I have BIG news!!

No I am not pregnant, just wanted to get that out of the way right from the onset!  No baby this time.  Why do people keep asking me that?  Just sayin.

I really hardly have words today, as I sit here and share with you I am simply in awe of the news I am about to share.

Yesterday I finally heard back from Revell Publishing, and they made me an offer to publish my book!!  I am so grateful for everyone that has been praying for me and for thinking of me through this process and I couldn’t wait to let you know the good news!!

The working title is Peace for the Troubled Heart and the due date for my full manuscript submission is July 1st 2017.  My heart is so full with gratefulness and joy and I sit here in awe of all that God has done over these past few years.

As I type I am sitting in the exact Panera booth I used to come and sit in when I was pregnant with Gideon.  In this exact seat I would cry and write and pray wondering what it was going to be like to have him and love him and then lose him.  In this exact seat I would touch my belly and pray for God to make the minutes crawl and speed up all at the same time.  I would sit and look around at all the “happy people” and wonder if I would ever be like them again.  This morning, as I sat and prayed once more, I just praised God and over and over and over again that He is honoring Gideon’s life in this way.  For the book I will not write was formed in the forge of being Gideon’s Mommy.  It was through his little life and death that a new book rose up in me.

Last night I was honored to go speak to a community group that is working through the Peace for the Troubled Heart material.  I shared with them that when I sat down to write the chapter outlines I simply opened up the prayer journal from when I was pregnant with Gideon and simply wrote down all God had taught me during that time.  Very truly, I wrote down how I survived.  I wrote down the passages of Scripture that saved my life and I wrote down all the many ways that God’s Holy Spirit came through for me.  My prayer was always this: that God might use what I lived through to help someone else battle their own fear filled places.

So here we go.  Its happening, its really happening and I am like a little girl in a candy store.  Literally.  I have jumped up and down one million times.

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This is pretty much the face I have been making for the past 24 hours.

Of course (as always because I am and always will be a crazy person) fears are tempting to flood my brain:

What if I over night become a terrible writer?

What if my suckiness at all things social media finally catches up to me?

What if I fail?

What if I forget to write my book?

Those are for real.  I wish I was kidding.

Then, like He always graciously does, God speaks to me in my mess.  He sounds like this:

“Maria!  Have I not told you that this is my show?  Have I not proven to you that there is nothing you can do to ruin the plans that I have for you?  Have I failed you, ever?  Have I not showed you over and over again that it is in and through your weaknesses that I like to work the most?  That through your in-capabilities that I am most glorified.   Settle yourself and do what I have taught you to do.  Pray.  Seek me.  And take one single step at a time.”

So my one single step for today is celebrating with YOU!  I have been terribly absent lately, writing and leading in other places other than online is where my focuses have been, but I am still here!  AND as I praise God for this road I have found myself on I remember gleefully that your presence throughout this entire process is really a big reason why I have stayed encouraged to write.

Not a word you have spoken to me has gone unnoticed and you continually inspire me to stay confident in what God has called me to.  I feel encouraged through you and I never feel like I am walking this journey alone.

So will you celebrate with me today??  It looks like jumping up and down alternately with rocking in fetal position in the corner.  Then eat a cupcake.

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I cannot say enough of the love and support of these guys. The kids jumped up and down with me and said, “Congratulations Mommy!” I think I under estimated how much of this they have been following and how much they understand what is happening. My biggest prayer is that God would multiply my writing minutes in a way that I can still be fully present at home with these guys, my first and sweetest calling on my life.

 

 

 

Something to Tell you About Tomorrow

And then the day comes, when you are sitting on the water, waves gentle rolling, the sun giving you just the right amount of warmth and you realize, “God planned this all from the start didn’t He?  He planned it just this way.”

And He did a good job.

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Two years ago, wait…has it already been two years?  Seems like forever ago and yesterday all at the same time, but over two years it has been since Gideon passed away.  Over two years ago and I am still changed, his face still makes me laugh and cry at the same time, newborn babies still have hold of my heart, and all that God taught our family during that time remains strong and reliable.

Tomorrow its time that I keep sharing our story, with the hopes that maybe just maybe, God can use Gideon in the lives of others the way God used him in our lives.

