Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Don't Give Up To Soon

When I look back over the past 20 years or so, I can think of so many different times where God has fulfilled His promises to me. Some specific examples include healing my back, selling our home, working things out with our new home, and providing what we needed to homeschool. There are many more examples too but those stick out in my mind because each of those took a great deal of time....at least in my opinion (my very impatient opinion).

So why do I so quickly give up now when I'm waiting on God to act in a situation? Why am I so quick to get frustrated and fearful that He has forgotten me? He has proven to me that He keeps His Word and He has a better plan but for some reason, I have a hard time remembering that when during the waiting.

On Sunday a friend at church shared something that really struck me. She read Matthew 17:20 which says, "And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you."  

She explained that the Greek translation of "littleness" is brief. So while we only need faith the size of a mustard seed, which is really very tiny, Jesus does want our faith to have longevity.  We often have enough faith but it doesn't last. The miracle doesn't happen as quickly as we want it to or the answer isn't exactly what we thought it would be and we just give up. Jesus wants us to keep asking, keep believing, and keep trusting. He wants us to be in it for the long haul. 

This explanation of Matthew 17:20 really speaks to me because I know I have faith, even if it is as small as a mustard seed, the faith is there. So why doesn't the mountain move when I ask it to? Now I know, its because Jesus is teaching me not to give up too soon. My faith wouldn't have longevity if my prayers were always immediately answered. And truthfully, the most important thing about this journey is the relationship...not just getting what I want.

Today I am grateful for this lesson on faith that's in it for the long haul. It's so easy for us to give up, but having enduring faith is something that grows us and causes us to focus on the main thing! I am also thankful for a different perspective on a verse I've read a thousand times. It's funny how you can read something for years and never really understand it but once you do, it changes everything! God's Word is alive and this is a prime example of that!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

14 years later...

June 5, 2004 was one my favorite days! I had been dating this handsome fella for 8 years...yes, eight! Marrying him was something I dreamed of for 8 years, too.  Fourteen years ago today that dream came true. 

I always love looking at our wedding pictures on our anniversary. Today I decided to look at our honeymoon pictures, too. Oh, we were so young!! Just babies! We had so many dreams and plans but had no clue what that God had in store for us. His plans have been better than anything we could have imagined. 

These pictures capture our excitement and love for one another, don't you think? 

I wonder what those two young people would say if they had been told they would one day have 4 kids! Or that they would homeschool those kids! I know that I would have laughed at both of those statements! It wasn't in our plans to homeschool four kids! God's way is so good. I wouldn't want it any other way now!

Today I am grateful for the fourteen years Bryan and I have enjoyed together and I look forward to many, many more. I am also thankful for the plans God has had for us. His ways are so much better! 14 years later, I can honestly say that young couple had so much to look forward to! And I truly believe the best is yet to come!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Celebrating Our Joy-Bringer

Exactly one year ago today God completed our family with the most precious baby girl ever. With each passing month she has gotten more and more lovable. She is the princess around here and we wouldn't have it any other way! She loves her brothers and they love her so much they fight over who gets to sit beside of her, who gets to feed her, who gets to play with her, who gets to dress her, and so on. With this precious girl in our lives, our home has been happier than ever. She was the missing piece to our puzzle and we're so grateful to have her in our family!

This evening we decided to celebrate Allison's 1st  birthday with some fun activities that she hasn't gotten to do before!

Toddler Play Area!
First time on a slide!

Walking with Daddy!

Choo Choo!!!!!
First time riding the train.
As a birthday treat, Allison got her own bowl of ice cream!

She enjoyed it and made quite the mess!

First time on a Carousel!

This is Allison's birthday gift from our family. It's a Rocking Owl.
Her room is full of owls!
The boys loved making birthday cards for Allison and giving them to her.
She loved all of their attention!

Today I am grateful for this precious girl, Allison Elizabeth Shaw. Several months ago Bryan and I asked God to give us words that describe who He created Allison to be. One of the words He gave us was, "joy-bringer." A few days later, without talking to us about it, Evan was talking to Allison and said directly to her, "God said you're a joy-bringer!"  That confirmed it in my heart! God created Allison to be a joy-bringer!!! And THAT SHE IS! She has brought so much joy to our family and to anyone she comes in contact with! Her joy and smile are contagious. She is such a gift! I am also thankful for the ability to celebrate this baby girl together as a family. We're having a big party on Saturday but tonight was a great time for our complete family of 6 to celebrate our joy-bringer!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Growing and Learning Together

Over the past several months something new has started happening in our home. Evan has always boldly prayed for healing anytime someone is sick or hurt but recently, Tyson has started doing this also! This 3 year old says the most precious prayers in his tiny little voice! He also asks for prayer anytime he doesn't feel well or gets a booboo. Tonight Tyson stumped his toe and he said, "The floor hit my foot, Mom." I asked him if he was ok and he replied, "I will be after you pray for me."

