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.

IMG_2805

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.

IMG_302C4484F9BE-1

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!

IMG_2804

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!

IMG_977415DF08AB-1

 

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.

Process Art vs Crafts

This post has been a LONG time in coming.  Life has a way of picking us up and carrying us past goals and deadlines quicker than we expect.  And this post has been one of those experiences.  Real life around here has been busy.  To say the least.  Not only does the laundry keep piling itself higher and higher, but there’s working from home… keeping the house clean… and those two little ones that have to be cleaned and fed, too.  Homeschool is going well, though I’m glad that at the moment the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t appear to be a freight train.  Becca will start to a charter school in the fall.  Maybe then I’ll finally have time to go back and blog all of the units we have done this year… maybe.

Lately I’ve been discussing with some friends the difference between this new buzz-term “process art” vs the age-old “crafts” – and why I believe that both have a very important place in the lives of our children.  So, let’s talk about it.  And then later this week, I’m going to share with you a really fun (and messy!) process art idea, that will result in some amazing paper… that you can use for crafts!

If you aren’t familiar with the terms, let me step back for a moment and share.  Process Art is a term given to art work that is done merely for the experience of the process – the end result is inconsequential.  Process Art is all about FEELING the art, taking it all in with every one of the five senses.  And it’s about expression.  Letting your emotions and your thoughts go wild into this amazing art experience.  Process Art is beautiful.  Painting, coloring, pottery, glass blowing, and tile mosaics are all examples of process art.

Glassblowing image from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Website

So what, then, is a craft?  Crafts have a set end result.  They have a final goal in mind.  Crafts typically follow a pattern.   Color by number, paper crafts, card making/scrapbooking with a template, sticker mosaics, origami, and making those adorable little activities cut from paper with kids are all a type of craft.  When doing a craft, you typically view the end product, and expect that the product you create will look very similar to that product.  I have many friends who go to card making classes where everyone creates the same cards, and wreath making classes where they all end up with the same wreath.  When I taught, I frequently used crafts for my students for holidays and we would all create similar looking products to hang in the hallway.  They are beautiful and even though they are the “same”, they do have a touch of the creator in each of them, causing them to have little unique features.

Photos from the Stampin Up website

But, it’s because of the “sameness” that many people say children should ONLY be taught using Process Art.  They believe they should experience art to its fullest and put all of their emotions and feelings into their art, and learn that any end product is beautiful when it’s a reflection of their inner expression.

I agree with part of this.

My kids LOVE to create art.  They love to get messy with their art.  And they, like all children, don’t like to be told what to do.  They love to change things up as much as possible.  They enjoy an open invitation to art – where, for example,  there’s paper, paint, and cars on the table and they can just do whatever comes naturally to them.  And those times are VITAL to their creative expression!!

Check out this blast from the past – Painting with Cars!

But it’s also very important that they learn to follow directions, and that they come to realize how to get from point A to point B to reach an end goal.  This is where I believe crafts falling by the wayside is a travesty and a disservice to the next generation.

One of my favorite hobbies is scrapbooking.  It is truly its own art form – and is becoming more and more of a lost art as the world goes digital.  I don’t choose to follow very many templates, but every now and then, I see one that fits perfectly with what I want to do, and because I grew up doing paper crafts, I can easily analyze someone else’s template and make it happen on my own paper.  Because sometimes it’s a GOOD THING to not re-create the wheel.  (I mean, the wheel turns pretty good on its own without me changing the curves, right?)

I love to paint.  But on my own, without instruction, I’m rarely happy with my end product.  I crave instruction, and learn more technique and gain more experience with every trip I take to Painting With a Twist (read more about them in my previous blog post here).  But here’s the REAL twist – y’all, PWAT is the perfect example of combining process art with a craft.  Because you see the end product, and you follow directions to get to the end result… and yet, you’re able to make changes.  You can “go rogue” any time you want.  You can switch up the colors, and in the process of following directions to mix colors, you come up with your own shades.  And in the process of following directions to place items certain locations on the canvas, your own flair and the shake of your own hand makes the canvas’ end product uniquely yours.

At Painting With A Twist, we each follow directions to create a similar product, though each is unique to the painter.

So is there a place for those step-by-step/follow directions/ adorable little groundhog faces made from an upside down heart, and leprechauns made from shamrocks, and First Thanksgiving books made from millions of pieces of paper cut to certain specific sizes?  YES!!!  Our kids NEED to know how to follow directions, how to work to reach an end goal, and need to learn when it’s ok to tweak those instructions to make the end product uniquely theirs.

In other words, there is a place for both art AND crafts in this world.  Look at the amazing crochet hats and blankets folks make.  The incredible needlepoint works.  And look at Van Gogh and Picasso.  There has always been room in the past for both.  I’m not real sure why folks now, in 2017, are trying to do away with crafts – an art form that has easily existed alongside “Process Art” for thousands of years.  Why not encourage our children to do a healthy helping of each?

And seriously – is there a mom of a 2 year old anywhere in this world that wouldn’t love hanging this adorable craft on her fridge? I doubt it!

So later this week, I hope you will check back here for a super fun Process Art activity… and some ways to use the product in some really cute crafts!

