I can't believe that it is here either. A whole new year. I love writing resolutions, setting goals, and making plans. Something about beginning another year sparks courage and hope within me. My mind and heart fills with ideas and dreams. If you are like me, you might have also noticed that our resolutions have a far better chance of being fulfilled if we actually take the time to write them down.
Below is a free printable of a simple 3-page worksheet for setting goals. I left a lot of open space for you to make this page your very own. Fill in the margins with doodles, quotes, pictures, and whatever else helps you make these mighty changes in your life.
Happy very blessed New Year to you all.
They weren't the most fabulous gifts. I am not very good at those sentimental, deeply-touching presents that others give. My mind thinks too much about practicality--needs versus wants, usefulness instead of thoughtfulness. However, with each curled ribbon I prayed with hope that those who recieve each will know the deep love my husband and I have for them.
I stuffed the last box into a large grocery bag and tried to sigh away a little flutter that lurked deep in my stomach. I breathed a prayer to God to release the worry to Him. I had done my best, the reactions and reception of others would not be my responsibility. We have no control over how others recieve our gifts to them.
My eyes drifted over to our little nativity scene. The baby boy lay nestled in hay. Innocent. Perfect. Love. The greatest present of all.
What thoughts did my Heavenly Father have the night His Son was born? His gift to the world had been presented. An awesome, amazing, incredible gift was given to the earth. One that would be met with joy and awe.
But not by everyone.
God knew that before His Son was ever born. He knew before the gift was given. He knew, even then, that many would ignore it. Many would refuse it. Many would be angered by it. Many would reject His perfect act of love.
He chose not to control the actions of how His gift was recieved. He gave out of a merciful, wise, and peaceful heart. He gave fully and completely. He gave.
Presents are a beautiful symbol of what we celebrate this season. Perhaps that is why, even today, giving is my favorite part of the Christmas season. God gave regardless of how His gift would be recieved. He gave out of love.
May we all give the same way. May we give out of joy, wisdom, and peace. Out of a deep desire to show our love to others, even it is something as simple as a card. Because we have no control over how our presents are recieved. We only have influence on the condition of our hearts as we give.
Enjoy that deep love you feel this week as you give to others. May you have a very merry Christmas.
Two years ago I promised myself I wasn't going to allow parenting a special needs child to steal my joy nor to steal my life. We knew that Micaela's birth had brought a serious curve-ball into our future, but there still was a choice: We could become angry, bitter, and resentful or we could embrace an unknown life and accept that God gives good things to His children. It was with this kind of thinking that I began The Beautiful Day Project.
Yet, for whatever reason, the long trips to Albuquerque to see Micaela's specialists still frustrate me.
Yesterday the cans of pediasure were gathered up. We had snacks ready and Micaela's G-tube supplies. I hustled out as soon as I could, throwing Adela on the bus with a kiss and then drove quickly away. Yesterday a couple doctors in Albuquerque awaited Micaela and I for check-ups. Six hours of driving+7 hours of doctors and shoppings=1 exhausted mamma and toddler.
Some days I gaze rather too lovingly at my can of Redbull riding in its holder next to my seat. And yet, yesterday I realized that there is something special about these days.
I've had some of the most meaningful phone conversations when driving. I've been awed by a unique aspect of one of my girls' personalities that I had never noticed until they had to sit for hours on end and amuse themselves. I've listened to wonderful books. I've sang and sang and sang again. And, I've prayed.
I've prayed a lot.
It isn't often that I am given time just to sit. Sure, I drive. I talk to girls and sing to them when they are awake. But there are many long patches of pavement when all I can do is sit, pray, and think.
Yesterday marked a milestone for little Micaela. We won't be needed back in Albuquerque until the end of February! She is doing wonderful. God is so good to us.
As I pulled into our driveway yesterday evening, I was relieved. It was so very nice to be home.
But I know that I needed the long hours of quiet God gave me. My Heavenly Father had a lot of amazing things to share with me. It had been a while since I had given Him so much undivided attention.
My blessing are bountiful. Even long road trips and hours sitting in doctor offices are counted among the ways my God has shown His love to me and mine.
The Lord will keep
There will never be enough coffee to give me the strength to make it through this day like a human being.
I don't know why I do this to myself. But I do. From time to time I forget that I am not a super-powered woman who can make it through several nights in a row of just a few hours of sleep.
When you do that to yourself and get up in the morning, the day does not even seem new or fresh.
The cover of my book is what succeeded in keeping me up the last few nights. I was out of my comfort zone trying to design it. I learned a lot as I struggled different photo shop and cover creator programs, but I was far from satisfied with my work.
This morning I submitted my proof and cover. I was frustrated. I was grumpy. I wasn't ready to mother my sweet girls, cook, clean, or simply smile. I was so exhausted and disheartened.
I should have been sleeping the last few nights instead of allowing my desire for control and perfectionism to eclipse my trust in God.