Today I sit praying and preparing and honestly a part of me wanted to just keep it all to myself.  I can just quietly show up at church tomorrow, gently sit next to our pastor for two services, and bravely share Gideon’s story and our story from living in fear to faith.

Surely nobody needs to know.

Surely maybe even the people who come to church on Sunday won’t even notice I am there on stage.

Right.

Well anyway these are the things I tell myself to help my nerves stay calm.  But then today, it became so evident to me that a lot of what I prayed for during Gideon’s life is gently coming true.  I prayed so hard that God would use Gideon, that the pain and the lessons and the fear and the miracles would be used for God’s great good.  I wanted a vivid reminder, so I watched Gideon’s birthday video again.  Oh how I love that video!

To me that video is living proof that heaven is real, and as I was watching it I remembered that it is not just my story.  It is also the story of every single person who walked along side of us, every friend and family member who held him, and every life made new because Gideon helped make us braver.

Nope.  Its not right that I sit on it and keep all that God is doing all to myself.

So here it is.  Tomorrow at Lake Forest Church Huntersville, NC I will be teaching with our Pastor Mike Moses.  Together we will be addressing the very real fear of loss and death and how we can turn to God to FearLESS in our lives.

The 10:30 service is live streamed so you can feel free to watch it here if you would like:

http://lakeforest.org/media/livestream/

It is quite comical actually, getting up and speaking on fear.  Cause what if I mess up? What if I have toilet paper on my pants?  What if I cry and can’t stop?  What if my brain malfunctions and I forget everything I was going to say and instead I start saying something completely unrelated and Mike looks at me and needs to remove me from the premise and asks me to never return to Lake Forest Church or Huntersville or North Carolina ever again???

Oh wait.

I’m teaching on fear.

Hmmm, this is a quandary isn’t it?

Okay instead I will tell my brain what I always tell it when it goes all delinquent on me:

God has never failed you.  He is not going to start now.

God has given you peace, do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.

You tattooed this on your body, therefore, it must be true.

So it is with joy that I share this with you.  It is with joy that I share with you that God has things planned for His children, good things.  Out of His great love and mercy He does not waste our pain.

Love you friends, see you tomorrow 😉

 

 

 

Running Life Blind and SheSpeaks Stories!

I’m calling it.  This video is, officially, the perfect analogy for my life.  Please enjoy a brief video intermission while I go humbly collect myself:

I know you are not going to believe me, but I promise, no toddlers were hurt in the filming of this video!

This is basically me.  I wonder if you can relate.  Running around life, my eyes and ears covered, hearing nothing but my own crazy voice echoing around in my head, and being stopped, only every so often, with a fall flat on my face.  “Oh I’m not injured (or dead)?  Sweet, put the bucket back on my head and keep running around blind!”

What is this that we do to ourselves?

At first, when relating to my 13 month old’s new game, I feel shame.  Wow, I really am oblivious sometimes.  Like God has this whole entire world and His amazing plan set before me and I shut my eyes to it, hardly able to hear what He even says or wants for me.  My eyes stay limited to dark blank before me, and in a swirling fashion, I try to just simply survive this life.  Yup, first came the shame.

But then, ever so sweetly, I started thinking of how I looked at it from a Mother’s perspective.  Samuel created this game for himself and I thought it amazing at how he found utter joy in this fun (and dangerous) activity.  He was also smart enough to, every so often, remove the pail from his head and reconnect with Mom to make sure that everything was okay.  Once he received a smiling nod from me, he was back at it.  My job?  To laugh with him and to make sure that no wall or sharp cornered edge was in his way.  A bump here or there, sure, but my job was to assess the risk at every corner while still encouraging his creativity and laughter.

Is this not how our Heavenly Father sees us?  Sure, we might feel completely small and incapable sometimes.  I pretty much feel like that on a daily basis.  But our Father is pleased with our efforts!  He is not expectant of a perfect performance or flawless capabilities.  Afterall, if we had that, we would never take off our blinders to check back in with God to make sure we are headed in the right direction.  Its a joyful dance.  Not one free of pain or mistakes, but an intimate one nonetheless.  One that I know fills my God’s heart with joy over His daughter.

