Listening to that Still Small Voice

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Photo by hfreesartography (Creative Commons)

Wow, it’s been a while since I last posted. Sorry about that! A lot has happened in the last 4 months (yikes!). Here’s a quick little update for those of you who care:

  1. We’re pregnant! Yep…soon after my last post, I discovered that I was expecting. I am 21 weeks,and so far, everything seems to be going perfectly. Thankful.
  2. I traveled to Dallas, TX to Mary Kay’s annual Seminar. Seminar was 4 fun, exciting, and learning packed days. I had the opportunity to meet National Sales Directors, hang out with my Sales Director and her Director friends, as well as build relationships with fellow consultants. I am so thankful for this trip. (I’ll blog more about that another time)
  3. I have decided to work on being more of a morning person. Yep…if you know me, you know how much I loathe mornings. But, I have felt the Lord pulling on my heart to start my days with Him. That is what today’s post is about.

I started this blog as a way to share what I’m learning through my Quiet times, as well as other stories from my fun-filled crazy life as a stay-at-home mom. Soon enough, though, I found my Quiet times were getting further and further apart. I was just not consistent…never have been, really. In the past few months, I have been feeling a tug on my heart to truly spend time studying God’s word, praying, and listening to HIm. When was I going to do those things, though? First I thought I’d use my daughter’s nap time…but that soon proved to be ineffective. So then I thought “I’ll do it after she goes to bed at night,” but by that point most evenings, I just want to veg on the couch and pretty much do nothing. My brain has shut down for the day, and I want to spend time with my husband. Suddenly, I realized I was hearing a whisper that said “how about first thing in the morning?” Yes, the Lord was prompting me to wake up early.

Well, I’m just over 3 weeks into my new journey. How am I doing? I’ll be honest…it is TOUGH most mornings to get myself out of bed. I am finding, though, that the more consistent I am with going to bed at a decent time and getting up at the first alarm, instead of hitting snooze, the easier it becomes. I haven’t yet perfected my morning routine…but I’m figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Going to bed at midnight, then getting up at 6:00 does. not. work. To feel even remotely rested at 6:00, I have to be in bed by 10:30.
  2. Having the coffee pot ready to go the night before makes it so much easier in the morning. My grinder is LOUD. I don’t want to wake the rest of the house, so I need to grind my coffee and have it ready to go before my head hits the pillow.
  3. My 3 year old is so much sweeter, cuter, more adorable when I’ve been up a while before she gets out of bed. So many days that I’ve let her be my alarm clock have started on the wrong foot. My patience, while still not great, is better when I’m up and awake before her feet hit the floor.

What are some things you’ve come to realize as a result of listening to the nudges of the Holy Spirit in your life?

 

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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…

Photo by Angela (Creative Commons)

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.

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)?

Sorrow Before Joy

To be so early in the year, 2012 has been a roller coaster for my family.  In the past two-and-a-half months, we have had big highs and even bigger lows. A quick rundown for you:

  1.  In late December 2011, we found out we were expecting baby #2.
  2.  3 1/2 weeks later, it was mid-January. My Mamaw went into the hospital. Two days after, we went to our first OB appointment, baby measured 2 weeks behind schedule. I flipped out. Late that afternoon, my Mamaw passed away. At the end of that week, we traveled to be with family for the funeral and to say our final good-byes.
  3.  At the end of January, we went to our second OB appointment, hoping for good news. We left the appointment devastated and in shock that we will never meet our sweet baby.  We scheduled the D & C for later that week.
  4.  In early February, we headed to the hospital for the D & C. An ultrasound confirmed what we already knew…our baby stopped growing at 6 weeks gestation. At this point I totally lost it. I cried for the rest of that day, and off/on for several days to come.
  5.  Mid-February…Quitter Conference! This was a great weekend, focused on finding and chasing your dreams. We met some amazing people, and learned so much about making dreams a reality. We also had a great date night that week…which was SO needed after our January!

The end of February and first half of March have been pretty low-key, thank goodness! We have had time to really work through a lot of our emotions surrounding the miscarriage, and to begin the healing process. I’ve also been reminded that God knows my heart, my fears, and my joys. He also knows exactly what I need to remember that He is in control, not me. Last week, a family expecting their second child around the same time that I would have been due announced the gender of their baby. While I am truly excited for this family, when I read that announcement, my eyes welled up with tears. I cried uncontrollably for several minutes, grieving the loss of my own child. Once I was able to wipe the tears and “Like” the facebook announcement, I began to chuckle. You see, earlier that morning, I had told a good friend of mine that I felt like my hormones and emotions were finally starting to even out. I felt like I was finally starting to be more like myself, instead of this crazy hormonally emotional person that the pregnancy and miscarriage had created. I laughed as I realized that not only was I wrong, I had obviously been made a liar that day. It was a good reminder that I had been depending too much on my own strength in this process. I still need God every single day as I navigate my life’s journey.

I found this verse today, and though I normally post Scripture from the New American Standard Bible or English Standard Version, I really like the way The Message is worded here:

Psalm 30:5b – The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.

I LOVE that! I have definitely had a few nights (and days) of crying my eyes out this year. But now, I’m starting to see those days of laughter more and more. The Lord is good, and He is healing my broken heart as only He can.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
     and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
  to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
     to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3 (ESV) (emphasis added)

Have you ever had a night of crying your eyes out give way to a day of laughter? How has God bound your broken heart?