Sunday, June 3, 2018

Making Room

Today at church our pastor Rob talked about making room for Jesus in our lives. The Spirit really moved me through the words God spoke through Rob and God's word. Rob even used the illustration of our son running laps around the chairs in church, with me chasing after him, and how Zachy paused every so often with his hand up and extended towards me with a "come on, mama." There were tears for many, including me.

The Holy Spirit began preparing a response I felt prompted to share in front of the whole church, unrehearsed, raw, ripe with tears and a shaky voice. Here's what He's teaching me and I shared (paraphrased, but hopefully still true to the first raw response I shared just an hour or so ago).

Ever since becoming Zachy's mama, I've been learning to "make room" for him and who he is. I've struggled with my own pride and expectations, fears and definitions of belonging. I've learned a lot and still have more to learn, but so far, when I'm able to embrace Zachy for who he is, we both enjoy life a lot more.

As many know, Zachy has gone through seasons where he needs to help his body take in and process all of the stimuli that comes with being at church by running laps around the border of all of the chairs. Sometimes he only needs four or five laps, other times it's much closer to or over ten. Until two weeks ago, he's always wanted to do them by himself, checking in with us as each new lap began, but running the lap on his own. This was a huge accomplishment in and of itself, especially since he didn't walk independently until a few months after his third birthday.

But two weeks ago, he invited me to join him. So lap after lap, around and in front of our entire church, he led the way, pausing at the corners, looking over his shoulder and calling for me to "come on." We went around and around. I got sweaty. He smiled with such joyful worship and enjoyment in the Lord and the music, I couldn't help but be proud to be running around worshipping with him and enjoying something with him that he loves so much.

You see, to be invited by Zachy to do anything he treasures is a rare gift. Part of his developmental delays means that even as he nears the 6 1/2 year age marker, he still generally prefers to play by himself. He goes deep into Zachyland and is hard to draw out sometimes. When he actually wants you to participate in something with him that he's doing, it's truly an honor and a gift. We pretty much drop everything to join him as often as we can (after all, he may quickly change his mind and we may miss the opportunity).

I'm so thankful to be part of a church and community that "makes room" for Zachy to be who he is and embrace his gifts (like bringing joy through his running worship). Without explanations or apologies, our family can continue to be who we are when we're at church and we don't have to pretend to be something we're not (organized, quiet, chair sitting folks).

And I think, as our pastor did, that this is an incredibly beautiful picture of what Jesus wants in our relationship with Him. With His hand up (not down as many of us picture, as Rob said) and out, calling for us to "come on," without explanations or apologies for who we are or who we're in the process of becoming. With joyful abandon to follow in His footsteps and enjoy His peaceful presence.

How can you, we, I "make room" to delight in Jesus and who He's made us to be? How can we "make room" for His delight in us and be proud of who we are, without explanations or apologies? Without shame or being embarrassed. How can we live in the freedom to run around the room with reckless abandon and hearts full or worship, thankfulness, grace, peace and joy in practical ways every day?

I think we can begin by stopping with the apologies for the things that make us unique and boldly offering our whole selves, regardless of the mess or chaos that might hold for the moment. I think we stop worrying about what people think and start focusing on the great delight we bring to the Lord when we don't hold back a single thing. Even if that means we run around the room while everyone else stands nicely at their seats (which is works, too). 

What if we practiced "making room" for each other and seeing each other for who we really are? I think in doing that for me with Zachy, especially, I've seen more and more of who God and Jesus really are and that is the most important part. And I have learned that I'm safe to come as I am and belong fully and completely in God's presence, family and church body, just as I am - no apologies or explanations needed. The same is true for all who believe.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Grief

I wrote this in my journal a while back, after a challenging time with my little guy. I continue to learn and see that grief is rarely definable nor the same from one experience of it to the next. This is what grief looked and felt like that day, in that moment.

Grief

Surprising, unexpected 
overwhelming waves
big things, small things
hard and important things.

Skills gained and not yet gained and 
wonder if they ever will be gained.
Big wins, big losses
hard conversations.
Exhausted coach and referee.
Daily life.

Wonder if I'm doing enough
when I see him struggle
or
others struggle with him.

Broken heart at lost dreams.
Repaired heart with new ones.
And hope.
And pride.
And love.
And.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

#ValentinesFromAbove

Even though I started this journey of hunting for #ValentinesFromAbove during Lent two years ago, I still find it the most impactful, enriching and encouraging way for me to observe Lent. I already relate to the sacrifice of Christ more in this season of parenting two littles and working outside the home full-time, as well as being the only parent in our home with paid time off to cover all of the sick days, school early releases and days off from school. A lot sits on my shoulders, and that's okay, but I don't need to add to that unnecessarily. 

What I need every year during Lent is a reconnection to God's amazing, beautiful, personal
love for me; which is what fueled Christ to sacrifice Himself in our place on the cross to pay for our sins, in the first place. I need to be reminded of how well God knows me, loves me and wants to show me that He's with me all the time. I need to be shown the beauty of His creation and presence and perfect timing and plans and looking and waiting and watching helps me do that.

Looking for and recording #ValentinesFromAbove make me feel loved and seen and cherished by my loving Father in heaven. Sometimes the things that come make me laugh and sometimes they make me cry and mostly they just move me closer to my Daddy's heart. It's there I can hear and feel the rhythm of His heartbeat, feel his warm and peaceful breath on my head as I lay on His chest, and it's here that I can best hear when He whispers.

I want to invite and encourage you to try this as part of your participation in Lent, as we anticipate with hope for the return of our King and celebrate and share the Good News of all He did when He was here on earth.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Holiday Hodgepodge

It should not come as a surprise to anyone I know well that I've been in a little bit of a funk off and on since I had our baby girl in May. Things have gotten better, but it has been a struggle, for my mental, emotional and spiritual strength.

