Sharing Your Family’s Story

sharing your family's story on the walls of your home! love this.I follow this gal on Instagram who has the most gorgeous house.

Every room is so lovely and so simple.

She does not hang ANYTHING on her walls.

When our house got hit with mold damage this summer and we had to repaint some of the main interior rooms, I decided that I wanted to be just like her.

As we took down a bunch of hanging plates and various canvas art that I had been collecting over the years to prep the walls for painting, I told the hubs that he could put away his hammer for good because I was going minimalist.

And when the room had a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore’s Gray Horse I looked around and felt really good about my new… nothing.

For about 48 hours.

After that every time I walked into the living room the walls basically begged me for nail holes.

Not to mention that it was weird hearing our voices echo all the time.

Who was I kidding?  I was never meant to be a minimalist.  Just look in our garage and it will tell you everything you need to know about the truth in that statement.

Besides, some of my favorite homes to visit are the ones where the walls aren’t filled with perfectly coordinated artwork, but rather pictures of family and loved ones.  Of fun times and memories.

There is something so attractive and inspiring about a home that gives you a little window into their story.

Because God is in that.  He is the author, after all.

So I decided to make the walls of our mold-free home tell the story of our own family.
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I started in the center with a photo of our little family on the day we brought Happy Baby home from the hospital.  We were all gathered on the hospital sofa bed waiting for the nurse to discharge us.  After almost 100 days in that place we were so excited at the chance to get home and start our life together as a family of 4.gallery wall 1

To the far left I included the first photo I ever got of our entire family SMILING.  I couldn’t believe it.  Everyone is looking at the camera and appears to be really… happy.  Because usually when it comes to family photos someone is having a nervous breakdown about something (as evidenced HERE and HERE).

Next I printed a photo of Happy Baby when he was about 1 month old and still on oxygen.  It’s a tough picture to look at sometimes because it brings back so many painful memories, but it is a part of our story.  And I can honestly say that his birth and struggles awakened me to a deeper way of living and loving than I ever experienced before.

Then there’s that photo of Happy Baby looking awesome and adorable right before the Lord surprised us with the joy of getting to have his feeding tube removed.photo galleryThe top photo here is my favorite out of all our wedding photos.  I remember wondering if my cheeks were going to explode from all the smiling that was happening that day.  We were so young, so carefree — so skinny. :-)  We had no idea the trials we would face in the years ahead, but we knew we had Jesus and we had each other.  That is all that mattered.

And that bottom photo accurately depicts Happy Baby’s budding sense of humor and that way he daily helps me not take life so seriously.

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The far right is a family picture a dear photographer friend captured for us.  She gifted us a free photo shoot because she, herself, had been through a NICU experience with one of her babies and felt it was God’s call on her life to serve other NICU families with her gifts.  Thank you, Bobbilee.

The bottom chevron frame is a picture of the Happy Buddy on his first trip to Disney World when he was 6 months old.  We still question why we decided to spend the 14 trillion dollars it took to go there when all he did was look cute for that one photo and then sleep the rest of the time.  And throw up on my favorite shirt while we waited in line at the merry go round.

And of course I had to include a photo of Happy Buddy eating a cookie because that child asks me 1400 times a day if he can have a treat.  I’m so scared he’s going to go off to college and eat nothing but donuts and cake for 4 years.photo gallery 2

That top photo was the one I taped in the Happy Baby’s NICU incubator for him to look at all those many hours we all weren’t able to be there with him.

I love the middle photo of father and son.  We affectionately remember this Easter photo shoot as that time the hubs cut Happy Buddy’s hair and accidentally used a number 2 guard on the hair clippers instead of a number 3.

Finally that bottom photo was one I took on a date night with the hubs a few years ago.  We were in a rough patch in our marriage, but this photo reminds me that we were committed to each other no matter what.  For better or worse.  And we came out of that season with a much better understanding of how to love each other well.

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I look at these walls and I see God’s faithful hand graciously woven through each photo – each captured moment from the journey He is writing for us.

