Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A letter to the real you on one of those days...

Dear sister,

You know, I get that you are thinking you don't have much to offer, much to give, much to say.

I know that you have lived with fear as a monkey on your back, drowning in all those what ifs and if onlys.

I know how you are tired and work-worn and sometimes you feel invisible, like you just kind of blend in with the finger paint on your walls and the dust bunnies collecting in corners and the chipped paint in the kitchen.

I know you just want to be understood and when he thinks like a waffle and you think in spaghetti, that's a tall order.

I know you feel like you spend more time reprimanding your kids than maybe the mom next door or all the moms in your zip code and how does one go about not doing that because you can't let them run amok. Or can you?

I know you want to stop living in your head and running over every comment and conversation you have or haven't had so they go according to plan or so you can fix them so they go according to plan.

I know you want to have community and deep friendships that make you laugh and won't look at you funny when all that laughing frees up all those tears that might be stockpiled.

I know how you second guess every thing you do or say because you are afraid of what someone might think or say and you don't want to make someone uncomfortable or say words you can't unsay because you know how words have power.

I know how you have this idea of what a perfect mom or a perfect wife or a perfect Christ follower is in your head and probably only half of it is actually correct and the other half is just your perception which is hardly ever accurate.

I know how you work zealously, faithfully, tirelessly to make sure all your ducks are in a row, maybe a crooked row, a very crooked row, but they're there and they're standing, so it's a row.

I know how sometimes there's just so much noise and so many little people talking all at once all over each other and then the dog poops all over the floor and someone spills a cup of milk and you feel like your head might just explode into a thousand pieces and you somehow hold it all together because if your head explodes, who will clean the spilled milk?

But do you know...

...that everything you do for the least of these matters. Means something. Imparts some piece of heaven into eternity. That every tear you dry and nose you help blow or shoe you tie or mess you clean up or laundry you fold or dinner you feed...every single mundane, seemingly meaningless humdrum task you do, day in and day out, matters. It so matters. It matters to HIM.

...that sometimes you just need to take a load off. Seriously. Unburden your shoulders of the to do list and just shift the burden to Jesus.  Busyness is not a fruit of the Spirit. On the seventh day of Creation, God invented the notion of rest. So perhaps we should follow His example. It's okay. Everything will still be there when you're done resting, but it won't feel so overwhelming. So just rest for a minute. Or five.

Or maybe ten.

...that all those things that maybe irk you about the husband are the very same things that you fell in love with all those years ago...find the space in your heart to remember why and choose to love those pesky, irksome things again.

...that breathing is good. Deep breathing is better. And if you are focused on deep breathing then it's really hard to yell at the same time. So let the kids run amok. You just keep deep breathing. They will still be there when you feel like you can be constructive instead of destructive.

...that your community is a phone call, a text, an email away. We can't all sit around waiting to be pursued by friends, sometimes you have to make the effort, the contact, and take the risk. Sweet sister, be bold. Be brave.

...that God has imparted His Spirit into you. So it serves to reason that He gives you wisdom to share at certain times to certain people. When you second guess yourself in that moment, you are believing a lie. Again, be brave. Where He has put you, who He has near you--it's all because He'd like to use you right there whether it's in the grocery store or the doctor's office or at the park. Trust and obey.

...that comparison and competition are not fruits of the Spirit.  They breed discontent because you suddenly like someone else's gifts or body or personality or lifestyle more than your own.  You forget how you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and He made you just exactly how you are. He loves all your little quirks and all your faults and foibles because He knows that if you'd just let all these imperfections go straight into the hands of Jesus, He'd draw you so close and you'd know that His power is made complete in our weakness.

...that comparison and competition also breed fear. You start looking other places for affirmation and direction instead of to the One who loves you just as you are. And that constant search takes your focus off Jesus and that's when you start to second guess yourself and talk yourself out of things that might change your life. Or someone else's life.

...that your what ifs and if onlys might never actually come to fruition. So spend your time, your days and ways living in the now, living in this moment. Choose faith over fear. Say it out loud. "I choose faith over fear." Don't borrow trouble because it's energy spent on the hypothetical that you could invest in the now.

...that Jesus always know where your ducks are, even if you don't. Just keep doing the thing He's asked you to do until He points you in a different direction. When you need your ducks, He'll make sure you have them. And along the way, you might find you don't need those ducks as much as you thought.
You just need Jesus.

...that all this noise and these little people tripping under your feet and tripping you out won't always be there. One day it'll be so so quiet and you'll wish for all this noise. So maybe just be in this moment, in every moment. Because these moments won't pass you by again. They are your ministry. All of this noise and chaos and laundry and dishes and teeth that need brushing and booboos that need band-aids. This is what matters because this is where you are. 

...that you are beautiful. You should remember that when you're having a fat day or a no shower day or a bad hair day. Because those are not the measure of your beauty. Your heart is. And sister, your heart is lovely.

...that His mercies are new every morning. And if you need to claim new mercies every hour, I'm sure He won't keep a tally.

