Grace for When Your Pants are Snug

grace for when your pants are snug... love this encouragementA few years ago, after sharing my heart with a counselor-type friend, she turned to me, looked intently into my eyeballs and said in an authoritative therapist voice,

“What does Julie need?”

I think the answer she was looking for was perhaps along the lines of, “Freedom from this particular sin struggle…” or “To have a more intimate relationship with my husband…” or “To grow in wisdom.”

But instead I responded with, “30 minutes on the treadmill, 3 times a week.”

I’m a little embarrassed to admit the shallowness of my response, but I guess you could say that this small pocket of exercise had become something really important to me and my emotional/physical well-being.

Then about 8 weeks ago I hurt my knees pushing it too hard on said beloved treadmill and in order to preserve my ability to walk, I declared a fast from exercise so that they could heal.

And, ironically, at about the same time my knees were injured, life just seemed to get 5 steps crazier and I do not even understand how I fit 30 minutes of treadmill time, 3 times a week, into my schedule before.

This has been quite difficult for me as the healing process has been slow and unfortunately, without some exercise, my body has changed a bit over the last 2 months.  The things that were semi-flabby are now very flabby and my pants are snug and I am running out of ‘flowy’ shirt options, if you know what I mean.

It has been REALLY tempting in this state, for me to get discouraged.  To let the fact that I am uncomfortable until I can get home and put on stretchy yoga pants make me grouchy.  The voice of condemnation says I’m not working hard enough, it’s all my fault somehow, I’m ugly and not good enough and should just accept it and buy new pants.

And then that little annoying voice also reminds me about it being swimsuit season – UGH.

But here is the good news that I have felt the Lord whisper in my ear the past couple of days –

There is grace for this.

I am in a season.  I’m not giving up on making healthy choices.  I try my best to eat good food and not have too many accidents with that Costco-sized bag of chocolate chips in the pantry.  I know that summer is coming and maybe my knees will finally be ready to gradually get back into some kind of workout plan.

Somewhere along the way, though, that exercise time had become a little too important to me as I discovered how my identity – my beauty and worth was all wrapped up in the thing I thought I ‘needed’ so much.

I think the Lord gently uses situations like mine to remove the idols of my heart so that I can remain steadfast even if my knees are not treadmill ready ever.

Because perfect bodies don’t exist.

I’m holding my body and my schedule out before the Lord as it encourages me to do in Romans 12:1 and I am trusting that He is pleased with me and the ways I am choosing to spend my time in this season.

I need to teach, I need to serve my kids and hubby, and sometimes life just has a mind of its own.

Like the day I wrote this post.  I had planned to come home from work that day, change clothes, and hit the treadmill for the first time in 2 months.  But on the way home I got rear-ended at a red light, spent an hour talking with the police, came home, made a few insurance-related calls, cooked dinner, bathed the boys, rocked Happy Baby to sleep because he was in the car with me and needed some extra love and comfort, read to Happy Buddy, drove to Walgreens to pick up some antibiotics for Happy Buddy who has a double ear infection, washed the lunchpails for tomorrow, went outside to admire the hubs’ hard work of installing gutters around the outside of the house, and then made him dinner.

Then at 10 pm I sat down with the hubs to watch Gilmore Girls and blog instead of exercise because I felt that one of you needed this message.

Perhaps one of you had a baby recently and are overwhelmed with the responsibilities and you’re frustrated with the extra baby weight but you think that even if someone put a treadmill in front of you, you would fall asleep on it.  Or maybe you’re in a super busy season like me and waking up at 4 am to go for a jog is just not practical (nor is it good for your sanity).  Or maybe you have an injury too.  Or maybe your metabolism just isn’t what it once was.

Whatever the reason, dear sisters, take heart.

We do not give up on striving to maintain healthy and strong bodies, but ultimately, we don’t let guilt keep us from remembering what is most important.

You are beautiful because of Jesus.

You are beautiful because you choose to exude HIS joy no matter how you feel.

That confident smile of yours is what people will remember – not that little bulge at the pants button.

And heaven…  Heaven doesn’t have metabolism issues or bummed out knees or treadmills.

Hallelujah.