And that is way more interesting to me than looking at a whole bunch of nothing.

How do you share your family’s story in your home?

– Julie :-)

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

*You can find most of the picture frames I used for our gallery wall at Hobby Lobby.

Locked Out

happy babyOn Wednesday last week the hubs told me that I didn’t need to be at worship team rehearsal that night, so I canceled the babysitter and then made plans to hit the treadmill the second we got home.

I threw on some workout clothes, got the boys settled outside playing, and then climbed on to the treadmill that we keep on our screened-in back porch.

Now before y’all go thinking that I lead some sort of dream life that allows me to exercise on occasion – hear this: About every 1/4 of a mile Happy Baby or Happy Buddy would have some kind of an emergency that required me to stop mid-run, turn the treadmill off, and help them with something.  Important things like stopping to search for a toy microphone for 20 minutes because someone could absolutely not carry on without it.  Or stopping to get everyone a snack.  Or stopping to help someone out of a shoe they had put on that was 4 sizes to small.

Such is life with littles, yes?  We can’t ever seem to complete a task without some kind of interruption.  How easy my life will be in 20 years when I can go on the treadmill by myself!  Of course, by then I will probably not be interested in going on a treadmill because my knees will have been replaced 6 times.

Anyway, after the 300th interruption I may or may not have shouted, “MOMMY’S GOING ON THE TREADMILL NOW AND I AM NOT GETTING OFF AGAIN FOR ANYTHING!”

Happy Buddy jogged back out to the yard where he was playing a football game with himself and Happy Baby was inside still looking for the elusive microphone.

I had made it a record 1/2 mile when I looked over to see Happy Baby push the sliding glass door separating the inside of our house from the patio closed.

Then I heard a little click.

Happy Baby had locked us out.

AWESOME.

Did I mention that I had left my phone inside on the kitchen counter?

Happy Buddy was in hysterics almost instantly upon figuring out what had happened.

He is not dramatic at all.

And that’s when I realized that I would not be breaking a sweat that afternoon, but rather breaking into my house.

In my calmest voice I spoke through the glass to my 2 year old.

“Honey, we need you to open the door.”

“Sweetheart, push the lock up.”

“C’mon, that’s it!  Push the lock UP!  UP!  UP!”

One would think that if he could lock it, then of course he could unlock it.

Hahahahahaha.

With every passing minute I rollercoastered back and forth between laughing about the situation, to wanting to cry, to feeling calm and collected, to about to have a panic attack.

Meanwhile Happy Baby was inside the house doing his best to follow my directions and encouragement, but when his efforts proved futile, would turn around and fall head first into the couch cushions in dispair.  Then he would push himself up, start walking around the house (completely ignoring my pleas for help), and pick up random toys off the floor to play with.

At one point he even asked me if he could play with the iPad.

That’s when Happy Buddy began weeping and crying, “I’M NEVER GOING TO SLEEP IN MY BED AGAIN!”

We walked in this circle of emotions for about 25 minutes before I decided that the only thing left to do was go to our next door neighbor’s house and ask to borrow their phone to call my husband (who was at work 35 minutes away and who was about to start a rehearsal).

Did I mention that none of my workout pants were clean so I had grabbed a pair of hoochie mama pajama shorts to wear while I exercised because I figured that under no circumstances would anyone be seeing me that evening?? (Go HERE for my thoughts on modesty.)

So I pulled at my shorts until at least my booty cheeks weren’t showing and I embarrassingly headed over to the people who live next door.

When I got hold of a phone I called the hubs who informed that we had a spare key in a box attached to the outside wall (hope!), but when I went to find it, discovered that when we had our house painted over the summer, the painters had painted the box shut.

AWESOME.

That’s when my neighbor’s husband arrived with some sort of crow bar thing that he was able to use to pull the door open and I almost fell over with relief.

(And in case you are a creeper thinking about robbing us, we have since retrieved the key and purchased a home security system.  BAM.)

