"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Month of Wonder: Lessons from my 40th Year

A new year - both on the calendar and in my life - makes this time of year incredibly nostalgic for me.  As I look back on 2015, my 40th year of life, I feel as though I learned many things.  Here are a few of them, posted in no particular order.

1. Less Sleep and MORE Jesus is the right answer.

Getting up at 5 am for scripture and journaling is hard.  I sometimes think a bit of sleep, and then sneaking in some Bible time later in the day would be a good idea. . . until my day begins.  When I skip my quiet time, I always regret it.  Jesus first.

2. When it comes to exercise - listen to my body.

I LOVE to exercise.  It can actually be a source of frustration because time is definitely an issue.  If I could do things as I wish, I would work out for an hour or two every day.  I would love to train for a half marathon.  HOWEVER, at this point in my life, I do not have that time.  This year I have learned to make listening to my body the priority.  Some days I have a tempo run planned, but my body is exhausted so I switch to Pilates or a short ab routine.  On an average day the most time I can allow for a workout is 20-30 minutes, some days even that is truly impossible.  I have learned to be grateful rather than greedy when it comes to exercise.  There will come a day, God-willing, that I do have time to train for a half-marathon.  Today He is calling me to different things.  He has also allowed me to care for the body He gave me in less time than I once thought possible.  Though my exercise time has been short and sporadic, I end this year stronger and leaner than I began it.  To Him be the glory, for He created me.

3. Taking care of me, CAN be a priority.

I have worked hard in the past year to take better care of myself.  I have had my hair cut regularly.  I have purchased a few outfits.  I have made taking care of me a part of our budget.  You can giggle - but this is HARD for me.  I love buying things for Chad and the kids, but spending money on me is usually much more difficult.  Funny thing, rather than being annoyed at the expense, my husband loves it.  (Imagine that, my guy wants me to look good.  Ha!)

4. God always provides.

This is a recurring theme for me.  One of my trust issues is not having enough.  I have seen God provide for us time and time again.  Some years have been very lean, others have been much more comfortable - but God has never left our side.  This year I had a huge (though short) battle with fear.  God has worked in such a beautiful way.  First He really spoke to my fear and asked me to trust Him and let go of my fear.  He clearly whispered that He had it all under His wing.  And this fall and winter I have been blown away by just how He has provided.  In July, we had next to no future work.  We have ended this year so busy I have barely seen my husband in months.  I am grateful for His very visible hand in my life.  (If you read this and His hand is not quite so visible, do not lose heart.  I have had those seasons as well.  There have been years when finances are stretched thin and jobs do not come in.  In those seasons, God has not forsaken me.  He has been there, teaching me and holding me tight.  I look back on some of those years and realize ALL that I learned.  Those were not beautiful moments.  They hurt.  If you are hurting, allow Him to hold you today.  The hard will not go on forever, and He will never leave your side during any season, no matter how lonely you feel.)

5. Silence is often best.

In this season of learning to be a mom of grown and nearly grown "kids," I pray daily that every word that escapes my mouth would glorify God.  And consequently I have spoken many fewer words this year than in any other year.  At the end of the day, I am much more often awake and anxious over words I regret than the times I remained silent.  

6. Grieve when necessary, feel emotions (even hard ones) rather than stuff them.

Becoming a grandma has been very hard for me,  BUT not for the reasons that most people would expect.  I am so proud of Krissy for having Wyatt. I love him like crazy.  I am very thankful for how well Krissy is parenting - and yet, I cringe every time anyone calls me "grandma."  Rather than stuffing those feelings and calling them inappropriate, I have been trying to unpack them.  Feelings are not right or wrong, but when they are left to fester they can become an infected mess.  My first grandchild's arrival was very different than I had ever expected  or imagined.  Because I was a new mom myself, I did not feel the same baby fever that many expectant grandmas feel.  Because I was so focused on mothering, navigating a new role has been really overwhelming.  I had always expected becoming a grandma to feel like a crowning glory, and I felt more like an exhausted warrior thn any sort of "princess" when Wyatt arrived.  None of those feelings were his fault, and allowing myself to feel them seemed like a betrayal - so I stuffed them.  I have been realizing that in order for me to fully embrace this new role, I need to grieve the difference between my expectation/hope and the reality.  The reality is Wyatt will grow up right alongside Mataya.  He will not be a spoiled grandbaby.  He will have to follow the same rules as his auntie.  BUT - he will have so much fun at our house.  We are so set up for babies.  I am home with Mataya so I will be able to do quite a lot of day care for him.  I am young and active, and we will have so much fun.  He is a gift.  And this new role is as well.  Allowing myself to grieve is freeing me to fully embrace the miracle that being a grandma is.

