Great Expectations and Dirty Shoes

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I was four. Big, fuzzy blonde hair and some pretty huge glasses. Frustrated because I didn’t want to wear my new shoes. We were just going to take a walk up to my grandma’s house. Which was seriously like 20 steps away from where we lived. The sun was shining, it was beautiful. No rain. No dirt roads. Pavement, mind you. But tears came down my face as I refused to wear these new shoes for fear of getting the bottoms dirty.

Yes, it seems ridiculous, right? And it was.

The bottoms are supposed to get dirty. But I wanted to keep them looking perfectly clean and new. Which is totally not the purpose for shoes.

Those of you who know me probably aren’t surprised. I have been a person who likes things orderly, clean and shall we say…perfect? I just feel better that way. And I know it’s carried over in the area of how I mother and carry out my role in our home.

When I was pregnant with my first I dreamed of my mother retiring from work and her and I going to the pool with my toddler someday. Lounging by the pool, eating Popsicle’s and just enjoying life. I really thought everyday in the summer I would go to the pool as a stay at home mom. Ha! I didn’t understand laundry, making meals, nap time, fussy times or even how much life would change. How getting out the door in thirty minutes was something to be proud of.

And as time has gone by and I have have been blessed with more children, I have had to realize I cannot be perfect or have have things in my life be perfect. My energy, time and ability isn’t there. And I’m learning that life’s not meant to be perfect anyways.

Overdue library books, kids wearing mismatched socks because with all that I have I cannot figure out what’s happened to the other. I try to be good with our budget. I read all these blogs about saving money, using coupons, not eating out. Going to garage sales, cutting your hair at home, making your own baby wipes. And all of that is good. I sure admire any of you that do these things. I even do some of these things. But not all of these things. Because I can’t.

I’m almost a little embarrassed to admit that my great expectations of how I should mother or what I should be doing often can steal my joy. I have these cute little people who love and adore me. They don’t care what I look like, how perfectly the budget is balanced, whether the laundry is put away, whether there’s an inch of dust on the T.V. And believe me, there usually is.

They love me and are ready to explore life. To learn, to play, to laugh.

And sometimes I go to bed at night, my husband I can tell has already fallen asleep. And I just want to wake him up as I think over my day. I want him to hear my thoughts.

“Honey. They are growing up. They are growing up! I don’t want to miss it. I want to take it all in. I forgot to tell you child number one did this new thing today. Did you see how child number two is so tall all of a sudden?”

The tears come and I realize how fast the days are going. And I decide tomorrow I will do better. Tomorrow I will take it all in and not worry about trying to make my home perfect, my children perfect, my life perfect.

I realize I’m trying to feel secure in doing it all right. It feels good when the house is in order. It feels good when the kids are clean. It feels good when things seem right. But my hope can’t be in when things are in order. My hope needs to be in Him.

And then in the quiet of the night, I turn to Him. My Father. And I tell Him the wife and mother I want to be. I tell Him I’m sorry I haven’t got it all figured out. I ask Him for wisdom and for help.

And then peace comes over me. Because my view of perfect isn’t what He’s concerned about. He has asked me to love Him with all of my heart. He has asked me to love others like I love myself.

He hasn’t told me to keep up with all the dishes. He hasn’t told me to not veer off my cleaning schedule. He hasn’t told me to read five chapters a day from the Bible to my kids.

Because He’s not like that.

His love…unconditional.

Perfection…in His Son, not me.

His love for my family…so much greater than mine.

I can trust Him. With all of it.

What if I do all this and they turn from Jesus? What if I spend my life showing them the way and they don’t want You? I want them to love You, Lord more than anything. Am I doing this right?

But again I feel His comfort. My job is to teach them about His love for them. His great, great love. I will plant the seeds, but God will make them grow.

His grace will cover over me. Where I can’t be what they need. He will be enough for them. His grace is enough for me and His grace is enough for you, dear mother.

In our day where we have so many resources at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming. What society tells us makes a successful, perfect family.

But we don’t need Google. We don’t need Pinterest. As we chart our course through life and give our best and all for Him, we have the manual that gives life, hope and freedom. It is the Word of God. my sisters. His Word. His Truth. None of the other stuff really matters.

If you see me around town and see some of my perfectionist tendencies, you can know I’m aware and am working on it. But I’m thankful for the grace that even covers the areas I haven’t figured out yet.