After all that I decided that I did not have the mental capacity to make an actual meal, so I made scrambled eggs and didn’t even bother to include a vegetable because I was done.

DONE.

Once everyone was in bed and I was able to remember what my name was, I looked onto the patio where the unfinished workout stared at me and with a weary sigh decided that the whole event caused me so much stress that I probably burned enough calories to never need to exercise ever again for the rest of my life.

Motherhood.

Why didn’t they warn us about these kind of events in What to Expect When Expecting?

I’m guessing because we would all choose the celibate life that includes uninterrupted treadmill time and hoochie mama shorts without dumps.

Nah, that sounds too boring.

– Julie :-)

Why I’m Glad My Kids Don’t Obey

Why I'm Glad My Kids Don't Obey... beautiful.A few weeks ago the boys asked if they could go on the playground after church.

I was less than excited about the idea because after a morning of early worship team rehearsal, 2 services, fellowship, and a giant bagel, I am ready to go home and start what you’re supposed to be doing on Sunday (which, as my children do not seem to comprehend, is rest).

But I did it anyway because I love my kids and love to bless them.

(And because my one word is Jesus and I thought it would be appropriate to once again die to myself and lay down my immediate desire to put on sweatpants and crawl into bed.)

After about 15 minutes, I gave the smart-parenting 5 minutes left announcement and even reminded the boys how they needed to leave the playground quickly and happily when it was time to go.

Fast forward 5 minutes and Happy Baby is hiding up at the top of the playground structure because he doesn’t want to go home and Happy Buddy is weeping hysterically because our leaving was going to interrupt his progress on mastering the monkey bars.

Did I mention that there were lots of other people on the playground?

Did I mention that the hubs is a pastor at our church and therefore I sometimes feel this unwritten expectation that I need to have my ‘stuff’ together?  Stuff being that my children should listen and obey me?

Ahhhh, no.  I had to climb up the playground equipment to pry off a tantrum-throwing toddler’s fingers from the death grip he had on the bars (only to discover after climbing back down that he had also taken his shoes off in protest and left them at the top).  Then Happy Buddy, who is given to unrecoverable fits of emotion, was sobbing and ranting about how he never even made it to the swings.

And then he tripped and fell.

The innocent bystanders were probably wondering if my children needed therapy.

What’s funny is I was thinking that I needed therapy.

As I wrangled my emotionally turbulent crew into their carseats, I may have been a touch angry.

My pride had been hurt.  I had been embarrassed by the circus act that was our departure.  I was mad that my boys chose to throw fits instead of be grateful as I had CLEARLY sacrificed a lot so that they could have a good time.

Tight lipped and upset I jammed the keys into the ignition and started the 35 minute drive home.

The boys were now quiet in the backseat and I knew they could sense the tension.

After about 5 minutes, I could hear Happy Buddy sniffling.  Then he quietly spoke into the silence, “Mommy, I’m so sorry for throwing a fit at the park.”

Then Happy Baby echoing softy, “Saw-wee, Mommy.”

The wounds I was nursing and the anger I was seething melted away and I thought what truer words than those written in Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath.”

And as we verbally forgave one another and declared, “It is finished,” I was struck by something.

I was glad that my kids weren’t perfect.

Because if they were perfect then they wouldn’t learn to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

If they were perfect then they wouldn’t learn repentance.

If they were perfect then they wouldn’t have opportunities to experience love through forgiveness.

If they were perfect then I might be tempted to pridefully think that their obedience was because of something I was doing right as their mama.

If they were perfect then we all wouldn’t learn to depend so wholeheartedly on our blessed Savior.

So next time your child is kicking and screaming on the ground in Target or running around the sanctuary after church like a wild man, instead of saying, “He’s not mine,” thank God for another opportunity to point your little ones to the wonderfully redeeming work of Christ.

– Julie :-)

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalm 51:17

My “One Word” for 2015

JESUSFor the last several years I’ve heard of bloggers choosing one word to be their theme for the New Year.

