Thankfulness

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Are you thankful? I mean really, truly thankful? Merriam-Webster defines “Thankful” as:

1. conscious of benefit received

2. expressive of thanks

3. well-pleased : glad

This month, our church is doing a series through the book of Psalms. This morning, we focused on Psalm 71. While the Psalm does not necessarily say “Thank You” to God, the psalmist does list many of the things the Lord has done for him. It is evident through the words that this man is thankful.

At the end of today’s sermon a question was asked that resonated with my soul, and was actually quite convicting.

Are you a thankful person? Do you compliment more than you complain? Is the cry of your heart one of thanksgiving to God?

Ouch. Personally, I know that I try to live my life in a way that shows my thankfulness…but I know that I have days where I complain a lot. I pray that those days are few and far between, because when I look at my life, I have so much for which to be thankful. Here are just a few of my many blessings:

My salvation through Christ

My amazing family and friends

My handsome husband

My beautiful daughter

My home

Food to eat and clothes to wear

My church families – from all of the churches I have been privileged to be a part

The list could go on.

What are 3 things for which you are thankful today?

Challenge for the week: Let’s try to compliment more than we complain.

Mom…

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This Sunday is Mother’s Day. I’ll be honest and say that my family really doesn’t do much to celebrate this particular holiday (or the dad’s equivalent next month), but that doesn’t mean that we don’t love the moms in our lives. Here are just a few things about my mom that make her special:

  • She loves my sister & me unconditionally. Even when we did the dumbest things, we knew that she would still love us. Sure…she would dole out the appropriate discipline, but I never once doubted her love
  • She was willing to discipline us when we messed up. If that meant we didn’t get to play with friends, missed out on driving privileges, got grounded from all activities other than church and school, or received a spanking. If my mom said “If you do that one more time, you’re going to _______”, we got whatever was at the end of that sentence.
  • She let us be kids…even when it meant we made a mess or broke something. I vividly remember that we had these HUGE pillows (I have no idea where they came from or what their intended purpose was). I used those pillows as my gymnastics landing mats, as I did flips and jumps off the stairs, couches, or floor. One day, while doing a handstand against the wall, my hands slipped out from under me and my rear end went through (yes, through) the wall. There was a giant hole in the wall…much bigger than my behind. Sure…my mom was upset…but if I remember correctly, she also laughed once she knew I was OK.
  • My mom still lets me call her “Mommy”. At almost 34 years old, “mom” just doesn’t fit…
  • My mom was my parent when I was a child, and now that I’m an adult, and a mom, she is my friend.
  • I haven’t even begun to calculate the hours I know she spent praying for us, with us, and over us. And the example she set in living out her faith.
Thanks, Mommy, for being you. I’ve always been, and always will be a “Mommy’s-girl” at heart. 🙂

What about your mom? In the comments, tell me something that makes your mom special.

Patience for my Mommy Heart

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Have you ever prayed for patience, then regretted it as soon as the words came out of your mouth? I have. Why? Because I know that the way the Lord teaches me patience is by putting me smack in the middle of a situation that requires patience.

Just the other day, we decided to start Potty Training, Round 2 with our 2 1/2 year old. The night before our 3-day journey began, my husband prayed that God would give me patience through the process. I very audibly, and very irreverently, sighed “Great“. After the prayer was over, I looked at him and asked if he knew what he had done. I truly believed he’d set us up for MAJOR failure on day one.

I am SO thankful to say that I was wrong. I honestly don’t know if God gave me an extra dose of patience that day, or if day one was truly not as in-need of patience as I expected. I do know that throughout the process, I have been able to catch myself pre-loss-of-patience, then refocus and move on. That has been a HUGE blessing to me…and I’m sure to my daughter as well.

I do believe that my daily Scripture reading has been an important part of my increased patience through this process. Almost every morning, it seems I am waking up before my daughter. As I lie in bed, mentally preparing myself for the day to come and trying to pry my eyes open, I turn on my iPod, open the Bible app, and read 4 chapters from the Psalms. And every single day, it seems that there is one verse, sometimes two, that jumps out at me. Usually something about God being my salvation, redeemer; or about His love and peace… I am so thankful for His reminders every morning!

A few of my favorite verses from the last few days (taken from the English Standard Version):

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Why I Need Community

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Community. What is it? Do we need it? Why?

To me, community is a group of people with whom I can truly be myself. It is that small circle of friends where we can share our deepest hurts, our greatest joys, our smallest details, and our biggest mistakes…all in the safety that comes from knowing we’ll be loved no matter what.

Do we need community? My answer to that question is a resounding YES! I believe every single person needs community in their lives. Why? Because we all need to know that no matter what happens, we are loved, valued, and encouraged. We need a place where we can be true to our broken, imperfect selves.

I wear a mask that says I have it all together. I am a Christ-follower, wife, mom, daughter, friend, sister. I am a Mary Kay Consultant, former teacher and tutor, dreamer, blogger, family chef, and potty-trainer. I want people to think all of these areas of my life are GREAT! Unfortunately, reality paints a different picture. My house is a mess, my laundry is piled high waiting to be folded. My doubts and fears stop me from pursuing my dream. I yell and cry when I’m angry, clam up when I’m sad. I am far from perfect…and I’d venture to guess you are, too.

This is why community is so important! My community of close friends knows my imperfections, and they love me anyway. They know my strengths, and support me as I use them to serve God and others. These friends also know my weaknesses, and encourage me as I step out of my comfort zones and do things I’m not necessarily good at. They are people I can turn to when I have messed up. They may even be the ones to point out my brokenness, and that’s OK because I know they will also be the people used by God to help put me back together.

Community does not require us to be perfect, it simply requires that we be present. 

