Adela gleefully plucked half the roof off her gingerbread house. The smell of candy and graham crackers wafted through the air. Her brown eyes sparkled as she shoved it in her mouth. I wrinkled my nose. Surely the combination of cinnamon graham crackers, royal icing, and smarties would please no living palate alive, but Adela loved it.
After all, she made it.
I'm nine years into this motherhood thing. The speeding winds of rapid change sting my eyes. Adela, specifically, is developing so fast I find myself swallowing back tears. She has started doing her own hair and anxiously shuffling through her closet for "just the right thing" to wear. Meanwhile, her play area is still crammed full of Lego dinosaurs.
As a hungrily soak up who the girls are right now, I find that I have more patience with them. I feel less stressed or anxious. I don't snap at them or retreat for quiet time to regain a sound mind. I am okay with how they are, trusting God with their growth for tomorrow and parenting only the girls they are today.
I think we should do this more, but not just with our children. We should do it with our husbands who forgot to bring home a gallon of milk. We should do it with our neighbors whose dog made it into our yard again. We should do it with our aging parents who feel the need to tell us again how things were different when they were raising a family.
When we let go of the past and take our eyes off the future, we are left with precious people in our lives, right now, exactly how they are. Our hearts have enough love for them. Our bodies have enough strength to serve them. And, they are so very precious.
I'm sure God sees us all they way I have been looking at Adela these days. He sees us growing and treasures our change and progress. He has forgiven our sins of the past. He has no fear of the future. He loves us today, in this moment, with immeasurable passion and peace.
Merry Christmas, my friends. I love you all so very much.
When Micaela turned two, I had one goal: She was going to eat a cupcake and love it.
Now, mind you, she had only started eating a few months before and still got most her nutrition through the G-tube inserted into her stomach. But, that didn't matter in my mommy-mind. We made the cupcakes, prepared to party, and then waited for my husband to get home. He was branding with some neighbors and there were some hiccups in the day. By the time I realized that he wasn't going to get back before the girls fell asleep, Micaela was a grumpy tired mess.
Determined that my dreams would not be thwarted, I grabbed the plate of cupcakes. Quickly I put them on plates and put them in front of the girls. We sang happy birthday as I madly took pictures. Micaela stared at the cupcake with curiosity and watched Adela bite into hers with the ferocity of a starving coyote. Micaela reached out one chubby hand and wrapped her fingers around the cupcake. Her expression quickly changed from curiosity to alarm. She jerked back her hand. It was covered with sticky frosting. She shook her hands and began to cry.
It didn't matter what that cupcake tasted like, she wasn't going to eat it. My great birthday party plan was unrealized that year and I put a very sad and upset toddler to bed.
This morning, God reminded me of that story. I am determined to celebrate Jesus' birthday with Him and have a heart full of gratitude and love. However, my plans of singing carols everyday, joining community gatherings, making Christmas treats, and doing art project that could grace a tree are not quite turning out the way I planned. The girls and I were quarantined last week due to an exposure to COVID. As we wait-out our fourteen days, my plans had to be revised. I have been frustrated and often walking around the house like a lost child.
However, in my prayer time, I remembered that birthday of Micaela. She might have had a bad experience with a cupcake, but her mother was there with her. I was present in the experience of that day and dedicated to letting her know how much I love her.
I can do that with Jesus, too. He doesn't need the Holidays to be perfect, He just wants me to be as present with Him as possible. We can love the people in our lives without lavish expressions of gratitude. Honestly, the truest form of love is simply being with others, knowing them, and inviting them into our world.
Whatever your Holidays look like this year, I pray that Jesus is intimately invited into it all.
Happy Birthday, Immanuel.
What is one of your favorite ways to celebrate Jesus' birthday?
They say confession is good for the soul, right? So, here comes mine: I have spent way too much of my time replacing God with the comfort I could find in food. And, this went on for over two decades.
I never wanted to talk to many people about it. I was definitely embarrassed by the way I would turn to the candy bucket and binge my way through enough wrappers that my body would feel sick. Then, my mind would turn to thoughts of shame and frustration and I would carefully restrict my eating for days afterwards. But, all it took was a sick child, a large bill, or simply an exhausted mind and I would binge again.
