Monday, March 28, 2011

Sharing Burdens

I was going to publish one of my drafts, which is just sitting in my draft box. There are days when I feel a burst of inspiration whirling through the windows of my brain and I suddenly feel the urgency to sit and think and type and feel. And then they sit in the lovely draft box.

Then there are days when I stare at the screen. My mind as blank as the blaring white screen and yet I feel the need to write.

I just don't know how to put the heaviness of what I'm feeling into words. There's just a lot of "stuff" that is swirling through my head lately. Big decisions, little decisions, irritations, and limitations.

Then I met up with a gal pal this afternoon. She knows me well. For some reason God has always put us through similar life situations around the same time. Not ahead of me, where she has words of graceful wisdom, but with me. Right through the thick of it so she can encourage and relate.

She doesn't have the answers.

I certainly don't have the answers.

However, God does.

Although the answers to many of my questions and uncertainities at the moment have not been answered yet, I know they will. To be honest, even if they are not clearly brought to light, I know that I'm in good hands.

I'm grateful for a God who knows that all the "stuff' that is swirling in my head is too much for me to even verbalize. It is just there heavily weighing on my heart for the moment. Sometimes that is just where it has to sit. I'm okay with that.

But, then He blesses me with with the opportunity to spend an afternoon with my friend as we watch our littles run and play. While they are preoccupied with slides and a crazy game of prisoners, I get to listen as my friend articulates everything that I've been feeling lately.

Not that i'm glad that she's in that spot too, but in a selfish way, I'm relieved to know
that I'm not the only one.

It is a reminder for me to not carry my burdens alone. I often worry that voicing any concerns will burden others or put people off.

However, friendship does not come prefabricated. It requires a lot of brick layering. When we lay our burdens down, one by one, we are building the structure of friendship. It is made of many bricks. It is strong. It can't be easy blown away by storms or destroyed by flames. It can withstand the test of time.

Galatians 6:2
Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Much love,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From Janna's Heart

Janna from 2Cool4MyMinivan and I met last year at Blog Sugar. For those of you who don't know, Blog Sugar is a fabulous blog networking event. Since meeting, we've discovered that we have more similarities than our minivan blog titles. She is the real deal. Thanks for sharing with us, Janna!

This school year I started out strong.  I had a set time each morning to make reading and studying the Bible a priority before anyone else woke up to distract me.   However, lately I’ve found myself slipping.  I justified spending less time by reading a quick online devotion at home and praying on the way to work.  The devotions started to become sporadic since I have a habit of getting sidetracked by chores or tasks whenever I’m trying to get out of the house.  But at least I still prayed on the way to work, right?
Then last week as I was praying, someone cut me off in traffic.  My sentence went from “and thank you God for…” to “watch where you’re going, {insert not so nice word here}!”  That was my first clue that maybe my heart wasn’t really in it.  I guess it came down to the fact that I viewed a daily walk with God as an appointment I can pencil in when it works for me, yet I expect Him to be there whenever I have a request.  It makes me cringe to admit that.  Do I really like to be reminded how self-absorbed and selfish I can be?
I couldn't continue down that path.  I pulled out the unfinished book that has been unopened on my coffee table for the last month: The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd.  I picked up where I left off, and would you believe the chapter was about modeling righteousness for our children?  The chapter began with a quote by Leo B. Blessing – The foundations of character are built not by lecture, but by bricks of good example, laid day by day.
I have no choice but to make this my morning combo:
It got me thinking about the kind of example I’m setting for my kids.  For the last few weeks, they’ve seen more of a frustrated mom with a short fuse rather than a patient mom who always has a loving attitude and kind words for them.  Sure, we go to church and quote memory verses in our home, but my actions were speaking louder than any lecture or sermon they’ve been hearing.
John 15:4b No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I’ve tried so many times to be a Godly example, and the times that I try to do everything on my own results in failure.  To be the daily model that my family needs, I have to make the conscious effort to remain attached to the vine so that bearing fruit starts to occur naturally.  So from now on, I’m setting the alarm clock early because there’s something important I have to do.  Something that will determine the legacy I leave my children and that will have eternal value.

Please get to know Janna more by visiting her blog here.

And if you are interested in a gift certificate to Starbuck's to enjoy a cup of coffee like Janna as part of her combo, just become a follower and leave a comment. The winner will be announced on Tuesday.

Much love,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recognition and Surrender by Rachel Reeves

Hi, Friends. I'm super excited to introduce you to Rachel from No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane. She is a blogger extraordinaire, vintage collector, and all around super cool mama who loves God, her family, and encouraging others with her open and heartfelt writing.

Recognition and Surrender
by Rachel Reeves

My brother and I often use the term "". We'll say it to one another when a subject needs to be dropped or a topic has been played out over and over and it needs to be laid to rest. We laugh each time we say it to one another.

When I was pregnant, I really thought that, once Frankie was born, I would have renewed energy and zeal. I was certain that the way I felt was attributed to pregnancy and my abnormal disposition was simply because I don't deal well with being in a "delicate state". Imagine my surprise when the 20lb. weight on my shoulders wasn't lifted, come December. I tried to shake it off, but something wasn't right. Something was "off".
I would have days when I would feel "fine" and then a day when I would wake up and just feel slightly askew. A little jumbled and fuzzy. More like a reflection and not my authentic self.

