The Waiting Game

One of my least favorite things to do in life is wait.  It begins when we’re children, just dying for Christmas to finally arrive.  And it never really stops, does it?  We’re always anxiously awaiting something.  Positive things – like weddings, anniversaries, graduations, the birth of a new baby, surprise parties we’ve been planning for months.  But also negative things – like waiting for blood test results, waiting for a friend to be healed or to pass, waiting to hear if you failed an exam.

Waiting is hard.  It stretches us beyond our normal lengths.  It grows us in ways we might not prefer to grow.  It builds anticipation, and then often lets us down.  Waiting.  Frankly, it sucks.

We live in a society that wants everything instantly.  We have fast food drive thru, and now we even have the ability at multiple establishments to order our food on our phones so it will be ready when we arrive.  Because waiting for even five minutes is just. too. difficult.

And I’m guilty of the same thing.  I don’t like to wait.  I appreciate a good, fast moving drive thru line.  I have been known to do those mobile orders ahead so I can just run in and take two seconds and not really connect with any one person more than that.

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But yet, that is not the life we are called to live.  I’m feeling a lot of conviction over that lately – my lack of ability to wait.  The Justin Graves Band song “Wait for the Lord” is playing itself like a broken record in my mind, and ironically, I haven’t even listened to it in a couple months.  Conviction.  God knows how to get thru to us… He really does!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 are some very famous verses.  Even secular artists refer frequently to these prophetic words.  And yet, we rarely really take them to heart.  Have you ever REALLY sat down and read those words?  It’s a run down of what science calls “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Thank you, Mr. Newton… for reframing what the Bible had told us generations before.  Both Solomon and Newton were extremely wise men, who were absolutely right.  Our problem today is that we want everything quick – without taking the time to do the opposite.  Sometimes there is a time to wait.

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Right now I have a horrendous amount of fire ant bites on my feet.  That wait – between getting the bites, and the pain and itching and burning two days later – that wait was bliss.  I knew the pain was coming.  But I had these few moments of fleeting hope that maybe this time… maybe THIS time they wouldn’t hurt.  Well, then, this morning, here is that pain.  The old familiar burn and itch.  And now the other waiting begins – the waiting for the burn and itch to go away.  Because it will.  I know that this pain is only temporary.  It won’t last forever.

Waiting between our two children for that positive pregnancy test… and the ultrasound to confirm a healthy life.  That was a hard wait.  Twice we got part of the equation.  And twice our hearts were broken when there was no healthy life.  But we waited.  And in that waiting, I admit I did a lot of fighting with God.  I told Him all about my time table.  And then, suddenly, in what now seems like just a short little time, we were pregnant.  And this time it was our Grayson.  He was healthy.  He was kicking early, and I suddenly had this great reminder that God is in control, and He has a very special plan – and timing! – for our lives.

Flash forward.  Suddenly, that little baby we waited SO LONG (not really!) for is THREE years old!  And he doesn’t like to wait.  For anything.  He whines.  He cries.  He pulls out his Mr. Sass and uses that attitude toward anyone who makes him wait – for anything.  Heck, he’ll even get in front of me and stop when I’m walking and don’t pick him up fast enough.  Because he is a child.  Selfish, and unable to wait on my timing.  He doesn’t understand when my answer is “no.”  He certainly doesn’t understand when my answer is “not right now.”  And yet, how much the same I am with God!

Watching Gray in his frustration, and then going back and reading the words of King David in many of his Psalms, I know that waiting is hard.  It always has been, and it always will be.  It’s not easy.  And yet, we are called to wait on the Lord.  We are called to wait, to trust, and also to hope.  And honestly, I think we are called to do those three things not because they are easy, but rather because they are difficult.  They build character.  Leaning on faith in the unknown is difficult.  It’s hard.  It’s AGONIZING!!!  But in the end, we will have learned, and grown just a little bit stronger.  Our faith in God will be enhanced.

These two verses from Psalm speak so much to my heart right now.  I see the humanness of David, and yet, look at all God was able to do in and through his life, and through his descendants!  How much He can do through me, when I put my hope in His words!

