Saturday, August 20, 2016

The ONLY "Secret Trick" To Surviving Through Your Season

I have been ruminating on a recurring thought lately.

Most of you know I deal with anxiety, and most of you know, whether you deal with anxiety or not, that there are several factors that can affect the outcome of a day for an anxious person.

  1. Food
  2. Sleep
  3. Exercise

But even if I do all the things I know I need to do to keep a clear mind and focus (get a good night's sleep, limit my caffeine, don't eat sugar or processed foods, and get a great workout in) , it isn't fool-proof.  I am still going to have days where I wake up at the top of my mental threshold and feeling as though the anxiety has already sucked all the air out of my lungs before my feet even hit the ground.

This is a daily battle for me.

There are other battles that wage war on my Joy and Peace as different seasons come and go.

Maybe for you it is dealing with your teenagers and the choices they are making.  Or maybe it is the kid(s) who will NOT stay in bed to save his life at bedtime (for the LOVE, STAY.IN.BED!).  Here's another one, maybe you are in a season where everything in your house keeps breaking (because we all know that appliances have a secret way of communicating when it's time to all go out together), or your savings and emergency fund are dwindling by the day, or you can't find a job, or your health is on the brink, or that guy you were dating turns out to be yet another loser.  Maybe life is just too crazy or the to-do list won't stop growing and life seems to be swallowing you whole.

"Don't worry," I confidently remind myself  my friends "it's just a season."  "You'll get to the other side, I promise."

With which we then go into our list of helps that may get our friend (or ourselves) through that season.

Two thoughts come to mind after catching myself repeat this phrase:

1 - What if God doesn't say "yes" to taking you out of this season?  What if The LORD has you in this spot for the rest of your life?  What then?

What if I struggle with anxiety for the rest of my entire life (which is potentially a pretty accurate conclusion, seeing as how I've dealt with it since I was 4 years old)?

2 - What exactly do we think is on the other side anyway?

Yes, we might have a brief season of rest, but that rest is only to fill us up again and prepare us for the next season.  There is ALWAYS going to be another season, even if God is gracious enough to lift us out of the previous one.

If we are just living to get through our current circumstances, believing that the other side is where all the joy and contentment are, then we are sorely misguided and will be extremely devastated when we realize that the stressors of life are exactly the same, just packaged differently in another season, on the other side.

We have neglected to see life through Eternity's eyes.

I am reading a book called Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman where she writes:

"But these temporary helps cannot compare to the hope that we receive from considering the real long view.  The real long view is actually longer than we think.  It wasn't at the end of the ark's voyage atop miles of water.  It wasn't at the end of Sarah's barrenness.  It wasn't at the end of the Hebrews' Egyptian slavery.  It was't at the end of the conquest of Canaan.  It wasn't at the dedication of the temple.  It wasn't at the beginning of the exile' return, temple construction, or wall restoration.  The long view is not at the end of this no-good, terrible day.  Or at the end of this magically brilliant day.  It's not at the end of five years or seventy-five years.  Or five hundred years.  The long view stretches past whatever earthly ideas we have into a vision of a new world, into eternity and the new earth.  Contrary to popular opinion, when we mothers take this long view, we actually become so heavenly minded that we are of immense earthly good today.  If we want to get technical, we should say that the real long view is not actually even heavenly minded - it's new-earthly minded. We're looking forward to the consummated new creation.  Being new-earthly minded corrects our Season Obsessive Disorder.  It corrects our nearsightedness and returns our vision to God's mission to glorify his name in all the earth."

I don't know about you, but I needed to read this today.  I needed to be reminded of the LONG VIEW.  Of the WHOLE STORY!

So often I get stuck trying to parent through my current "season" with the END of that season in mind rather than eternal perspective on my lips.

Only eternal perspective will give me the grace, patience and love that I need to parent well.  Only eternal perspective will give me the contentment in the NOW.  Only eternal perspective will give me the compassion, generosity and boldness I need to share.

By all means, DO the things in your power to help get you through your current season, but don't neglect to place eternity on the horizon.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" 
 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mmmm: Sweet Potato and Chicken Sauté

I haven't written a "Minimalist Meals for Many Mouths" post in quite a while, but last night's dinnertime #win was worth a repeat and a blog post.

Josh and I are wrapping up a 41 day "diet" called The Makers Diet by Jordan Rubin. The book is a MUST READ and the diet is biblically based.  We may be almost done with the program, but we intend to keep this lifestyle going as our new norm.

I have been cooking based off of this diet and tweaking it to fit the kids needs (and pallets), but they are really beginning to enjoy the Romaine Lettuce Wraps (vs. rice) and Tuna (Chicken)/Avacado Salad (vs. bread and deli meat).