This weekend at SheSpeaks, for the first time in a long time, I felt like the blinders were off.  For a moment the darkness cleared and I saw a glimpse of what God sees when He looks at my life.  All the tears, all the sadness, all the hours of writing and feeling worthless in it, for a moment God lifted it all and showed me what it has done.  Even if nothing ever comes from it.  Even if I receive NO’s for the rest of my life.  Even if the tear stained story stays clung to a screen instead of the pages of a book.  Even then still God has not wasted my pain.  I saw that so clearly.

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May I tell you the story of these two lovely ladies?  Woman to the left is my new treasured friend Tina.  She traveled all the way here from Southern California apparently just to save my life (also to learn amazing things from amazing women but mostly to save my life).  She sat next to me in our morning large group session and I was immediately drawn to her sincerity and kindness.  Not long after, I needed to head into my first publisher appointment with Revell.  That Tina!  She prayed her heart out over me right before I walked in and all the nerves left me.  Amen Tina and thank you forever!  You can read about Tina at her blog www.dropsofjuniper.org. NEXT!  Woman to the right is author Shauna Niequist.  She brought the house down with her new book Present over Perfect.  Here is one thing she says that I love, “Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice.  Present over perfect living is the risky and revolutionary belief that the world God has created is beautiful and valuable on its own terms, and that it doesn’t need to be zhuzzed up and fancy in order to be wonderful.”  Can I get an Amen?

It was soon time for my appointments with publishers.  As I sat across from two beautiful women, first a publisher from Revell and then one from B&H, and I poured out my story and planned book to them.   I shared with them about Gideon and about what he created in me was a peace heart that I never thought possible.  I shared with them that it didn’t just help me, but it ministered to countless other people in their quest too to believe it when God tells us that we do not need to be afraid.   When it was finally time for them to speak, my heart beating out of my chest thinking “Oh no!  What are they going to say?  What is it going to be?  Is it doom??  Is it good?  Ahhhh…”  Both said the same thing:

“Maria, you have something amazing here.  I am so excited to take this and read this!”

Wait.

Really?

That’s it?

No, “Tell me  whether or not you are awesome by telling me how many Twitter followers you have?”

No, “I’m not sure you have the platform for this.”

No, “I’m sorry you didn’t know that you actually suck and should not be allowed in public?”

In their smiles and in their sweet gestures and faces, those two publishers gave me a glimpse into how God views me and I will be forever eternally grateful.  I will also be praying for them, on a daily basis for them both.  Not so that my book will be published, but so that they can continue to tap into the heart of God and be blessed with His purposes as they set out to do a very difficult job.

It will be weeks before I hear back from them, and I will let you know when I do.  But in the meantime, I think I will put that bucket back on my head and go about my daily everyday stumbling of crazy.  Confident and at peace that I have a good and loving Heavenly Father watching over me, even when I stumble and fall.

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The Comfort Quandry

Maybe I blame it on the American Dream.  Maybe I blame it on the path my generation was set out on.  Even as a young girl there was a plan for my life, a path that I merely needed to walk on and do my best.  I needed to work hard in school.  I needed to get into a good college.  I needed to get a good job.  I needed to have enough money to support my family.

The end.  Good day.

Imagine my discomfort now, as none of those plans seemed to actually lead me anywhere of worth.

Or maybe I blame it on my newly defined view of worth.  Once the Bible opened up in my hands, at the age of 20, the idea of worth start morphing into something new and now I live in a constant tug of war between what I was bred to believe in and what the Bible tells me is true.

Its not about me.   Its definitely not about paving a perfectly painless and easy path for my family.  And its definitely not about being comfortable.  So what is a lady to do??

Everything in me wants to send my kids to the best school, make sure our house and things are perfectly aligned, and prevent discomfort at any turn for me, my husband, and my children.  Its what the American Dream taught me to strive for and its a difficult ship to turn around!

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Us Furloughs love us some vacation time.  We look forward to it all year and soak up every second!  This year Dave and I had lots of chats about balancing all our vacations with going together on a missions trip.  I think having a little bit of both as part of our family will be an important part of our kids growing up and, for that matter, our growing up too.

