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jesus mom

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Practicing Gratitude.

So I’m just going to start by being honest… this week was T O U G H.

Like really tough.  Delle (my almost 3 year old) had meltdown after meltdown after meltdown.  Hagen (the 1 year old) was super needy, clingy, teething (the trifecta).  Work was crazy. Life was busy. You know this web the drill.

So here’s my confession…  I failed.

Big time.  Like lost my patience/temper/and sanity in the process.  According to Daniel the Tiger (which I also let Delle watch way too much of)… I needed to “take a deep breath and ask for help.”  That s&^* doesn’t work for adults. I took a million deep breaths, asked for help, and got nowhere.

But then, as I am sitting at our dining room table trying to cram in a few extra minutes of work in a quiet moment.  Delle is sitting accross from me, recovering from her epic meltdown.  And then, out of the blue, Delle gets out of her seat, comes over to me, and crawls in my lap.  She cuddles with me. Tells me how much she loves. And wants to be near ME (the impatient, exhausted, distracted, emotional mess of a mom).

These are the moments in life that get me.  The ones where I am so clearly shown such pure love and joy in the middle of my chaotic, emotional mess.  Yes, I know this seems minor.  And not really “blog-worthy.”  But here’s what happened almost as soon as Delle crawled into my lap… I was instantly flooded with an overwhelming peace and reminded of Psalm 118:24.

Psalm 118:24 (ESV); “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I hugged Delle.  I soaked in our really sweet 5 minutes.  And was challenged on my gratitude.  On my “rejoicing” and “being glad” (or really the lack thereof) in the present moment.

Quite frankly, this was an odd time to be reminded of gratitude. But sometimes that’s how God works.  And if his subtle, peaceful prompting wasn’t enough, I opened my “The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms,” by Timothy and Kathy Keller.  This is is what they said:

“Actually every day that your heart keeps pumping, your country is not invaded, and your brain keeps functioning is wholly an underserved gift of God.  We ought to live simple, normal, uneventful days full of amazed, thankful joy (September 30).”

I just love that, “We ought to live simple, normal, uneventful days FULL of amazed, thankful joy.”  So God, hint taken.  I need a gratitude adjustment.  And am now striving to BEGIN (baby steps right?) developing a more grateful heart…  And here’s how:  5 things at the end of every day. That’s all. Just 5.

At the end of each day, I am writing down the “TOP 5” moments I am thankful for.

It’s a simple, small step that I know I need to take.  It reminds me to be grateful because everyday is a NEW day.  A new day filled with new opportunities, new trials, new tests, and new moments where Delle curls up on my lap and tells me how much she loves me.  And I want to remember those… not the stuff that wore me out.

It’s easy to get broken down by the tensions and trials and tests of this life (and especially motherhood).

And all too often that where my perspective stops.  That’s what my mind almost immediately get locked in on… the “hard stuff.”

But I’m finding that through the lens of gratitude my heart is softened and my emotions eased.

& That’s what I need more of.  A softened heart and a whole lot of “eased emotions.”

So that’s all for today.  Just a simple reminder to find ways to PRACTICE GRATITUDE, to thank God for the good and a challenge to begin developing a grateful attitude.

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Losing the Weight.

Last week I had one of those “ah ha” moments.

I was quietly sitting at my cozy little desk working on a sermon I had coming up.  Hagen was napping. Delle was quietly playing with her princesses on my bed.  It was one of those once in a million, totally quiet moments in the house. It was glorious.

Then, out of the blue, Delle crawls up on my lap, snuggles, and began asking a MILLION questions about what I was doing on my computer.  Honestly, my first reaction was to be little annoyed… I was trying to finish up a few last minute touches on my sermon and really needed about 10 more minutes of total (uninterrupted silence).  But then a still voice whispered to me.  It reminded me to include Delle, to explain to her, to open up to her all that I’m doing.

And so, I did.

