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Permission

April 27, 2015

Permission

My oldest two kids are getting to the age where they have gained some small freedoms. A chance to play in the yard without an adult, the ability to sift through the art supplies and create unsupervised.

Since they are still relatively young there is one caveat to their freedom, permission.

When you’re a kid (and sometimes an adult) asking permission is a bit annoying. There is always the possibility that someone will say “no” instead of “yes”.

But, right on the other side of the permission asking, is freedom. The ability to engage and enjoy that “thing” that you want to do.

Sometimes, we live in fear of the “no” and chose to forfeit whatever freedom lies behind it. Sometimes, we sacrificially don’t ask for the freedom when we know withholding could benefit our personal growth or the life of others.

As my kids have been maneuvering the world of permission and freedom I’ve been thinking about my own steps of asking, avoiding and withholding.

As a risk taker I haven’t avoided asking for permission. I’m generally okay with the no. As a mom and a person who genuinely wants to love people I’ve often withheld my request for permission in the interest of someone else’s needs. I haven’t felt that I’ve lost anything or missed out. On the contrary I haven’t even considered loss of freedom in my life.

This week though, I discovered something. Somewhere between asking permission and withholding requests, I’ve stopped seeking freedom all together.

I’ve become complacent. Somewhere I have decided that whatever is in front of me is all I have.

Practically, this applies to the small everyday things. I’ve stopped finding joy in my every day activities. I am able to stay home with my kids, I run a business that I love and I’ve got a wonderfully supportive husband and group of friends, yet I have felt trapped and disheartened.

In the last month, as my heart has softened in many ways for many reasons, I see that being trapped has been a choice. I’ve taken my freedom and put it in shackles. I’ve diminished grace and stomped out joy out of sheer ignorance and maybe a little bit of laziness.

Asking permission takes effort. It also involves risk. It’s worth it, even for the everyday things.

Grace is found in this ability to see our blind spots and try again.

Here’s to giving myself permission to live.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

Linking up with A Field of Wildflowers #SmallWonders.

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Start at GO!

April 1, 2015
by jayneandd

by jayneandd

The day began with my two year old falling out of his crib.

That should have been my first clue that it was going to be one of those days.

To do list as long as my arm, physical energy lagging, and as far as my kids were concerned I should have been wearing a black and white shirt and been equipped with a whistle.

After trying to do our Bible story at the breakfast table (and failing miserably as one child cried over spilled cereal and the other over the wrong kind of yogurt), I banished my boys upstairs to their play room and cowered on the couch with my devotional and Bible.

I got halfway through one page when I heard my boys fighting.  And I was angry.  Angry that my few minutes I was desperately trying to grab whatever peace I could maybe rustle up had been interrupted.  Angry that my children couldn’t seem to get along for longer than 5 minutes.

And in that moment, I didn’t feel like worshiping.  I didn’t feel like thanking God for my precious children.  I didn’t feel like going back to my devotions after breaking up yet another argument.

But I did it anyway.  I ended up with a few minutes of peace.  They were my only ones most of the day, but it was worth it to not let my emotions rule the moment.

Worship cannot be dependent on how I feel.  I’m going to be blunt and honest when I say that if I only decided to worship when I felt like it, I’m truly not sure how often I would sincerely spend time in worship.  Emotions are fleeting.  And they are deeply rooted in our sinful humanity rather than the spiritual.  Please don’t hear me say that emotions are bad.  Only that they can often cause us to react in a way that is counter to the Holy Spirit.

I know you might not feel like doing anything that resembles worship today, whether working with all your heart at your job, respecting and loving your spouse, playing another round of Hi-Ho Cherry-O with your child, or spending some quiet time with Jesus.

Do it anyway.

Because you just might find your heart and your attitude will change along the way.

~Amanda

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Small Wonders: Eyes

March 30, 2015

Silas

My 1 year old loves peek a boo. He’s figured out how to cover his own face and when he does it is his sign that he wants to play. He covers his face, he peeks out and I say “I see you” and he giggles. I let this go on as long as possible because it is adorable.

