Embrace GROWTH

Summer is here! School is out, the rainy weather is stopping, and it’s HOT in my neck of the woods. I survived my first year working at our boy’s school. My family has survived my first year working full-time. I’ve always worked but not a Monday – Friday, set schedule, full-time job. They survived with fewer homemade meals, more tasks to do on their own, and many days one tired mama. But we made it and I’m grateful for this past imagesschool year, my job, and the growth that has happened in us all.

This year I’ve been purposing to embracemore of this life. Each month I sit back and reflect on what I’ve learned and am embracing in this season; what I’ve held too tightly or let slip through my hands. I thank God for the areas I’m growing in and for this
“embrace” journey. Thank you for joining me on this adventure.

IMG_7626With growth often comes growing pains! Our eight-year-old gets them often. He asks for his dad to massage the back of his knee until the aching subsides and he feels better. I’ve tried to fill in when dad isn’t home, but it’s just not the same, and he lets me know. I’ve learned this year no one can quite understand my growing pains like my Heavenly Father. My husband, family and friends have been supportive of me going to work full-time. They have understood there are things I just couldn’t do this year. My close girlfriends have made time for me on my schedule and been accepting that I have to say “no” to more things.

But that doesn’t mean this year hasn’t been hard and lonely. It means I’ve had to use my planner like never before. It also required spending time laboring over what I can say “yes” to and what I should say “no” to. There were days I left the house in a frenzy and pulled in the driveway twelve hours later too exhausted to cry over the difficulties of the day. Can you relate? Has this year seemed busier, more challenging, or been filled with learning something new?  Have you felt alone in your season?

Some days these growing pains have been downright hard! The saying; “Can’t teach an old dog a new trick,” has been ringing in my head quite a bit. However, I’ve learned you can, if the “old dog” is willing. The days I was willing and embracing the growing process were much easier than the ones I was longing for a less busy time. Guess what, my previous was difficult too. My part-time job was challenging and frustrating certain days. The car pool route I did between two different schools and activities for our three kids was draining! AND the days I embraced that season went a lot better than the ones I grumbled about. In order to grow and embrace each season well I have to take the good and the bad days while embracing the mundane.  bloom.jpg
At my new job this year the growing pains came in ways I wasn’t expecting. I’ve been learning to sit more, be still, and become a better listener. Each of these are challenging for me. One thing I loved about my previous part-time job was, when I finished my tasks for the day I could go, wow was that a blessing. This year, even in the slower moments, I had to be present; trying to be still and embrace finding something to do. In order to learn my new job duties, I needed to listen more. My brain goes extremely fast and most times when someone is talking to me about an issue; I’ve answered their question, figured a way to help them, and have a plan for how this can go smoother in the future, all before they’ve completed sharing their issue. Numerous thoughts often are rolling around in my head and I try not to blurt them all out……. sometimes I do better than others. I’m learning to listen better; to my husband, children, family, boss, and friends. It’s literally a battle in my head! I’m realizing that I’ve missed quite a bit in my life by not taking the time to listen.

I’m embracing the growing pains that come with breaking old habits. I desire to hear more of what I’m missing out on by not fully listening to those around me. I’m pursuing slowing down and being still even when it feels uncomfortable. I want to embrace the growing pains in this area in order not to rush through life.  I love this quote by Dallas Willard, from the book Soul Keeping, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Maybe listening is hard for you too, or maybe speaking up is. I can also relate to not wanting to answer tough questions. While getting a pedicure for Mother’s Day, the sweet young lady asked me if I have any siblings. I still dislike this question. It has been eight years since my younger brother passed away, but when that question comes up it feels fresh and painful. That day I briefly answered and changed the subject. I’m working on embracing this question more. I want it to be an opportunity that I get to talk about my awesome, kind, and brave brother. To also share what I learned from him in his twenty-six years here with me. I want to share about what God has done in my life on this grief journey. I miss my brother and would LOVE to have him here today, but I also know there’s a deeper trust in God that has come out of this season. There’s a softening of my heart that has come from the growing pains of grief. Grief is something we all have in common. We are all grieving something; a person, a season, a place, or plans we long to see happen. Maybe by sharing my grief story the sweet young lady would’ve been able to share hers. Opportunities are missed when I’m quiet at the wrong moment.  I miss out when I stay stagnant and don’t actively pursue growth in my season.