Then the pandemic happened. With the stress and worry, my binges became more frequent and I was restricting less. I started to have digestion issues, abdominal pain, and other symptoms. My body was warning me that it couldn't tolerate those life choices forever. But how was I going to stop? Will power alone just wasn't enough. I couldn't understand how my self-discipline was deserting me in this issue.
This is when I discovered life-coaching. I had no idea there were people out there who could help me sort out my problems, devise plans, and find solutions to my emotional eating issues. I spent most of 2020 working on this. I discovered that when I laid down food, I could turn to solid truth and empowering knowledge to bring me comfort and strength. All of it is right there in God's word. I just needed someone to show me how to work on my mind so that the Prince of Lies would stop stealing my peace and pushing me toward destructive habits.
The outcome: I have freedom around food and in my mind around eating. I still enjoy cake, but I know what to do when I start wanting to binge my way through a pan of brownies. I have practical tools and tactics to handle stress in a way that is productive instead of victimizing.
So, this is my reason for starting the Weight Loss Life Coaching program. I have talked to so many women who are grappling to gain some ground and make progress in their health goals. I became a life coach earlier this spring. Right now I mostly coach women on parenting or other difficult life situations, but the tools also apply to weight loss.
Now instead of turning to a bag of chips when Micaela is having a rough day, I know how to take control of my thoughts about the situation and be filled with peace and love (no chips required). Instead of needing to end my day with some sweets in order to feel loved I instead acknowledge that God made my body in need of rest and renewal (no sweets involved). I don't feel deprived, ashamed, or anxious for my next "fix".
God led me to so much freedom as I rest in Him.
If God could use me to help you find this, too, I would be thrilled to serve you. We don't have to bow down to a false god of food to feed our hearts. And, when we put this down there is great depths of healing to be found. The group is absolutely free this first time around.
If you are interested in this program, just fill out the contact form or send me a private message on Facebook and I'll get you all signed up.
My stomach tied in knots as the thermometer beeped. 102.8. The numbers stared at me, demanding that I take action and make some decisions. Both Micaela and Adela were sick with fevers and a cough. A few hours later we had all missed school and a nurse was shoving a long cotton swab up their noses.
Now, I need to confess, I have never been an overly fussy mom when it come to colds or the flu. I have always did the normal: pushed fluids and make sure they rested. The girls typically went from yearly check-up to yearly check-up without seeing our family physician. I have trusted in their bodies' ability to fight off infections. But, then came COVID and the numbers on a blinking thermometer arrive with a thousand questions.
What do they have? Is is something they will be able to pass on to others even after a few day? Do I need to have them tested? What if it is COVID and they shut down the school? Who has been in contact with us recently? Should I call them?
Yesterday the doctor gave us the verdict: no COVID, no flu, but probably a different virus such as RSV. The doctors orders: push fluids and make sure they rest.
I had to admit, I felt so very frustrated. In my anger, I had to take a good look at something I battle: indecision.
Indecision is where you feel like a battle is going on inside your head. You don't know what is the "right" thing to do. You might even make a decision and then continue to beat yourself up about why it wasn't a good choice or might not be a good choice. This is so destructive. The end result is an accelerating feeling of fear, frustration, and anger.
Instead we can follow these steps:
1. Evaluate our priorities. If you know how things land in your list of most important to least important, it is easier to make a choice that is in line with your values.
2. Praise God and pray for guidance and protections. Sometimes re-connecting with God and the Holy Spirit will give us clarity and peace before we make a choice.
3. Make a decision and make it final. Don't keep revisiting your choice or beating yourself up.
4. When the dust settles and the situation is over, evaluate your decision to see what you can learn for next time.
That is pretty simple. When I go through those steps I realize that I am thankful for the choice of taking the girls to the doctor. I was both getting them looked over by a medical professional and potentially protecting people at school from whatever their little bodies were fighting.
Today I am home with the girls. They are doing better. I try not to grieve for the days gone past when I could parent in a more simple way, but then I remember, God has not changed. The God who protected and guided me and mine before the pandemic is the same God who watches over my little family today.
Try out those four steps the next time you are battling indecision. I pray it brings you some peace and confidence.