What I noticed this weekend was that he doesn’t laugh until I say “I see you”.

After we laughed for awhile he crawled away and I went back to some housework. As I did I wondered…Do I really see?

With 4 kids running around, parenting alone for half the year and the ups and downs of life I “see” a lot of things but wonder if I ever really stop and see things.

Do I see the 3rd pink princess picture my daughter has drawn and shown me? Do I see my toddler who has proudly put on her own shoes and is strutting around the house? Do I see the 30th basket my son has called me outside to watch?

In my imperfect human nature I know I won’t always stop to smell the roses at just the right time but I should try.

So this week, that is what I am up to. When the kids or my husband or a friend asks me to take a look, listen up, pay attention – I am really going to stop and see.

Who knows, maybe I’ll begin to see the world a little clearer, as it was meant to be seen.

~Rachael

Linking up with Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders

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Fear, Motherhood and Freedom

March 25, 2015

  

Nothing has tested me in the fear department quite like becoming a mom. There are more things to worry about in the world today than my mind can even begin to process.  Are my children developing physically and mentally the way they should be?  What’s in the food I’m feeding them (because even things we thought were healthy aren’t as healthy as we once thought)?  Homeschool, public school, private school?

I have spent more of my life allowing fear to hold me back than I care to admit. I was in my early 20s when God finally broke through to my heart and freed me from the debilitating fear that had kept me from experiencing a full life.  A fear that kept me from being who God had created me to be.  

I wish I could say that I live every day in that freedom.  That when I’m tempted to worry it’s second nature to give it over to God and move on with my day with complete trust in the outcome.  

I know that it’s natural to wonder and worry and question.  I’m pretty sure that if there is a manual floating around out there about how to do this mom thing perfectly, that is one of the first things it says in big, bold print from the day you find out you’re pregnant: YOU WILL WORRY FROM THIS DAY FORWARD. (P.S. If you find that manual, send it my way immediately!)  

If I let it, the fear will overwhelm me to the point where I cannot function on a day to day basis.  Fear is one of Satan’s most formidable weapons because it can quite literally keep us from living the abundant life we are created for.  (Not to give Satan too much credit but I know from experience that fear is powerful.)

The challenging, life-giving truth is that worship and fear can’t co-exist. We can’t bow at the throne of a perfect God who has a perfect love for us while at the same time doubting that He can handle our fears and our worries.  That isn’t true worship.  If worship means laying all of what we have before God, that has to include even the fears that are too terrible to speak out loud.  The fears that keep us awake in the dark, silent, lonely moments of the night.  

And if you’re trying to worship while harboring fears, you cannot fully experience the richness and depth of God’s presence and peace.  I am convinced more each day that God desires for us to live so deeply intertwined with him, living in his presence, that fear, worry, despair, even grief have no power over his peace.

There is power in fear.  But there is an even greater power in worshiping a God who is powerful enough to handle those fears, erase your doubt, and allow you to live freely.


Do you believe that perfect love truly does cast out fear?  

 

~Amanda

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Small Wonders: Walking

March 23, 2015

Walker

Our youngest is just a year old. He is full of energy and determination to keep up with his 3 older siblings.

For months he was an observer. Then he learned to crawl and tried to keep up. Recently he has decided to walk and in the blink of an eye has gone from unsteady steps to practically running.

I’ve been home to watch this transformation and it has been so fun (and exhausting – he’s into everything!). Every day the small improvements and steadier steps make me smile.

I forget that others don’t have my vantage point. We went to church this weekend and the nursery worker was stunned as I set down our son and he walked across the room. She said “I was gone for a week and he’s walking!” That same morning another church member said “I can see those kids growing just from watching them stand, they are so much taller today.”

I’m reminded with each new step our son takes and each new inch our children add, that I have a unique vantage point. Seeing, watching, observing. All the small, day to day struggles, the moments that are shaping who my children are, I get to be there. I am the only one with this view.

Isn’t this how we all change? One small, unsteady step at a time? In our wobbly and uncertain steps who is watching us? Maybe our children, our spouses, our friends?

