September 26, 2014

A Time to Dance

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens...A time to mourn, and a time to dance. 

A time to dance. A time to celebrate. A time to simply praise God because He is SO good. A time to let my heart be at peace - no matter where I am at or what I am doing or what is happening at that moment.

Mommy is mean. But some Kodak moments are worth fighting for.

But sometimes I forget. 

Sometimes, amongst the diapers and the bottles and the dishes and the laundry and the sharp toys I accidentally step on, I forget to dance.

I forget to let my prayers drip with the sweet honey of praise, and instead obsess over my requests and things I think need fixing. I forget to respond to life with adoration to the God who has already overcome the world, and instead respond with bitterness and anger.

Visiting our friends Victor and Max.

So today, I take time to dance.

Not in the physical way where I try to make my tree-like body move in ways that make other people feel uncomfortable. But in the worshipful way where I simply let my heart burst and my cup overfloweth with peace and love and joy. In the way I praise God for His acts of wonder.

Because life is full of moments both great and horrible, exciting and painful, mundane and magical. But every moment is an opportunity to let the name of the Lord be praised.

 So in that moment when our one-year-old is awake at 4:30 a.m., trying to jump on the bed and on top of me and I all I want to do is sleep, but then she stops to bend down and give me a big, slobbery kiss, and I feel like I might cry because it is all just too precious to handle…I am going to let my heart dance. I am going to let the name of the Lord be praised.

Who knew a park full of pigeons is a one-year-old's happy place?

And today, my heart is dancing. For all the great things God has done.

Because I was given the gift of going back to Guatemala: 10 days spent in a great school, with wonderful friends whom I love and with whom I share the same passions of education and faith and missions.

Wearing her "huipil" that was given to her as a gift from Papa Nano.

Because I have had the opportunity to be a part of the ACSI accreditation process with Inter-American School for the past three years. And while some days I wanted to gouge my eyes out with a fork rather than stare at the computer screen typing up documents for even another minute, it has been such a rewarding experience to be a part of! And guess what?! The ACSI External Review Team is recommending that IAS receive the full five years of accreditation!

I love these IAS ladies.

Because I got to spend time with a family who has invested so much into our lives and the life of our daughter, who care for her and love her and enjoy her. And I am reminded of the beauty of an entire “village” raising our child alongside of us.

It's breakfast time.

Jocelyn loves her Tio "Xela Pan"

Because I got to have some of those conversations that run deep through the heartstrings of my soul and get entangled into the issues of education and poverty and politics and faith and motherhood and remind me that while this world is not all that it should be, there are idealistic people full of Christ’s love out there who are trying to change it.

Being educated on all of life's greatest mysteries by Dr. Fox.

Because going on this trip blessed me in so many weird ways I didn't expect. Including giving me the “peace that passes understanding” that I have been waiting for and praying for ever since we moved back to the States.

We love the gifts we received!

Because while I loved getting to work for a week and being in a school atmosphere surrounded by awesome teachers again, I was also reminded of how much I love taking care of Jocelyn every day, and how much of a privilege and opportunity it is to stay home with her, to care for her, to watch her grow.

Feeding the bunnies.

Because even though I am so tired from traveling and would rather cut off my knees than smoosh them against the back of another plane or bus seat with a 26 pound, 2 foot toddler on top of them for three hours at a time, we have arrived safely home. And by “home,” I mean wherever my husband happens to be.

Oh my goodness gracious. Be still my mommy heart.

Because in so many ways, I can see how God has led me, provided for me, and sustained me from one stage of life to the next. Even though at times I doubted the directions He gave.

Showing off her huipil to the old men in the park.

Because even though goodbyes are once again painful, I know that I can praise God for the awesome things He has done for me in my life. My heart is grateful for the opportunities, tasks, and purpose He has laid out before me.

My heart is dancing. 

And today, I’m simply embracing it, celebrating it, and praising God for it.

Grace and Peace,

September 11, 2014

Don't Pray for Patience

Don’t pray for patience.