That is what Julie needs we all need. <3

– Julie

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits for this life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

(Hey there, sweet friends!  I would love it if you would stop by Happy Home Fairy again tomorrow for a GIANT Summer Giveaway that I am unbelievably excited about.  See you then!)

Don’t Waste This Day

mother's dayI received an email today from a company that sells kid shoes and it read, “Happy Mother’s Day!  Today is ALL ABOUT YOU!” and it made my heart a little sad.

Sad because we buy into the idea that we need a day to be pampered.

We think that we need roses on the nightstand, cards from our kiddos, a bag of our favorite chocolates, breakfast in bed, a tidy house, or a foot massage at a fancy spa in order to feel special and valued in our role as a mother.

But this is not so, my precious readers!

You are a good mother no matter how today went because of Jesus.

This afternoon I sat in Happy Buddy’s room folding laundry – a task that the world might tell me I shouldn’t be expected to do on Mother’s Day – and my sons played around me.  In between piles of shirts and socks, we had a few tickle fights, I had to handle an ‘issue’ that broke out between the boys, someone fell down and got stuck in that space between the bed and the wall (hysteria – lol), an entire box of Matchbox cars got dumped in the middle of the carpet, we called Mom-Mom to sing her a special song, and Happy Buddy lost his first tooth.

It certainly wasn’t breakfast in bed, but even in that crazy space of time, I felt an overwhelming thankfulness to God for the opportunity to serve in the role of mother.

While having a foot massage is wonderful, what is more wonderful is filling our hearts with His presence and joy so much that those petty expectations of pampering give way to the beautiful peace of a soul satisfied in Him.

So, sweet sisters.  I hope this day was not wasted in disappointment or bitter resentment, but rather in the glorious reflection that you are seen by the King.  That Jesus knows how hard you work and sees how much you give and His heart longs to pamper you with the fruits of His Spirit.

Because a foot massage is over in like 10 minutes, and chocolates involve calories, and flowers will fade away, and if your house was tidy today it will be dirty again tomorrow, but the effects of being a mother who walks with Him will last for all eternity.

You are beloved, dear mothers!

Happy Mother’s Day.

– Julie :-)

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

That Time I Was In a Talent Show With My Kids

FXtalentshow-14FXtalentshow-18FXtalentshow-19FXtalentshow-16FXtalentshow-15FXtalentshow-21A few weeks ago I signed myself and my boys up for our church’s annual Talent Show.

We decided to sing our favorite bedtime tune – “The Pajama Song” by Teatime With Tayla.  You can view it on YouTube HERE.  Be forewarned – it’s not the best song to actually sing right before bed as it might get your kids so hyped up it will take 9 hours and possibly some Benadryl to get them to calm down.

(I hope y’all know I am totally kidding about the Benadryl thing.  Lol.)

As the Talent Show approached, however, I started having second thoughts.

I mean, who was I kidding?  My kids RARELY do what I want them to do.  In fact, I began having visions of full blown tantrums center stage.  Not exactly the kind of talent I want them showing off, yah know?  But they were offering a Chick-fil-a dinner before the event, so I figured that was a point in our favor.

I was also doubting that it was a good idea for me to get up there and dance around in fairy wings because I am 32 now and all the mature moms I know lead beautiful, quiet lives without mismatched knee socks and overabundance of glitter.

In the end, though, we went for it.

And I’m so glad we did because it was SO. FUN.

The only setback was that Happy Baby got stage fright the second we stepped out in front of the crowd and he needed me to hold him through our entire performance.

I may be 32, but I danced and sang my way through a 3 minute song with a 30 lb. child on my hip and I did not fall over dead from exhaustion.

If that’s not talent, I don’t know what is.

– Julie :-)

Things I Wasn’t Prepared for About Motherhood

things I wasn't prepared for about motherhood at happyhomefairy.com

I mentioned HERE that the books you read during pregnancy really don’t adequately prepare you for what’s coming.

So I thought I would jot down a few examples of things I wasn’t prepared for about motherhood (from this past week alone – ha!).