Generally I am always several steps behind on trends.  Case in point – I finally bought a pair of skinny jeans the other day and then a friend informed me that bootcut style is coming back in.

<<Sheesh.>>

So here I am a whole year later ready to jump on the one-word band wagon except for the fact that I don’t believe that anyone else is on the wagon with me.

Hubs and I got to go away for a couple of days to celebrate our anniversary this past week and I had 2 priorities (besides enjoying time with my bearded prince).

1.  SLEEP.

and

2.  READ.

2 things that I am seriously deprived of as a young mom being that {{regarding the first priority}}, the boys have absolutely NO internal clock regulating the normal hours of human waking.  I think my children are operating on Australia’s time zone.

I am happy to report that I accomplished my 2 goals successfully and even added a 3rd – binge watch TV.  I hardly ever watch TV at home – mostly because the tyranny of the urgent always wins out (ie. laundry does not go away on its own), but when I go on vacation I turn into a total couch potato and suddenly everything takes a backseat to getting caught up on episodes of Love It or List It.

My mom got me THIS BOOK for Christmas and I read it in less than a day.  Every time I would take a break to put it down I would say to the hubs, “This book is SO convicting.”

My heart was challenged in a hundred ways to be a better mom this year.

And this cannot happen unless I am fully satisfied and filled up with Jesus.

He is what it ALL comes down to.

JESUS.

The gospel is what I want to give my kids more of this year.  I want to pour out on them the joy and forgiveness and patience and kindness that He has shown me through His work on the cross.

When their early wake-up rituals threaten my sanity joy, I will remember that JESUS laid it all down for me.  And I will lay down my desire for sleep.  No complaining.  No fussing.  I will joyfully rise to serve.

Because that’s what Jesus did and I want my family to see the gospel in me.

When tempted to blow a gasket over the messy house, I will remember that JESUS laid it all down for me.  And I will lay down my desire to live in a perfectly spotless home.  I will lay down my need to be in control of every little thing.  And I will laugh at the explosion of Play-Doh and smile at the Sharpie lines in the carpet and the drawing someone did with chalk on the couch cushion.

Because I want my family to see the gospel in me.

When I feel that nagging despair that no one sees or appreciates the 100 million loads of laundry I do or 6 trillion dishes I wash every day or the bazillion hours I spend correcting and training my darling little boys, I will lay that down, too.  Because the gospel is not self-seeking.

Because when we are truly living in the fullness of the Good News WE DON’T NEED THE PRAISE OF MAN.

When I want to fret and be anxious over the boys – their health, their behavior, the weird noise they just made in their sleep – or worry about our finances, my marriage, friendships, jobs… I will lay it down because Jesus trusted His Father and lived a life of open-handed surrender to the One who knows best.

I want my family to see the gospel in me.

When I want to check out and be distracted (ahem – iPhone), I will lay that down, too.  Because Jesus shows us that people – relationships – are more important than things.

I want my family to see the gospel in me.

When I want to punish my children with cold silence and disappointment, I will instead choose to quickly extend forgiveness and throw in a tickle fight, because in Jesus there is absolute freedom from sin.

There is great love and great acceptance.

And in my dying to all the things that my human, weak, frail flesh wants, I discover the abundant, happy life in choosing Jesus.

That is the gospel.

So this year – this 2015 – my one word is Jesus.

I desire more of Him – more of the gospel – more of what He did and what He provides this mama’s heart than anything else in this world.

And when I’m weary of laying everything down, I will simply persevere until the hubs’ and my annual anniversary sleep/read/binge-watch-TV vacation. :-)

Totally kidding.  Because we all know that the gospel is most beautifully communicated in our weakness – remember that.

Stay humble.  Repent.  Submit.  Obey.  Trust.

And love lavishly.