This morning, while sipping {read: guzzling} my morning coffee, it hit me like a ton of bricks, swung at light speed. The last 6 months have been the most difficult of my entire life. I grabbed a pen and began scribbling a list of what has happened in the past half-year.

Sold our first home.
Bought a new home.
Renovated our new home.
Had a baby.
Processed an undesired C-section.
Frankie was in the NICU.
Left our home church.
Another anniversary of miscarriage.
Family members dealing with illness.
Made the choice to homeschool.

And quite honestly, there were about four other personal items on that list too.
I sat and stared at the list and said to myself,

As one friend said to me,
"add a death and a wedding and you are on the top of the stress list, under suicidal".
I honestly hadn't thought about all of those things at one time. I dealt with them as they came, but didn't think of their grouping and it's effect on my life, at this point.
Until this morning.

The reason I share is this:
How do I expect God to use those issues/life experiences, if I don't acknowledge them as an area that the devil may take hold of? I have spent the last 6 months pushing through and just "making it", that I didn't take time to surrender these issues to the Lord.

Sure, I "trusted Him" that all would end well. I handed over control, to some degree, when Frankie was born. I said a prayer that we would close escrow and I have faith that the Lord is directing our path to a new church family.

But saying I have faith and actually SURRENDERING myself to the inevitable, are two different things.

I hadn't surrendered those things. I was holding tightly. I controlled what I could and tried to handle them all...
By myself.
I ask for very little help. I don't ask for comfort or consolation. In fact I rarely bring up struggles. I've never wanted people feeling sorry for me or calling to see if we could hug {not really, at least}. I'm used to being strong and taking care of everything in my life. I'm always the one there for others. I listen to their problem and the pause when they say, "how is everything with you?" And reply, "fine!"
I hold it together. Always.
Even when it all hits at one time and from all angles.

Apparently I can't hold it all together.

My lack of surrender is starting to show and it's becoming a liability.
God wants me to hand over these issues, hurts, concerns and weakness.

We may have sold our home, but I still miss it.
We may have a perfect daughter sleeping in her crib, but I still struggle with what happened.
We may know God is calling us somewhere else, but I still am ripping on the inside, over leaving the church.
I may have two daughters, but I still mourn my third child.

The feelings grew stronger and darker the more I held on.

So, this morning. In the stillness and dark of my kitchen....
I let go.
I simply said, "I have so many feelings, Lord and I don't know what to do with them. But you do. Just do whatever you want to do. Make me whole and cause me to hand these joys and sorrows to you."

I recognized my circumstances. My weakness. My broken and contrite spirit.
I recognized. And surrendered.

I spoke a silent, "".

And the weight was lifted. Praise the Lord!
May I be committed to handing over every problem to the Lord, knowing that He is in control, has a plan, loves me more than anything and knows my inmost being.
And hey....He never gives us more than we can handle, right?


John 5:20
"For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel."

Now that you've experienced the moving post written by Rachel, I recommend that you swing on over to her No.17 Cherry Tree lane here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

caretakers of the world

Mandy has been my friend since junior high days. Back when scrunchies and perms were still acceptable. We've been college roommates and now we hang out with our crazy families. Ok, her's is normal, but mine is crazy! Mandy is wise beyond words and very centered. Nothing seems to ruffle this girl's feathers. She works at an urban church and has an amazing gift of writing and speaking. We recently spoke at our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschools) together. This blog was included as a part of her message. Well, now it's your turn to get to know this fabulous lady.

Caretakers of the world...
By Mandy Arioto

Meet Leila.

We met our freshman year of college while living on the third floor of Nease Hall. I was living at the end of the hall in a room overlooking a grass hill with my longtime and all around amazing friend Katie (I will introduce to you at some point). Leila was rooming with a girl I can't remember. But I remember Leila. She is charismatic but doesn't know it and makes you feel like you are her BFF even after just meeting her. This also means that every one who meets her, loves her, because she is gifted like that. It is a quality that is elusive to me. I have always envied her for a gift that I am not even sure she knows she has. Friendship comes easy to her.

Fast forward a few years. I was the first of our friends to get married and have babies. When I had my first baby Leila emailed me to check in. It was a fairly typical email except for one line that has haunted me since I read it for the first time. It said, "...You are joining with the women of the ages to become a caretaker of the world". It is a phrase that has stuck with me in a profound way ever since then.

When you are getting ready to push baby out of your body you usually learn some form of Lamaze. It’s where you learn to breathe in a way that allows you to take pain and use it effectively to push new life into the world.

When you go through Lamaze you think that the only time this breathing is going to be relevant is during labor. But something that I have realized is that learning to take pain and use it constructively to push new beauty into the world is one of the greatest gifts God gives us.

That no matter how bad things are God uses each breath we take to shape our families, our world and our own souls to be more in tune to who He created us to be.