...that His grace is abundant, extravagant, immense. And it's for you. Drink from the ocean of His grace and be at peace. Even when they're throwing cereal to the dog and the sink is overflowing and you can't find any pair of shoes that actually match for any of your children and there's a million Lego pieces all over the floor and the baby had a blowout as you were walking out the door. Sister, be at peace.

And then maybe laugh.

Grace Always Rises,

P.S. Sweet sister-friends, I am linked up today with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heart. Join me for some encouragement.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

When the princess burps

When the princess she still a princess?
Does she suddenly lose her princess-ness because her behavior doesn't match her title?
Is she somehow less than a princess?

My friend was getting married. This, of course, necessitated a new sparkly dress which I found for a steal at one of my favorite stores.  When the big day arrived and it was time for me to get ready, I had three small visitors lounging on my bed as I carefully laid my dress out,
and they touched reverent fingers to all those shining sparkles.
And then as I stepped into my sparkly dress, those sweet girls oohed and aahed at the cascade of sparkles  that settled around my shoulders and down to my knees.  And they were so excited that mama was in a princess dress that I had to send them downstairs so I could have some peace and a little bit of quiet.  As  they begrudgingly scampered down the stairs, I heard their silly chatter waft back up and my heart smiled  because it's good for a girl to think her mama's a princess too sometimes.

I hightailed it out to the car, carefully positioning me and all my spangles in the seat. 
My three little people smiled wide grins beneath bright eyes at me and my dress and I smiled wide right back because sometimes when you see yourself through the eyes of your little people, you feel just a little bit invincible and a whole lot of loveliness.

My sweet K said, "Mama you sure look just like princess."
I glanced back and smiled, "Thank you sweet girl."
I love her.

I completed my maneuvering, carefully arranged the seat belt around all the sparkles, 
and then I burped. 
Out of the blue. No warning. No pause of breath to lead up to it. No pressure in my chest. Nothing.
It just came out of its own accord. And I have to admit I may have surprised myself a little.
 I heard a gasp from behind me. A very large, collective gasp that was a 
harmonic compilation of three distinct voices.

"Mama! Princesses do NOT burp!" K stated emphatically, disbelievingly, shocked. 
I turned to look in the back seat, a little sheepish over my accidental faux pas. 
And as my gaze swept over to R, I saw her already big brown eyes grow exponentially rounder as she, too, was aghast at my unprincess-like behavior. 
Even the Eldest was looking at me with incredulity in her face.
What's a mama-who-was-a-princess-and-now-is-banished-from-princessdom to do?
 I laughed.

But what if she was right--princesses probably do NOT burp. 
Especially in front of others. 
 In my mind I hold the same standard for princesses as my girls. 
Granted, our standards may be slightly biased by the 
profusion of Disney princesses that grace our DVD shelf, but still...
They have perfect, princess-like manners. 
They do not burp or break wind.
They do not interrupt or run through halls.
They do not shout in church or steal books from the library.
They always flush the toilet and they never leave their clothes on the floor.
Princesses are gracious and kind and genteel.
Until they burp in public and then all bets are off.

But does a princess's behavior change her princess status?
Does her proper princess behavior make her more of a princess?
Or is she a princess despite her behavior?

So I started thinking.

We are daughters of the Most High God. He calls us His Beloved. 
Our names our etched on the palm of His hand.

But do we live that way? Do we act that way? Do we believe it into the warp and weft of our very beings and let it saturate every cell until we don't just know it, we know it?

I confess...I don't very often.

I don't live every day like I'm the daughter of a King, a princess of a King.
But it doesn't make me any less His daughter, any less a princess.

I don't live every day like I'm His Beloved.
But it doesn't make me any less His Beloved.

I don't live every day confident that the God of all Creation sees me. Knows me. Loves me.
But my doubt and disbelief don't make it any less true.

I don't live every day knowing that I'm secure because my name is etched on the palm of His hand.
But it doesn't make my name any less inscribed. It doesn't make me any less known to my Creator.

I don't live every day exemplifying proper-Kingdom-princess behavior 
which is vastly different from proper Disney princess behavior
(that would be living each moment the way Jesus would want me to--I make mistakes. A LOT of them.)
But He doesn't kick me out of His Kingdom or disown me or find a replacement for me.
He loves me in spite of my faults and scoots me closer to His throne and gently reminds me of who He is and thus who I am so next time maybe I'll remember.

I'm so thankful we serve an immutable, unchangeable God. I'm so thankful He's not governed by emotions or behaviors, but that He's governed by His truths which are rooted in His Word which was breathed from His spirit into the hands of His servants who faithfully wrote it down. I'm so thankful that my transient ways and my frenetic emotions and my unsavory behaviors don't change the truth of who I am in Him, or who He has made me to be, or how He sees me.

I'm so grateful.

And while I'd like nothing better than to live every day living in the truth, I know that takes more of Jesus, more of His truth, more of His love, more of loving like Him.

And if on occasion, this princess burps, well, maybe it makes Him laugh too.

Grace Always Rises,

P.S. I'm linked up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart today. Stop by to be encouraged.