Many of the meals we have consumed over the past month and a half haven't been that far from what we normally eat, so don't think it's all that crazy!

Here is what we had last night:

Diced Sweet potatoes sautéed in grass fed cow's butter with a dash of salt and pepper.  Then I added some chicken that I had cooked the day before in fresh cut rosemary, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. (HERE is where I get our yummy spices)

Then I made some Okra sautéed in butter, salt and pepper.

Very filling, budget friendly for all family sizes and all the kids loved it (minus Rainy, but that's because she would live off of cheese, chicken and pretzels if I allowed it, ha!).

Friday, August 12, 2016

Words Worth Remembering


Jude:"Mom, what does commence mean?"
#HesFour

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Me:"I loved that idea from Mr. Matt and Mrs. Magan so much we are going to start it here."
Rainy:"That's the thing about parents, they always build off of each other."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jude:"Daddy, your day off is always the BEST day.  All the other days are NOT good."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Josh:"So after Adam was born who did God create next?"
Jude:"Justin Biever!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cai:"MOM, I just did 21 burp ups!"
(he meant "burpees")

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jude: "Look at that fruit fly.  It's trying to get fruit out of my toe!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Josh:"yeah, we have a Hobby Lobby now.  I don't get what the big deal is."
Me:"Well, have you actually been inside?"
Josh:"Um, do they sell guitars or theology books?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jude:
Ace Hardware = "Lowes Hardwars"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cake Lady:"Alright, so what should I put on the cake?"
Me:"Happy Birthday Z-E-K-E."
Cake Lady:"Oh, well that is a TERRIBLE name!  Just awful!"
Me:"Why?"
Cake Lady:"Haven't you heard of ZIKA virus?!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jude to Josh mowing the grass with his shirt off to get some sun:
"DAD, you're NAKED!!!  But it's good you have pants on."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Taking Off The Floaty

Josh and Rainy at the intro night for student ministry at church
I have written and rewritten a half dozen posts over the past month but can't bring myself to complete a single one.  I feel like I'm so far behind on capturing our lives (the main reason I began blogging in the first place), but more so, I feel this new tension rising as my kids get older.

My life no longer consists of sharing tired ramblings after a long night with a fussy newborn, or reviews on the best spill-proof sippy cups.  My kids, minus Jude, pretty much speak like maturing little people with words flowing in the appropriate order (although, if I could get Cai to keep his two front teeth from growing in, we might be able to hang on to his cute little lisp for a little bit longer), and parenting is taking that deep dive from the shallow waters of physical exhaustion of the little years to the mental exhaustion of preteen and adolescent years.  I've still got my foot firmly planted in both, but the weight is increasingly leaning into the deeper side.

And because of that, I can no longer "just write" about my life as a mom and how I'm trying to learn how to thrive instead of just survive these little years.  The words that fill my journal these days are saturated by these little lives that are beginning to form their own identities and the trials they are facing as they grow up and learn to step out of fear and into the steady hand that promises to guide them.

And that isn't MY story to share.

It's hard for me to be vague.
I like to just say it how it is.
But I'm having to show great restraint in order to protect these little lives God has placed in mine, and respect their wishes for privacy.

My prayer is that they will learn to work out their faith, labor through their love and cling to the hope that gives endurance (1 Thessalonians 1:3), and those are things that I CAN write about.

I'm hoping I can figure out how to continue to be an encouragement to other moms in similar seasons but still keep my integrity as a trustworthy mom who doesn't share THEIR story unless I'm given the green light.

Here's to a new season of blogging, parenting and swimming in the deep end without a floaty.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Always, Without Ceasing, In ALL Circumstances

Yesterday began with a feeling of anxiety.  You know, one of those days where you wake up, maxed out to your tolerance threshold for no apparent reason (this is the difference between a physical anxiety problem and worry/anxiety over circumstances).  It was just one of those days where I KNEW I was going to have to fight hard to stay focused on truth.

Then circumstances started playing a part into my angst and the day quickly began to unravel.

I knew that it was going to be more than just an anxious day to fight through, because once actual "things" start playing into the anxiety you've got yourself a whole other battle to fight.

I was so caught up in the seemingly hopeless situation(s) that I froze.
Well, everything froze but my mouth.
The poison just kept seeping out between the creases of my lips, leaving a wake of uneasiness around the entire house.

My anxiety quickly turned into anger, frustration, touchiness, and before I knew it, I was in the middle of a good ol' fashioned pity party, salted with anxiety and peppered with hopelessness and anything BUT joy.