But I cannot close my eyes, my heart, or my ears to the truth I know now to be true.  Its about Gods Kingdom and Jesus came teaching everything but comfort.  Jesus came to teach us to serve and serve tirelessly. Jesus came to teach us that the lowest are the highest and that the poorest are the richest.  Jesus came washing feet, not ruling earthly kingdoms.  Jesus came to teach us that to die is gain.  Jesus did not teach anything about the American Dream.  

Friday is SheSpeaks, the writing conference where I will sit across from publishers to share with them my 50,000 page book proposal (its not really 50,000 pages, its really 50 but ya know!).  Its the moment that I have been praying about for almost three years now.  If I were writing this post a month ago, I think it would have sounded much different.  Begging, pleading for prayers of calm nerves and successful appointments.  Gods provision when I meet the publishers and for many great conversations to take place!

You know what?

Today?

I don’t even care.

That sounds completely wrong at the get go.  I realize this.  But I don’t mean it in the way that you think I might mean it.  God’s just been working in my heart about comfort and ease, and while I will not be praying for a terrible time, if its hard and nerve wracking and “unsuccessful” and what-on-earth-am-I-doing-this-is-so-terrifying I’m fine with it!  I don’t care if its all of those things!

Its a small, tiny way for me to budge out of my comfort.  The kids are great, Dave is content in his work for the first time in 10 years, we are blessed with a home and food and honestly we need a little shaking out of our comfort.  During times like this we should be looking for every opportunity to give to those who need it, sacrificing for the sake of others, and teaching our children that actually its not all about the American Dream.  Its about God’s Dream.  His dream is way better.

The way I look at it there are two types of times in life: comfortable ones and uncomfortable ones.  Both actually feel uncomfortable!

During comfortable times of life, things are running pretty smoothly.  Obviously life is never perfect and stress and responsibility about, but for the most part, things are good.  It is during these times that I am to pour out in abundance and take every opportunity to love those around me in the name of Christ.  Even if it costs some comfort.

Uncomfortable times of life, well we don’t really get control over when those come.  During these times, we are blessed and taken care of by those in a season of comfort.  It is during those times we rely on the fullness of others to fill us up, when the bottom of the barrel of hope and joy run dry.  Someone we love dies, someone we love is very sick, someone loses a job, a house, a hope and dream and then we then need love and support more than ever.

You can never be in both places at one time.

Both times of life are eternity linked and reliant upon each other.

For, what if there was no one to water when the harvest runs dry?  What if we all just soaked it up, hoarding comfort like a hound, never offering to others the comfort that we have received?  The world is already ugly enough.  I don’t want that to be me.

So this week its art camp and SheSpeaks.  Next month is volleyball coaching (what on earth, that is another post for another day)!  I am not doing to lie, on paper all of these things freak me out.  “Its too much,” cries my inner crazy voice!  “You can’t do this,” cries my other insecure inner voice!  Truth is both are probably true, but nothing is too much for God and He can do anything.

If lack of control and ability is my greatest form of discomfort these days, bring it on.  Life is not always that easy.

Today I think of many sweet friends of mine that are in a time of extreme discomfort.  I pray for Natalie and Jim, who just lost there sweet baby boy at 18 weeks pregnant.  It has been a long road for them leading up to this pregnancy and they went in it with caution.  The worst that they feared came true.  Pray for them in their grief.

I think of sweet baby Edric in Pennsylvania, friends of my brother and sister in law, he is in the Children’s Hospital with health issues that they are yet to find the answers for.  At 3 and a half months old baby, Edric is the youngest of four kids, please join me in praying for him and his family.

Always for the Cooney family and our brave Titus.  The cancer remains in remission, but Titus has now started his three year term of chemo.  Pray for endurance for their family and renewed strength for Titus.  And, of course, Cancer stay gone!

These are those around us in dire uncomfortable times.  The type we cannot escape or avoid.  Thank you for walking alongside of me, praying for them and taking care of those right now who need it most.

