew I would struggle with patience and I am confident that He laughed just a little as He placed each girl in my womb and in my heart at my general intolerance for drama (other than my own, of course).  When He gave me a husband whose primary love languages are physical touch and encouraging words, He knew that those would be the two love languages hardest for me to give.  He knew.  And I can rest in the fact that He knew.  I don’t have to compare our home, our family, our school to the family down the street or across the country or on the other side of the computer screen.  I can rest confidently in what He is doing right here, right now, in our home, in our family.  He knew exactly what our strengths and our struggles would be when He brought us all together.  I can also trust that He’s not finished.  He will keep working in us and through us and for us – for His glory and our good.  So I choose to rest confidently in Him and in His promises.  He is faithful.

For His Glory ~

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On Being Present

A needed reminder from the archives.  Appropriately enough, as I head out of town.  

I realize this morning as I lay in bed, wide awake and talking to God at 3:15, that I have completely checked out on this school year.  And, ashamed as I am to admit it, I have checked out of family life in a lot of ways the past couple of months.

This year started off well.  The first month was one of our best ever.  And then some switch flipped, or a series of switches, I’m not sure….but this has been, hands down, the most challenging school year we’ve done.  Not for any one thing or subject or child, just every day a waking up and realizing we are going to fight the same battles today that we fought yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.  And I realized that at some point in the past six months, I threw up my hands in defeat and gave in to merely making it through this year, pinning all of my hopes of improvement on next year with new curriculum, new plans, and new possibilities.

As my children go through their day reminding me more and more of chickens in a barn yard – distracted, squawky, messy, and pecking a lot at each other – I wonder what on earth is missing, what am I doing wrong?  And I realize it’s me.  I’m at the table, but I’m not present.  I’m in the room, but my mind is two dozen other places.  And I believe that therein lies the answer, they sense my absence and surrender to the madness and they sense the lack of structure in spite of all the systems and structures I have in place.  They need my presence more than anything – not just physical, but mentally engaged, emotionally available.

And I believe that’s the hardest part of this.  To make myself emotionally available to people who daily have the capacity to hurt me, most often unintentionally.  To have their fleshly natures thrust in my face each moment of each day, thus baring my own sin nature as well….it’s hard.  And exhausting.  And that’s why I’ve withdrawn.  Distance is easier than dealing with it day after day after day.  And that’s a totally wrong way of handling my kids.

So, today, on this last day of the 3rd quarter of the school year, on this Leap Day 2012, we will do a little bit of school this morning, then head out on a couple of field trips.  I will do my best to engage my girls and set a new tone for the last nine weeks. I can’t pin all my hopes on next year.  Next year doesn’t need that kind of pressure.  I can only choose to be available to my family and make each day the best it can be.  And this is a scary thing to put out there.  Not only for the brutal honesty of it all, but also the accountability, because now I have to engage.  I can’t just think about it and ignore it.  I have to do it, knowing that I don’t have the emotional energy to do this day in and day out.  But God, He gives grace each day, mercies every morning.  And if He has called me to this, which I believe He has, then I can also trust Him to equip me for the task.  As I had my quiet time this morning and these thoughts all rolled around in my head, He gave me this as I opened the devotions on my phone:

“You are on the right path.  Listen more to Me, and less to your doubts.  I am leading you along the way I designed just for you.  Therefore, it is a lonely way, humanly speaking.  But I go before you as well as alongside you, so you are never alone.  Do not expect anyone to understand fully My ways with you, anymore than you can comprehend My dealings with others.  I am revealing to you the path of Life day by day, moment by moment.  As I said to My disciple Peter, so I repeat to you:  Follow Me.”  ~ Jesus Calling, February 29

There will be more hard days, but my Jesus is with me, every step, and my kids deserve to have me – all of me – here with them.

For His Glory ~

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Of Modesty and Grace: Giveaway Winner!

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Thank you to all of you that left such kind comments and entered my very first give away.  This was a great learning experience for me and hopefully it was fun for you!

Rafflecopter and Random.org chose the winner of the Modest book and Grace bracelet.  Summer M. is our lucky winner!  Congratulations to Summer!

For His Glory ~

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Emptied to be filled

I hate to say it, but it’s true….when you come off a mountain top weekend you can expect to find yourself in a valley come Monday.