I'm sure the Colony children could quickly begin to list off EVERY area that this affected yesterday. Let's just say that it wasn't pretty, and I will NOT be getting any "awesome mom" awards for the way I acted.

To top it all off, the kids were at each other.  Or maybe they were just being crazy and wild kids.
It didn't matter.
I was NOT having it and they needed to calm down.
I deserved a peaceful, quiet moment to gather my thoughts and regain control...
didn't I?

But being stressed out or anxious never excuses a sinful reaction, and this is the area I got stuck on.

I apologized more times than I can count, but the sin inside of me kept reclaiming ground.

Yes, yesterday was more than just a battle over my everyday anxiety that I deal with.  THAT cannot be helped.

But the way I respond to news like I heard yesterday, and the exhaustion from a busy weekend, and noisy kids playing around and having fun...THAT is a choice.

This morning I woke up to  have my time with the Lord and EVERY. THING. I read had to do with choosing JOY.  Giving THANKS.  Making WISE CHOICES.

NONE of which I accomplished yesterday!

I focused on everything else: the house that is literally falling apart beneath us, the volume of my kids (I'm pretty sure their decibel level clears the illegal threshold is some states!), the physical exhaustion from being busy (and sick) over the weekend, and all the other stuff that kept "going wrong".

When I should have just kept my eyes on Christ.
Because He is the hope.
He is the provider.
He is the interrupter of my perfectly laid out plans.
He is the author.
He is the one who gives JOY in the midst of seemingly rough unHAPPY news.
HE IS JOY.

And He doesn't just ASK us to "rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in ALL circumstances".  1 Thessalonians says, "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

This focus on HIM isn't just for God's glory but for US!  It brings us the JOY in the midst of bad health, or thousands of dollars worth of house repairs, or lost jobs, or dwindling accounts, or struggling relationships, or broken promises, or overly-lively children;).

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS FOR YOU."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

I'm claiming this today and I'm starting with thankfulness for HIS grace and HIS love and HIS patience for me, even when I get off track like I did yesterday.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Colony Mom Picks ~ Workout Faves

My parents used to call me "gnat" because I was so fast and would literally RUN everywhere!

I ran "track" in elementary school and really enjoyed it.

I tried my hand at basketball, but never really got the hang of it, because, well I could never remember which basket was my team's basket and then I found out that you can't technically be referred to as a basketball star with only 1 3-pointer under your belt in 2 years (and yes THAT basket was in MY own basket, ha!).

Then I found soccer.
Well actually, I found I guy I liked who was trying out for the soccer team in high school and he lived down the street from me and if I tried out for the girls team I could give him a ride home.  Yes, I was THAT girl!

Somehow I made the High School Varsity team as a freshman.
And the team was REALLY competitive and good.
Although I was NOT.

But I had speed in my favor, and the fact that I liked a good battle scar from slide tackles and snatching the ball away from the other team gave me a huge rush!

I moved my way up through the ranks on the team and actually got pretty good as my excellent teammates (and coach) rubbed off on me and I picked up on their techniques.

I even got a soccer scholarship which helped put me through college.
After college I played on a couple co-ed adult leagues until I found out I was pregnant with Rainy.

Josh and I also cultivated our young relationship through the hills and trails of Greenville, SC.  There is something to be said about a couple who can workout and sweat together.

All that to say, exercise and staying active have always been a pretty big part of our lives.

Now, more than ever, I use exercise as a way to manage my anxiety, but finding time can be really difficult.  That is why the way I workout is less about a "fit body" as it is to stay healthy and to release  endorphins.  I also believe that I can find time for the things that are important to me, and the times where I consistently lack exercise are the times I simply don't make it a priority.

I very frequently get asked what I do for my workouts, so I thought I'd share my workout faves.  I try to workout at least 4 times a week, if not more.

1 - Beachbody videos are my favorite.  Specifically T25 and 21 Day Fix Extreme.  I prefer Shaun T over Autumn any day, but I love both workouts.  They are only 25-30 minutes long and high intensity so you are getting a great workout in a manageable/realistic time.

2 - Jogging/running.  Going for a jog looks a lot different these days.  I typically have at least 1 kid with me at all times so having practical expectations is key.  I have it good though, because Jude LOVES to get on his scooter and go for a jog with me.  He clocked nearly 60 miles with me last month alone!  I can also get some miles in during nap time running laps around my house.  And Josh is really good about letting me get out for a run to escape clear my mind:)

3 - I also use yard work as a workout outlet.  Push mowing our yard will give me over 3 miles and if I jog while mowing it makes it even that much more effective;)

4 - I have tried LOTS of different protein shakes but my favorite is Garden of Life Raw Protein and Greens.  It is safe for the whole family and it is packed with protein and veggies!  I buy it off of Amazon.  It is cheaper (which is a HUGE factor) and packed with more vitamins, minerals and protein than all of the other shakes I've tried.