I’ll let you know how SheSpeaks goes 😉

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Allowing Yourself to Grieve things Big and Small

As I sat there, holding Sammy asleep, his last moments of infancy drawing to an end all I could feel was sad.  It was the day before he would turn one and I was frustrated that my heart was so heavy.  I think if I were being extra honest, the truth is  I want him to stay a baby.  Forever.

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“Yup so Mom being 1 is clearly pretty awesome!  Also I am crushing being 1, so I’m good!”

I recognized the feeling all too well, I just did not predict it would come at a time that is supposed to be filled with joy and gratefulness.  It was grief.  It snuck up on me, but as I sat there with a tears dripping onto my newly toddling and fast asleep Sammy I realized I was grieving.

What was I grieving?  I think lots of things.

I think my arms will always feel empty.  Gideon left a piece of my heart gaping and wide open that will never be fully healed in this lifetime.  Holding Samuel filled the physical emptiness that you feel when you lose a baby, but apparently the empty arms can return when your one year old goes from a crawl to a sprint in a matter of days.

I think I am grieving the loss of being in this stage of life.  I love having a baby.  I feel most alive and full with a baby on my hip.  Its not for everyone I realize, but taking care of babies is a joy for me that fills my heart to the max.  I realize that I cannot have a baby on my hip forever.  Eventually life will need to move along and the phase of baby having will be in the past for our family.  This makes my heart sad.

I think I am grieving my baby Samuel not being a baby anymore!  As baby number 5 in our family he was tossed into our everyday living and this year just flew by.  I took every opportunity I could to soak it in, but all my soaking did not stop the clock from turning.  Samuel is a busy boy, he’s got two feet out the door and he is gone!  “Mommy catch up if you can, but I am outta here!”  Time just goes and goes.

At first thought, I did not want to allow myself to grieve this things.  First of all, it felt foolish.  After losing a baby I know the blessing of a healthy one year old.  It is a gift!  So, I pushed it aside, “Grief, you are not welcome here!  This is a HAPPY time.”

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“See!!  What’s not HAPPY about this?  Its happy so MOM why are you crying?  You are literally crazy Mom, get a hold of yourself.”

Second of all, it hurt too much.  I could not bare the thought that I might possibly grieve forever.  That the “baby sized” piece of my heart will always ache and miss and see other babies in public and want to cry.  The idea hurt too bad and so I just wanted to skip it.  Again, this was a familiar feeling to me, “just skip it because it hurts too bad.”  Sounds exactly what I thought about my pregnancy with Gideon and then the heart whisper reminded me, “Joy comes out of the sorrow.  Don’t skip something just because it hurts.”

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“Mom, are you looking at pictures again of me when I was just born??  I told you to cut that out!!”
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“More baby pictures???  Mom! Get a grip.”
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“Mom, are you in the crib with them?  Just,  what on earth?  I can’t take much more of this.”
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“Is that baby Aaron?  Enough!  We even caught you looming around the house searching for baby books!”
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I. Just. Can’t!

Thirdly, and finally, I wanted to skip the grief because it seemed too “small” a thing for it to hurt so badly.  Enter in guilt!  Ah guilt, you are never a welcomed guest yet to seem to invite yourself over all. of. the. time.  Guilt because shouldn’t only things such as death, sickness, betrayal cause grief?  Shouldn’t I only spend time grieving the things in life that “really” matter?  Lies.  All of them.  Grief does good work.  It always us to feel the fullness of what it means to be human, what it means to turn to a God that loves us, and what it means to remember the hope we have in heaven.  Grief is important and allowed in any area.  Loss of job, loss of relationship, loss of dream, loss of expectations, loss of joy, loss of excitement, loss of opportunity.  This list could go on forever I’m sure, but the point is grief is okay.  Important even.

So I can’t go over it, I can’t go under it, I can’t go around it, I have to go through it.  In these days I find myself imagining life without a baby in our home.  I imagine feeling sad every single time I see a Huggies commercial and I ask myself if I can trust God with that sadness. I ask myself if I believe that God will meet me there.  Yes.  The answer is yes.  I do trust and I do believe.

