Friday, December 12, 2014

Psalm 37

It's so amazing to me how God gives me exactly what I need right when I need it.
Whether it's encouragement, conviction, accountability, wisdom, a heart for forgiveness, all of it.
He gives it to me.   And the timing is always perfect.
 
I have been very encouraged this month by a lot of things.  About 4 weeks ago my world was shaken up quite a bit.  I posted this instagram photo with the caption Psalm 37 when I felt everything crumbling and that chapter has pulled me through so much heartache.  And here I stand a month later so full of joy and hope.  Because through every part of this trial I've called on the Lord and he has not forsaken me.  I've seen changes in people that I've prayed over for 3 years now.  And now that I'm seeing it I know that God knew exactly what he was doing and I'm so thankful I didn't lose my way and lose heart while I was waiting for my prayers to be answered.  Now when I see brokenness in people I don't see it as something that can't be fixed or even as something that I need to try and fix.  I see brokenness as perfectly placed cracks and crevices through which God's light and love can flow into a damaged heart.  I've decided that I will never allow my pride or any form of selfishness hinder God from using me as a vessel for performing a work in someone's heart.  And that's where my favorite scripture comes into play.
 
At first glance Psalm 37 seems like somewhat of a revenge passage.  And if you don't allow yourself to deeply reflect on its meaning it can be sort of misunderstood. 
 
Psalm 37 (NIV)
Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the righteous
    and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he knows their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword
    and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
    to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
    and their bows will be broken.
Better the little that the righteous have
    than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.
The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
    and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
    in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
But the wicked will perish:
    Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
    they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
The wicked borrow and do not repay,
    but the righteous give generously;
those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
    but those he curses will be destroyed.
The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.[b]
Turn from evil and do good;
    then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the Lord loves the just
    and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed[c];
    the offspring of the wicked will perish.
The righteous will inherit the land
    and dwell in it forever.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
    and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
    their feet do not slip.
The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
    intent on putting them to death;
but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
    or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Hope in the Lord
    and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
    when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
    flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
    though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
    a future awaits those who seek peace.[d]
But all sinners will be destroyed;
    there will be no future[e] for the wicked.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
    he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.
 
Wow.  What a message.  So much to be received from just a small part of the Bible that's packed with encouragement, wisdom & compassion for anyone going through a difficult time.
And I'm not sure what you took away from it, because everyone comprehends things differently based on what they are going through.  But I'll tell you what I'm feeling...
 
No matter what people do or how badly things hurt you we have to remember that there's so much more to this life than allowing other people's wrongdoings to take hold of us and cause us to slip up in our walk with the Lord.  We are only here for a short while and all of the problems that we face should be considered pure joy for us because they give God the opportunity to work through us if we will just let Him.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to stand in his way because I'm trying to take things into my own hands. I'm far too fragile to handle something that isn't my responsibility to handle.
God is our ultimate justice.  And there is freedom in forgiveness.  He will fight for us as long as we delight in Him and never lose sight of the glorious home that awaits us in Heaven.  And not only will He fight for us and deliver us from all of our pain and suffering, He will uphold us and guide us along the path of righteousness.  I know in my heart that as long as I give Him my hand and allow Him to lead me, I will not grow weary and I will not lose heart or hope.  And I will delight in the fact that he is working everything out for me so I don't even need to worry or fret about it.
 
But here's the part I struggle with...
I know in my heart that he wants me to pray for the ones who are intent on destroying me and who delight in my pain.
Why is that so hard to do?  My goodness.  It's like the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  But I've found that even if I begin praying those prayers with gritted teeth and rolling my eyes they eventually become sincere.  I fear the Lord but I'm not scared of Him.  So when I pray for my enemies I'm very honest with God about not wanting to.  And then I begin to see that it gets easier with practice and as the days go by and I start to experience healing. 
I'm also very convicted about...
Overcoming evil with good.  If someone hurts me, I try my best to turn it into a blessing for someone else.  Why would we let the hurt train run through us and hurt someone within our reach when we could use our hurt for a greater good and stop it in its tracks.  Through blessing other people we can turn that train around and it can lead all kinds of people straight to the Lord. 
 
I don't know about you but I'm pretty sure that if we all constantly strive for goodness it will come with peace and it will trickle right out of our lives and into someone else's. 
 