  • I wasn’t prepared for the giant bottle of unknown liquid that someone spilled in the back seat of a newly leased car.
  • I was not prepared to deal with the public tantrum that happened over something as bizarre as the mere thought of having to get his fingernails clipped.
  • I was not prepared for the way bedtime takes 3 hours.
  • I never thought I would get impatient with my kids, often feel like I am not disciplining them well, or make decisions about whether or not it’s okay to just let them pee in the parking lot of Target (it was an emergency).
  • When they voted me, “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school, I thought that meant becoming a well-known author or speaker.  As it is, I never thought that one day my success could be summed up as “Professional Puke Catcher.”
  • I didn’t see it coming that one of my kids would accidentally break my favorite plate and then color on the white fridge with red Sharpie.
  • I never thought I would become so knowledgable about how to get poo out of carpet.
  • I was not prepared for the utter humiliation of having an incredibly honest son announce to everyone after hugging me that my armpits smelled bad.
  • I never thought I would have the kids that like to wake up at 5 am.
  • I was not prepared for all. the. whiiiiiiining.
  • I did not imagine that one day I would be driving home from work and feel so tired and overwhelmed that I would have to call my mother-in-love to ask if she could take the boys to dinner so that I could have a few minutes to just breathe.  And get caught up on laundry.

If I can be completely honest (which, if you’re new here, is something I am very good at doing), I have struggled on weeks such as these with a feeling of disappointment with certain aspects of motherhood.

I think it kind of started with the 4 years of infertility that the hubs and I experienced before we got pregnant with Happy Buddy.  During that season I believe I put having children on a bit of a pedestal and conjured up in my head this notion that motherhood was only craft-making and laughter and healthy kids around the dinner table happily eating whatever amazing meal I had all kinds of time to prepare that day.

So of course when I was given kids who only eat 5 things and frequently throw up all over the carseat cover that I have no idea how to take off and wash, I have found myself, on occasion, to be a bit disillusioned.

Over the last couple of years, however, the Lord has been working out the fussy spirit in me that feels entitled to an unruffled, perfect life.  He is opening my eyes to see that everything above – everything about motherhood is an opportunity to worship Him, know Him more, and pour out His love on my precious kiddos.

And isn’t that what we want, sisters?  To be made more like Jesus?

  • When I am depleted, I find strength on my knees (1 Chronicles 16:11).
  • When my things break or get colored on, I remember that stuff doesn’t matter – He is all I need (Philippians 4:19).
  • When I am coming undone at the end of the day, I rest in His grace that is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • When I am tempted to grow discouraged, I reflect on the daily bread He gives me (Luke 11:3).
  • When I am so, sooooo tired, my heart is encouraged by the truth of Psalm 73:26.
  • When I need a rescuer to take the boys for a few hours, I remember that my real Rescuer is Christ (Psalm 91:14-15).
  • When I bend low to wipe spills or scrub out stains, I am reminded of the position that Jesus preferred (Philippians 2:5-11).
  • When the whining makes me bristle in frustration, I remember that training children is both a process and a privilege (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
  • When I am tempted to long for my pre-kid days where life seemed easier and filled with more opportunities to go to the gym, I see that the challenges are causing me to bear fruit (James 1:4).
  • When my kids are sick, I am pointed to Christ who came to be our healer (Psalm 103:1-5).
  • When I want to do great things and be known and have the praise of man, I call to mind that my greatest accomplishment is actually in the quiet, faithful work of lovingly serving the ones that He has entrusted me with (Colossians 3:23).

The other day as I was rocking my poor, ill Happy Baby and he was clinging to me so close we were practically a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he pressed his lips to my ear and whispered, “I love you, Mommy.”

As we sat there together, tears filled my eyes and pleasure filled my soul and suddenly the cleaning and changing and wiping and things breaking and Cloroxing and the holding and cooking (and often the holding while cooking) and driving and almost-losing-my-minding and praying and sacrificing and serving, all felt like an absolute breeze – a JOY even – in light of the gift that is motherhood.

So sweet mama who sometimes feels disappointed by motherhood, I pray He gives your heart a fresh perspective today.  A perspective that can see beyond the poo in the carpets and the sleepless nights and into the eyes of a Savior who considered it pure joy to give YOU everything He had.

Motherhood is teaching me this.