7.  My family IS my ministry - and that IS enough.

Most of my adult life I have been very involved in ministry outside of my home and family.  For the last two years, my sole focus has been our family.  That has sometimes felt like underachieving.  During this year God has freed me from those feelings.  THIS is what He is calling me to.  Being my husbands full time, 24/7 helpmate, a momma of 6, and a grandma of 1 IS my ministry.  For this season, that is enough.  Should the day come when He calls me to more, I will happily serve.  BUT today, whether it appears "lazy" to some or not, THIS is where He wants me to focus.

8.  Never make a decision based on fear.

(Dardi, God spoke through you on this one.)  I had no idea how often I based decisions on fear, until this last year.  I am learning to ask myself why I am making a decision.  If the answer is fear-related, I take some time to examine if that feeling of caution is wise or not.  More often than not, fear-based decisions are NOT the right ones.

If this makes it sound like I have it all figured out, that could not be further from the truth.  There are a few major issues that I have been praying over for a long time, and yet still feel unsure about how to proceed.  I read recently that "Wait training is some of the hardest training God calls us to." I could not agree more.  However, taking some time to focus on the many ways He has been teaching me, freeing me, directing me, and renewing me reminds me that He is real, working, and alive in my life.

Thank you, Father, for all the ways you have worked in my heart and home this year.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Month of Wonder: Adored

Yesterday was my birthday.  My 41st birthday.

It began as any other day - at 5am with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and my journal.  I brought Chad a bit of breakfast before he headed to work.  To my surprise and delight, Mataya slept in an hour longer than usual.  AND she woke happy!  (That is a miracle people.  She is typically a GRUMP when she wakes up.)

Joshua reminded Mataya that it was my birthday, and she insisted we find a candle.  So we made muffins.  The littles sang "Happy Birthday" and then proceeded to blow out my candle about 25 times.  They laughed gleefully.  It was precious.  
 After breakfast, they joined me in a Pilates session.  That is always a hoot.  Then Joshua volunteered to entertain Mataya while I showered.  I thought that was the best news EVER . . . until I got out of the shower and checked on them.  Joshua had found "neigh" videos on his IPAD to keep Mataya happy.  Which would have been super sweet, had the "neigh" videos been pretty much anything other than horses mating.  Happy Birthday to me. . . I got to explain all about the "birds and bees" to Joshua.  We then discussed some new search terms he could use when finding videos.  

You should have heard the teens laugh when I described this scene to them.

I took all the kids (minus Krissy and Wyatt, who were otherwise engaged) to lunch.

And then. . .
the big kids headed home with the littles, while I did a bit of shopping and checked into a hotel.

You see, my birthday wish was to take a nap, enjoy a long bath (without little people knocking on the door) and sleep all night, waking whenever I wished in the morning.  So Chad booked a hotel room with a big tub, gave me the afternoon to myself, and showed up at about 6 to take me to dinner.

I can not tell you how refreshing it was to have some time to myself.  
Quiet and unrushed.
It was powerfully beautiful.

I enjoyed time alone,

a calm, uninterrupted visit with my parents when we met for appetizers,

and a truly beautiful dinner with my beau, sitting alone in a small private dining room adorned with a fireplace.  It was magical - being rested, mind and body, allowed me to fully focus on Chad - which was a gift to us both.

Though Chad left the hotel bright and early to head to work, I slept in.  I savored my coffee and devotion time, enjoyed a cardio workout, breakfast, and shower SOLO.

I left the hotel feeling at least three years younger than when I arrived.

I also confess that I struggled with guilt as I planned this birthday.  My kids teased that all I wanted for my birthday was to "get rid of them."  As you all (hopefully) know that could not be further from the truth.  I love being a wife and mom more than anything in the world - but I was also running on empty.  I knew I needed rest and space.  I needed to recharge.  I reminded myself that Jesus went off by himself many times during his ministry on earth to rest and reconnect with His Father, and in the end, I packed my bag with great joy and anticipation.

(A side note here.  Ladies, one thing I have learned in the past couple of years is to have the grace and courage to ASK for what I desire to have.  True this birthday was dreamy - but it only happened because I chose to be vulnerable and ASK Chad (very specifically) to plan it.  He LOVES to care for me - but in the times that I hint, he has sometimes missed my clues.  At one time I was uncomfortable asking for things. I didn't want to be needy or demanding.  However, when Chad asks me what I want, he truly wants to know.  We have both received much joy from the wishes he has granted me.)
I arrived home today and received this amazing bouquet, along with hugs from a handful of kids who were very happy to see their momma.  There is no better greeting than "MOMMY!!!!!"