Because “ask and ye shall receive.”

And you know what strings are attached to that prayer? Lots of situations that are supposed to teach you patience.

But guess what. This week, I didn’t want to be taught patience. I didn’t want to have to experience frustrating circumstances (and sometimes people) that make my day awful, but along the way are supposed to help me learn patience. I just wanted to have it. No strings attached.

"You sound a little impatient, Mommy."
So this afternoon, instead of sincerely begging, “Lord, please bless me with more patience!”, I came up with a new prayer. Now, I am simply praying for perspective.

“Lord, please give me better perspective.

Perspective that will help me to see the world through Your eyes. Perspective that will work like taking a chill pill and will last me a solid 8-12 hours. Perspective that will remind my brain to stay calm, and my heart to stay loving towards others. Perspective that will not make me act like (and probably look like) a raging hornet as I go about my day.”

I pray for perspective, because perspective tells me to “lighten up, Francis.” (Just like my Dad had to tell me way too many times growing up.)

Perspective tells me to laugh a little. (Which is much better than crying in the car on your way home after getting lost and missing your child's doctor appointment.) 

So here is how I wish I had perceived the series of unfortunate but unimportant events of this week. Here is what my attitude should have been:

“I love that I have the opportunity to snuggle with my one-year-old at 5 a.m. while she cuts molars. Because I have always wanted to know what it’s like to snuggle with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

“I don’t mind at all that my chap stick is completely soaked with spit from Jocelyn sucking on the tube all morning. Because I have always wanted to know what it’s like to make out with a camel.”

“It’s okay that I came back from the bathroom to find Jocelyn’s rice and vegetable lunch moved from her plate to covering the kitchen floor. Because it looks like confetti! And I love surprises!”

“It doesn’t matter that Google maps gave me incorrect directions twice in the past week. Because Sunday isn’t the only day for a nice, long joyride.”

“It doesn’t matter that I woke Jocelyn up from a nap to take a  drive, get lost, and completely miss her doctor’s appointment. Because waking a sleeping child up from their nap is worthy of an episode of ‘Moms Gone Wild!’”

“I don’t mind that the Target lady keeps badgering me with reason after reason why I should sign up for a Target card. Because maybe she was on a state championship debate team in high school or something, and is now just freshening up her skills before she attends law school.”

“I don’t mind when insomnia keeps me up a few hours after the time I wished to go to sleep. Because it makes my dreams of being awake in a completely quiet house without any messes being made come true!”

“I don’t mind that I tried four times to hang that little shelf, and have now poked four holes into the drywall and have broken four plastic anchors. Because I always wanted to have a wall that looks like Swiss cheese.”

“I don’t care that our daughter can’t seem to learn, no matter how much we discipline her, that it is not okay to slap people in the face. Because that insomnia has me kind of tired this afternoon, and I needed a nice wake-up call.”

You see? Perspective is everything.

Perspective tells me what is important. That the people in my life are more important and more valuable to me than any to-do list I never accomplished.

Perspective tells me to be grateful for what I have, and who and what is right in front of me.

Perspective tells me that even when I don’t feel like a patient person, I can be at peace with the knowledge that my day and all of its happenings are in God’s hands.

Perspective, most importantly, tells me that my life is not about me. And if, on this very day my life is meant to be a series of unfortunate yet unimportant events for the improvement of my character to be just a smidge more like Christ and in some way benefit those around me, then let it be my pleasure.

So will I really stop praying for patience? Of course not. 

But as I experience those daily grind circumstances that are teaching me patience, but are also putting my wires on the fritz, I need to pray for perspective. Perspective that keeps my eyes and my heart focused not on myself, but on Christ and on those He has entrusted into my care. 

Perspective that reminds me of God's clear will for my life: to Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.

"What then are we to do about our problems? We must learn to live with them until such time as God delivers us from them…we must pray for grace to endure them without murmuring. Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly." - A.W. Tozer 

Grace and Peace,