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.

 

 

 

 

Embrace 2018

My word for 2018 is Embrace. God has placed a sense of wonder and excitement as He encourages me to courageously press on out of my comfort zone and embrace all He has this year. I’m steadily trying to embrace the challenges and joy this season brings.

IMG_5784Hello 2018! What a year it’s been so far. A year filled with fun, adventure, reminders, great memories, illness, and difficulties. Isn’t that real life – the good, bad, ugly, and amazing all wrapped into our day-to-day living. My word for 2018 is Embrace. God has placed a sense of wonder and excitement as He encourages me to courageously press on out of my comfort zone and embrace all He has this year. I’m steadily trying to embrace the challenges and joy this season brings.

At the end of 2014 my good friend challenged me to pray about a word for the new year. A word to be somewhat of a focus, challenge, and way to grow in the Lord.   This year is my fourth year with a word of the year. But this year it’s been different; the Lord is calling me in a new and bolder direction. This word can best be described as a compilation of the words I’ve had over past 3 years. I’m amazed at the things God has done in my life in these couple of decades. I’m also blessed to see what God does in those I have the privilege to do life with. This excitement dwindled a little when I got my verse for 2018. And I wasn’t sure if I was more comforted or convicted. It’s found in Jeremiah 31:22. I like the Message version: “….How long will you flit here and there, indecisive?
How long before you make up your fickle mind?
God will create a new thing in this land:
A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!”

I’m convicted because I trust in the Lord and believe God’s Word to be true, living, and active but I don’t always embrace it for my life as I should. I am convicted not condemned, convicted to seek God and how I can truly embrace His plans for my life this year. I’ve learned I can still be guarded in this whole embracing thing. Grief has a way of doing that to a person.  Unknown

 My dad went home to be with the Lord in January 2014 after fighting a difficult battle with cancer. In 2015, that first year with “my word” it was somewhat of a new beginning. A beginning I didn’t ask for, plan for or necessarily want. It was grief piled upon grief. January 15, 2015, it had been one year without my dad and January 16, 2015 was five years since my younger brother was killed by a drunk driver. How do you process that; grief upon grief? As an over-emotional almost forty-year-old wife and mom of three children; 10, 5, 2 at the time, not well! I cried more than I’d like to admit and coasted through many days on auto pilot. Our family dynamic additionally changed in the summer of 2014. We moved into a new house with my mom. Taking care of our parents is something my husband and I thought might happen later in life. Perhaps when our kids were older, but not smack dab in the middle of discovering how to do life with three children.

But God knew what we needed and what my mom needed. She helps take care of us and our kids which allows us to serve at church and in ministry together. It’s still a challenge navigating these new roads life brings, the hills and the valleys, but God is with us through them all.

We also were foster parents at this time, we didn’t adopt our daughter officially until March of 2015. One of the most beautiful blessings that has come out of our grief journey is our amazing daughter. God does that if we pay attention. He graces us with beautiful moments of answered prayers, blessings, adventures, and glimpses of heaven right in the middle of our trials. But we have to recognize it and embrace it!

This stirring, conviction, excitement, and nervousness for something new in 2018 challenges me to embrace this life again. Our life has been filled with many incredible moments in the past eight years and I have so much to be grateful for! But, I believe there are parts of me that I’ve closed off not wanting to be hurt again.  Likewise, I’ve grown and experienced God in countless ways in the past eight years; ways that I couldn’t have without the deep reliance upon Jesus to walk me on this sorrowful road. But I still need to embrace more of God. Don’t we all? It’ll take a new surrender, funny that’s my husband’s word for this year. God has a unique way of weaving things together. Already this year I’ve watched seasons begin and seasons end. Many I welcome and some I don’t want to let go of. There’s that reminder – I’m not in control and that’s ok; Embrace the unknown!

 As I sit behind my computer after work in the quiet library, waiting for my oldest to finish basketball practice, I’m reminded to embrace the still moments, albeit few and far between during this season. Embrace the time with my kids, it might be less now with my now full-time job and their increasing activities, but it can be sweet and celebrated when it happens. Embrace the times with my husband when we get a moment to just be. Embrace the gift of life God gives us out of His loving kindness.

EPSON MFP image
#purejoycreative

I don’t know what your 2018 has been thus far, but I do know God has good plans for you. He wants you to embrace all He has for you this year. Jesus desires you to let go and lean on Him. Bring Him those areas you might’ve closed off after a difficult time in your life. Maybe it’s a dream you gave up on that He wants to reawaken. Whatever “it” is bring it to the Lord and let’s embrace all He has for us in 2018.