All weekend I listened to women I admire speak and share from their hearts and ignite passion in their listeners.  I had complete and uninterrupted thoughts for 8 whole hours on a Saturday.  Then I went to dinner with my beloved.  I felt like a woman who had dreams and goals and aspirations (and a brain that could think deep thoughts) again.

And Monday dawned and real life resumed and trying to fit in the passion and purpose and calling is hard when your day is spent in obedience to God but not where your gifts are.

I do not disdain this place where I’m at.  This motherhood is an incredible gift and this home schooling is where God is shaping me most. And I can only trust that by the time the last one graduates I will have learned what I need to learn, and I can hope that I learn it before then.  And as ugly and messy and imperfect as our days may be, I know that I know that I know this is where we are supposed to be.

But as I work out what God is teaching me between making meals and answering math questions and trouble shooting computer problems and drying tears over broken doll glasses, I pray.  I pray that He would take the gifts that He made me with and use them.  Somehow, in the midst of this mundane, use them.  For His Kingdom, for His glory.

And I want to pray that I will find fulfillment in this task He’s given me.  That home schooling would satisfy me and make me feel my purpose.  But maybe my fulfillment isn’t the point.  Perhaps the point is a constant emptying of myself and being filled by Him.  Perhaps that’s the lesson in this valley.  Yes, He gave gifts that are to be used to point others back to Him.  But maybe the greatest gift is pouring these gifts I can see back out to Him at this time, day after day after day, and doing something hard and uncomfortable and inconvenient and absolutely draining.  And resting in Him to fill me with His grace.

For His Glory ~

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2014: Week in Review {Week 6}

Last week turned out to be a crazy, whirlwind week.  Clearly when I thought February would be another month of slow and restful to prepare for March I was smoking something.

I (wisely) abandoned my normal go-nowhere-on-Monday schedule and hit the grocery store early last week before the Polar Vortex descended upon us again.  It was a gamble to believe the forecast, but I made a good choice.  Tuesday and Wednesday meant everything was shut down and no classes and 14+ inches of snow.

And so we hunkered down for two days and somehow, still, life kept on crazy busy.  But such is the life with five kids and I think I need to release the idea of it ever being slow for more than a few hours at a time.

This weekend was BIG Weekend for our church youth.  We were privileged to host eight lovely high school girls for the weekend.  It was also IF: Gathering.  I was blessed to spend half of Friday and all day Saturday sharing a table with some amazing women as we listened to speakers share on pursuing our calling and rising up for such a time as this.

And there was date night, and Sunday afternoon naps, and (finally) watching a little of the Olympics.

So as we reflect on the goodness of last week, let’s go into this new week giving thanks and remembering all He has done for us.

2880.  groceries bought

2881.  more snow coming

2882.  watching the endless snow fall

2883.  over a foot of white powder

2884.  snow days ended; back to the hustle

2885. grace upon grace upon grace

2886.  IF: Gathering

2887.  amazing, God-loving women – a table full of them

2888.  a new week to live out obedience

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^ cupcakes with this cutie on grocery day

 

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^ snow

 

^ snow

 

^ and more snow 😦

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^ first “real” sledding

 

^ and sledding with my girlies

 

^ snow day project – finding clothes that fit these ever-growing children

 

^ pre-dinner coloring session

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^ date night coffee love

When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.  When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.  

~ Shauna Niequist

May you see the evidence of God’s goodness and grace this week, friends, and may we give thanks in all things.

For His Glory ~

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Of Modesty and Grace: A Giveaway

Y’all….I’m a small-time blogger.  I’ve shared before, I write because it’s therapy and because I really do believe that God made me to write.  Maybe not everything I’ve ever written should have been said.  Actually, I can say for sure that not everything I’ve ever written should have been said.  But just because I don’t always say the right thing, that doesn’t diminish the drive to write.  And I write because it seems to be a ministry of sorts, and encouragement to others.  And because you all have been such a blessing and encouragement to me over the years, I have wanted to do a give away for a long time.  But, like I said, I’m a small-time blogger and really have no clue what I’m doing.  🙂  So will you bear with me as we venture out into my very first giveaway?