I allow myself to fully realize the truth that another baby is not going make losing Gideon any easier.  He is gone.  The arms that held him will always wish him to be here with us and there is no replacing him.  I knew this before, but I know it even more now.  The finality of death has hit me once more, but in my hope to see Gideon again I will cling.  Do I believe that God will meet me, until the day I die, in my missing of Gideon?  Yes.  I do trust and I do believe.

As I was praying about this post I felt the heavy weight of concern for you.  I wonder if there is something in your life that you have not allowed yourself to fully grieve?  Something you skipped because you thought it was too foolish or too hard.  Something that maybe was just easier to shove under the rug and pretend its not there.  May I pray for you now?  May I pray for us in our grief?

Father God, so many things remind us that this place is not our home.  This broken and painful world too many times leaves our hearts broken and hurting.  Father would you teach us what it is to grieve with hope?  Would you give us the strength to be okay with feeling grief?  Would you give us the perseverance to push through it and would you meet us there on the other side?  Lord, grieving is no easy thing.  Often times it hurts more before it hurts less and just don’t want that.  But you have given us a greater perspective and you have promised us that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope.  God give us the courage we need!  Keep shame and guilt far from us, and may instead your peace reign in our days.  Thank you Lord, that you give us a Heavenly Father to come to who loves us and hears our prayers.  Its in Jesus Name I pray.  Amen!

Happy Summer!

Two years ago, just right around this time in June, I needed some smiles.  Our family needed some joy.  Gideon had been gone for a little over 2 months and grief was still hitting in varying degrees.  I was in a lull.  A “can’t find the smiles in my moments” type lull.  So, I did what any woman does when she is feeling this way, I set out to bake a cake.

Faith was finishing up her year in Kindergarten and so I thought that the first day of summer would be a great occasion for a brightly colored, huge, and yummy cake.  Combing the aisles for fun accessories and baking the cake was just the distraction I needed.  And so the rainbow cake was born, along with our now annual “Happy Summer” Furlough party.

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Here it is!  Our inaugural “Happy Summer” party in 2014. 

This week, as I was baking this year’s rainbow cake, it hit me all at once the blessing of such  a small thing.  It has become my kids’ most looked forward to family tradition and it was all born out of the sorrow of losing Gideon.  The rainbows truly do come after the storm.

Its interesting how in life, sad times are so gently weaved in with the happy times.  Smiles come and go, days keep passing by, school months come and go, but all along weaved into the fiber of our family is the depth that Gideon brought us.  A contentment.  A hope.  A peace.  A fearlessness.

Tim Keller says this in his writing titled Suffering: The Servant of Our Joy

To say that our suffering is an illusion or to say we will be compensated for our suffering is one thing.  But to say that the suffering we experience now will one day be a servant of our joy does not just compensate for it, it undoes it.

‘Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.’  There has never been an understanding of suffering that was more helpful or encouraging.

But to understand it, you have to ‘fix your eyes on it.’  That’s a discipline.  Think about it until it pulverizes your discouragement.  Let the glory of it hit you.

Don’t just accept suffering – because God doesn’t want it

Don’t just avoid suffering – because God can use it

Don’t just embrace suffering – because it is evil

Instead, enjoy the hope that suffering is going to be engulfed, swallowed up.  The evil that hurts us now will be the eventual servant of our joy and glory eternally.” 

I do not lie to you, I have read over that quote about one billion times.  Suffering the servant of my joy?  Nothing is more true.  Nothing has been more real.  Is there anything more hope filled than that statement?  That when we believe in a God who calls us to follow Him and when we live to soak in the promises of His words then something as evil as suffering will become a servant of joy.

Rainbow cakes are proof of that in our family.

Baby Samuel, just days away from being one, is proof of that.

The hope in the promise of heaven that my children talk about, is proof of that.

The fact that I can think of Gideon and smile, proof again.

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One already?  My heart!  Where does the time go?  Every snuggle, every baby nap on my chest, every cry, every late night feeding it was all healing.  It was joy.  I will treasure his first year up in my heart for always.

As another school year comes to an end, as Samuel starts toddling around and the kiddos influx for the summer the temptation comes for me to be overwhelmed, worried, stressed out.  Four kids at home all summer, will we survive?  Yet again the placement of our Happy Summer party couldn’t be more well-placed. Before the craziness even starts I am reminded why we celebrate.  I am reminded of what is truly important and I am reminded that even on the difficult days, peace is not far behind.