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And then, the song comes to me, “Soar” by Meredith Andrews.  He has made these promises to us, and He is a promise keeper.  We just have to wait.  And in that waiting, we find Him there, lifting us up on wings like eagles to soar.  You may find yourself feeling like a pigeon – just waiting for a speck of food on the sidewalk.  But friend, remember – He has promised to lift us up to be eagles.  The wait isn’t that long.  It isn’t that hard.  You can do this.  You can soar.  It’s hard – the waiting.  We wait for the morning like watchmen who are nervously jumping at every shadow.  But when that morning comes, it’s gonna be the most amazing sunrise you can imagine!  Take heart, my friend!  He has overcome the darkest nights, and His mercies are new every single morning.  And that morning WILL come.  It will.  The wait may seem long.  But take heart – while we wait, we can soar!

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Speak Life

 

Time goes by so quickly.  It seems I start most of my posts by saying something similar, though.  I have goals and dreams of writing all these fabulous things, and then life happens.  Because so many other things take priority… and because so many other things weigh me down.  This weekend I had a conversation with a friend who got me thinking – we as moms of young kids really crave connection.  Even if you aren’t a super extroverted person, it’s just so vital to know that you aren’t alone.  To see someone else’s kids act up in public, to hear someone else’s daughter talk back… it somehow doesn’t make my children’s behavior ok, but it makes me at least feel like I’m not alone.  I’m not the only one fighting the battle day in and day out.   Time is flying… and yet, the hours seem to go by so very slowly on this often very lonely island called Motherhood.

And then we also talked about the elephant in the room.  Ya know, self image issues.  We both feel fat.  We’ve gained weight.  And we weren’t making excuses, just commiserating, and expressing frustration that all these people on social media seem to have some “magic drink/pill/patch” that will “fix it” for us – something that makes their life perfect.  Because her patch and my drink aren’t making it perfect for us.  It helps occasionally, but it’s not perfect.  And we’re frustrated with the image that everyone puts out there.  It seems we both want to know that we’re not the only moms who are using products that aren’t perfect, but they help.  I don’t want to hear why your product is so much better than mine.  I want to know that you have something that works most of the time for you, but that you respect my right to try something different.  She wants to hear that working out every single day doesn’t always make you lose weight.  She wants to hear that energy isn’t always found in her little patch – because it’s not magic, and some days it’s just not gonna work.  Other days, we’ll both conquer the world, thankyouverymuch, thanks to help from the products we choose to use.  But interestingly enough, as we had this random conversation, I looked her over, and thought, “dang, really I think she looks good, what’s she talking about!?”  And she looked me over and thought the very same thing!  The best part was, though, I opened my mouth… and said it.  And then she repeated my words back to me.  And when she did, she spoke life into my heart.

Because friends, the mirror is our WORST enemy.  It’s satan’s little tool to help us see all the flaws – all the curves, wrinkles, splotches, and bouncy parts.  What we need to remember is something my pastor talked about this morning… and made me think of one of my favorite TobyMac songs – we NEED desperately to be Speaking LIFE into our fellow moms.  We need to remember the power that our tongue wields over our body, and use it for the GOOD!  We need to see a random woman on the sidewalk and tell her “that dress looks gorgeous on you!”  We need to see that mom in the pediatricians office who has obviously been up all night getting thrown up on, and tell her, “I LOVE the color of your hair!  It makes your eyes look so lovely.”  And not made-up fake crap-words.  But genuinely LOOK at the moms around you.  LOOK at them.  See them for the daughters of the King that they are, and tell them the beauty that you see.  Because when we speak life into each other, we are better equipped to be moms.  Satan knows how to use that mirror first thing in the morning to lie to us and set our day off on the wrong foot.  And he will.  He’ll use it against us day after day.  He’ll use that button on the top of our jeans, and the zipper against us, too.  And don’t even get me started on that little black square that sits on the bathroom floor and taunts us with bright red numbers.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m NOT suggesting that we shouldn’t each strive to be our best.  I’m not saying that weight loss and health products aren’t good – they each serve a purpose.  But I am fully realizing that every single one of our bodies is different.  What helps one person really may do NOTHING for someone else.  And we can strive for health all day long, day in and day out, and still feel horrible about the way we look.  Because self image is probably the number one thing that women struggle with.  We change the color and style of our hair, use tons of makeup, have a billion outfits, different purses, shoes, and mountains of jewelry.  Why?  All to attempt to sort of make ourselves feel better about the way we look.  And nothing can change it.  It’s built in.  It’s going to happen.  But when we start owning this, and realizing that we CAN affect how someone else lives their day just by speaking a word of life-changing encouragement to them in a brief moment, then that’s when we start to affect change in our own lives.  Because when you speak life to others, God speaks it right back into your own heart.