Let me level with you: Life is full these days. I purposefully chose not to say "busy", "crazy", or "chaotic". I just want to say that it is full. Full like a dish at a potluck where you keep trying to slide just one more item on your plate. You might even take a self-conscience glance around, and dump some brisket on top of the potato salad and then shrug and say, "It's going to the same place anyways."
That's my life right now. It isn't bad or stressful, because I choose to believe that it is exactly how God designed it to be. The reality of it is, my husband is in veterinary medical school, I'm teaching and designing curriculum, Adela is active with a dozen interests and projects, and Micaela remains a cute complicated kid. Throw in the farm and keeping a home and my potluck plate has started dribbling juice on the floor.
I did though, have a moment where I almost...almost...lost my grip. I had carefully choreographed my evening and believed I could get two loads of laundry done, dried, and sorted between cooking supper, helping the girls with homework, and putting out some home fall décor. I pulled the soggy clothes out of the washer and dumped them into the dryer. I smiled, enjoying the scent of clean clothes and the wealth of shirts and pants my girls have been blessed with. Then, prepped the machine and pushed the button. Expecting to hear the bumps and whirls as it got into motion, I froze when I heard a single bump followed by silence.
My world came crashing down.
Frantic, I opened and closed doors, flipped breakers, checked settings, and pushed the button like a monkey.
I backed away, as if the machine were a snake. I fell into a chair. My choreographed dance of work transformed into a failed disaster. I bowed my head and prayed, asking God for peace or a new dryer. What he delivered instead was Adela, wanting to know what I was doing (she doesn't see me sit down much these days). I explained the dryer's condition and from her wise nine-year-old lips she shrugged and said, "Well, we can handle that."
I gave her a half smile. Yeah. We would handle it.
We don't get to pick what our days throw at us, but we need to learn how to give life and loved ones space. Accepting, loving space. Instead of demanding that things continued to go in the direction I had planned for the evening, I needed to be loving and accepting toward myself, replacing my fear and anger with trust that God's plans are always good.
The concept of giving space actually comes from psychologist recommendations for good listening. When someone is telling you their problems, you give them space to talk, to sort out their worries and feelings. You do not fill the space with your own ideas. You listen with concern and curiosity. You do do not listen while mentally deciding what you are going to say when they take a breath.
We must give our day space too. Whatever happens, whatever needs to be cared for, whoever needs to be loved, we must to give those situations space and acceptance.
After all, God's will is that we love one another beyond agendas.
This week as you welcome the chaos of family and holidays, I pray you give space to your life so that it might be filled with love.
Are you frustrated by a person or situation right now? You might need to trust God with your time and give the situation accepting, loving space to simply be part of your life.
The clouds to the north built into black and blue mushrooms. The kids on the playground laughed and squealed. I wondered if we would have to move inside the church a little earlier. The storm looked like a serious one. I mentally counted the kids in my class. They were amazing. I enjoyed teaching them, hearing their thoughts about God, and the powerful connections they had made to the Bible stories and concepts in our class. I breathed in deeply and sighed. Vacation Bible School never fails to nourish my soul. Closing activities would include songs, laughter, and dancing.
Micaela let out a loud cry. I wheeled around. She had fell again. Angry and exhausted, she held her hands to me. I scooped her up. The breeze brought the smell of rain. Adela sprinted to my side.
"Mama, are we going home soon?" Her brown eyes were full of fear and worry. A few years ago she studied natural disasters in school and my smart little girl has never befriended storms. Micaela continued to cry in my arms.
My lips tightened. "There is only half an hour left, Adela. We're fine."
Adela reached up to grab my free hand. "Is there going to be any tornadoes?"
"No," I snapped, and switched Micaela to my other hip.
I stood there, both my girls upset and increasingly melting-down. I have no idea what shifted in my soul, but suddenly I just wanted to put them both in the car and to get away. There was only half an hour left and my responsibilities as a teacher for Vacation Bible School were over for the day. The kids in my class were playing. Other teachers stood and watched and talked.
Micaela tightened her grip on me. I shrugged, "I suppose we could. go. Micaela is so tired." She had got fitted with new orthotics that day and I knew she was especially weary. Perhaps I was, too.
