Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Life of Thanksgiving

In 2013 I was given the opportunity to borrow a book from my friend Donna.  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp was a great read.  In fact after reading it twice I've decided it's finally time to download it for my Kindle.  I read the book twice but didn't fully participate in the Joy Dare. So....this is the year I'm going to practice looking for joy in everyday.  When we lived in WA for a short period of time I wrote my 3 daily "gifts" on our bathroom mirror so I could meditate on them.  I think I'm going to adopt this practice again as well as journaling my daily entries and participating in the FB community.

If you haven't read the book in my opinion you should.  It has been very transformative and has encouraged me to really come out of the fog of my apathy by pressing in to gratitude.  The last few months have been very rocky and full of hurt, unmet expectations, change and grief.  Truly I've felt hemmed in by a fog and that this haze has kept me from engaging in life fully.  I'm coming out of this season because of God's hand of mercy.  However, I know that part of my journey forward is momentum caused by gratitude.

Another tool that I am utilizing is the 100HappyDays challenge on FB/Instagram.  Each day I share a picture and a brief synopsis of the happiness associated with that image.  I'm currently on day 52 and it has been so much fun.  Also I've had two people in my life specifically mention that my sharing has impacted them.  That's pretty cool.  I've shared moments with my children, successes in my weight loss journey, a snippet about Nathan, pictures from our Christmas celebration and even a picture of my Joy Dare list for January.  Taking time each day to by mindful, pause and realize my blessings and spend time thanking God for them has been freeing.  It also has encouraged me to engage with those in my world and tell them how much they are loved.  I share with them what they have done, what they are that brings joy to my world.  The dynamic of our house is changing and I'm feeling a renewed sense of hope.  It's a blessing.

Part of my true embracing of gratitude has been the realization that there are things in my life that are hard, painful and challenging that bring growth, strength and mercy.  Things that others might not look at as lovely, helpful or beautiful have caused me to experience a strange warming in my soul. I'm becoming increasingly more thankful for the things in my life that don't happen, the "no's" of my life and the disappointments.  The words of the serenity prayer are ringing true..."hardship as a pathway to peace...".  It sounds crazy, but I am grateful, truly humbled by the things that have been taken from me because they are bringing  a greater sense of dependence upon Christ and a deeper relationship with each of my family members and also myself.

I dare say today that I'm grateful for autism.  I venture out of my comfort zone to say that I'm thankful for a marriage that has grown from depression, hurt, withdrawal and pain.  Being challenged with five kids, two sets of twins and financial hardship sure is building character.  The gift of devastation as by friend Bette calls it, is truly that....a gift.  Stepping out in faith, moving across the country and facing circumstances that precipitated a move back to NC...not an accident.  These temporary storms have cause my roots to grow deep and I'm praying for a heart that displays the glory and splendor of God.  I'm not grateful for the things in my life so I can brag about them.  I want to be a mirror that reflects Christ.  I want to be a clear window that transparently allows people to see the pain in my life and the healing that occurs through the work of Jesus.  Paul says in 2 Cor. 11:30 "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."

So today I revel in the brokenness, the piece of my life have been shattered so that God could put them back together to make a stained glass window.  I'm so glad he knows the story of my life and is continuing to write it in my heart and mind.  I'm grateful, so grateful and may my life be a living sacrifice of praise as I flesh out real gratitude....a life filled with thanksgiving.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gloriously Ruined

That was my prayer for 2014.  Those were the words that I had spoken and meditated upon.  What WAS I thinking? You wouldn't know about my 2014 because I didn't blog once.  Not ONCE on this blog.  There were posts on my other project, but here I was silent.  So...tonight I break the silence and am choosing to share with you a bit of last year and it's depth, breadth and scope.  

We moved to WA in March 2013 with dreams, goals and hopes.  In our 17 months there we learned a lot, met a lot of wonderful people and made some great memories.  We also were challenged beyond what I could have dreamed, faced thoughts, feelings and emotions that I wasn't prepared for and accrued more debt than we would have chosen.  Our family was stretched physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually.  Although at the time I couldn't see it, but it is becoming clear to me that my prayer was being answered.  God was gloriously ruining me.  