We may look at a women who visually we think has it all together, but she needs encouragement just as much as we do!  You truly can’t judge a book (or a woman) by its/her cover!!

And y’all, I’m writing this to myself, too – because so many times I go introverted and just walk right on by.  But the times when I do speak up and say something to someone, the smile that they return to me is so amazing that it takes my breath away.  I will never forget the woman’s face and her smile – she was totally rocking a bright yellow dress, and as I headed in to the doctors office one day, I just had to tell her, “that dress is stunning on you!”  Her smile lit up her entire face.  Y’all, I don’t know what her number on the scale was.  I know that the size of her dress would have swallowed me whole.  But y’all, she was ROCKING that dress.  And she needed to know it.  This is what I’m talking about.  We need to look around.  And look out.  Because when all we do is look down, all we’re going to see is the bulge at our waistline and the chip on our toenail polish and the strips of cellulite peeking out from below the end of our shorts (if we dare to wear shorts – I know I don’t!).  And y’all, we aren’t the only ones with those issues and those insecurities.  We are not alone.

So let’s look out, ladies.  And let’s speak up.  And speak life.  And change lives with our words.

Priorities

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Man, life gets busy.  Doesn’t it?  I mean, seriously.  I sat down to lunch with a dear friend yesterday.  She moved to Michigan almost a year ago.  But as we talked, we realized a full year went by between when I saw her last and their move.  Because as we also discussed, the years fly by, but the days go by so slow.  ‘Tis the season.  We have a four and a half year old, and a two and a half year old.  The hours between when room time is done and when bed time arrives are the longest of the day.  They typically include a lot of extreme emotions, too – lots of laughter, and lots of screaming and crying (and that’s just the kids… not to mention the rollercoaster I ride with them…)  And it’s honestly so hard to get up every day, knowing the rollercoaster awaits, and look at my to do list and to prioritize what is really important, and what is fluff that can wait til the next day.

Y’all!  Please tell me I’m not alone in this struggle.  Stephen Covey makes it sound so dang easy.  Oh, just put things into categories, and then go with it.  It doesn’t matter how many cute stickers I put in my planner, y’all.  Some days, I don’t just use them.  I don’t write down all the things that need to be done because they are just too many to write.  I don’t need to write “dishes” and “laundry” on my calendar every day.  No, they have become as inevitable to me as death and taxes.  Every single day of my life as a mom of two kids, those things will haunt me.  Until one day they won’t, and then I will wonder at how long it takes for the laundry to pile, and how many hours the sink will sit totally empty.  And I’ll miss it.  I know I will.  Because I spend time with friends who are empty nesters, and they tell me to treasure these moments.

So I’m trying.  I try to prioritize my kids needs first.  I’m trying to stop and take time to build with magnets and play with trains and push them on the swings.  Because work and housework and responsibilities like paying bills and planning church lessons are all a means to an end.  They are good things.  Things that need to happen because I have committed myself to them.  But those things will amazingly still be there to do when the kids are long gone.  They won’t be little forever.  As evidenced by the fact that we have now lived in this house five and a half years… we’ve been married eight and a half years… and our two beautiful babies aren’t babies any more.  Time keeps marching on.  As I sit and type this, the house is silent.  It’s just the hum of the refrigerator, the bubbling of the fish tank, and… the ticking of the clock.  Because time is marching.  Always.