itjustbloomsIs there a question that causes you to clam up? One that you just don’t want to answer? A question that for someone else might be NO BIG DEAL. But, when asked, you freeze, want to run, or breeze past it. What are you missing out on by not embracing it? This can also open the door to the lonely side of grief because it’s your hard question, not everyone else’s. This is area of grief I have to continually grow in and realize, grief is unique. No one grieves the same, even if it’s a similar loss, we all process differently. And that’s okay. Grief also moves at its own pace through different people and during different seasons. This is why I’m truly grateful to lean in on my Creator, who knows me better than anyone else. Just like my eight-year old needs his dad sometimes to help him through the physical growing pains of life, I need my Heavenly Father. I’m grateful that He lets me continually stumble and grow in His grace. Even if some days that feels like a crawl instead of a leap. I’m praying those of you reading this find some time to get “real” with God and share your difficult questions. Let Him know the areas that are hard, lonely, and hindering you. When I bring my cares to Jesus I can then begin working on them and walking a little lighter. I pray we all continue growing and embracing more of this life, even in the difficult times, it’s a gift.

In my morning devotion time I’ve been studying 1 Peter and am just about to the end. I am comforted and strengthened by these couple of verses and pray you are too:

I Peter 5:10-11 out-of-difficulties-grows-miracles1
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His
eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever.
Amen.

 

 

 

 

Be Still….

It was a beautiful Sunday morning and I was up and out early to get a start on the day. I was headed to the grocery store as soon as they opened. We had a busy day planned and I wanted to be efficient in getting everything done. I had a mental timeline planned and was excited as I checked out of the grocery store in time to stop and pick up coffee on the way home for my mom. She was at home with my three kids and our two puppies (one who is a baby and we’ve only had him a couple of weeks). Only my youngest was up and I wanted to get back in time to start breakfast and get everyone ready for church. I even sent my mom a text while walking to the car letting her know that I was on my way home. I threw my phone, wallet, and keys on the front seat and loaded the groceries in. BAM, I shut the door and my heart sank… I had reminded myself make sure the door is unlocked before I close it. I grabbed the passenger door handle and it was locked! I walked back into Publix and asked to use the phone at the service desk. I called my husband and then my mom. No answer.  And I called them again.  Still no one answered.

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I went outside and sat on the bench to wait a few minutes before calling again. I was thankful for the kind employee who let me use the phone, thankful for the beautiful weather and even the moment of silence just to sit. I went back in about 10 minutes later and tried both phone numbers again… STILL NO ANSWER! The sweet cashier let me use her phone to send a text and tell them I was stuck at Publix. I went back out and sat on what I now called “my bench” and waited some more. The kind cashier said she will come and get me if someone responds. This time sitting on that bench I went from thankful to anxious. What if my husband was too busy at work and didn’t have his phone?  What if all the kids were up and she was into the morning chaos that three kids and our new puppy brings? How long would I sit here? Would we make it to church? We missed the previous Sunday because my youngest was sick.  We needed to make it this week. . . I NEEDED to go. But God says….“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

 

imageI reflected back on this previous week. It had been a good week! We started a new Tuesday night women’s bible study, titled – Breathe,  at our church. My husband encouraged me to go since it is only a five-week commitment. I had just finished up my last Wednesday morning bible study that ended for spring and summer. I even had an hour with my best friend to sit on the beach before picking up our kids from school. We’d planned it and went to that last study Wednesday morning with beach bags in tow. Usually I face coming to the weekend drained and wishing I had a moment to myself, but not that previous week.