I love his faith! I love his desire to run immediately to the Father!

Dylan has also matured spiritually over the past few months. It is amazing to watch God working in his life. Earlier tonight he told us that God wanted him to pray for Bryan's back or arm so he asked Bryan if his back or arm had been hurting. Bryan's shoulder has been bothering him at night so of course, Dylan quickly prayed for complete healing in his dad's shoulder. He was so happy that he had listened to God's prompting!

Recently I've had plantar fasciitis in my left foot. For a few days it was terrible. I couldn't walk without wearing a boot and even then, I was in constant pain. Plantar fasciitis typically takes weeks or months to heal. I've been dealing with the pain for a little over a week. We've been praying as a family, some children prayed over my foot at church on Sunday, my homeschool co-op friends have been praying and today, the pain has decreased greatly! I was able to wear a regular shoe! I was expecting to be dealing with this for months, just because thats typical but God is healing my foot and I fully believe its because of all the earnest prayers my family and friends.

Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17

That verse is the memory verse for the kids at church currently. I absolutely love it! Nothing is too hard for our God! That is a promise and its one we can hold on to! My kids believe this, that is why they have no problem asking God boldly for healing! They know it is easy for God to do something so incredible! 

Today I am grateful for the ways my children are growing in Jesus! There is nothing more important to me than them growing into the people God created them to be and walking closely with Him. I pray this over them often and He is faithful! He is leading them, guiding them, and speaking to them! I am also grateful for the example they are setting for me. As a child I never prayed boldly, so now I find myself doubting at times or worrying about all the what-ifs when I pray. My children are teaching me to talk to God without any hindrance. Just pure belief that my prayer is heard and my Father is at work, always. I want to pray like my kids do! How amazing is it that we are all learning and growing in Jesus, together!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"Not Your Average Co-op"

Today was the last meeting of the semester for our new co-op, Students of the Spirit. It's hard to believe the semester is already over! It seems like only yesterday this co-op was just an idea God had placed in my mind.  It's hard to believe it came to fruition and has been such a success! 

At last week's meeting all of the homeschool moms were asked to anonymously write down things they liked and/or disliked about the co-op. Also to share things they would like to see being done differently or things that need to be added to the co-op. I've had the chance to read all of their notes and I have to say, I am so incredibly grateful that God has blessed our homeschool community with this new co-op and that He has allowed me to be the leader of it. Check out the sweet things these mommas said....

When I began praying over and planning this co-op, all I knew for certain is that I didn't want this to be a typical co-op. I wanted it to be something special, led by the Holy Spirit, and a gift for the families involved. With help from some very special people at HopeCity, the "not your average co-op" I had dreamed of came to life. You can tell by the notes above that Students of the Spirit has been a sweet blessing to so many of us.

It warms my heart so much to know that SOS is providing an environment of life where children are encountering God, growing healthy relationships with other children, getting fed spiritually and diving deeper in the Word. The moms feel they are getting as much out of the co-op as the kids are, which is incredible! Homeschool moms need something like this! 

While many of these ideas have been mine and I have spent time organizing everything for the co-op, God has done all of this! It's been my honor to be a part of it and watch the Holy Spirit use it to bless the 44 children who have attended this semester, and their families. I could have never guessed how amazing it would be! I am abundantly grateful for Students of the Spirit, for the families that have been a part of it, and for the all the ways our children have grown this semester! I can't wait to see what the future holds!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

For all the Mommas...

This morning, while worshiping during our 11:00 church service, God gave me a vision.  Now don't think I'm crazy. I know a lot of folks don't believe God gives people visions these days but Joel 2:28 says, " I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." God doesn't discriminate so if a young man can see a vision, so can a 30-something woman. Not only did he share this vision with me, He wants me to share with it others....other mothers specifically.

As I was singing this morning I began thinking about Mother's Day and what it really means to be a mother. How does God see mothers? Suddenly, it was as if God drew a picture in my mind. It was so clear and so vivid. I immediately knew He was showing me how He sees those He has called to be moms. I say calling because that is exactly what I felt Him say...that each one of us with children, whether they came from our bodies or not, have been called into this position. It was not by chance. God chose us. He called us to be mommies.