This past week in my Bible study at church we heard some amazing words from Beth Moore.  She read a survey question from a mom that hit me.  This mom said “You’re only as happy as your saddest child.”  Beth went on to say that when we lean on God, “[He] can take our mourning and turn it to wild dancing.”  That really has resonated with me.  Because I so often get caught up in the fears and sadness of whatever emotional rollercoaster my kids are riding.  And then I realize that it’s my job to help them lean on Him to help get off the ride.  Granted, Gray is too young to understand, but Becca is very much in tune to talking to God and asking Him for help.  So I guess all of this is to say that this week I have started realizing my number one priority is to lean on Him, and to put my kids in a close second – teaching them to also lean on Him.  Everything else is just details.  They fall way down the priority list.  Because really, if I lean on Him, and teach them to lean on Him, everything else will fall into place.  No, the dishes won’t do themselves, and sadly neither will the laundry.  But I will find strength to do the things that need to be done when I FIRST place my trust in Him.  It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it IS the most important.

How are you prioritizing your life?  It’s a challenge to remember to keep God first.  Sometimes it’s hard to even put the kids above all the chores!  It’s a daily struggle.  As Beth Moore says (in her Esther study), “It’s tough being a woman who feels responsible for the ‘how.'”  But y’all, the beautiful truth she goes on to share is what has gotten me through this week.  She said, “Girlfriend, we are called to OBEDIENCE, not to figure out how to solve everything!”  Isn’t that beautiful?  Read it again.  We are called to OBEDIENCE, NOT to figure out how to solve every problem.  So put God first.  And let Him organize the rest of your priorities.  Because all those things are important.  Friendships are important.  But when you listen to Him, He will bring you back together with a long lost friend at exactly the right moment.  Trust me.  That’s exactly what happened to me this week.  It all works out because He’s got the details.  Let Him handle your priorities.  When the emotional and physical rollercoaster you’re riding is just too much and you feel like the drama is going to pull you into the deep, let Him come in and rescue you.  He promises He will.  And y’all, He KEEPS HIS PROMISES!

Be blessed!

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Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas

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It’s hard in the midst of the busyness of the Christmas season to keep the focus where it should be… So might I make a suggestion?  You’re already going to be doing craft projects and activities… what if you just tweaked them a bit to make sure that your focus is on Christ?  Don’t worry – I’m not suggesting you invent the wheel here!  Nope, Alicia Michelle of Your Vibrant Family has already done it for you!  (And no, it’s not too late to get it TODAY!)

When I found out about her Christmas system, I was excited to be a reviewer!  (Full discloser – I received the set in exchange for my review – these opinions shared here are my own, and links to purchase the set are affiliate links that financially benefit our family – THANK YOU!) But once we started using the system, I started to love it even more!  I read through her ideas, and something she said really hit me.  I mean, I had head knowledge, but there was something about reading it… this is what she said:

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And suddenly, reading this, I realized that it was ok to not cram pack every single day with activity.  It was even ok to not do our annual Christmas cookie exchange this year… and instead use the funds to purchase some special craft activities that we could do together as a family, and sponsor an angel from our church’s angel tree.

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Becca and I painted these wooden letters and as we did, we talked about why we chose “Joy” as her middle name, and also talked about that JOY can stand for putting Jesus first, then Others, then Yourself. It was a really fun time painting together, and a great, deep conversation!

Having this mindset and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas has helped my attitude toward the season so much!  It’s amazing.  I mean, it seems so simple.  Because it is.

Check out the Christ-Centered Christmas Banner we have put together from Alicia’s set… (You can purchase your copy of the set here!)