I hated doing it. I entertained a thousand thoughts about what others would think when I left the church early, before the closing exercises and songs, but Micaela still sobbed in my arms and Adela had a death grip on my other arm. Annoyance filled me as I gathered up my things and packed them and the girls into the little red car. Ashamed of my early retreat, I let the church leaders and another teacher know before I set the wheels in the direction of home.
I gazed at those clouds. They loomed ahead of me. The sheets of rain were the deep hue of a night sky and moving toward us. I blinked. My stomach did a little flip. Rain drop began to pelt the windows and I ramped the speed of the wipers up another notch.
By the time we reached our little farm, puddles were beginning to form. The rain soaked our clothes as we sprinted the few feet to the door. It poured for a good hour. It rained so hard here at the farm and the surrounding area that the draw swelled and filled, covering the road until it was impassable. It happened so fast that if I had not come home when I did, I would not have made it home in our little red car.
Wow, God can truly use anything for His purposes. He used the unreasonable melt-downs of my daughters to get me in the car and home. My perfectionistic tendencies make shirking responsibilities very difficult. I want to do everything and do it completely. However, that day, I gave in and gave up, because my daughters' fear and exhaustion.
I have to laugh. God is so creative.
So, the next time I think a situation is a disaster, I am going to remember this day when God used melt-downs to protect me and my family.
When has God surprised you by turning a disaster into an unexpected blessing?
I made the bottle quickly. My hands mixed the sweet formula into the warm water, the smell always reminds me of smarties candy. The milk filled the bottle and I squeezed the nipple in place. Out the front door I went. The lamb's cries hit me along with the blanket of hot air. I fisted my empty hand. How could I have forgotten to feed her? As I walked to the shed, I glanced at the full clothesline. I needed to get them down soon and put them away. I also needed to put the kids to bed, do the dishes, sweep the floor...
My fist gripped tighter. I was falling behind in my chores. Between the work I am doing to prepare for teaching in the fall, the visits from family, and my determination to have some fun with the kids, the normal bread-and-butter activities of keeping up the home were falling through the cracks.
With that thought, my attitude fell lower. The next day I called a friend and we talked about my attitude toward summer "fun". On top of my frantic activities, I had not been able to get time alone in several days. After listening, my friend asked if I ever snuck outside to sit on the front porch and breathe. The answer was no. However, she insisted that getting outside with no chores or purpose would help me cultivate a more peaceful heart.
That night, I put the kids to bed, and stepped outside onto the porch. It was spectacular. I expected quiet, but was greeting with hundreds of birds songs, insect chips, sheep baas, and cattle moos. It was chaotic and brilliant, like sitting next to my own bubbling brook of life. I felt my shoulders drop. I smiled. God is handling this whole wide world of life, why am I fretting over my own tiny corner of it?
I am so caught up in managing and manipulating, afraid of dropping or forgetting a single thing, yet God has it all covered. The chaos is not chaotic to Him, but part of a perfectly balanced world that He lovingly tends. I can let it go. His hands are already holding everything up.
His yoke is easy, the burden light, (Matthew 11:28-30) if I will turn my head and allow Him to take the lead.
Chores. They can go on for days and are never finished. Lord, please give me a heart of compassion towards this. Let me trust You and rest in You.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed with chores?
My heart gave that little flutter as I sat down and opened up the decorated pages of my planner. It was the last week. The last week of summer was upon us. I sipped my coffee and smiled, allowing a few minutes of pure day-dreaming delight as I imagined the months ahead. I thought of ice cream and snuggles with the girls of them squealing as they played in the sprinklers and of the time we would spend exploring their interests.
I smiled as my optimistic heart decided that it would be the best summer ever. Micaela is incredible mobile and confident outside, Adela has a thousand interests and things that excite her heart, and I am ready for the change.
I almost...almost...didn't need my cup of coffee.
Hope and positive expectations are powerful.
I tried a new Bible Study program recently called "She Reads Truth" and the study I did was about the Kindom of God. The study awed me. As I poured over God's Kingdom, His promises, and His plans for us, I was filled with hope and expectation that fueled every day with the determination to show up as a loving and compassionate child of God. There is nothing like looking at God's big picture and being reminded that He is in total control and that great things are in store.