I explained to Delle what I would be teaching on.  Who I was teaching to and why I felt it was important.  And as I was explaining all of this to my little wide-eyes, princess crown wearing three-year-old… It hit me; these are the moments.

These are the moments to soak in. To readjust your plan. To let your three-year-old into your world for just a moment.

That sweet moment quickly left and was filled with questions mostly revolving around how to press keys on the computer and why Delle wasn’t allowed to do so.

But for those few, precious minutes I had a conversation with Delle (which is still crazy in and of itself) about what I do for my job, about why I believe it’s important, and how I am sharing the gospel to those who need it.  I was allowing Delle to be a part of my journey, my job, my mission.

The irony of this situation was the topic of my sermon… identity. On embracing who we are and who Jesus has called us to be.  Why is that ironic?

Because, I fought the whole “working mom+ pastor” identity plan God had in mind.

I didn’t like that God was calling me to seminary or ordination or to be a pastor.  My plan was to work, get married, have kids, and then immerse myself into motherhood. Nope.

Apparently, that was NOT God’s plan. I fought it, gave in, and fought it some more when I wound up studying for ordination exams during most of my second pregnancy and then completing the exam… at 9 months pregnant.  That was a low point for me.

Truth be told… I wanted to fail that exam.

I wanted to find a reason to put off what God was calling me to do. Nope again.  God made it very apparent to me that THIS was where I was suppose to be. Working. Mom. Pastor. Speaking. Teaching. All of it.

So that beautiful moment with Delle… I worked really hard to avoid that.

To avoid the tension of working AND being a mom.  To avoid the fear that came with whether or not I was (or wasn’t) spending enough time with the girls, desiring more of it, and if I really was suppose to be making this sacrifice. I fought it.

I fought writing sermons.  On whether or not I should really be a (woman) pastor and if I had it in me to do the kind of job I felt God leading me to.

The call to motherhood is a weighty one.  And the call to pastoring is equally weighty. 2 weighty calls on one, little ole’ me.  It scared me to death.  The fear of letting people down. Of letting my family, my friends, my people, my church, God down. All of it freaked me out.

The pressure of sharing God’s word— in a relatable, exciting, authentic way (in front of hundreds of people).  Also weighty.

But here’s the thing I’m learning about IDENTITY…

MORE THAN simply being a mom, wife, believer, friend, daughter, pastor… I am a child of God. Period.

The difficult thing to admit is, THAT source of identity is the first one to get quickly misplaced or forgotten.  Far too often I fill it with something that gives me temporary hope, fulfillment, affirmation, and approval.

& far too often God has to remind be to be STRONG in my weighty callings.

To be strong as I live out (& live in) the tension of being a working mom and pastor and wife and friend and whatever else I am.  To be strong (and courageous) as I seek new opportunities and push the limits on what I think I can do.

& beyond that to…

LET GO OF THE WEIGHT.

Yes, there is a weight of motherhood, pastoring, wife-ing (I decided that should be a word) that never goes away. But there is also an additional weight I place on top of that.  The weight of being a PERFECT mom, a PERFECT pastor, a PERFECT wife… the weight of pleasing everyone.  Keeping all people, at all times, incredibly happy.

So, I’m learning to lose the weight.

To drop balancing all of my different hats and callings PERFECTLY and embrace the tension that exists.

To live in that tension. Be honest in that tension. & be strong in that tension.

We fight tension and discomfort.  But Jesus so often encouraged it.  He challenged people to live outside of the easy, expected life and pursue him with every fiber of our being.

Sometimes I wonder how differently my life would look if I really dropped the additional weight I carried (really dragged) around.  If I actually EMBRACED the tension of my identity and kept my eyes FIXED on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).  If I really clung to his words and commands as my lifeline. And (truly) believed it wasn’t about how great of a job I’m doing at balancing all of this extra weight but instead about just losing it. About laying it down at his feet and clinging to the cross.

& so that’s what I’m striving to do, to…

>>> lose the weight <<<

& Stay fixed on the author and perfector of my faith.  On the one who endured the cross & yet still calls me his child.