And I’m pretty sure that nothing else could have prepared me for the transforming power of that glorious truth.

– Julie :-)

The Grace Response

The Grace Response - learning to respond to our people in love instead of anger.One day last year when I picked up the Happy Buddy from school he immediately burst into tears.

He informed me that he had not gotten a sticker that day because he had been caught eating mulch on the playground with another boy.

Another day when he climbed into the car after church he confessed tearfully that he had been given a time out during Sunday School because he was goofing around during the Bible story.

Then there was the time we got our seat belts on and he let me know that he had gotten a ‘little wild’ at the end of the school day and had to walk laps during recess.

And I can’t forget the time he informed me that he had kicked another boy where it counts (shall we say) and then lied about it to his teacher.

Most mornings before my children are released from my care into the hands of another, I try to remind them that they are little ambassadors for Christ as well as representatives of our family and that it is important for them to do good, respect well, obey quickly, and listen attentively.

I will even often pray a blessing over them before they race to their respective classrooms.

So you can imagine that when my child comes home from school and tells me the stories of failed attempts to listen, obey, and be respectful – my flesh gets a teeny tiny bit mad.

Probably because I know the depths of wickedness in my own heart and how easy it is to fall into the trap of judging another mama based on her child’s behavior.

My kid was making me look bad.

(As I typed that sentence I felt my computer giving me a disgusted look.)

Truth is, my anger is linked to my own pride and sinful desire to have people think I am perfect and can produce obedient, excellent children.

So when I get angry at my kids after they confess their sins to me, I am really just reflecting ME and my selfishness instead of the sweet grace He tenderly, patiently, and lovingly extends to us every. single. day.

God has been working on me in this area.

He has helped me to see a few things more clearly – the first being the precious gift that it is to have a son who doesn’t want to keep secrets.

Because if I want to encourage my child to be a TRUTH SEEKER – to not be content in the withholding of his wrongdoings – to openly confess and experience the freedom of a life lived in truth-soaked light, then I have to get better at responding with grace.

And God KNOWS I want my boy to be able to confess his struggles to me as a teenager so if I am putting him down, punishing him, and making him feel bad now in his openness – it’s looking pretty certain that he won’t trust me with that info in the future.

What does the ‘grace response’ look like, then?

When Happy Buddy gets in the car and rattles off his behavior, instead of scary eye-balling him in the rearview mirror and saying things like, “How could you do that?!” or “That was a horrible choice!” or “No dessert for you tonight, young man!” or “You know better than that!”

I listen quietly and then carefully and gently ask questions.

“What made you think mulch would taste good?” (I admit, we got a good laugh out of this one.)

“Why was it hard for you to sit through the Bible story?”

“Why did you feel you had to lie to your teacher?”

“Would you want someone to kick you in the jimmy?”

Asking questions helps us reflect a little more on the poor choice so that hopefully in the future he will be a bit more discerning and a bit less impulsive.

And then I get the opportunity to say, “Thank you, son, for sharing this with me.  Nothing you  do will make me love you less.  You are a precious boy.  Now let’s pray and ask God to help you make a better choice next time.”

This same response works in our marriages too.

I remember one time the hubs and I were at a busy store with the boys and he motioned to the woman in front of us wearing some incredibly form-fitting work out pants.  He whispered to me, “Let’s walk a little faster so we can get past this woman.  It’s hard to not be tempted to look.”

As a woman who struggles with weight and body issues and the general feeling that I will never be pretty enough (again, all about me), I can take his honest, precious plea as an opportunity to get angry.

I could say things like, “Why can’t you control yourself better?” or “Why am I not enough for you?!” or “Are you saying I am FAT?!”

But if I want him to remain in open communication with me and help him feel affirmed in his honorable desire to be pure, then I have to respond as Jesus would.

“Thank you for sharing that with me, my love.  You are a good man.”

And then I may or may not have grabbed his hand and bolted so fast out of that store you would have thought there was a fire.

How do you respond when your husband confesses that he spent too much money this month?  Or when he calls to say he won’t be home for dinner?  Or when he realizes that he forgot to get the one thing you asked him to go to the store for?