But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead—only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved— and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms—all because of what Christ Jesus did. And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich his kindness is, as shown in all he has done for us through Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-7 (TLB)

julie

 

 

 

**At time of this post, (in)courage launched their annual One Word 365 challenge – see it HERE and join in the fun!  I guess I am not behind on the trend after all. :-)  And now I’m off to buy the bootcuts.**

What Santa’s Bringing

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10 am!santa 4santa 7santa 6

We went to see Santa today at the mall.

Happy Baby didn’t want to have anything to do with him and kept clinging to me like a little koala bear repeating, “No Santa.  Afraid.”

But Happy Buddy was absolutely thrilled and even stayed {{mostly patient}} while we waited in line for 25 minutes.

I couldn’t get any close-up photos because an army of elves made me put my camera away because I wasn’t about the fork over $45 for a photo package that would probably end up getting bent or torn on the way to the car.

But the moment when Happy Buddy sat on Santa’s lap with that childlike sparkle of wonder in his eyes and the jolly old man asked him what he wanted, I thought it might be fun to preserve the memory of gifts that will be given to my boys this year.

I mentioned HERE that we are doing 3 presents per child, so here are the 3 items Santa will be leaving under our tree this Christmas for my 2 boys.

happy buddy's giftsHappy Buddy’s Gifts

1. Youth Football Helmet and Jersey – The hubs got really into watching weekend football games this fall and he often invited Happy Buddy to join him.  This was very inspiring for our boy and has since held imaginary football games every day in our backyard – complete with a numbered puzzle that he uses as a scoreboard and frequent outfit changes to personify various teams.  I once had to carry him off the ‘field’ because of an injury.  All he told Santa that he wanted for Christmas this year was a football helmet and jersey – in honor of the hubs’ and mine alma mater, of course.

2.  Melissa and Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards – We have this sweet, precious babysitter that comes to watch the boys on the night we have worship team practice and Happy Buddy always asks her to bring a game that is similar to this pattern blocks and board set.  He is definitely more of a mathematical thinker (I have NO idea where he gets that from), so I know he will get a kick out of this.

3.  BIG Picture Bible – Happy Buddy and I read a story from the Bible every night before bed and we like to start new Bible versions when we finish one.  We have worked our way through the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook and the Storybook Bible a few times so I thought it was time to try something new and I had read on someone’s blog somewhere that this was good.

happy baby's 3Happy Baby’s Gifts

1.  Giant Monkey Suitcase – Do you remember Happy Baby’s DVD obsession?  Well it has mushroomed into this beast we can’t control.  Like the other day we went to Target and he had a massive meltdown because I wouldn’t let him walk out of the store shoplifting the 15 DVDs he had picked up and tried to stuff under his shirt when I wasn’t looking.  Which brings me to the sad fact that he is not content with just one DVD anymore, but must carry 4-5 in his zippered ‘monkey bag’ lunchpail (see HERE).  While at the airport over Thanksgiving vacation, he saw another child pushing this matching monkey suitcase and he kind of freaked out.  It will probably hold about 30 DVDs.  I think we just might melt his brain with this one.

2.  Peppa the Pig DVD – Speaking of DVDs, we had to get him a new one and I am not going to lie, I have a MAJOR crush on this show.  Have you seen it?  Totally ADORABLE.  Favorite part is the random pig snorting.

3.  Sock Monkey Jack-in-the-Box – They sold this at a little shop in our mall and every time I took the boys there, they would beg for me to take them to the ‘Sock Monkey Store’.  Happy Baby especially delighted in the surprise element of this toy and I know he is going to be so happy to have it under our own roof now.

We’re filling the boys’ stockings with a few odds and ends like Minion bandaids and new sunglasses and their favorite treats.

my boysI can’t wait to see their faces on Christmas morning.  I am pretty sure they will both be up somewhere in the 5’s because they are so excited about Christmas morning they have been practicing getting up in the 5’s every day since school went on break thank you very much.

Which leads me to believe that maybe I should have bagged all the ideas above and just gotten them some Ambien for Christmas.

:-)

What is Santa bringing your kids this year?