I could go on and on and really expand but although it's MY story to share I don't want to hurt anyone or give more info than my hubby wants me to here are the bullet points.  You'll still be able to see why I say I'm being "ruined".

  • We accrued a pretty significant amount of debt in 17 months.
  • The church we went to be a part of and help start a Celebrate Recovery program...closed it's doors and merged with another faith family.  Although this ISN'T a bad thing it still brings a bit of sadness, disappointment and unmet expectation.
  • Such intense change affected our family in positive and negative ways.  Joseph's distress signals were flashing.  He began to run away regularly and became violent (verbally and physically aggressive).
  • Relationships at every level are in the process of being repaired and trust is being rebuilt. Basic emotional safety has been damaged due to many factors and it's a tough thing to fix.
  • Jesse withdrew emotionally and physically over the last year.  He was and is exhibiting symptoms of depression.
  • James and Jonathan are emotionally charged, a bit whiny and very aggressive towards each other.  They seem a bit too rough and I am concerned.  
  • JoyAnn took on a role that wasn't hers to embrace and she's tried too hard to grow up too quickly.  
  • We lived in two states in one year.  
  • We currently live in a rental (that is out of our price range) until August.  We really want to be back in our home.  
  • I had to give up a dream, a family goal of homeschooling our children.  The older three are all in public school.  Once again...hear me NOT bad, just different than planned.
  • Currently we are a part of an intensive, in-home intervention to avoid Joseph being removed from the home and to repair damaged relationships.  This involves individual, couples work, sibling to sibling and parent to child interactions. 2-3 2-hr. sessions per week.  It's good, but hard and exhausting.
  • My husband who is a fine singer (in my opinion) has lost his song.  He hasn't sung a note since July of last year.  
  • I'm home, but I'm not home.  Things don't seem to fit the way they did before and a general feeling of disconnect has caused quite a bit of emotional discomfort.
I could go on, but I think this covers most of it.  All of this discomfort, pain, unmet expectation, fear, doubt, anger, hurt,'s all part of God's plan. Being broken isn't punishment.  It's a gift really, and I'm seeing it. 

Recently I was introduced to a song by Bethel Music entitled "We Dance".  It is ministering to me in a deep and special way.  The fog of my anxiety, depression and state of being "stuck" has slowly been lifting and I was reminded of an experience I had in Sept. of last year. as I literally danced before my Savior in the stillness of the night in my living room in honor of the living and dying of Kara Tippetts at Mundane Faithfulness. It is an odd place to be when you feel like everything you've ever been is dead and gone and there is no purpose for you as a person and that your family is floundering, drowning and dangling from a cliff. Knowing the Sovereignty of God and trusting it are two different things. Yes, I'm different. My season has changed. My old dreams have faded, and I'm learning again to sing, to live, to love, to partner with a man that is different than he has been for the last 19 years, to see, really see EACH of my five children and my plans for home schooling, parenting, home making have been forced to change. It's all scary. It's all uncomfortable. It's GOD'S Hands AND he's holding me...leading me, whispering to me as WE DANCE!!! Be blessed today and thank you for praying for this fledgling songbird. I can hear the the distance and it won't be long until I'm the one singing. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Happy New Year

Well it's January 15th.  Why would you be wishing me a "Happy New Year" today?  Well I believe that everyday is a chance to start again, anew and to learn, grow and change.  I told you that my 2015 "Word" is BRAVE. Part of being brave and my ‪#‎2015ThemeSong‬ word for the year includes not looking back to the past except to use it to learn, grow and change.

JJ Heller has ministered to me for years. I quoted her just a few days ago on my Facebook page. Here new song "This Year" is catchy, singable and full of truth.  I love the line in the chorus that says "Let's fight a good fight....train our eyes to see the light and make this year the BEST one yet."  There's also a line in the last verse that says " feel alive instead of feeling numb".  These two things go hand in hand for me.  I've felt numb for the last several months because I've been focusing on the wrong things.  The weight of my life, my reality, the grandness of our situation, the urgency of our family dynamic all of this has created a spiritual, mental and emotional haze that has hindered my vision.  As the dust is settling, the fog is lifting I'm seeing the beauty all around me.  I believe that gratitude is what is helping the clouds to part.  I want to see the light.  The light in me, the light in others, the light all around.  Beauty, grace, mercy and goodness are everywhere.  I want to be present in the moment and have eyes to see it.