5 - These hairbands are my favorite to keep the flyaways out of my face.

So there you have it.  Nothing fancy and I'm not paying a fortune for a gym membership, which also releases endorphins for me, ha!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Identity Of A Blog


When I first began blogging, the act of writing down my thoughts was merely an outlet to the outside world.  I had 2 small children at home, 15 months a part, and being a full-time musician on the road didn't leave much room for relationships.  I was pretty lonely and blogging helped me feel like I had a voice in a world outside of diaper changes, wiping noses, packing and unpacking in a town with no family and very few friends.

My blogs consisted of funny things the kids would do and say, navigating the rough terrain of friendships I was trying so hard to cultivate, fighting to find the joy and laughter in the endless demands of motherhood, ministry updates and opportunities God was allowing us to be a part of.

Then my eyes were opened to the world of extreme couponing and freebies.  Oh.My.Goodness.  The amount of things that I actually got PAID to "buy" at Harris Teeter and CVS almost made me feel like I was cheating some kind of system!  I quickly accumulated quite a following from fellow couponers and other friends and family trying to stay up with the latest free stuff and "rock bottom deals".

The posts during this era were sprinkled with the same content as before but it wasn't uncommon for me to have 2-3 posts A DAY littered with the hottest deals and free stuff you could get your hands on.

Sometimes I wonder WHY in the world I would posted some of that stuff, ha!

My extreme couponing days fizzled out as we began eating a little differently and the desire to get rid of unneeded, excess "stuff" overruled the rush of all the free stuff I was accumulating.

My blog returned back to family moments and ministry opportunities.  Since this time it has become densely populated with things I have learned as I grow in my relationship with Christ, my husband, my children and my friends.

The older I become the more I see just how much I still have to learn.
I'm learning that the choices I make are accompanied with consequences that weigh much heavier and effect more people than ever before.

The posts these days dive into what I am learning as I seek to follow Christ with my whole heart, albeit imperfectly, and the lessons I am learning as a friend/mom/wife as I realize just how lacking I am in each of these areas.

I suppose if I had it all together I wouldn't have anything to write about at all, because I never want to paint a picture of a perfect me with a perfect family.  That portrayal makes being a follower of Christ seem so unattainable, in my opinion.

Lately I have wondered if I even need to keep blogging.
I mean, it takes time, and that is a rarity around the Colony, and it makes me feel so vulnerable, which tends to make me feel VERY uncomfortable (and admittedly anxious sometimes).

But if my blog, or a particular post, has the potential to reach one person who is questioning how God could ever change their life or use them because of their past (or even current choices) then I will keep writing.

Because I want to show the world that the Christian life IS attainable.
Even when life events suffocating the very air we are breathing,
even when you have not-so-stellar mom moments (or days, ahem),
even when you had an argument with your spouse where you were clearly in the wrong,
even when you question the God that allowed __________ to happen,
even when...
even when...

because God is the one and only factor that changes us.
He is the only one that can help us turn from ourselves and see the LIGHT through the cracks of life's darkness.

So, I may no longer have the inside scoop to the hottest deals,
or even the most brilliant ideas to do when daddy is out of the country,
or even a life of ministry adventures to post about.

But I do have the TRUTH of His word, working through this average stay-at-home mom who desires to live a life for HIS glory...
even after apologizing to the kids AGAIN for another lost temper,
or finding myself agonizing over another missed opportunity that God clearly placed in front of me that I was too distracted or selfish to take.

I am grateful to be a sinner saved by His grace.
Because HIS GRACE is what saved me, and I'm having a hard time NOT sharing it with the world!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Standing On The Promises of God

  1. Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
    Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
    Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
    Standing on the promises of God.
    • Refrain:
      Standing, standing,
      Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
      Standing, standing,
      I’m standing on the promises of God.
  2. Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
    When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
    By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
    Standing on the promises of God.
  3. Standing on the promises I now can see
    Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
    Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
    Standing on the promises of God.
  4. Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
    Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
    Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
    Standing on the promises of God.
  5. Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
    List’ning every moment to the Spirit’s call,
    Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
    Standing on the promises of God.

I grew up singing this old hymn.  Even now if I hear people mention the "promises of God" my mind takes me back to the words I sang over and over as a child.