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This week I am giving away a copy of the book that I referenced heavily in my series Of Modesty and Grace, Modest: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel by Tim Challies and RW Glenn.  I am also giving away a hand stamped aluminum Grace bracelet (pictured above) from FaithHopeBelieve.  Neither Challies and Glenn nor FaithHopeBelieve have a clue who I am or that I am giving their products away.  Like I said, I am just doing this because I love you all and it sounded like fun.  🙂

So, if you loved the series (or just want the book and bracelet) comment on this post to enter.  The giveaway begins today and will close next Tuesday, February 11. I will announce the winner (Lord willing) on February 12 (but remember, life is prone to happen here, so please be patient with me if I’m late a day or so).

And if you’re just now joining us and would like to read the whole series, start to finish, links can be found below.

Thanks again, friends, for joining me on this journey with My Ears are Tired.  I am blessed to have you all here with me.

Important Edit – if you are entering the giveaway, after you comment below, please click this link in parentheses –> ( a Rafflecopter giveaway) and enter the contest manually at Rafflecopter.com.  Because I am a small time blogger, things aren’t working quite like they should.  Thanks for being so fabulous and flexible!  🙂

For His Glory ~

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Of Modesty and Grace: A Six Part Series

Intro

Part I: Backstory and Bible Verses

Part II: Is Modesty More Than What We Wear?

Part III: Culture, Context, and Time

Part IV: What Does Our Immodesty Say About Us?

Part V: Who’s Responsibility Is It?

Part VI:  Where Do We Go From Here?

2014: Week in Review {Week 5}

So, as I’ve mentioned before, last week was not a banner week.  BUT we made it to the weekend and on to the start of a new week.

Friday, while the girls were at my mom’s, I spent part of the day purging boxes in our storage room.  My sentimental saver/hoarder tendencies do me no favors in this house, so the efforts to minimize continue.  I went through probably 8 or 9 boxes or tubs of papers and misc stuff…..wedding magazines and catalogs and planners, old photos, yearbooks, old college and high school papers and assignments.  I managed to cull out four file boxes of paper to shred, burn, or toss, and everything else found a home NOT in a box.  Progress.

As I was sorting, I realized a few things about myself….First, I must have some kind of sickness when I think about some of the stuff we have moved to four different houses (bridal magazines from 1999? Why???).  Also, I miss my old Franklin Covey planner.  And I used to have pretty nice handwriting.  I do not miss the bulk and weight of my old Franklin Covey planner, though.  Also, my to do lists used to be much shorter but were still very ambitious, all things considered.  (Three babies under three anyone?  Or four, five and under?)  Lastly, part of me misses college and I think I realized why….first, I love learning and love the classroom environment.  Second, my major required a lot of writing papers and I loved that.  It was fun to sort back through some of them and remember things I totally forgot ever doing.  And the positive affirmation received on said papers was always nice too.  That said, I have no idea how I could ever go back to college now.  I’m pretty sure I would have to give up sleeping entirely.  I know lots of busy moms and dads do it and my hat goes off to you all.  You’re amazing.

Saturday we took the girls to see Frozen (finally).  Can I be honest here?  It was really cute and well done and a great story, but I’m not entirely sure it was as a-mazing as everyone made it out to be.  Just sayin’.

The highlight of the weekend came Sunday afternoon (no, not the Super Bowl) when Amania asked to pray to receive Jesus as her Savior.  What a gift and blessing to have her not only in our earthly forever family, but also our eternal one!  We are thankful to have had the opportunity to pray with each of our daughters as they each made that decision.

As we go into a new week, I want to keep the habit of counting the gifts.  What a blessing to start a week recalling the Lord’s goodness (especially as one child sits in the room down the hall weeping over her penmanship papers)….

 

2865.  gentle, loving, ever-present God

2866.  hot coffee on cold mornings

2867.  blanket, Bible, and quietness

2868.  coffee (clearly, I’m very thankful for this nectar of the gods)

2869.  sleeping til 8 am on a Saturday

2870.  fresh snow

2871.  boxes of papers purged

2872.  backseat confessions (of the humorous sort)

2873.  laughing hard

2874.  February on the calendar

2875.  Sunday rest

2876.  fifth daughter sealed by God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness

For His Glory ~

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