And no better job, for me anyway, than this one.

I sit in awe tonight of just how much adoration I feel.  
Adored by this family I serve.
And oh how I adore them.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Month of Wonder: Exhausted

Today I marvel in just how exhausted we allow ourselves to become.

I was actually exhausted to the point that I did not even fully realize how completely spent I was.

But as I allow myself to rest, I am amazed at how much sleep my body craves.

Yesterday I took a long nap on our way home from my grandma's birthday party.  And then I went to bed by 9 PM.  I got up at 5 AM like always - but this afternoon I climbed into my pajamas and allowed myself to REALLY sleep while Mataya napped.  Mataya and I finally woke up about four hours later, and I have no doubt that I will sleep well tonight.

Awesome and yet - so NOT cool!

I am pondering it tonight.
Is there a way to take better care of myself? 
I am truly unsure. . .

I realize lately that Chad and I are in an incredibly unique phase of life.  The very most intense phases of parenting are toddler-hood and teens.  We have both.  We also have a thriving business.  And a grandson that we love to have as often as his momma wants us to have him.  Life IS full.  Fatigue may just be a fact.

For today, I am thankful for much needed rest. I am certain that in His time, the Lord will show me how to better care for my body OR give me the strength and endurance for the tasks He calls me to.

"For My yoke is easy, and the burden I give you is light"
Matthew 11:29

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Month of Wonder: Patience

 Mataya's new favorite words are "helper, self, and no."
She wants to help and is so very proud of her efforts.  Allowing her to "help" can be a challenge.  Her form of "help" often makes a task take longer and require much more concentration.  It is easier when she watches.

Much easier.  

When I discovered her "helping" daddy put together her new rocking chair from Grandma and Grandpa, I expected disaster.  Daddy does not enjoy following directions.  Anyone touching his tools challenges his patience even further.  So, an over eager toddler "helping" should have been a crisis situation.

Except that it wasn't.
 Chad constructed.
Mataya touched everything.
Moved everything.
Misplaced everything.

She was so busy.
So proud.
So excited.

And to my awe and delight, her daddy just encouraged her.
There has never been a happier girl to try out her very own rocking chair,  She was all smiles and pride.  It was precious.

After all these years my husband still amazes me sometimes.  The love and patience he lavished on our baby girl today was a thing of compete beauty.  

Patience is one thing I have never prayed for because I fear if I pray for patience the Lord will put me in (even more) situations in which I can practice being patient.  (Not kidding here!)  And although I do not plan to start praying for patience, the example Chad set today of gracious, nurturing, tender, patience inspires me in a very beautiful way.

"Love is patient" came to life in our family room today.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas was. . . not what I'd hoped.

There were many moments that were fun and sweet.  Cousins playing happily.  Laughter. Yummy food.  Hugs.  Gifts.  Scripture.  Prayer.  BINGO.  Fondue. Naps.  In all honesty there was much more beauty than ugly - but sometimes my heart clings tightly to the ugly and allows it to overtake the beauty.

So, while I am still processing the ugly, I will share and thus celebrate the beauty. 

Four beauties and one "butt."  Mataya was so, so, so thrilled to play with her cousins!
Wyatt loved his first Christmas dinner - mashed potatoes, without the gravy. 
 Christmas morning snuggles.
 He may not like Santa - but he does like gifts!

Mataya was thrilled to discover her favorite -  PINK GUM!!! - in her stocking.

 I always like to have something silly in the stockings.  This year it was marshmallow blow guns.

 My guys in flannel.

Sisters choosing love. . . 
Sneaky snapshots!
I don't know who took this one - but I was thrilled to discover this fun shot of my niece, Alexa, on my camera!

Happy Birthday Jesus.  Forgive us for the moments today that did not glorify You.  We need You.  Oh, how we need You.  And I am so very thankful that You came.  In You I always have hope.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Month of Wonder: Kindness

On Thanksgiving my mom gave each of us an assignment for the month - complete one random act of kindness.  And so this month I have been concentrating, more than ever, on being kind.  Little did I know, the random act of kindness that would be most impact my heart would be directed toward ME in a most unexpected way.