I really should have taken Sunday off. I can feel my need to relax and chill-out crawling up and down my spine. My eyes keep closing involuntarily. This third cup of coffee might as well have been Sweet Dreams herbal tea.
Our desire to control a situation often gets in the way of following God's instructions and resting. Our urge to get things done perfectly will make us treat our own bodies badly. That is not God's will for us.
I know I'm up against a deadline. I know that I look back on the last few months and am angry at myself for not taking advantage of time I had when I had it. However, pushing myself like this is only making my life more miserable in a dozen different ways. I think I am even getting an ulser...
Really, I should have been sleeping.
Is there something you are pushing yourself with? Cooking Christmas treats, sending off cards, or preparing for a family get-together? In your anxiety, are you accepting God's gift of rest or are you pushing forward trying to get everything done on your own power?
Maybe you should be sleeping, too.
If God doesn’t build the house,
I miss my mom. I do. I miss being able to pick up the phone, hear her voice, and roll my eyes when she would tell me again, "Don't worry so much." But most of all I miss the well of encouragement and advice I lost when she went up to heaven.
Mom raised four children and managed to maintain a heart full of exuberant love. That is so admirable. If I could call her now, I bet she would have all kinds of advice on what to do the next time Adela spikes a random fever or how to keep my chin up when my husband must work long hours to make ends meet.
These days I need love, advice, and support more than ever before. And God has more than filled the bill. My list of contacts on my phone is full of women who are always willing to lend an ear, give a smile, or offer a hug when I feel frustrated. My Heavenly Father is so good to me.
But I do miss Mom.
Many of my readers knew my mother, Mary Bowlin (that is her holding her grandson, Nathan, in the photo above). She was a cheerful woman and a good friend. This week, author Tina Truelove, honored me as I reviewed her devotional, When Chronic Illness Steals Your Joy. As I read the beautiful words of this scripture-based devotional & journal, I thought about Mom. I thought of those last couple of years when she was in intense pain. I thought about all the unfair changes in her life. Tina Truelove's words were full of encouragement. I would have loved to have shared this book with Mom. Perhaps it would have helped her through some of the emotional hurdles that came from having to live with Multiple Sclerosis.
To be honest, I was humbled by Tina Truelove’s decision to write this book. In the 10-day devotional she addresses common thoughts and emotions that those with chronic illnesses often encounter. She brings her own experiences and power of God’s word to help her readers reclaim joy no matter what they are going through.
If you know someone with a chronic illness, I would recommend this beautiful devotional. I am Thankful that God has blessed us with writers like this who will help us stay close to Him, learn with Him, and be loved by Him.
Thank you, Tina.
Micaela's angry scream pierced the air.
I am going to go crazy, I thought.
I gave Micaela a weary smile. "Hey, sweetheart. You're okay. I need to finish these dishes."
Her little fingers curled into fists. She screamed again.
Seriously, I am going to go crazy.
In less than ten seconds I had successfully made myself feel inadequate and unprepared for what life was throwing at me. How? Negative self-talk.
We are all familiar with these sly chants uttered under our breath when life heaps on the pressure. Read the list below and identify if you find yourself saying some of these negative statements.
I'm not up to this.
I can't keep doing this.
Another mother would handle this better.
I'm not good enough for this.
I'm not ready for this.
No one takes care of me.
No one cares about me.
...and on...and on.
I am certain that negative self-defeating thoughts are a favorite tool of the Devil. In a sly and quiet way, we allow lies to creep into our world. And, if perception is reality, then we will be crazy, inadequate, unable to go on, unable to hand the pressure, uncared for, and missing the joy in life.
Oh, but guess what--God is waiting. His solution is simple.
Stop talking to yourself and talk to Him. Talk to Jesus, connect with His spirit inside you, soak in the joyful love of your Heavenly Father.
This takes training. This takes developing a new habit where we can:
1. Identify our negative self-talk.
2. Stop ourselves when we say these things.
And 3. Open up a dialogue with God.
We need to do it over and over until those thoughts lose their foothold in our hearts.
Lord knows I'm working on it.
This last week has been a killer. Micaela has been sick with a stomach bug for over a week. That, on top of a lot of other home/family/life demands, I felt entirely used up and defeated by the time I came home from doctor appointments in Albuquerque on Friday.
Everything I whispered to myself was full of frustration and weariness.
It took an agressive act of self-will to turn my self-talk into a conversation with God. He doesn't put up well with my pity parties.
If I try and tell God that I am going insane, He responds that I am not being truthful and that I am not leaning on His strength.
If I tell God that I can't take it anymore, He responds that I can with Him. He reminds me that He has given me good things.
Colossians 3:2 in the ampliphied Bible says, "Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]."
We all need to stop talking to ourselves and start speaking with our Heavenly Father.
His strength, His peace, and His perfect love waits for us.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
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"...and God was already there with me."