– Julie

For When Those Little Prayers Go Unanswered

happy babyThe other night I was SO. TIRED.

Happy Baby was really sick last month and had been waking up several times a night crying and coughing and congested and needing comfort.

On the evening of the 9th day of this, I fell into bed completely exhausted and tossed up a little prayer to God before falling asleep, “Lord, please don’t let my boy wake up tonight.”

Guess what?

HE WOKE UP.

Not once.  But twice.

The next morning as I sleepily stumbled to start the day, I felt something in my spirit toward God that was a red flag.  I needed to quiet my heart before Him and make things right.  And as I did, He reminded me of something.

When I was a new mom and my life went from leisurely walks with the hubs, date nights, trips to the gym, a full 7 hours of sleep every night and basically doing whatever I pleased – whenever I pleased, to what felt like absolute chaos and disorder and a never-ending cycle of being awake, I remember praying to God so many times prayers like this –

“God, please make him STOP crying.”

“God, please just let him nap today.”

“God, please don’t let him poop out of his shorts because I forgot to bring a change of clothes.”

“God, please help him like this spinach puree.”

“God, please PLEASE HELP HIM SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT.”

Did God answer these prayers?

Sometimes, yes.

But more often than that, no.

And do you know what I did when those prayers were not answered?

I got angry at God.

I felt completely disillusioned to the powerful God I had grown up serving.

I mean, c’mon!  If He can part the Red Sea and walk on water and raise people from the dead then HE CAN HELP MY BABY SLEEP.

Help ME to sleep.

But here is the problem with this way of thinking –

At its root, it is selfish.

Now hear my heart, I believe very strongly that God loves it when we bring our requests to Him – no matter what they are.  Whether they are about my child’s nap schedule or poop schedule or palate.  When my kids lose a toy that they love, I like to say to them, “God loves to hear from us.  He knows where your toy is.  Let’s give this situation to Him.”

These prayers, however, can hinder our relationship with God when He responds different than what we hoped for and we grow disappointed or, even worse – bitter.

We cannot fall into the trap of thinking that God is a magic genie and that we are entitled to receive every little thing we ask for.

Because then we forget that HE IS GOD.

We forget that He loves us and that He is good.

We forget that His ways are simply not ours.

Maybe our child not napping one day isn’t going to be a giant part of the Lord’s plan for our lives, but our attitude and how we handle it most certainly is.

Ultimately, God is after our hearts – our completely surrendered, humble, all-trusting hearts.

What I should have prayed was, “Lord, please help my boy to sleep through the night tonight, but even if you don’t, I know that you still love me and know what’s best for me.  I know that your strength alone will carry me through the evening to serve my family well.  I am yours.  Your will be done.  Amen.”

And when my boys and I pray for lost toys in the house, I try to follow up with a little instruction, “God knows where your toy is, but we must remember that sometimes He says YES and answers our prayers right away, sometimes He says no, and sometimes He says wait.  We have to trust that He knows what He’s doing with this request.”

Our precious Lord wants us to place our ENTIRE lives in His hands, to cease fussing about all the things we think we are entitled to right this second, and to have eyes of faith to see the bigger picture of His love and perfect plan for us.

Song of Solomon, which is a beautiful allegory of how much God cares for us, says in 2:4 that, “His banner over me is love.”

So when you are looking in the mirror and those giant dark circles under your eyes are inspiring you to shake a fist at God for not answering your prayer for sleep, check the mirror again.

You will see a big, giant banner flowing over your bed-head that says, “I love you, my precious child!  I know what’s best for you!  My strength is yours in weakness.  Now let me show you how I am going to provide for your every need today.  Trust me.” <3

– Julie

“If you will humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, in his good time he will lift you up.  Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (TLB)

Gratitude and the Hard

gratitude 1The other day I was at a birthday party with my boys and while they were happily enjoying pizza and cake, I began chatting with another mom.

We talked about our kids and then I asked her to tell me the story of how she met her husband.  She spoke so sweetly about her man and went on to say what an amazing dad he is.