Even on days when we feel ourselves stretched to the point of tearing, we have breath. Sometimes our breath is the thing we offer as caretakers of the world. A breath as we kiss a boo- boo. A breath as we slow down to listen, a breath as we mourn with our fellow caretakers of the world in Japan. Because we may not be able to fix everything but we can use our breath to take pain and use it to bring about a small ray of hope to a hurting world.

You can visit Mandy at her blog here.

In a Child's Eyes....

I would like to introduce you to my long time friend, Courtney. Courtney is the kind of girl that brings you your favorite ice cream when your high school boyfriend breaks your heart. She's bright and funny and always the life of the party. Courtney's family is grieving the loss of her sweet Grandfather. Here she shares with us how God has taught her a lesson about faith from her son during this difficult time of loss.

Thank you, Courtney for sharing with us. Love you, Girl. And here is Courtney's story:

In a Child's Eyes...

This past week has been tough for my whole family. We have said a lot of prayers, shed a lot of tears and just really tried to support one another. Kieran has been a wonderful support to me; holding me when I cry and taking Connor from me when I need a moment alone. For his compassion, I am forever thankful. All of you, my friends, have also been a wonderful encouragement and I truly appreciate all your love, kind words and prayers. We knew this was coming and as much as I thought I had prepared my heart and head, it still hurt losing my grandfather. I have found solace in looking at pictures of my grandfather and Connor and just the simple fact that Connor was able to spend time with his great grandfather is of course, greatly comforting. Perhaps the greatest comfort though is the little man himself.

On Sunday he went with us to my grandparents house so I could say goodbye to my grandfather. We didn't think it appropriate for Connor to actually go in to say goodbye to my grandpa since he was in such a bad state, but he was a wonderful distraction for my Dad who was having a very difficult time that day and just watching Connor run around in the yard cheered us all up. I didn't know how much he understood or whether or not he grasped the severity of the situation, but that night as we were saying prayers he pulled me close and told me not to cry because Pop would soon be at a special party up in Heaven with Jesus. He said there would be lots of presents and cake (of course).

I was touched with how deep and undying his faith was in this difficult time. Wasn't I supposed to be the one explaining things gently to him and shielding him from the heartache of losing my grandfather? His conviction inspired me and reminded me that I hadn't put all of my faith in the Lord. I was scared but knew that I had to let go and trust that God had better plans for my Pop.

I was so proud of my Connor in that moment. I realized that it doesn't matter how old you are, anyone can have faith in our Lord. Each night at bedtime we say our prayers and Connor never forgets to pray for anyone on our prayer list. Case in point, he has been praying for a former colleague of Kieran's who lost his job for over 5 months now, even though we have explained that he found a new job and is doing better. Connor's response is always, "He still needs prayers mom." Isn't that true. We all need prayers. The love and compassion of a child is truly precious. We should all be inspired and encouraged by their large hearts and simple faith. As adults, we are skeptical and over-analyze every situation, if only we could learn to just trust and give control to the Lord our lives would be a lot easier. I don't know about you, but simply thinking of my Pop being at a party up in Heaven is a great reminder of God's love for us and definitely not far from the truth.

You can read more posts from Courtney at her blog here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


We had just returned from swimming lessons and all 3 boys were impatiently begging me to do something with them. Luke (8) wanted help making something to eat, Charlie (4) wanted me to ride scooters, and Jack (3) wanted me to get a tennis racket down for him. Of course I was preoccupied with unpacking the wet towels out of the car and methodically sorting through the mail.

To be honest, I continued about my tasks and fended off the repeated requests as much as possible, until I heard a sudden crash in the garage. That's never a good sign.

I sprinted to the garage where my eyes fixated on 3 year old Jack who was standing by a few large storage boxes...

which had tumbled down and shattered glass and liquid from our festive Christmas globes. Did I mention the glitter? I have a fear of glitter. It gets everywhere. It is as invasive as termites and this was no exception.

Apparently he was unable to wait. By ignoring my request and forging ahead on his own, he was not only left without the desired outcome: the tennis racket, but he was also stuck with a load of brokenness.

I took a broom and asked him to leave the area so he wouldn't get hurt. I proceeded to clean up the glass and soak up the liquid. I did this because I love Jack and I know that as a 3 year old, he could not do so on his own. Certainly he would step on the glass and hurt himself in the process.

It reminds me of how we are with God at certain points of our lives. We keep saying, "God", "God", "God" just like how my boys persistently repeated my name.

"God, I want this."

"Wait," he says

"God, I want it now!"

"Wait," he says.

When we figure we know better and don't want to wait any longer, we do it on our own. Suddenly everything comes tumbling down and we are left with nothing but broken pieces.

And just like a loving mama (loving and somewhat frustrated-keeping it real) God doesn't give us the broom and say, "Good luck sweeping up the glass, Kid." Instead, he kneels down and cleans up the mess in order to keep us protected.

What are you trying to do on your own today? Are you secretly sneaking into the garage to climb on your own like Jack? I know there are many areas in my life that I try to do it on my own simply because God says, "Wait."

It is my desire to learn to wait and save myself from the pain of broken pieces.