The promises of God are what give us hope. (Romans 8:31)
The promises of God are what give us life. (Job 33:4)
The promises of God are the lifeline to WHO WE ARE IN HIM! (John 1:12)

The promises of God are recorded in the word of God.
Our sword. (Ephesians 6:17)
They are our weapon when fighting off the very real fight of the spiritual enemy who seeks to kill and destroy. (John 10:10)

Therefore (which means, because of the things that were just stated),
we must cling to the words of God, the weapon for fighting, in order to stand our ground against the enemy.

The Bible is our means for combating against our shaky and fickle feelings and emotions.
This weapon is what keeps Truth from getting lost in the sweeping currents of life.

But we can't stop there.
We can't just depend on the word of God for self confidence and fighting off the enemy.

Because sometimes the enemy is our own self.
(Beth Moore talks about this in the study I am doing entitled "Children Of The Day".)

Sometimes the very real enemy is other people.
Sometimes it is Satan himself.
And sometimes it is ourselves.

And the only way to stay on track is to know and study His Word.
The Sword.

Because it is the ONLY thing that is able to penetrate our hearts! (Hebrews 4:12)
Penetrate MY heart.
And I want that.

"In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God."
John 1:1

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Moment Shared Under The Trees


Several years ago, on one of the many mission trips I took to Uganda, I found myself out in a remote village with my team.  Our clinic had been underway for several hours and I was trying my best to mingle among the mothers and ladies who had come.

I veered off away from the crowds to walk down the hill toward the local village.

After a while I found myself under a tree with a young mom who had followed me from the crowd.  She had a couple of kids of her own and was also caring for some family member's children as well.

She didn't waste any time getting to the point of her intentions.

She did not ask for food.
She did not ask for money.
She did not ask me to take some of the many children she was caring for because she simply didn't have enough to feed all of them (this, unfortunately, is not uncommon).

She spoke not one word of greeting.

She did, however, recite this verse.  A verse which I have clung to my entire life as someone who fights against worry and anxiety on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.  But there was something about the way she said it.  Especially after realizing that she didn't have a copy of her own Bible to help her memorize these words.

One baby wrapped around her back, another clinging to her hip, tears soaking the front of her dress she spoke these words:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,
what you will eat or what you will drink,
nor about your body, what you will put on.
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air: 
they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?"
Matthew 6:25-26

Then she looked up at me with complete belief in these words while innocently asking how God could make such promises and not be providing food and clothing for herself and the many little humans left in her care.  She was broken but honestly seeking insight into these words she had just spoken to me.

We just sat there, holding hands and crying.

I had no answers for her and couldn't even pretend to.

We prayed together and then it was time for me to go.

I believe every single word of the Bible is TRUTH.
I believe every single promise in the Bible will come to pass.

So how can this mama (among so many other hurting and hungry in the world) be clinging to this HOPE, this PROMISE to their graves?!

I have wrestled and battled this question for years.

I have these verses hidden in my heart and pull them to the forefront of my mind when we have a bill due and the money isn't there (yet).  I recall the words and promises within these verses on highly anxious days, KNOWING that God is my provider, that HE's got this, that HE is in control...

...but part of me questions it because of that tear-filled moment under the tree with this woman in Uganda.

I decided to dig a little deeper into the words of this passage to get a better mental grasp of the context of these words from the Holman Commentary series.

You almost have to go back to vs. 19-24 to grasp the whole picture.
Jesus is teaching the people how to be fully devoted with total commitment.
And (one of) the fruit of this commitment is His promise to care for us.

Weber writes, " Our commitment to him and his commitment to us go hand in hand."

Furthermore, our Heavenly Father has our days numbered.
Worrying about a single one of these things will not "add a single hour to his life".

When we are fully committed to God, and His Story,
when we see our lives as PART OF the bigger Story of Christ,  
which is SO MUCH BIGGER than ourselves,
we can see the silver lining.

He will continue to care for us because we are so valuable and loved by Him,
but one day our story will end BUT GOD'S GLORY WILL CONTINUE, 
and He will cease to need to provide for us any longer because we will be with Him in eternity.

Sin has wreaked havoc on mankind, but God's Sovereignty overrules it all in the end and, despite the hunger and hurting and war and diseased, He still comes out victorious!  

Weber's interpretation of vs. 27 has been comforting and freeing to me as they sink in:
  
"If you try to take your basic provision into your own hands, 
you will find you do not have the power over life and death.  
Only God has this power, and he will sustain you as long as his plan intends."

So while I am still living and breathing, my God, help me rest in You, my provider and sustainer.

May God be glorified through it all, even when it doesn't make sense.