Dirt On My Shoulders

This morning I read the story of a farmer whose donkey fell in a well.  For hours he tried to figure out how to get the donkey out, and finally decided the donkey was old and the well was dry, so he’d just bury the donkey.  The donkey of course started braying loudly as the dirt came down, but then he got really quiet, and the farmer looked down to realize that the donkey was shaking off the dirt, and using it as a stepping stone to get out.  With each bit of dirt, the donkey stepped higher and higher, until finally it stepped out onto the ground next to the farmer.  In Joyce Meyer’s devotional (New Day, New You: 366 Devotions for Enjoying Everyday Life {aff link}), she tied this story to the verse from Hebrews 12:1, where we are told to shake off our sins and to keep persevering, running the race that God has for us.  (NIV 12:1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”)

Just before reading that, I had spent time reading 2 Timothy (it’s really a short letter), and I was struck by Paul’s encouragement despite being imprisoned and all but one of his friends had abandoned him.  He knew that the end of his days was near, and yet he says in chapter 4, vs 7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
I think as a mom it’s so easy to look around my house right now and see the dirty dishes, the coffee pot that never gets washed – just rinsed and reused, the laundry piling up and washer buzzing, the art work long since dry still laying on the counter, the blanket wadded on the couch from last night’s tv watching before bed, the library books I had to renew online because I missed the due date… I could go on and on and on.  And yet, I must make myself stop.  I’m doing something important here, around all the clutter.  My desk is overflowing with client information and travel quotes and requests for more.  One of our bedrooms is overflowing with clothes being prepped for a consignment sale.  All of it is for a purpose.  It’s for what resides in the other three rooms.  It’s for my family.
I’m not supposed to focus on the stress or the anxiety or the clutter.  I’m supposed to keep pressing on.  Running the race.  Fighting the fight.  Teaching God’s children that He has entrusted to our care.  They are beautiful.  Despite all their flaws.  And despite all of my flaws.  They are beautiful.  They are gifts that have been handed over for a few short years by a Maker who believes that their father and I are somehow the best Earthly parents He could give them.  He is equipping us, even when we feel so helpless and clueless.  He is teaching us how to deal with anything and everything they can throw our way.  And He is teaching me to be like the donkey.  To use every pile of laundry, every stack of dirty dishes, every piece of artwork waiting to be hung on the wall as a stepping stone.  They aren’t to be weights on my shoulders, pushing me down, but rather I need to view them as BLESSINGS from above.  A sign that I have a home full of love and laughter and paint and spit up and food.
We have money for the special formula our baby needs.  We have supplies to keep our little brilliant mind always thinking.  We have clothes.  We have dishes.  We have a dishwasher.  We have a coffee pot.  We have a beautiful home on a gorgeous piece of land.  We have.  We have.  We have.  Every single thing we have is not meant to be a burden on me, but rather to be a stepping stone to THANKFULNESS.  It would be easy on a rainy dreary day at home in a messy house to just get bogged down and not want to leave the couch.  Super easy.  Like way, way too easy.  But I was created for more.  I was created to celebrate the fact that THIS is the day the LORD has made.  I was created to REJOICE in all things.
Will I always rejoice?  Will I always feel a lack of stress over these blessings that can become dirt weighing down my shoulders?  No.  But I pray that I may face life as Paul in his 2nd letter to Timothy, and remember that when I am faithless, He remains faithful (2:13) and will be by my side to rescue me from every evil attack. (4:18a).  May I not let the blessings God has given me become my worst enemies.  And, as Paul said (4:18b), “To HIM be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”coffee and Bible

One Word

Last year, I was challenged by a friend to think of one word that I wanted to define my 2014.  I wrote a post about it, and set out to become a more thoughtful person – thinking about others around me and their needs.  Caring for them, reaching out, being there.  Reflecting on 2014, I think I did a fairly good job of that – especially in light of all that happened this past year in the life of our family.  I certainly have room for growth, and want to always be striving to be more thoughtful of others.

A couple weeks ago, a different friend said she had selected her word for 2015, and I thought “wow I need to do that, too.”  I pondered for only a moment, and a word popped into my head.  I pushed it aside, thinking how I often rush to conclusions too swiftly.  Then, I realized that it might be precisely that reason why God popped this word into my mind.  I stopped what I was doing, and sat down and just said a simple prayer: “God show me if this is what you would have me to focus my year on.”  Nothing fancy.  God knows me.  Inside and out.  I can talk to him like I’d talk to a friend.  (It’s pretty cool how that works.)  Again, I thought this was the right word.  Then, I said: “well, ok so if this is the word, what does it mean and where can I find it?”  So I looked it up on dictionary.com, and then I searched for the word on my YouVersion Bible app.

Last year, my word was more about me reaching out to others.  This year, it’s about me slowing down in the midst of hustle and bustle and reaching out to God.  Getting His guidance in my life.  I know that not everyone who reads my blog has the same type of faith that I do.  I fully realize and appreciate that many readers are of a different religion, or no religion at all. Which is your upbringing/personal choice. I hope that you won’t stop reading here simply because this is a faith-based post.  Keep reading – find out why I selected this word.  And remember that you can select a word for your year whether or not it has ANYTHING to do with faith at all.  Setting personal goals for yourself is ALWAYS a good thing – no matter your reasoning or source of purpose.

So what’s my word?  It’s deliberate.