With Valentine's Day coming this weekend, Lent starting today and a genuine desire and need to reconnect with Jesus, I write to you this holiday hodgepodge that God inspired in me this morning.

My family of origin did not "do Lent" (or Advent, for that matter). We grew up with faith in God and attending church as important parts in our family and lives, but these more formal traditions were not part of my faith practice. I don't know if I've ever "successfully" given anything up for Lent. This morning as I loaded my car with all of our stuff, to get the kids to daycare and myself to work, I saw the most beautiful sunrise happening!

As I got Zachary out to the vehicle, I stopped, pointed and said, "Look at the pink and purple sky! It's so pretty - and God painted it just for us, it's an early valentine! YAY JESUS!" (he's really into saying "yay" for anything he likes) I smiled huge, he smiled huge and I loaded up Sophia and we were on our way. After dropping off the kids, I was thinking about today being the start of Lent and that I just can't imagine giving anything up right now... Not when life has so often felt like survival mode and filled with sacrifices the last 8 months.

Here's where the holiday hodgepodge comes in. God seemed to stir in me this thought: What if instead of giving something up, I look for a valentine from Him every day. A valentine is a gesture, gift or words shared to let someone know you care about them and love them. It is not given with the expectation of return. Sounds a lot like grace to me! Then I thought about how I really like scavenger hunts. If Lent leads up to Easter, maybe this could be a giant Easter egg hunt. I could be on the look out for God's reminders of love for the next 40 days.

As I listened to the radio and prayed on my way to work, they talked about how the sacrifice offered during Lent can help us reflect on the sacrifice God gave for us through Jesus. That is very true. For me though, I already feel so connected with sacrifice and struggle, it's not really the component of my faith that seems to be lacking. It's my genuine response to God's love daily, sometimes moment by moment. I feel like I have lost touch with some of the things I love so much about who God has made me to be and that makes me sad and frustrated.

God nudged me to please look for His gestures of love, His valentines every day of lent this year. When Easter comes, my heart will hopefully be as equally connected to the love that the sacrifice was given out of (as it is to the sacrifice itself).

So there you have it, Valentine's Day, Lent and Easter egg hunts all come together here! May the next 40 days prepare your heart to connect to the God who loves you so much, just as you are, that He was willing to offer His son Jesus in your place. Since we can't earn our way to heaven, He became The Way for us. I'd love to talk with you or write to you more about this, if you're interested, please let me know!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Vegan Rainbow Roast Recipe

Fall is all about the changing colors, and for me, it's all about using root vegetables in creative and fun ways, too!

Here's a recipe that is family-friendly and pretty easy to put together. If you have other root vegetables you want to swap out or add in, it's a very gracious recipe and I think pretty much any combination would deliver deliciousness to you and yours.

Here's what I did, follow along if you'd like!

Cube all of the following root veggies:
4 small red potatoes - washed, not peeled
3-4 peeled carrots with ends cut off
3-4 peeled parsnips with ends cut off (these are the long white carrot-looking things you find at farmer's markets)
1 onion
3-4 small beets, peeled with ends cut off

Put together in your favorite Pyrex dish (I think I used the 1.5 Quart size), stir together with enough extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat the veggies. Season with a sprinkle of Kosher salt, stir again.

Put it in the oven at 375, with the glass lid on for 30 minutes. Stir and top with a sprig of rosemary, putting the lid back on and baking for another 30 minutes (or until vegetables are fork tender).

That's it! It's savory, with a little sweet from the beets, and tastes of everything fall!

And your kids don't need to know it's vegetables, just call it Rainbow Roast! Enjoy!
I had the wonderful opportunity to guest post a few weeks ago on The Ruth Experience again. I wrote about: 

"WHY IT'S IMPORTANT THAT YOU KNOW YOU'RE A GREAT MOM "



Enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Should I be a First-Responder?

When I think of a First Responder, I think of the Police and Fire Departments, Nurses, Doctors, Paramedics and so on. This morning, I was thinking about another perspective to consider that I wanted to share. Have you ever thought of this applying to whether or not you respond outwardly to your first emotional response to something?

I was thinking about that this morning. As women, especially, we've heard talks at retreats and possibly read blogs, articles or even books about keeping our emotions in check and not allowing them to be in control. As an extremely expressive emotional person, I understand the concept and have read and heard messages about this, but I'm only starting to really understand the application and what it means for me recently. I am realizing that it's okay to have really big emotions about things, and also that I don't need to be a "first responder" and share my full emotions or respond with equal volume to the degree of which I'm feeling whatever it is that I'm feeling. For example, if my reaction is stress or frustration and I'm feeling nearly run over internally by the intensity of that feeling, I do not need to express that externally right away (bombarding those around me with hearing about my unprocessed/unfiltered stress or frustration).

My goal for this year is to become a healthier person, especially regarding having a healthier balance emotionally and learning to bring my first reactions into perspective under God's control and truth. I am not considering this a New Year's Resolution, because those generally rely on oneself to make said changes, and this does not fall into that category in my mind.  I do want to be intentional, though, to work with God on this area of my life and see fewer instances where I'm a "first responder." I'd also like to have more instances where I ask questions for clarification to check with myself to consider if my reaction or response matches the situation and to pray about my emotional "first response" and ask God to help me process and share what is appropriate for the situation.

This will be my prayer, "Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips."(Psalm 141:3) I'm praying for God to refine me in this area of my life, not to remove the expressive person I was created to be, but to learn how to bring it under control of the Holy Spirit and express the fullness within and consider what to share outward more carefully as the new person I am in Him.