Today we were able to enjoy for the first time Spring like temperatures. So we got outside, of course. The baby was able to feel the earth under her feet for the first time, walking around all on her own. And there was a great desire to play in the wet dirt. To feel the earth between the little baby fingers. And I decided yes. We have time to touch the soil and get messy. We have time to explore and not keep our clothes perfectly clean. Because that’s not the purpose of life, anyways. What fun do you have if your shoes never get dirty. Go ahead, sweet baby. Take it in and enjoy. You get the bottoms dirty and even the tops. Have fun, sweet baby. It’s all going to be ok. Smile, take in the air. See the birds because this is life. This is the good stuff. All will be ok.

 

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Why Not Worship

You guys, I’m telling you.

My week has been crazy. I’m not really trying to exaggerate. I’m not.

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Kids with colds, a baby who somehow has invisible Velcro attached to her and I go to set her down and I can’t remove her from my clothing (teething?), and a loving husband who has been working 14+ hour days. And me too. Working a lot, not taking many breaks and just wanting to be upset, tired. Feeling maxed out. I try to pick up around the house, the kids help a lot. But I turn around and there is any number of things strewn forth from the cabinets. Food thrown on the floor. Hair snot-glued to someone’s face. A dryer with a fork down the vent, puzzle pieces down the vent that goes to the heater. I have always wondered how this stuff could happen. Aren’t people watching their kids? Well, no. We aren’t. Because we are taking care of other kids and their needs and things get missed! Like forks in the dryer vent! Argghh that retrieval was an all evening project.

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Stuff is never ‘done.’ Always something more to do. I like my stuff done. I like my house clean and I have had to give that up lately. Because I can’t do it right now.

I’m sure I’m not alone. I never ever knew how hard mothering could be. It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong. I would not choose anything else. I dreamed of this all the days of my life.

But in the thick of it, it’s trying. It’s a dying to self. It’s a way for God to chip away the selfish parts of me, the parts that aren’t patient, aren’t kind. Causing me to reach deep within and to grasp the strength that only God provides.

We have a surround sound system in our house. My husband put it in our budget when we were building without even asking me…because he knows my love for all things music. And I’m so glad he did that. I’m serious. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

But then this week I realized, with myself flying around to try to provide care for not feeling good kids, food, clean clothes, school and just life…I had not turned on any music. I was just trying to get through as fast as I could.

And I realized my soul felt off. I had read my Bible to the kids. We listened to the Bible on surround sound. We prayed.

I missed my music. I needed the worship.

Not because of a catchy tune or a catchy beat. What I needed was to stop and be quiet and think about God.

So that’s what I did. I turned on the music. Let the kids do what they wanted and I focused on God.

I focused on His goodness, His kindness. His gentleness.

He’s not a slave driver.

He doesn’t expect me to be super mom.

He doesn’t expect me to be perfect.

He doesn’t expect me to figure it out.

All I need to do is seek Him and His Kingdom and righteousness. That’s it.

And the rest. Well, He said he would take care of it. All I need to do is trust Him. That’s it.

Sounds, pretty simple. Why am I making this harder than it is?

A child struggling in school? Seek Him.

A job that you desperately need? Seek Him.

Health, healing. Seek Him.

Questions unanswered. Seek Him.

Seek Him and His kingdom and His righteousness.

And then I found great relief. All because I chose to stop. And realize. My God. My great, great God will take care of me. He will take care of the concerns on my mind and my heart. He loves me. I can live in the moment. I can live and enjoy life in the chaos.

These days will pass is what I’m told. These are the best days. I don’t want to get lost in the everyday and miss the spectacular gift of being entrusted with four children. To love and be with and share great truths with.

I sat in the baby’s room later that day. We were rocking in the rocking chair, snuggled under a blanket. Listening again to worship music. And I looked out the window, the snow softly falling. And I chose to check myself.

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What about the woman who wants to be a mother who isn’t?

What about the person desperately searching for a job?

What about that one who is homeless?

What about that one who is hungry? Someone who is lonely?

I decided I can choose to look up at Him. Look at who He is and His goodness.

And I can be thankful.

With music on or off I can choose to worship. Because worship isn’t really about music anyway. It’s about a life lived in adoration of God, no matter the circumstances big or small, hard or easy. Worship is bowing down in our hearts and lives in the greatness of our God.

So, is there a lot on your list? Is there a lot of tasks before you? Are there a lot of things you think you need the answers for? Trying to figure this and that out?

