The wise thing is to get counsel. Preferably godly counsel. The problem with that is in discerning who is giving godly wisdom versus worldly wisdom. The journey of faith is a deeply personal one since God states very clearly that only He can judge correctly the heart of man. It is easy for people we love and trust to speak in love and worldly wisdom. It is up to the Spirit to help us discern which advice is for us and which was well-intentioned but not for us.
AKA - Chew up the meat and spit out the bones...
We are embarking on a risky adventure of trusting God in a deeper way. I laugh even writing that because I know He is Sovereign and promises to walk with us.
So really, where is the risk?
My husband has handed in his resignation to a job which has provided for over a decade for the needs and wants of our family. We will be letting go of good health insurance and a weekly salary paycheck. Gulp!*
To many, this will appear foolhardy and unwise. At times, even to us, this seems like a crazy idea. Being able to offer Christian Counseling and run the Lifeline Celebrate Recovery program without working a 40+ hour job has been something my husband and I have been working toward for years!
It has been the dream placed into heart and soul. We want to walk a life of faith and this is our next step. It has come to a pinnacle... make a choice! We are strapped in and ready for the ride. We have felt the peace fill our spirits, that this is the right move. Our minds are still a war zone of what-ifs when we are not in prayer. Every time we lift up our choice to God He rewards us with excitement, reconfirmation, joy, hope and most importantly peace. We will not let the giant of doubt shake our inner peace. Doubts can rattle our minds, but we know we don't walk alone. God will bring his people who are hurting and we will journey with them to healing in Jesus name and we will watch in awe as God shows up and shows off!
We will gratefully accept all the prayers we can get.
There are a few things that help turn my day around. Music is a big one. I am a shower singer. I love to sing and thankfully my kids are a kind audience. They don't tell me to be quiet or intimidate me into silence. In fact they joyously join in with singing and dancing when we turn on our favorite pandora channel. Thankful for our little portable speaker that allows us to take our dance party all over the house and backyard. Music soothes me and often it is songs or hymns from my childhood that are my favorite. I have noticed my oldest child enjoy singing in the shower as well. The tradition passes on. ;) Sing when you are happy, sing when you are sad... or just let the music wash your soul!
Another, new favorite atmosphere enhancer is my aromatherapy diffuser. The smells are nice, but I think it is more the colorful lighting than even the fragrances that make me happy. I can lock it on my favorite soothing teal color or let it flip through the rainbow slowly. I am still learning what fragrances we like (and not to put too many drops in!), but I am loving the addition to our living room. The quality of air is so important. My husband installed a pallet screen door and we love this in Spring and Fall, allowing fresh air to pass through! But this time of year when it is too hot and muggy to open the screen door, the diffuser helps us feel like we are breathing healthy fragrances in at least even if the fresh breeze is absent.
My husband and I love to surround ourselves with beautiful textures. He has a favorite fleece blanket he prefers to sleep under rather than sheets. Our children love texture as well. Our youngest can tell the difference between his special fleece blanket and the one we have as a backup! We love nature. We have made many pieces of furniture out of recycled pallets this past year. Nature is beautiful so why not bring it indoors as much as possible? Functional and self-made are the kind of projects we enjoy - If you can make it pretty, so much the better! Carpentry runs in the family and my husband has quickly turned into quite the Mr. Fix-it. Nothing sexier than a man wielding tools!
The other atmosphere enhancer is flavor! The fresh smell of brewing coffee in the morning (you know you hear the Folgers jingle in your head...go ahead and hum it, I will wait), freshly baked cookies - yum! or the dissolving of a dark chocolate kiss - yes these are all a few favorite pick-me-ups in our household. If you slap uplifting slogans on all your favorite mugs and verses on your walls then - Amen! We are trying to add healthier recipes to our arsenal and fresh herbs and spices smell amazing. Sometimes a little flavor is all you need to hit those health goals. This would explain our flavored sparkling water addiction. Those little bubbles fill you up and black cherry flavored water is always a win!
These are a few of the way we have been shaping our atmosphere.
What are some of your favorite pick-me-ups? What do you like to diffuse?
Sometimes I get a mystical moment in the early morning hours. I get up to use the bathroom and God downloads something into my head. Or a cough or a bad dream makes a child call for me and I am instantly by their side. Instead of feeling angry and tired, like I usually do at being awoken shortly after falling to sleep, I feel a strange calm and a sense of God's presence.
I am a light sleeper and often this has been a good thing. It gives me the edge to get the child to the bathroom before an accident or soothe someone back into sleep before they fully wake. This time when that small voice asks me to sleep with them, I couldn't resist their plea. Don't get me wrong. Too many nights in a row and I have no problem denying this type of request and going back to my own bed. Moms needs sleep people!
I don't sleep with my children; they are violent, restless sleepers. I've tried and been kicked in the face for my efforts. The only times they have been in my bed has been either due to nursing, fever or breathing issues. Otherwise, they have siblings to share a room with if they are scared. So, last night was really more a game of resting next to him until I sensed his breathing deepen. Sometimes the next day is difficult due to the interrupted sleep - aka Mama is grumpy!
Sleeping through the night has gotten better as they get older, but with three kids it is more often than not that one of them awakens me, either purposely because they feel sick or accidentally by kicking the wall, having a bad dream or needing to pee. (Apparently they are too asleep to remember how to go to the bathroom on their own?!) When I am not stretching myself thin, I am able to take these midnight opportunities to give one-on-one love and remember to praise the Lord for this child he has gifted me. My husband is a deeper sleeper so he often sleeps right through the majority of these wake up calls, but he is quick to help when needed.