Often we sweep our small day to day struggles and steps under the rug. We answer questions about our lives by saying we are “fine” or “good” but are we really?

Are the people who have the unique vantage point of watching us grow and change inspired and full of joy as they watch us?

This week my goal is to make every wobbly, unsure step count. I want to inspire my children to have steady steps, I want to encourage my husband to have strong steps, I want to encourage my friends to keep walking.

Who is watching your steps today?

 

 

 

Linking with A Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders
(Swing by and visit Kelly, these last couple weeks I have been so encouraged by her!)

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What limits you?

March 18, 2015




Lately, I’ve been forced to take a step back.  To slow down.  Some of it is health related.  Some of it is just simply feeling the need to be more present with my husband and my boys.  


It feels out of character for me.  I’m a “yes” girl.  I don’t feel obligated to say yes to everything, I really do want to say yes to everything.  And for awhile I think that I can and it will all be okay and nothing will suffer.  But something always does.  


I recently stepped away from a commitment without finishing it out (which I pride myself on NOT doing) because I couldn’t handle it anymore.  I was suffering physically, emotionally, and mentally.  And so was my family.


I don’t know when I somehow got the idea that God only values me for what I do.  That He only values me, I’m only honoring Him, when I’m actively serving and worshiping in tangible ways.  Worship is a verb.  I can’t possibly worship when I’m not doing.


I’m learning something these days.  It’s a slow process, and I always thought I was a quick learner, a good student.  It’s taking time.  God is constantly putting limits on what I can actually physically do so that He can have my full attention.  


But here’s the painful, glorious, life-changing lesson I’m learning: my worship means no less to God coming from a broken, contrite, exhausted heart that is just too weary to say yes right now than it did before.  In fact, maybe it means a little bit more.  


Because I have to trust that these limitations are for my good.  When I worship these days, it’s not coming from someone who can’t help but praise Him because life has turned out the way that I dreamed and hoped and I feel amazing.  No, these days my worship is coming from a place of hope and trust that my God is a redeemer.  A healer.  And that even on my worst days, He still wants me.  He still calls me His daughter.  And He can still use me.


Sometimes worship isn’t a verb.  Sometimes worship is just being still.  


Waiting.  Hoping. Trusting.


And if you find yourself in that place with me, know that being still is all that God requires of you right now.  I have hope for rest and for the days when I can say yes again with all my heart to the things He has laid out for me.  


Today is not that day.  So today, I will be still. 

I will be still, and know that He is God.

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Small Wonders: List Making

March 16, 2015






Late this past Friday when everyone was in bed my mind was running at high capacity. When this happens I become the great list maker.

So I started listing things…I listed out how my hours were breaking down during each week (volunteering, working, family, commitments). I listed out events coming up that I didn’t want to forget (appointments, meetings and kids events). I listed out the hours of babysitting we’ve taken advantage of this year and spent time reflecting on it (usually just a couple hours a week here and there).

As I was watching the list change and grow and reform I started doodling on the list. Lines and arrows turned into columns and yet another list. I started to feel lighter, wiser somehow.

It dawned on me that there is something very revealing about my lists. I know women especially get a bad rap for making lists that are meaningless, but in that moment I realized for me, those simple lists move me from being scattered in all directions to seeing my days for what they really are.

I can see where I have been a people pleaser and said yes when I wish I would have said no. I can see how much time I am spending really focusing on my kids and husband (versus just being with them in the house). I can see the things that make my heart leap in excitement and those that make me groan.

So I made yet another list. I doodled little hearts next to the things that really made my heart leap and as I considered the weekdays I made sure each day had at least one of those things in it. 

In this season, this doodled list on a pink slip of paper reminds me that this life I have been given is amazing. Each day there is something that I do that brings joy, not just happiness, to my soul. 

Sure, they are small things (writing, preparing for Bible Study, kids activities) but what a gift! To think that this is the life I’ve been given. Even in the midst of its hardships my heart is full with the beauty of my every day.

So here’s to list making. For seeing today for what it really is and hoping for the joy of tomorrow.

Linking up with A Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders

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