Let us all hold to the promise. Our answer is Him. He is the answer. We find all we need in Him.

Seek first the Kingdom.

 

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Written by Jaimie

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What If…You KNEW You Were Loved

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I have often seen an image of a girl, sitting with a flower and plucking away the petals.

I’m sure you have seen it too?

“Does he love me?”

This question she asks herself. She wants the answer to be yes. She so badly wants the answer to be yes.

And if be no, her heart feels…broke. Hurt, confused, and crushed.

But what if, what if we could wake up every morning…every single morning and know we are loved? Instead of hoping to land on the petal that says, “he loves me,” there wouldn’t be any hoping involved. We would know.

Well, my friends. I am here to tell you some great, great news. You can.

You can go to be tonight and say, “He loves me.”

You can wake up tomorrow and say, “He loves me.”

Period.

Because He IS love.

Like a Good Father, who looks upon His child with love, God the Creator of this big awesome universe that not even the best scientist can explain or understand loves you. He loves you.

You can’t earn it and you can’t lose it.

That’s refreshing in so many ways.

That’s freeing in so many ways. He LOVES because He is LOVE.

Believer or not, we think He’s angry with us at times, don’t we? That we can’t measure up? That we can’t please Him, that we haven’t done enough of the good things and maybe we have done too much of the bad things.

I mean that’s how it works here on earth, right? People love us based on how we love them. People love us based on what we do for them. People don’t love us when we mess up. People reject us when we have done hurtful, foolish things.

And so naturally, we think that this God of the universe…well He would be the same way, right?

Thankfully, no.

He’s not like us. Not at all.

He’s better.

He gave His Son, Jesus, to be sacrificed so we could draw near to God and wash away the badness, the sin, the not good enough-ness.  Because no matter how ‘good’ we are, on our own, we can never be good enough. Because He’s that good.

Well, maybe God hasn’t appeared to be ‘good’ to you in your life. So many sad things happen. Losing a family member, losing a baby, someone hurting you terribly, a broken family, wishes and dreams that have never been fulfilled, so many prayers unanswered.

I’m so, so sorry for heartache you face. For questions that you have that are without answers.

I don’t pretend to know those answers. But I do know God is good. He is the good in the middle of the bad.

My heart has been realizing how desperately I want to please Him. To earn His affection and admiration. His love.

And then I think of my earthly father. I know not everyone has a good one. But I thankfully do. And when he talks to me, he’s excited to talk to me. Love comes through his voice. Not because of things that I did or didn’t do today. He loves me because I am his daughter. A love that cannot be broken or purchased. He loves me because I am his.

And then I think of our Heavenly Father.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11

This Father is good. For those without a good earthly father, I am so, so sorry you haven’t had that in your life. It impact us so deeply, our fathers do. But I encourage you to get to know the Heavenly Father. He is good. He is the best Father we could ever imagine.

This song I have been reflecting on the last few months…it comes to my mind when I wake up in the middle of the night. It sings of His goodness. And I will admit it has taken me months to understand it. But now that I do, wow. My heart is full.

So, what would you do…how would you live if you knew you were loved? If you walked around and said,
“God loves Sarah.”

“God loves Jennifer.”

“God loves _______.”

Go ahead, put your name in there.

I am willing to say if we knew just how much He loved us, we wouldn’t worry so much about who didn’t love us. We wouldn’t be so concerned about the happenings in our own lives, but we could go out and touch the world and show them this love we know.

So, what would you do if you truly knew you were loved?

Pieces – By Amanda Cook

Unreserved, unrestrained
Your love is wild
Your love is wild for me
It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed
Your love is proud
To be seen with me

You don’t give Your heart in pieces
You don’t hide Yourself to tease us

Uncontrolled, uncontained
Your love is a fire
Burning bright for me
It’s not just a spark
It’s not just a flame
Your love is a light
That all the world will see
All the world will see

You don’t give Your heart in pieces
You don’t hide Yourself to tease us

Your love’s not fractured
It’s not a troubled mind
It isn’t anxious
It’s not the restless kind
Your love’s not passive
It’s never disengaged
It’s always present
It hangs on every word we say
Love keeps its promises
It keep its word
It honors what’s sacred
‘Cause its vows are good
Your love’s not broken
It’s not insecure
Your love’s not selfish
Your love is pure

You don’t give Your heart in pieces
You don’t hide Yourself to tease us