My dear friend, here’s to the joy in your summer!  Here’s to the hope that a new season brings!  Here is to the beauty of rainbows, a symbol of God’s promises, that even though the rain may come His beauty is not far behind it.  Be blessed!

Contentment

Life is just not about me.  At least, I really don’t want it to be.  It’s a prayer on my lips literally every morning, “Help me not be so concerned about me today Lord.  Ready me for your work, not mine.”

It’s hard though right?  Kids, husbands, friends, and family the temptation is constantly there.  What think is best, or what want to do, or how think the day should go, or the many reasons why believe it is completely unreasonable for you to walk in the door, throw your socks in the middle of the living room floor, shove your underwear behind the ever loving toilet (why is that even a thing), make a mess with your after school monstrosity of an ice cream sundae, and all after I spent the entire day finally getting to clean this place!  Oh wait.  Shoot.  It’s not about me.  It’s not always about my preferences or ideals.  It’s about others, come hell or high water, it should be about others.  What I meant to say was, “How was your day?  I am so glad you are home!”

It starts with an overall discontenment.  Because in my crazy perfectionist brain there is always something that needs to be fixed or be better, its hard for me to let things go.  It’s hard for me to just quiet my thinking and focus on the people around me.

I learned something last week.

The routineness of my writing has fed into my discontentment.  The deadline that I created, that I made, and that I make myself follow has led to me focused thinking.  It was stressing me out and it was stressing my family out.  Less of this, more of contentment.  More peaceful mind moments and low expectations.  When I do those things, I am more able to focus on what is truly important: giving to others the way Christ gives to me.

Make no mistake, I am still going to write.  When I don’t I think I might bust at the seams with the desire to connect with you and share whatever lessons God is currently and lovingly teaching me.  It’s a call and a passion and I don’t want to stop it.  But I need to begin to let more things in my life happen naturally and organically instead of forcing things all the time.

Here is another example I came across, for whatever reason I am not really sure, but me and social media is just not working out.  For love I promise you I tried!  I gave it my best effort and I rolled with it for weeks.  I was on it, posting, commenting, liking, “reacting,” I was all in!  And now I’m done.  haha.  Well not really, not done done, but again the regularity and commitment just fed more into an overall feeling of discontentment and me focused thinking.  Which then led to less time being the me I really want to be.  Content.  Others focused.

Ah.  I feel a deep breath coming just putting these things in writing.  A freedom.  A relief that maybe me just being the way God made me is good enough.  A realization that maybe I don’t need to always listen to the loudest voices even though many times they are the only voices I can hear.

Instead more voices like this, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you”  Isaiah 43:5

Are there any things in your life that are causing you discontentment?  Maybe you don’t even realize it, but take a step back and think.

What about the me focused thing?  It’s a large beast to tackle, I realize.  It’s a natural thing I think we need in doses and moderation.  After all we are created to survive, excel, succeed, and live passionately.  These good things all come alongside us having to spend some time investing in ourselves.  But I mean the type of me thinking that puts others down.  The type of me thinking that blinds us to the truth that putting other’s lives and preferences above our own is not supposed to feel good, be easy, or be painless.  It is supposed to feel sacrificial.  It is supposed to cause a little bit of discomfort.  Which relationships in your life could use a little less me focus?  I can think of a kagillion in my life.

As I pray to end this week I am excited about a new season.

Dear God, I thank you for this day and these friends and family of mine.  I thank you that you have offered us a way to live life together over the miles and over the busyness of life.  God I ask your forgiveness for the times when my own self thinking causes me to miss an opportunity to love well.  I ask that you would give me better eyes to see when I am doing this.  I ask you for the courage it takes to put myself aside and put aside the things that I might even see as good, better, or best.  Father I thank you that you are ever loving and ever forgiving, that you don’t leave me alone in the messes that I make.  I pray too that you would help me sit contently.  Whether my day has calmness or busyness, whether the house is messy or clean, whether I am happy or sad I pray for contentment.  I pray for peace.  Help us Lord to continue to seek you in all of these things.  Amen!”