That's what the world needs, y'all.  We all know this.
 
And you know what's even more amazing?  I woke up this morning and saw this on Joyce Meyer's broadcast page...
I hear you, Lord.  Keep on speaking to me.
 
And I hope all of you will be encouraged today.  No matter what you're facing in life or how bad you're hurting.  You don't have to hold on to that.  Cling to what is good and reach out for the One who has everything you need and hand him your doubts and fears.  He will take care of you, just as He has taken care of me.
 
Happy Friday. :) 
 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Life Lately: Thankful/Catch-Up Edition

Life has been coming at me a mile per minute lately and I've finally gotten around to catching my breath. It is so full of unexpected things but there's still so much joy to be found and so much to be thankful for through all of it.
 
God's grace is sufficient and his mercies are new every morning.
That in itself is a reason to rejoice.
And that's what I'm most thankful for.
 
But I'm also really thankful for...
My husband.  And all of our date nights lately.  Sometimes things happen that push you together in a way nothing else ever has.  It has been fun making my husband my boyfriend again.
Even though he hates it when I take pictures. I'm working on that... ;)
 
Kollyns and I have been fighting miserable colds for 4 weeks now.  We have been resting a lot and trying our best to get better.
I'm thankful for her.  Even when she's sick she's my little sunshine.  She can make the worst day bright and the best day brighter.  Our sweet little girl.  I'm so glad she's finally feeling good.
 
And I'm thankful I'm finally starting to feel better too.
This face is a face that has been through 15 boxes of tissues and a bottle of Nyquil or two over the past few weeks.  This face is weak and tired, but I was having a pretty good hair day (probably because it's the first day I felt good enough to actually fix it) so a selfie was completely warranted.  And I couldn't breath through my nose so I wasn't about to force a smile. Don't judge me okay? :)
 
We're getting in the Christmas spirit over here, and I'm thankful for that too.  It's my favorite time of the year, always has been.  I plan on racking up after Christmas this year when things go on sale so next year we can reach Griswold status.  This year I just stuck with the basics.  You know, glittery ribbon and wreaths and things...


And for ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas.  Every night.  Polar Express is Kollyns' new favorite! ;)  I'm still an Elf girl.  Best Christmas movie of all time.  Notice the two porcupine ornaments on the tree.  She had to have them.  I keep moving them to her tree and she keeps bringing them back to the living room.  I give up. :)
 
Christmas just makes everything extra pretty.

And I'm thankful that my husband brought home a ladder and made this happen...

and for our warm cozy house.
 
And that our Elf on the Shelf Sparkle has been surprising Kollyns every morning.  Too bad she reveals my lack of creativity every single day. 
 
 
 
So here's to lots of warm cozy nights with the ones we love as we get closer and closer to Christmas...
Appreciating what we have while we have it...
and to me being a much better blogger in the near future so I don't have to fill it up with ridiculous selfies and the adventures of our elf.
Shame. On. Me.
;)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Yes, Just One.


Very often when I'm asked if Devin and I plan on having another baby and I respond with "probably not" I find myself facing looks of horror and/or disappointment followed by a series of questions and statements that I would never in a million years have the guts to let fly out of my mouth to a stranger. 
 
"Oh you have to have another one, she will be so lonely!"
No she won't.  She has me, her dad and the rest of our family.  And I'm going to take a leap of faith here and say she will probably make friends at some point in her lifetime.
 
 "What if something happens to her?" 
Let's pray it doesn't.  And I'm just going to assume that you didn't just imply that another kid would replace my precious Kollyns if something did.
 
"Don't you want her to have a best friend growing up?"
I have a best friend.  And she isn't my brother.
 
"Are you able?"
Maybe, maybe not.  Won't know unless I try and I'm not going to try just for fun. 

You don't even know how badly I want to say those things back.  Instead, I just smile politely and speed walk in the other direction.

And then I get a lump in my throat.  Because what if they're right?

And then I choke it down because my gut is telling me they aren't.
 
I know God may have another plan for our lives and I could show up pregnant any day now even though it's not necessarily in my own plan.  And don't think for a second if we ever got pregnant again I wouldn't want another child.  Of course I would embrace another pregnancy and love a second kid just as much as I love Kollyns. 

But no, I'm not going to try to get pregnant again. Go ahead and gasp.