What about you…why is community important in your life?

Take a Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

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I’m an introvert. ISFP according to this free test. I actually scored really heavily on the Introvert side of the scale (74%), so doing anything with people I don’t know is really hard for me. Sometimes, though, it can be a really good thing for me to take a step out of my comfort zone. This past weekend, I took a HUGE step by going to the (in)courage (in)RealLife meet-up (also known as (in)RL) in Nashville. When I left my house, I did not know a single other person who would be there, even though my hubby knew of 2 of his blogging friends who were also going.

The (in)RL event was on Friday and Saturday. Friday was a webcast, shown 4 times throughout the day, and Saturday’s event was the meet-up. As much as I tried, my schedule did not allow me to watch the webcast during any of the 4 showings on Friday (thankfully they kept the link up through the weekend). I never did get to watch all of the webcast because our internet decided to be extra S.L.O.W. on Saturday when I finally had the chance to watch. Because of that, I am so thankful that Dayspring will be releasing a DVD of all the videos and a companion workbook in a couple of weeks (you can sign up to be notified when they’re available here).

On Saturday evening, I left the house with a lot of anxiety about the night. It was my understanding that Nashville had the largest of the (in)RL meet-ups worldwide. Would I meet people? Would I make a total fool out of myself trying to talk to a stranger? Was there going to be forced conversation (you know the type: Find 4 people you don’t know and ask them these 3 questions.)? Or, would it be easy to meet people, find things to talk about, and feel comfortable? When I found the church where the meet-up was taking place, I parked & got out of my car, not knowing which door I should go in. Thankfully, I found another woman wandering, obviously looking for the (in)RL event (the boxes of donuts she carried were my clue!). Together, we found the right door, and conversation started easily. I ended up meeting 2 other women (both of whom my hubby had told me would be there).

I admit it took me the first 30-45 minutes to really feel comfortable in the room full of women that I didn’t know, but once I let my guard down, God really used the night to speak to me about community. In my next post, I’ll explore the importance of community in our lives.

In the mean time, what does the word “Community” mean to you (other than a TV show)?

10 Books I Love, 1 I Hate, and 7 I Want To Read

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I  love to read. Books, magazines, blogs…you name it, I will probably read it. I was the kid that sat in the  backseat on long car rides reading the entire time (or at least until it got so dark that I couldn’t read  anymore). I have always loved the way a book can take you to another place, give you better understanding  of a topic, or even help you learn more about yourself. As I’ve gotten older, my love for the written word has  not diminished, but sadly the amount of time I give myself to read seems to have shrunk. Even though I don’t  read as much as I’d like, I would love to share some of my favorite books with you.
  1. A book that changed your life: The Bible, still changing my life! You’re Already Amazing (Holley Gerth), Same Kind of Different as Me (Ron Hall & Denver Moore)
  2. Books you’ve read more than once: Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers) Tons of kids’ books (The Very Hungry CaterpillarBark GeorgeThe Little Engine that CouldLittle Quackthe list goes on. I am the mother of a 2 year old and a former K-2 teacher!)
  3. One book you’d want on a desert island: The Bible
  4. A book that made you laugh: No David!
  5. A book that made you cry: Redeeming Love – made me laugh, cry, angry, and everythign in between!!
  6. One book you wish had been written: Wow…that’s a tough one! I honestly have no idea!
  7. One book you wish had never been written: Walden, (Henry David Thoreau). I had to read it in college, and was seriously bored to tears. Immaturity or is it really that boring?
  8. Books you’re currently reading: You’re Already Amazing (Holley Gerth), What Women Fear (Angie Smith)
  9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Just one?? My Kindle has a “Books to Read” folder. Currently in that folder are: The Fitting Room (Kelly Minter), Erasing Hell (Francis Chan), Forgotten God (Chan), A Confident Heart (Renee Swope), The Holiness of God (RC Sproul), Leota’s Garden (Francine Rivers), 31 Days to Clean (Sarah Mae). I probably should add a little fiction to that list…

OK, so I know some of you are readers. What are you currently reading? I am always looking for additions to my “Books to Read’ list!

My Three Most Important Things

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ending to my post about awkward sales pitches. In the last paragraph of that post, I said:

“I want the women I approach to see passion, hope, and joy in my eyes. I want them to see a woman who, even if she’s running errands with her  two year old, is composed, confident, and approachable.”

Followed shortly by:

“It is an experience that has given me confidence and has helped me to grow as a wife and mom. I’ve gained friendships and been pushed out of my comfort zones. I’ve learned to think positively about life, and to laugh off some of the stressful days (OK, so I’m not always laughing in the midst of the stress, but usually a day or two later, I can look back and laugh about how stressed I was over something so minor). Because of those things, I don’t want to be a walking sales pitch. I want to share the joy I’ve found with other women!”

I’ve realized that I said these things about my Mary Kay business, but am I able to say the same things about my relationship with Christ? You see, even before Mary Kay became a part of my life, Jesus came into my life. And my relationship with Him should be so much more important to me than anything else. In fact, I’m even encouraged to run my business with the mindset of God first, Family second, and Career third. The strong Christian values are one of the things that drew me to Mary Kay when I began looking for a small work-from-home business. However, as I sit here typing this today, reflecting on my life and priorities, I have to wonder…am I really living out God first, Family second, Career third? I’ll be honest, I think I tend to put my Family first, and then let God and Career flip-flop for second and third position.

So, today, I’m making a commitment. I am going to spend time every. single. day reading Scripture, praying, and listening to what God has for me. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, that’s more than I’m doing every day right now. Then, I’ll keep my Family in second place, and focus on my Career last.

Question: How do you keep your priorities in the proper order?