These kids are not mine, but God's. Last night was one of those nights, that Jesus met me as I am waiting for my youngest to settle back to sleep. Peace and contentment filled me and for those few moments, I was glad to have been awoken. I wish I remembered to pray for them more often, but am still working on my prayer warrior status. Careful what you wish for! I don't want to be awoken every night Lord. Thanks anyway. ;)
You see, my husband had cancer in his adolescent years, so we had doubted the ability to even have children. The fact that we have three healthy children is a miracle! I confess I lose sight of this fact often, especially when I am tired and cranky. The noise level and requests of three healthy children is very all-consuming, but I am learning to give myself grace for simply surviving. I worked from home for about 5 years, but the demands of homeschooling alongside became too much to balance. I was tired of surviving and wanted to move to thriving.
It is Summer and I love these long days of unstructured games with them. Our schedule is relaxed and fun, but that means play dates and lots of noise. I really look forward to when their dad gets home and gives me some relief from the endless questions and requests! There are times we have a great balanced day, with read-alouds , puzzles, games and outside activity. There are days when it rains and I beat myself up for allowing too much screen time. In Florida, Summer is like Winter. You stay inside a lot or near a friend's pool. With two swimmers, I save the beach for when Daddy can come play lifeguard too and we better not stay too long or you fry. It is too hot to play outside the majority of the day. If it wasn't for the increase in playmates during the Summer months thanks to school being out, it would probably make more sense to school through Summer and take a break in the Fall. Fall through Spring is when you can live outdoors! For now though we live on top of each other and do our best not to get too cranky.
I love being a mom, but mostly I love those moments when I hear God tell me I am hitting the sweet spot.
Last night as I smoothed my son's hair from his head and lay next to him, I felt that peace of knowing... I am right where I am meant to be. I took a few extra minutes after I knew he was asleep to thank the Lord for him and watching his sweet face in slumber. I even tucked a finger in his little fist for a few tender moments. Then I slowly inched off his noisy bed to go back to mine; it was a comical sight! The things we do out of love for out kids include: snaking off to the floor, body party by body part, and crawling to the door so they don't hear our knee crack when we stand -true story!
God is so good to continually remind me that I am on the right path, or giving me a nudge to get back on it. I'm grateful He is always there when I call in the middle of the night too and He is always well rested and ready to love me.
Tapping into that peaceful moment and remembering to pray last night...
time in the dark, when everything was silent....
it was a mystical pause... and I remembered to pray!
May I do so more often!
When do you find the moment to pause? and pray?
Coming up on our ten year anniversary and I can't believe how the time has flown by. I am not the same woman who said I do ten years ago. My husband is not the same man. I know we have sharpened each other into better human beings. Our differences and perspectives have challenged and forced us into improved spouses. We have also added three children as passengers to our life. That has defintely changed our journey in beautiful, but exhausting ways. The more and more I think about it, the more I compare marriage to a car. Marriage is the vehicle that embodies our journey.
As most people know, driving with children in the car, is completely different from the days where it was just the two of you going for a weekend road trip. In the beginning you share navigation and driving responsibilities more equally, but then patterns develop and needs change. Mom has to crawl in the back to nurse a baby, Dad has to drive and navigate simultaneously, and the children have to learn to get along or the driver will pull the whole vehicle off the side of the road. Like any good vehicle though, there are times for required maintenance and preferably this happens before tires are bald and the engine seizes. We don't want to put everyone at risk! Safety is key to a fun road trip!
Hopefully we are always on the alert for the low oil or check engine light to come on in our relationship. Being aware of the state of our vehicle is important, but even more so in our marriage. There are some people that never learned to check their oil, but when you pay tens of thousands of dollar for a car trust me when I say - better learn quick. The same goes for our relationships; we can learn! We made the vow and maybe added passengers to this vehicle; we better learn the value in regular tune-ups, before the flat tire happens. Got premarital counseling? That is great! Should be good for the first few thousand miles. Those date nights are like checking the oil, or putting air in the tires. Those late night heart to hearts are like a tire rotation and alignment. Don't know what that is? That is okay, but let's not stay ignorant to the fact that a healthy marriage takes continual, intentional education. I can show my spouse that I value them, by learning how to keep them running - running well!
I can't tell you how many people that have helped put a little air in our tires. I know we wouldn't still be cruising along if we hadn't had a lot of road side assistance. Even with regular maintenance there will be a nail or two that you can avoid and that is when it is time to phone in help. Parents, friends, pastors and counselors are there for a reason. It is a sign of intelligence not weakness to do regular maintenance.
Sometimes I get a little film on the headlights; makes it hard to see. Happens slowly over time, sometimes I don't even know its there! Friends have helped me shine a light on things, restore perspective, so I can see the others properly. Sometimes I just need to drive and let Dad deal with the kids. Sometimes I get vehicle envy. Someone else has a spouse that does such and such or I berate myself for taking the long way around. Sometimes we just need to pull over and take a vacation!
I am extremely thankful to the many couples who come to my husband for counseling. They keep him having to practice what you preach. That has been a huge help in our own marriage. (And here is my shameless plug for my husband's counseling practice - Clarity Counseling.)
Without GPS (God's Positioning System) aka the Holy Spirit we would be totally lost! May He get us through another decade without too many bumps and bruises. I will continue to take all the road side assistance I can get!
Tips for Regular Maintenance
Our Relationships affects more than just us, so maintain better than a car!
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....