The grace response consists of 2 things – the first is that it recognizes that YOU are a sinner ALSO in need of a Savior.

The second is that God is loving, forgiving, compassionate, kind, and good to YOU, so now you get the opportunity EVERY DAY to be a reflection of Him to your people.

Which will hopefully spread to the world and inspire less irrational kicking where it counts, less judging other mamas, deeper, richer relationships with our children and spouses, glory to God, and more grace, grace, grace.

A few Sundays ago we sang this line, “Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.”

I like the sound of that.

– Julie :-)

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Will You Lent With Me?

LENT

Based on the photo above I would imagine that some of you are wondering if I converted to Catholicism. :-)

To answer your question – no.  The hubs is a pastor at a PCA church and after many years of in depth study about church history, he came to the conclusion that recognizing the Lent season (beginning with Ash Wednesday) is a beautiful part of the Christian church’s story.

As a result of his careful study, our little church celebrated Ash Wednesday this year by holding a few worship services where we were able to receive the ‘imposition of ashes’ on our foreheads – a symbol and reminder of our sins and His great sacrifice, inspired by the verse,

“You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” Ecclesiastes 3:20.

We are but dust without His breath of life.

Under this humbling truth (plastered right on our foreheads – our very minds, so to speak) we are then able to rejoice because even though our bodies will return to dust one day, our souls get to be in eternity with Him forever – all thanks and praise to the work He did on the cross (Easter!).

I so long to be a person of the cross.  I want others to know without a shadow of doubt Who I love most.

When the hubs and I picked up the boys from school, Happy Baby took one look at his daddy’s forehead and said, “WHY YOU HAVE DAT?”

And as I explained this season to my boys, I thought maybe my sweet blog readers would benefit from it as well.

One of my favorite things about Lent is that we are called to remember the 40 days that Jesus was led into the wilderness to be with God, to be tested, and to fast (Matthew 4:1-11).

Wait, did you catch that?

He did not eat for 40 DAYS.

Sometimes I can’t even skip a snack without getting grumpy!

Jesus denied himself some incredibly basic needs in order to humbly submit Himself to His Father.  His willingness to surrender EVERYTHING is so beautiful and inspiring and makes me keenly aware of the 100 million times a day I hold on to worthless idols (fear, insecurity, jealousy, pride, being judgmental, wanting to be in control of everything, Hobby Lobby, how many Facebook ‘likes’ I have) and cling to my earthly comforts (my hair iron, dark chocolate – ahem).

I told Happy Buddy that it was as if Jesus wanted to declare to His Father that He loved Him even more than food (Job 23:12).

Try getting a child to understand that when he has a chocolate chip cookie sitting in front of him.

Try getting ME to understand that when standing at the entrance of a Target (more like emotional food, I guess – ha!).

This year the hubs and I have been prayerfully considering what we might ‘fast’ from in order to make ourselves more like Christ this season.

I thought about fasting from laundry, dishes, and making lunches every day, but I guess that’s not really the point. :-)

Although Happy Buddy informed me today that he wanted to give up wearing clothes for Lent so our fasts would compliment one another rather nicely.

Are you giving something up for Lent?

I wanted to encourage you today to think and pray about it.

When I was explaining this to my boys, I tried to help them understand that the item you choose to fast from should be something that is important to you and involve a bit of sacrifice.  It should draw you to Jesus every time your flesh wants to have the item, eat the item, use the item, etc.  It should daily make you aware of the depth of your need for Him.

Happy Baby announced that he wanted to give up his minion toy and I knew that God was inspiring his little heart.

Happy Buddy on the other hand is still thinking about this (after I squashed his no-clothes scheme) and is convinced that giving up vegetables is a worthy Lenten fast.

Pray for him. :-)

I wanted to share with you an incredible resource Ann Voskamp is sharing at A Holy Experience – 40 days of printable prayer cards you can use on your Lenten journey – find them HERE.

I just printed mine and am planning to use them.

In this world that seems to be ever-increasing in evil and darkness, we must cling to the light.  We must embrace and walk in it.  Humbly, obediently, and fully surrendered.

So, dear readers, will you Lent with me?