Yesterday a good friend and I drove to SD to deliver some Christmas dinner baskets.  We had a great time chatting and sharing our hearts while we drove.  While I had doubted that I really had the time for this trip, it was a delight.

Until the last few blocks anyway. . .

When we were only a few blocks from my friends drop-off point, the tone of the day changed.

She was directing me, I was a bit confused.  My focus left the road and went to her so I could better understand what she was trying to convey.  And suddenly she was saying, "Oh no!  Red light!  I'm sorry!  Oh noooooo!"

And I was braking and steering and doing my best to avoid a nasty crash with a cute little red car.

Crash we did.

Thankfully it was low speed and no one was hurt.

In fact my car has very, very minimal damage.

The other lady's car looked pretty good at first glance - but somehow she had no steering so her car had to be towed.

I can not even describe how terrible I felt (and feel).  I totally messed up.  And I drove my car home.  I was barely inconvenienced.

She is out a car, until repairs can be made.


Her response to all of this was the picture of Christ.

When we got out of our cars, she walked right up to me and gave ME a hug.  I apologized and apologized.  She said, "Oh girl.  It is just a car."

I texted her this afternoon to make sure she was doing OK and that the insurance companies have been treating her well.  And her response was all kindness, forgiveness, and grace.

I keep marveling over her kindness.  And at my response to it.

I am in awe.  I am so grateful.  And yet I keep wanting to do something to deserve it.

It is undeserved.  I messes up.  I caused her stress and inconvenience.

And she has chosen to love.

It has been a beautiful example to me of the way Jesus loves me.  And it I keep telling myself to accept her kindness, forgive myself, and love others as Carolyn has loved me.

Who would have guessed that the best sermon I have heard this Christmas season came in just a few words from a sweet lady that I wronged?

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Month of Wonder: Hustle and Bustle

Most of the things that I have chosen to soak in this month have been beautiful.

But today I sit in awe of just how busy this season has become.

I walked through Walmart tonight helping Brenna get a couple of gifts for her girlfriends.  I was beyond exhausted.  I had gotten up at 4 am to work because I knew I had both babies all day and there were some work related tasks I needed to get done without their "help."  I took care of the babies all day, made supper, cleaned a few bathrooms, folded some laundry. . . you know the drill.  By 7 pm I was walking around the Super Store totally numb with fatigue.

As I walked through the store, everyone looked just like I felt.

Everyone had black circles under their eyes.  Their backs were sagging.  Their movements were slow.

And it hit me.

This is NOT what God wants Christmas to be about.




Extreme fatigue.

We have it all wrong.

So tonight I stand in awe of just how messed up I have it.

More Jesus that is ALL I need and ALL He desires of me.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Month of Wonder: My People

We celebrate Jesus' Birthday with out kids and grandson today.

It was a delightful day.

It began with coffee, my Bible, and my journal in silence.

We had a quick easy breakfast - just scrambled eggs, sausage and toast before heading to church.

When we arrived home, the girls and I snapped photos while Chad made his signature dish - cinnamon roll pancakes.

 Jamison completed some homework.
 The girls sang some Christmas carols.

 Notice Mataya's baby Jesus in the center.

I missed my Grandma so much as I listened to them sing.  She would have loved that moment.
 Miss skinny girl cracks me up!  She was a bit intimidated by the plate of food her daddy put in front of her - but she enjoyed (almost) every bite.
 Chef Chad. . . breakfast master extraordinaire.
 After brunch, I set a pretty table, finished dinner preparation, and lay Mataya down for a nap while Chad and the kids watched an episode of Star Wars.

Soon Krissy, Devin, and WYATT arrived!

 We love him!

Mataya (finally, according to Joshua) woke up - which meant present time.

The big surprise was a little ATV for Joshua.
He was very surprised and thrilled!

 He got stuck in the snow twice.
Jamison ran to his rescue.

 Wyatt (and his mom and dad) made me a "Grandma's First Christmas" ornament.  Sweet Wyatt helped me hang it.

 When I was growing up my Grandma Regner insisted on taking many photos at Christmas.  I hated it as a kid.  Now as a momma and grandma, I adore it.  It is rare to have everyone together, and photos of the day are treasures beyond compare.
 Our six.
 Our kids and grandson.

 Krissy, Wyatt, and Devin
 Me and my guy

As I sit in bed tonight, tired, yet so very grateful; I can barely believe this is my life.

I am in complete awe that THESE people are MY people.

Thank you, Jesus, is far from enough - and yet the most complete form of thanks I know how to express.

Thank You, Jesus.  Thank You.