This isn’t a word found a whole lot in the Bible.  And most of the time it’s used, it’s in a negative light.  In fact, dictionary.com gives the example deliberate lie in their definition – just as it’s used in the Bible many times.  But the verse that stuck out to me is in Acts 2.

“Listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge—this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him. David said it all:
I saw God before me for all time.
Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side.
I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic;
I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.
I know you’ll never dump me in Hades;
I’ll never even smell the stench of death.
You’ve got my feet on the life-path,
with your face shining sun-joy all around.”
-Acts 2:22-28 The Message

The Bible often talks of how we are to follow in our Father’s footsteps and strive to be more like Him.  So this passage has great meaning to me – God had a very deliberate and well-thought-out plan on how He would save ME from my sin and my failing.  He has set my feet on this path, and He’s got my life planned as well.

So what does all this have to do with me and my word this year?  Well, it’s simple.  I’ve been striving to think of others, but I now need to turn my focus to being deliberate.  To carefully weigh and consider, to study, to be intentional in my actions – both in my family life, my work life, and also in my spiritual life.  It’s time for this girl who rushes to conclusions and hops on bandwagons to sit back and learn from my husband – who takes thoughtful consideration of all sides before making a decision.  It’s time to be deliberate.  It’s time to put options on the scales and see how they balance out.  It’s time to slow down, pray more, and make wise choices.  And in this year of being (I’m human – I know I will fail multiple times over) attempting to be deliberate, I will strive to continue to be thoughtful of others, now encompassing my own needs in that thoughtfulness as well.

As a mom it’s so easy to get caught up in the needs of my children, and in all the things I want for them.  It’s time to step back and make thoughtful, deliberate, intentional choices in our activities, in our spending, and in our day to day lives.  I need to think: Will this cost money?  Where will that money come from?  Is it a necessity?  Will it provide benefit to the kids?  Will it provide benefit to me?  Will it provide benefit to Cody?  Is this something that will build us up and bring us together?  And maybe most importantly – how will this activity affect my personal energy and thus my attitude toward my family?

This year as you begin to think and plan and organize, what word do you want to focus on?  How will you allow that word (spiritual or not) to influence your daily life?  And, if you’d like a printable similar to these, please contact me!  I’d love to create a poster for you that you can print out and post where it will remind you daily where your focus should be.  Email me anytime at butterbeesandbumbleflies@gmail.com.  As you can see from the samples below, you can have it say pretty much anything – definition, a prayer, a Bible verse, etc.  You select the wording and layout.

 Deliberate

Here are two others that I’ve made for friends:Savor

quiet modified

Being Brave

I was recently approached by a friend who blogs, about being one of her “Thursday stories.”  Called to the mission field in Madagascar, she has been sharing short stories from women there about how MOPS has made an impact in their lives, and led them to be brave.

When I asked her what she’d like for me focus on for this guest post, this is what she said: “The purpose of Thursday stories is to encourage others to be brave in Christ. Bravely trust Him for circumstances, bravely lean on Him for understanding, bravely trust that His ways are greater. Tell a story when God asked you to be brave for Him.

Here’s a link to my post on Aly’s blog.

BeYouBravely_Logo_CLEAR BKGND

Looking Forward to Christmas Future

Thursday and yesterday, I shared with you the first two of my “A Christmas Carol” moments with you – Remembering Christmas Past (on #TBT), and Enjoying Christmas Present.  So now, here we are, Looking Forward to Christmas Future.

I was recently approached by an artist and her team who likes my blog (thanks guys!!) asking if I’d check out their website and see if I’d be willing to share.  Not only was I really impressed by her art (WOW!), I liked the writing prompt – to share photos of family memories at Christmas time.  I decided to take it a step further, and use one of her ornaments to inspire my writing each day of this set.

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This is the Tin Rejoicing Star Ornament! 
This lovely bit hand-crafted brilliance is $38 and available here. 

It’s hard to know what Christmas future holds.  Right now, it’s lots of questions.  I could make assumptions, but I chose not to.  I know that what will be, will be.  And so, this star instead provided inspiration to look back, as I look forward.  Because there’s only One who knows what our Christmas Future looks like.  And He is the one for which the stars dance.

Which reminds me of that night, long ago, when a young teenage girl couldn’t have possibly fathomed what Christmas Future would look like.  She didn’t even know what Christmas was – because she was about to deliver the Reason for the Season.  She couldn’t have known that in 34 years, the Reason we celebrate would have already died, and risen, and ascended into Heaven.  She couldn’t have known all the things the next 33 years of her life would hold – or even that in the coming weeks she and her small babe would be visited by three astronomers who happened to notice a brand new star, dancing in the Heavens.  She couldn’t have known they would bring Him valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gifts for fit a King, but for one born in a stinky, sweaty, unsanitary stable with the pigs and goats watching.

The star had suddenly appeared, and these Wise Men knew it was special.  It was worth following.  It would lead them to the prophesied King.  No, Mary couldn’t have possibly known what was in store for her.  Nor could she have imagined that the One whom she delivered would deliver all of us in the way that He did, giving us the REASON for Christmas – Past, Present, and Future.

Only He knows what our Christmas future holds, and I know that whatever He has in store – be they happy or sad, He’ll be there to get us through them.  And THAT is why we have Christmas.

So dance, like this little star, and REJOICE!  For the babe that was born lived like us, died for us, and loves us.  He holds Christmas Past, Present, and Future.  REJOICE!