– Julie

“I love you, Lord, my strength.” Psalm 18:1

Fifty Shades of NO

50 Shades of No by Happy Home FairyThere is a new movie coming out this weekend – just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Fifty Shades of Grey – have you heard of it?

Haha.

When the book originally came out I didn’t pay much attention on purpose.  I knew that it wasn’t something that I wanted to set before my eyes (Psalm 101:3).

But now with a movie making its debut, I am completely sobered by just how accessible and appealing this content is to so many.

Christian women included.

There are lots of reasons why this movie and book is harmful – dangerous, even – for you (Sheila from To Love, Honor, and Vacuum wrote a great post about it HERE and Thriving Home shared an incredible article called Can 50 Shades of Grey Enhance Your Sex Life? HERE), but when considering participating in things that our world wildly celebrates, I think it all boils down to asking ourselves a couple of questions…

Is engaging with this kind of material going to draw me closer to Jesus?  Is it going to make me look more like Him to others (my spouse included)?

I remember a few years ago I was reading a series of books written by a popular Christian author (yes, Christian).  Every storyline involved some sort of radical trial that the main character(s) would suffer (like murder, AIDS, rape, a child’s near drowning).  The stories also portrayed marriage in such a way that seemed unrealistic and fairy tale-ish at times.  But I was so drawn to these books and couldn’t put them down.  It was like an escape for me.

I got so wrapped up in these books that I would find myself INTERCEDING IN PRAYER for the FICTIONAL characters throughout the day!

It was CUH-RAY-ZEE.

However, it didn’t even stop there.  The more I read, the more I was consumed with anxiety that horrible things were going to happen to me (as they did to characters in the stories) and I became discontent in my relationship with my husband because I compared him to the male heroes in my books.

After awhile I finally listened to the Holy Spirit and removed all of the books from my home because they just weren’t helping me with the ultimate goal –

BECOMING MORE LIKE JESUS.

It sounds like a lame example as there weren’t any whips or graphic bedroom scenes in these stories, but I believe my struggle was similar to the woman reading/watching Fifty Shade of Grey.  Our own brokenness/flesh/weakness causes us to easily be disillusioned to what is REAL LIFE and what is GOD’S TRUTH.

God’s Word is full of verses that speak to protect us from things that will ultimately enslave us/lead us into bondage (like that fear I was all tangled up in and the critical eye I was dishing out on the hubs).  It even encourages us to fill our minds with only the things that are excellent, pure, lovely, admirable, and right (Philippians 4:8).  And the Gospel continually sets forth a message of self-sacrificing love that is unconditional, patient, and kind (Philippians 2:3-11).

Often things that aren’t of the Lord typically FEEL really good for a MOMENT, but in the end they will leave you with that never-satisfied hunger for more.  You will find that the momentary pleasure or arousal of a glamorized Hollywood movie will really, when it fades, just make you more aware of the emptiness that we suffer apart from Christ.

Because Christ provides everything we need for a life of joy and love and intimacy so much greater than you could ever read about in a book (other than the Bible) or see on the big screen (read Song of Solomon if you don’t believe me).

So, sweet ladies, this Valentine’s Day weekend, I encourage you to not go see this movie.

Instead, do one of THESE ideas with your husband.  Leave him THESE notes.  Send him one of THESE flirty texts.  God created us for intimacy that is fun and sexy and pure and reflective of His unfailing love for you.

But ultimately, let’s be women who make JESUS the One that captures our hearts, our desires, and our imagination every day in this crazy, down-spiraling world.

And I can tell you with certainty that His kind of love does not include a necktie.

– Julie

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!  For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.  Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.  Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.” Ephesians 5:8-11

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Julie Brasington is wife of a worship pastor, a preschool teacher, and the creator of Happy Home Fairy, a popular blog focusing on encouraging and equipping moms to choose joy and Jesus on the parenting journey. She shares easy craft ideas, printables, simple recipes, holiday fun, thoughts on raising her 2 awesome boys, trusting God in the midst of poop blow-outs and toddler tantrums, and figuring out if serving scrambled eggs for dinner 4 nights in a row is an acceptable meal plan. Follow her on Facebook HERE, Twitter HERE, and Instagram HERE.