I have so much trust in God's plans for my family and that faith helps me look to the summer with even more joy. Yes, there will be sun burns and sweaty mosquito bites and weeds to pull, but, the sun will shine and everything will grow. My garden, my flowers, my girls, and my heart.
I'm so ready.
What are you looking forward to that is fueling your life today?
The car smelled like McDonald's chicken nuggets and Walmart donut holes. Micaela cried in the back seat, having thrown her toy on the floor...again...and wanting it back. Adela rested her tired head against the window, her eyes glassy and feverish. I gripped the steering wheel until my knuckles were white.
If I had run a marathon or worked cattle all day, I wouldn't have been as tired as I was last Sunday after going to urgent care with the girls. The best place to go was an hour away. We spend three hours there, another hour waiting for our prescriptions, and then drove home again. It was miserable, but Adela, who had been sick all weekend, developed sores on the back of her throat. Feverish and in so much pain, I didn't want to make her wait until Monday. Besides, I needed to get Micaela checked out, too. She still won't tell me when she is feeling bad.
Honestly, while in the actual doctor's office, both the girls did great. It was the waiting that was so hard. I left the house completely unprepared to keep us entertained. We sang songs, played games, and kept our masks on. The minutes dragged on. I could have brought out my phone and let them watch a show or two, but knowing that Micaela would have a complete meltdown the moment I had to put the device away again, I kept it in my purse. I kept listening to the sound of footsteps, hoping our turn would come, but the waiting room had been busy and I knew it would take time.
The next morning, when I wrote about the experience in my journal, I got an idea. Why not stick a few simple items like a bag of cheap balloon, coloring books, and pipe cleaners into the diaper bag along with a list of activities we can do with the materials? A day like Sunday happens only once or twice a year, but that doesn't mean I can't be proactive and plan for it. I can also plan better self-care than donut holes...maybe.
We all go through things that are stressful and difficult. Usually, we have two options afterward: decide to be a victim to circumstances or take proactive action to learn from the experience while making a better plan for next time. Who knows, perhaps God allowed that day to wake me up to this need because He knows I'll be doing this again soon.
God's precious provision and care is evident daily in my life. Adela is already doing great and back in school. Micaela and I didn't get her bug which is a miracle in itself, and I am still learning and growing under God's gentle guidance and love.
Is there something you went through recently that didn't go as well as you wished? What proactive steps could you take to improve that experience next time. Can you make a plan?
It was the last few minutes before the girls' bedtime. Micaela had crossed over into the persona of an exhausted two-year old and adamantly refused to put pajamas on. Adela whined tiredly about not getting to finish setting up a Lego dinosaur zoo she was building. Anger and frustration blossomed into lies about my abilities as a mom and the personalities of my children.
I've been through this scene a hundred times. Usually I just plow through it and grit my teeth. I skip reading a book, rush through prayers and lullabies, and shut their door firmly behind me. However, the other night I tried something new. I'm going through a series right now about self-talk by Karen Stubbs and so I took a deep breath as Adela went to brush her teeth and Micaela went to retrieve a baby doll. "Lora," I asked myself, "how are you doing?" As if a trusted friend had asked me the question, I answered sincerely, "I'm really tired tonight." Just like that, my eyes opened to truth. I was so very tired. My head was full of fog and my body was weary. I did not have the energy to pretend cheerfulness but I wanted to be kind. The truth turned into prayer and I asked God to help me.
Feelings of peace and compassion rushed through my soul. The frustration and anger melted away as I acknowledged my true condition and my inability to achieve perfection.
The miracle followed. I returned to my wrestling match with Micaela and the pajamas, but now, calm and kind, I got her ready for bed without yelling and ended with many hugs. I got through three pages in our chapter book, said prayers with sincerity, and sang their lullabies with love. I closed their door, still weary, but intensely moved by how powerful it had been to give myself compassion and ask God to come along side me.
I think we all know what our red-flag moments are: those attitudes, thoughts, actions, and words that warn us that we have come to the end of ourselves. Dear Lord, I wish I would invite you in before I become too empty, but I am thankful You are always willing to come to me in my weakness.
Have you ever stopped and taken stock of your own red-flag moments?
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