Call me selfish, or whatever else you want.  But I know what works for my family and I think for me, at this point in my life... it would be selfish to have more than one.  I work full time, my husband works at least 5 or 6 twelve hour shifts a week swinging back and forth between nights and days, and I know I would probably be incredibly overwhelmed trying to juggle everything we have going on plus a baby.

I also know how present that I desire to be in Kollyns' life and I know a second kid would change that for me.

I was an only child until I was 10 and even then I only saw my brother three days a week because my parents divorced when I was 6.  The age gap always left me feeling like an only child anyway because I didn't lose any of the perks.  I had time alone with my parents growing up, I had my time to play by myself and  I had time with my friends too, and my parents always gave me a good amount of attention.  When my brother came along I helped take care of him because I was so much older and loved every part of it.  I enjoyed feeding him and dressing him in cute little baby clothes, and kissing his chubby cheeks and watching Thomas the Train with him more than you will ever know.

  And even though I have an awesome relationship with my 17 year old brother and I love him more than life... it doesn't mean I want to have another baby just so Kollyns can have that bond with someone.  Of course a little bit of sadness accompanies the idea that she will never share that closeness with a sibling.  But happiness follows right behind it because she will share a bond with her parents that is unique to being an only child. 

You can argue all day that pure undivided attention from both parents will inevitably produce a selfish, greedy, and spoiled child.  But based on the behavior of my Kollyns... I could knock that theory clean out of the park.  And I do, every chance I get.

She has been around mostly adults for all of her life.  And I feel like that has contributed to her expansive vocabulary and her ability to outwit most grown ups at any given moment.  She's my sidekick.  She accompanies me to church meetings, outings with friends, shopping trips and work.  This exposure has led to maturity that sets her apart from most of the kids her age. 

She is compassionate and kind and nurturing towards her peers.  Because that's how I am towards her and she has learned almost everything she knows from me and her dad and grandparents.

She is confident and self-assured and she doesn't compete for attention or love.  She doesn't have to.

She shares with a smile on her face anytime she gets the chance.  Maybe because she knows when she gets home what's hers is hers.

She is content by herself and with herself.  Probably because that's all she has ever known, or it might just be a trait that was passed right on down to her from her mama.  I've never been one for crowds.

And I could go on and on and on.

Even as a kid I never dreamed of having two.  I said when I got married that if I was blessed enough to have even one that I would be perfectly content with that and would parent with all my heart from the first day.

And I think knowing that she would probably be my only from the get go has changed my perspective as a parent because I knew that this was my one chance to give mothering everything I've got.

We have been a co-sleeping family since she was born and she still sleeps in our bed.  Yes, it's getting more and more uncomfortable as her pretty little legs and arms grow and they flail about during all hours of the night.  Still, I'm not willing to give up our cuddles as we fall asleep and the stillness of those mornings I just lay beside her and stare at her perfect face and thank God for lending her to me as she's sleeping so peacefully. 

I breastfed her until she was almost three because I knew I would probably never again experience that precious gift and it broke my heart when I had to stop. I didn't look at it as a finish line I had to cross nor did I keep reaching for the next 'however many month mark' to pass.  It was our time and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I have taken her to work with me almost every day since she was an infant just because I could and I wasn't willing to miss a single moment of her life as she reached countless milestones.  One kid at the office is very doable, two kids would make it feel more like daycare.

Now I'm not going to pretend like my kid is perfect.  She can be a huge brat at times, and pitch fits that embarrass me so badly I can feel my cheeks burning. But for the most part, she really impresses me with how she handles situations.

There are so many positive things that go along with having more than one child too.  The bond, the friendship, and the life lessons they learn from growing up with siblings.  The family experiences, the great memories, a live-in playmate and so much more.

So don't think for a second that since my kid is an only child, I'm insinuating she is more loved and more well behaved, better off or smarter than your child.  Nor am I saying that kids with siblings are neglected...so please don't hate me and misread any of this.  I'm just telling you that one kid works for our family. 

We are happy and content and so incredibly thankful for our one beautiful little girl.

Our sweet precious Kollyns.

And when asked if she wants a little brother or sister she never fails to respond with...

"No, I want an elephant.  And I want all of your cuddles."

You've got it, babe.  Except for the elephant part.