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How we used the banner pieces:
Gray is 2 1/2 and LOVES to stick stickers!  It’s a fabulous way for him to work on hand-eye coordination and build his fine motor skills, so I’m always looking for more sticker opportunities for him.  He decorated the “Light of the World” banner piece with sparkly star stickers, and we talked about the star that shone over the stable where baby Jesus was born.  We also talked about that Jesus can be called the “Light of the World.”  Did he get it? I wasn’t sure.  But the other night he made the connection when he made a star ornament at our church carnival and he said “It’s Jesus’ star over the manger!  Is the ‘Light of the world!'”  He also used stickers to decorate the “Merry Christmas” banner piece.  He really enjoyed decorating – and when I got the banner hung up, he loved seeing his work on the wall!

Becca is working hard on her handwriting skills, but isn’t super fond of copywork.  So – I thought it might be more fun if she could do her copywork onto banner pieces to be hung on the wall.  She jumped on it and was so excited!  She wrote Psalm 34:18 on the “Hope” banner piece, and on the “Joy” banner piece, she wrote “J is for Jesus” from the poem we read (also in the set!) about the meaning of the candy cane.  Then she chose to draw a picture of Jesus on that banner piece as well.

I added a couple of family pictures to the other banner pieces to tie the focus to our specific family.  Then, since we typically have a sign in the middle of our art display wall (I originally posted about this wall here), I used Alicia’s beautiful background paper that I printed on my color printer, and then ran it through my laser printer once it was totally dry… and developed a beautiful advent count-down calendar to fit in the frame that regularly hangs there… that we can mark with a dry erase marker!  (If you purchase this set, please let me know, and as a thank you for your purchase, I will email you your FREE PDF copy of the “O Come, O Come Immanual” advent countdown calendar – that can easily be printed on top of her decorative paper!  It’s not too late to start it!)

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I am so pleased with how the whole wall turned out.  I love that it’s visible from downstairs in our living room, and that it’s in a place where the kids will see it regularly (upstairs near their rooms) to remember where our focus should be this holiday season.

Another activity we did from this set was actually one I used with our AWANA K-2 group this week.  We talked about the meaning of the candy cane, and the kids strung beads on pipe cleaners to make candy canes.  They got to keep one, and take one to a friend at school – along with the candy cane poem printable from the set – as a Christmas gift to share Jesus with their friends!  The kids had so much fun and were really excited to have a gift to take to friends.  They colored the sheets in their classes once they had said their verses, or could take them home to color before giving to their friend.  I’ll be doing the same thing with Becca this weekend – she’ll get to make candy canes to give to her friends, and can color the sheet as a Christmas card.

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It’s so easy to use this set to stay on track, to keep your focus, and yet still accomplish all the goals you normally have during the holiday season!  I so appreciate Alicia’s creation of this set, and look forward to using these parts (and more!) next year.  I love that there’s so many different options, and I can use what works for our family now, and then still have new things we can add on or swap out next year, or the next!

Might I add…   Don’t think if it’s after December 1st that you can’t start this!!!!  It is never too late to get your focus right, and there’s always room to do stuff next year, but if you wait to get it, you’ll forget!  So click here to get it today and use what you can, and just allow it to build in the future.  You won’t regret it.  That I can promise.

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Click Here! Affiliate link – THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Snap-a-Day Advent Photo Challenge

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Last year I stumbled upon a photo challenge for advent, and I jumped in!  I looked up Bible verses to go with each one, wrote them on index cards, and put them in cute envelopes to be opened by Becca each night before bed.

This year, I’ve teamed up with that blogger- the one who does the photo challenge each year- and Allison Gringas and I are happy to bring you the Snap-a-Day Advent Challenge- now with FREE printable Bible verse cards for each day! 

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Simply share your photos daily on IG with #SnapAdvent and tag Allison @reconciledtoyou, and me @cdhinnant!  This printable makes it quick and easy for you to do a Bible verse with your child nightly, and combine it with the fun of a photo challenge!  You don’t even have to look up the verses- they are typed on each card for you in the NIV version (sample shown below).

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We are so excited to offer this to you FREE, and pray that it will bless your family.  Just print on any printer, cut, and enjoy!  Please do tag us both on your photos so we know that you’re benefiting from this printable!  God bless, and may you have an amazing Advent season as we prepare for Christ’s birth!