I'll be sharing some goals, dreams and hopes for this year later.  Tonight I just wanted to share this song. Be blessed....embrace the moment, go for it, dream BIG and live life to the full. May 2015 be the BEST YEAR YET! Happy New Year....
— listening to JJ Heller.

Less than a week old, "This Year (Happy New Year)" is uploaded and pending approval from the iTunes store! We expect it to be available later today - 1/6/15)...
Like ·  · 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


This year I was encouraged by a friend to name my year.  I've read of other people using this practice.  Last year I even prayed to be "gloriously ruined". WOW!  That's another post.  As you can see it was a loaded year.  I only blogged once.  So...on to THIS post.

BRAVE.  Here's my 2015 Theme Song.  I'm going to be brave, not because I have the strength to do so, but because of the Spirit that lives within me.  Why brave?  Why not peace?  I sure could use some peace.  For those of you that might be new to my blog or even a friend that needs a refresher...I'm a wife to Nathan (almost 20 years), mother to Joseph (13), Jesse (10), JoyAnn (10), Jonathan (5) and James (5).  Yes you read correctly...five kids and two sets of twins.  There are lots of things that you didn't read in those last sentences.  Things that can't be described in words or would take many blog entries.  Depression, anxiety, autism, fear, joy, chaos, struggle, change.....all just in those last sentences.  So...peace would have been a GREAT word.  What about joy, love, change, or happiness?  All wonderful words.  My word though is BRAVE. 

Being brave is so much more than conquering a fear such as heights, the dark or public speaking. Being brave involves asking for help, being vulnerable, having a teachable spirit and learning even at 40.  Bravery is letting go of the the hold that the past has had and stepping into a glorious future even though the way hasn't been revealed.  This past Sunday we sang It is Well by Bethel (if you haven't listened to it you should) and my friend Amy sang lead.  I shared about the importance of this song to me back in October of last year.  Here is the post from my FB page.  

There's a day coming....soon when my heart and flesh will boldly be able to stand and sing "It is Well". This song has been spreading around FB. I heard it weeks ago and I couldn't stop listening. JoyAnn even asked me if I was o.k. No, that day is not today. However, when this songbird finds her new song it will be stronger, sweeter, deeper and more passionate than before. grateful for purposeful, pruning, powerful pain that is urging me on to seek more of Jesus. Even if it's in my bathroom.....I will sing this someday as a a sacrifice of praise, proclaiming the healing of my shattered soul, broken heart and wounded mind. This song is worth the wait!!!  

As we sang this song, and I shared in the passion by adding a high harmony, I was moved to tears.  A friend of mine sent me this message the next day...."Yesterday during worship you lead with your heart. I could see each word loving on your heart. I don't know what you're going through. But it was beautiful. I wanted to find you after church and say hello and give you a hug. I'm sorry I didn't find you. But thank you for being authentic in your worship."
Standing there on stage and allowing myself to be vulnerable was my brave.  To sing with all of my heart, soul and voice as my faith family held me up with their prayers and my own family sat in the congregation carrying weights and burdens of their own, I was brave.  

Brave means not being fake, false or disengaged.  Brave is facing pride, false belief, fear, depression, stinking thinking and unmet expectation and rebuilding a life on the TRUTH.  Brave is continuing to work towards change even when you don't see or feel results.  Brave is believing the best and hoping for the best even when there is no evidence this is possible.  Brave is walking every step by faith, literally taking every breath in hope and expectation that you are being HELD by something, someone greater than you.  Brave is living life fully, without regret and being willing to fail, to try, to be detoured and directed down a different path.  

This is my prayer for 2015.  So much change.  So much new, but it's all so exciting.  Really it is and I can't wait to share this year with you.  Thanks as always for reading.  Leave some love and let me know what's going on in your life.  Perhaps you would come along and name YOUR year???  

~Learning to be BRAVE......