 

I was even on the same page as my husband about our plans that night as he had a volunteer dinner planned at church for Sunday evening and needed my help. My husband and I have been walking together in the later evenings once the kids are settled for bed, which gives us time to talk and catch up. Our middle son is in a reading race in his class at school and was constantly reading in the prior week. What a joy it had been to hear him reading all week and seeing his love for books develop. Our oldest (who is the youngest on his baseball team and has struggled with confidence this year), hit a stand up double last Wednesday night in his game. Our youngest is still going through some difficulties, but I had a good meeting with her teacher and her therapist. There are some new things we are trying and my husband and I were able to talk and share some ways to better move forward in our parenting. My sweet girl and I even celebrated her with a treat after school one day before picking up the boys. I’m saying it was a good week! These are all the things I reflected on as I sat on that bench waiting.

So why was I so anxious about what this unplanned moment would do to our day? Why was I worried I would literally be stuck at Publix and no one would ever come for me? I could’ve even walked home. It would’ve taken awhile, but I could have done it. I realized without my phone I couldn’t reach anyone and was afraid if I walked and left it would make things further confusing if / when someone was coming to get me. I realized without my phone I couldn’t pass the time while chatting with a friend or scrolling other people’s Sunday plans to aimlessly pass the time. I even prayed if there was someone the Lord wanted me to talk to or share His Good News with that day. NOPE! He wanted me alone and attentive so he could to talk to me, even if that meant locking my keys in the car. It was just me and Jesus sitting on that bench. I had to accept there was nothing I could do. I had to stop chastising myself in my own head for forgetting to unlock the door before closing it. I had to stop worrying. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:6-7 NIV

I had to realize how not checking that one thing affected the day. I thought about how many times in a day the Lord asks me to check something and I miss it. It doesn’t always have the same immediate effect because I don’t even realize I miss it. Every morning I start my day in prayer and most days in God’s Word and ask for His direction for the day. But then I get so busy doing “my” tasks I miss opportunities. Maybe there is someone at work who needs encouragement, a friend or family member who would benefit from a text during their day, or maybe you need to sit on your “bench” and hear from the Lord to be encouraged and instructed! That day as things went on it all worked out. My husband came to the rescue and called a friend from church who could try to open my car. He took me home and there was my mom cooking bacon for breakfast, my daughter was playing with the puppies, and my boys were still sleeping. Everyone survived!

lets go on an adventure free printable artisbeautyWe went on about our day with a new adventure – getting mom’s minivan open. I had to wake the boys up and we had to jump in the car for my mom to take me back to the grocery store to meet the locksmith. We did stop on the way and made sure my mom got her a much-needed coffee.  And so did I! We made it to the parking lot, met our friend. My oldest stayed with me. As I said goodbye to my daughter, she begged to stay with mommy, and I realized in that moment, she needed some more girl time. Then I promised her right there, that afternoon we would make it happen. It took my realization that Jesus had orchestrated some much need one-on-one time with me that morning, for me to recognize that she needed some one-on-one time with me. After a few unsuccessful tries, finally his metal curved tool thingy hit the unlock button on my keys and we heard it unlock! It wouldn’t unlock the button on the door. I had to giggle at that and be thankful I threw my keys on the front seat. God knew exactly what I needed that morning – for me to sit on the bench.  And He knew exactly what was needed to open the door and continue on my day…with a bit of a different plan.

imageThis week my schedule is jam-packed. Finding time to sit for a minute will be much more difficult than last week. It’s filled with juggling my work schedule, helping out more with the kids  car-pool, to chaperoning my little guy’s field trip, and then a birthday celebration for our almost 11-year-old.  But I know in the busyness of this week, it’s even more important for me to find time to sit, be still and hear from my Savior. Praying you will do the same. I hope you had a great week last week too.  But maybe it was just OK.  Or maybe it was a terrible week. Regardless of what last week looked like for you, this is a new week! Full of new opportunities to sit, be still and be open to a change of plans.

Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.  But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

image“Heavenly Father please don’t let us miss the moments we need to just sit and hear from you this week. Protect us from the busyness, distractions and our own agendas so we don’t miss out on opportunities to share your love. Prepare us for the difficult moments this week might bring that stretch us and may they bring us closer to You. Keep our minds focused on You and not the worries that this world so often brings. Thank you for Your grace and forgiveness that we need daily! In Jesus name I pray. Amen”