I asked her if she and her husband wanted to have any more children and she said, “Well, we have been trying but that just hasn’t worked out for us.”

My heart squeezed.  I know all about infertility.  It was 4 years before God gave us the Happy Buddy.

I said, “Girl, I am so sorry.  That is so hard.”

And you know what she said?

“Yeah, it is, I guess.  But I don’t like focusing on it because I don’t want it to seem that we are not thankful for what we have.”

She gestured to her adorable son who had cake icing and crumbs all around his mouth.

“He’s so great,” she said with a smile, “He’s enough.”

gratitude 2gratitude 3As we were driving home from the party I couldn’t stop thinking about her words.

I feel like I have become a very fussy person in the last couple of years.

At least in my heart, I know I have.

Whenever something difficult crosses my path (which is about 700 times a day) I find myself muttering, “UGH!  Really God???  This is SO hard!”

I humbly confess to you that in the most private pockets of my heart I think I have this prideful attitude that feels I have been through enough hard things and  deserve some kind of break or period of ease.

Ha!!

Life is not that way, is it?

There are still lunches to pack, kids to discipline and train, a husband to love and serve well, dinner to make, laundry to fold, toilets to scrub (oh wait, I don’t do that)…  There are still ants procreating in my car, bills to pay, my full-time job, sick kids, and the burdening business of figuring out how to reduce the size of my pores.

There’s still that UTI that came upon me suddenly while on my church’s women’s retreat and then the stomach bug that came only 2 weeks later.

There’s still that thyroid problem I have to deal with for the rest of my life.

Ah, but this precious woman’s words rang in my heart like the final chord of the worship team at church on Sunday.

Focusing on the hard of our day can close our eyes to all the good.

gratitude 5Yes, life is hard.  No doubt about that.

But I have to ask God for eyes to see.

Eyes to see that I HAVE KIDS.  2 precious ones.  Oh, raising them is no picnic and they make me frequently mentally escape to private islands in the Bahamas, but they give me purpose and joy every morning.

Eyes to see that my job, while it is a different life than the one I had as a SAHM, it is still a good one.  I am able to see my kids and my husband throughout the day.  I am able to relieve my sweet, hard-working husband of financial stress.

Eyes to see my messy house as a place that is a reflection of a full and busy life being lived with people that I love.

Eyes to see that those $4.99 rotisseries from Costco are the blessed answer for those nights when I am mentally and physically unable to make sense of a recipe card.

Eyes to see that a persistent thyroid issue is simply another reminder to fix my gaze on Christ and the perfection and glory and hope of heaven.

Thank you, God.

gratitude 6gratitude 7My favorite story in the Bible is from Acts 16.

Paul and Silas have just been stripped of their clothes, beaten with rods, and flogged because of the Truth they were sharing and the miracles they were performing in the name of Jesus.

They were then thrown in jail – to the furthest, most inner cell – and their feet were fastened in stocks.

{{At this point, my fussing about exceptionally large pores and ant problems seems KIND OF FRIVOLOUS.}}

Paul and Silas could have sighed and cried and hung their heads and complained about how hard it was to be follower of Christ.

But do you know what they did?

Verse 25 says at midnight – at the darkest hour, in the furthest cell – Paul and Silas began praying and singing hymns to God.

They weren’t focused on the hard.

They were focused on the GOD.

The God who had saved and rescued and comforted them time and time again.

The God who had given them {{given us}} His Word, His Presence, HIS SON.

The God who was and is absolutely enough.  Even in the hard.

Can we focus on that?  Can we stop grumbling about the things that we have been entrusted with and can we find something to sing about in the midst of it?

gratitude 4Like our little boy with the mouth full of cake.

And possibly a portable vacuum cleaner for my car.

:-)

Yes, thank you, God.

– Julie

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

*You can find the FREE Printable ‘We Are Thankful For You’ tags and delicious pumpkin bread recipe over at The Larson Lingo.