I tried to draw the vision He gave me but I'm no artist so my attempts just weren't doing it for me. I am often touched by nature and learn so much from God's creations so I began looking online for a photo that might capture the vision. Within seconds I found it. THIS is the vision He gave me.

"There the owl nests and lays and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow." Isaiah 34:15

My mind was filled with a mother owl wrapping her large wings around her owlets. This is how God sees me as a mom, and you also, if you are a mom. He has called us to wrap our arms around the little ones He has given us. He didn't call us to be perfect. He didn't call us to never make mistakes. He called us to wrap our children in love and protection as they begin their journey on this earth. I also saw the owl begin to move forward, sort of pushing her little ones in front of her. I believe God was saying, "I have called you to guide them, to encourage them, and lead them to Me."

I quickly began thinking about how the Enemy lies to us as mothers. He tells us we aren't good enough, we aren't doing enough, we aren't equipped, we fail constantly, we are unorganized and waste time, we aren't smart enough, we aren't courageous enough, we're full of fear and hatred, and we're doing this all alone. Then my thoughts included my friends who are single moms, moms dealing with sickness, widowed moms, and those that have fallen short as a mother in the past. I felt sadness creep in because all of us, for one reason or another, feel as though we aren't worthy of the calling or capable of all that it demands. In response God says, "NO, I created YOU for this. You are exactly what they need you to be."

As soon as that thought was completed, the vision morphed into something more. It sort of zoomed out, like a video. Suddenly the mother owl wasn't the only one sheltering the babies. There was a much bigger, more lovely, more powerful owl with his wings completely sheltering the mother and her babies. 

While I couldn't find the exact image I envisioned, this one is very close. Doesn't it immediately make you think of Psalm 91:4? It says, "He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection."

We walk through this season of life thinking that we're doing this motherhood thing by ourselves. We are often totally oblivious to the Ultimate Parent that is right here with us, protecting us and guiding us, just as He has called us to do for our children. We put so much emphasis on our performance as mothers and we listen to the lies Satan is continuously whispering. But what we need to do is look up and fix our eyes on the One who is in this with us. Let's face it, we're going to have bad days and we're going to mess up, but He will still be right there guiding, loving, and protecting us as we guide, love, and protect our children.

This vision has been on my mind all day. I scrolled through Facebook this afternoon and I asked God how He sees the moms in my feed. As face after face popped up on my screen, words kept coming to my mind. This is how He sees you fellow mothers, my friends.

Strong, brave, able, powerful, equipped, blessed, bolstered, gentle, capable, bold, willing, fierce, movable, wise, fun, beautiful, teachable, faithful, trustworthy, cherished, joyful, determined, warrior.

Today I am grateful for this vision, for myself but also for other moms that feel anything but equipped. We are equipped because of Him. He has called us and has given us all that we need. Most importantly, He will never, not even for a second, leave us to do this mothering thing alone. Even in the potty training, the non-stop bickering, and the drama-filled teenage years, He will be there. We might miss the mark, but He won't. I am also thankful for the little ones He has entrusted to me, to wrap my arms around and guide as they begin their lives in this crazy world. What a sweet gift it is to be their momma.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Allison's First Tea!

As a Mother's Day celebration, my mom and I like to go to the O'Henry hotel for afternoon tea. It is always so much fun. This year was our first time bringing Allison along. She was absolutely amazed by everything going on. She was such a pleasure to enjoy the afternoon with. She loved the food and  made this tradition so much fun!  

She's ready!!! Doesn't she look pretty in her sundress?

Mommy and Allison, ready for Mother's Day tea!

Allison's first tea!

The tea was wonderful.

The food is always amazing too!

Allison loved the macaroon.

Look at that smile!

Allison loves her Nana!

How big is Allison?

Today I am grateful for fun traditions. My mom and I started going to afternoon tea on Mother's day weekend several years ago. It's always been fun but I have to say, having Allison along this year made it even better! I'm excited about continuing this tradition for years and years to come! I am also thankful for special memories. My mom and I will always remember how special today was! We've waited years to have another girl in the family to bring along so today's tea will be one we're sure never to forget!

Don't Give Up To Soon

When I look back over the past 20 years or so, I can think of so many different times where God has fulfilled His promises to me. Some spec...