Priorities

fullsizerender-12

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!

img_8371

A Letter of Love

Last night I watched the movie “Miracles from Heaven”… and it really got me thinking.  I wrote this letter to my son, and sent it to the special email account we created for him before he was born.  I’ve been emailing him (and his sister at her account) off and on as things come up.  And then, when he is old enough (probably 21, maybe older), I will share the email address and password with him, and he can begin to go and read these letters.  Some of them, I share here on my blog.  This is one I felt compelled to share.  I hope it is a blessing to someone.  Here’s a picture of my lil man playing with chalk paints taken this past week.  It’s hard to imagine him a grown man reading this letter, but I pray that someday he will read it, and that it will be a blessing to him.

img_4576

Hey sweet boy!

By the time you are reading this letter, you’ll be old enough to know the story of how you came to be.  The story of God’s miracle of you.  And how Mommy (and Daddy) learned that sometimes God’s answer is “no” before it is “yes.”

But this week, I’m thinking about it all over again, and I felt lead to write you this letter.  Three years ago this week, I felt you move inside of me for the first time.  It was almost like some unspoken covenant from God that THIS was the child I would carry to full term.  It was way too early for me to be feeling you, and yet, there you were – my steady kicker who moved ten times more than your sister ever had.  Your movements felt like a promise because three years ago this week was also when I was due with your first little angel sibling.  Thinking back to when we lost that baby, so very early into our pregnancy, and yet still such a raw and painful feeling… I was so desperately sad.  And then, when we lost the second just a couple months later, I was mad at God.  Why would He let me get pregnant and then take my babies away?  I’ll never understand the answer to that question.  But I do know one thing – YOU are a miracle, and every single day I treasure you just a little bit more than I probably would have if we wouldn’t have had that struggle.

Sometimes God walks us through the fire before He gives us the miracle we need… so that we will lean on Him more.  So that we will trust in Him and remember He is in control.  So that we will fully appreciate the miracle on the other side.  Because, if either of those other two babies had lived, we never would have had you.  YOU are the answer to why they weren’t meant to be.

So when you struggle in life with wondering why God’s answer is “no”… or maybe He even seems totally silent and the answer is “not right now,” I know it’s hard to be patient.  I know it’s hard to trust.  I know how easy it is to lose your faith.  Because I have been there.  But you have the distinct ability that not many people have to be able to just go and look in the mirror.  YOU were our answer to “no” and “not right now.”  Your LIFE is the perfect picture of God’s perfect plan.  Your life may not feel like it’s God’s perfect plan all the time.  But YOU ARE A MIRACLE!!  He created you with special purpose and meaning.  Back in the spring of 2013, months before you were even conceived, He had YOU in mind.  He knew YOU.  He loved YOU.  And He was planning for YOU.  He said “no” to two other babies so that YOU might live.

Also don’t lose sight of the strength that comes from the journey.  The Bible tells us that in this life we will have pain.  We will have sorrow.  But to have HOPE – because HE has overcome all the problems of the world.   And through the struggles, He gives us strength to overcome.  He teaches us to lean a little harder on Him.  And He teaches us to reach out to our brothers and sisters who struggle – to support them and be an actual physical leaning post here on this Earth.

I will never fully understand why God wanted me to have two miscarriages before having you.  It seems like everything would have been so much easier if I just hadn’t even gotten pregnant until it was time for you.  But when I look back at all of the women that I have been able to encourage when they walked through the same valley… and when I think of all of the women that I have been able to bond with by sharing my story and realizing they have walked a similar path… then I start to get a glimpse of the “why.”  When I realize how much stronger my faith became – BECAUSE I questioned God, BECAUSE I raged at God, BECAUSE I fell into a heap of emotional mess at His feet when I finally gave up – then I start to get another glimpse of God’s “why.”  When I realize how much stronger of a marriage your Daddy and I have because of the fire we walked through together, I start to get yet another glimpse of God’s “why.”  I learned that when I am weak, God has given me a very physical representation of His love right here on Earth to lean on.  Your Daddy will be strong when I need him.  He will lift me up and carry me when I can’t walk – both literally and figuratively.

Most of all, I learned that the old saying “everything happens for a reason” really is true.  But for us, we could modify it to say “Grayson happened for a reason.”  God has a reason for you.  He has a purpose for you.  Even if you don’t see it today or tomorrow or next week or six years from now.  Your life has meaning.  Your life has purpose.  Your life is special.  Go look in the mirror.  YOUR LIFE IS TRULY A MIRACLE.

I’m praying for you, my sweet boy.  Every single day.  That you will grow into the man God wants you to be.  That whoever is the woman to be your helpmate will be strong in her faith, and that she will build you up and encourage you.  I pray the two of you never have to walk through the same fires that Daddy and I have walked, but if you do, look in the mirror.  When you walk through different trials together, remember Who is in charge.  And remember that “why” doesn’t always have an answer that we can comprehend, but He is in control.  And He really does have a plan.  He loves you, and He created you.  YOU ARE A MIRACLE.  The woman walking beside you is a miracle who was created JUST FOR YOU.  Love her.  Cherish her.  And carry her through the fire.  Being broken together makes the bonds of healing so much stronger.  Your cord of three will never fully unravel when you lean on each other, and together lean on Him.

I love you, Baby Boy.  I love you, Little Bear.  I love you, Bubs.  I love you, Gray Gray.  I love you, Grayson Cody Hinnant.  No matter how old you are when you read this.  My love for you will never die.  “I’ll love you forever.  I’ll like you for always.  As long as I’m living, my Baby you’ll be.”

Love,

Mommy