Uncommon Blessings

motherhood, ministry and a million little things


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Let Go

Lately my life is consumed by constant requests from my children. 
Today as I tried my best to fulfill another request, fixing a toy for my son, I felt my frustration rising. 

It’s not that I mind fixing his toy. Or mind doing things for my kids at all. It’s that the requests are non stop. And more often than not, before one request is granted, the next is asked. It’s the dance of the “pretty please fairy” and I am always a step or two (or 200) behind.

And today, an additional layer of complexity, a common layer of complexity, was added when my son wanted to help. His fierce little grip and persistence made it impossible to fix any thing at all.

So I finally, in pathetic and flustered frustration exclaimed, “if you want my help, you have to let go.”

And BOOM. The “ah-ha” moment.

How true is that of life.

We beg for God’s help to fix our problems. But we will not let go. Our grip is tight and we just keep meddling. 

Imagine if we were to truly let go! What might God do?!

My son let go of that toy and in five seconds (maybe less), I had it reassembled and ready to go.

I’m not going to claim that it’s always that simple or event hint that you should just sit back and never engage with your problems. 

But when you keep pushing, keep meddling, poking and prodding at your problems with no end in sight, maybe it’s time to stop. Just stop.

Stop talking about it. Stop wrestling with it. Take a deep breath and release the worry and the confusion to God.

Sometimes all it takes is a good night of sleep to see with new eyes.
Let God move in those sleepy places. Let him give you new eyes to journey through those challenges.

Stop driving through the blizzard. The snow will still be there in the morning, but God just might clear the road for you and bring on some sunshine if you stop trying so hard to plow through.


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It’s A Brand New Year

I intentionally woke this morning to the sound of “It’s a Brand New Day” by Joshua Radin.

I unintentionally turned the song off before the lyrics began.

And so starts my year. Already in so great a hurry, I miss the moments. I miss the beauty. I miss the lyrics to the song.

If I resolve one thing this year, it is to breathe in the moments and notice goodness around me and in others.

I know many who choose a word for the year, but perhaps instead I will choose a mantra of sorts. I find that having a phrase or word that is set on repeat in my mind, that when I pause it emerges as a thought with each breath, helps me to live a life of rhythm and purpose.

Like most, I do want to achieve new things this year. I want to lose weight, I want to spend more time with my kids and husband, I want to build my career, and the list could go on and on. But it’s not about the plans, it’s about the purpose.

So this year, I purpose to:

Pause.

Breathe.

Bless.

Instead of hurrying through life I will pause.

I will breathe in the beauty and notice the goodness of God, of the world and of those around me.

I will be a blessing to everyone I meet.

And I will write. In some way, I think writing accomplishes all three. When I write I reflect, I pause to notice goodness and to write it down. And I hope that my writing blesses others. At least it blesses me.

Here’s to a new year. A year full of promise, but not devoid of pain. A year I prayer fills you will joy, peace, new friends, and many blessings.

Happy 2016!


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It’s another rainy day. The rain is falling into deep puddles. Puddles that the J-man stares at longingly, well aware of their “splash potential.” The April showers have yet to transform the dark earth of winter into the flowers of Spring. Sometimes it seems the rain will never stop, the sun will never shine, and the beauty that promises to emerge from the darkness is forever lost. The same is so often true of life.

I know too many who are in the throws of a mighty storm in life, standing soaking wet in the midst of a storm with their pain dripping off of them into puddles they wish they could splash away. There is joy in the rain – lessons to be learned, beauty in the fog and mist, refreshment in the fragrance of the dew. But let’s face it, even if you can find joy in the rain, you still get wet.

Just a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a treasure. With some trepidation  I left my sweet babes in the care of my very capable husband and went to a short conference.  During this conference I had the great privilege of learning from the wisdom of Gail MacDonald – wife to Gordon MacDonald, a pastor for 40 years. Gail has lived through heartache & loss, joy & triumph. As I sat in a room of fifty other women, Gail shared a great treasure with us – her life, her wisdom, her experience.

Gail reflected on the story of Hannah (1 Samuel) – a “devastated woman” – a woman in the throws of a storm.  Like other “devastated women” of her time, Hannah was barren. This is a struggle near to the heart of many women – a timeless tragedy that haunts every generation.

Enter with me into the story of Hannah. Step back with me into the pages of history – the pages of Scripture. Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah. Unlike any custom of our current day, it was not uncommon for a man to have more than one wife. And Elkanah had two – Hannah & Penninah. Hannah was Elkanah’s true love. But despite his passion for her, their love had not birthed a child. While Penninah had given Elkanah children, Hannah had not. I am confident that Penninah longed for the affection that Elkanah showed Hannah. So Penninah played her one card – her trump card – to make Hannah feel worthless.

Each year, Elkanah and his family traveled together to worship God at the tabernacle. And each year, as they traveled  Penninah would taunt Hannah – she would “provoke her until she wept and would not eat.” Each year, Hannah arrived at the tabernacle, to worship God, broken & battered – her soul starved and her stomach empty.

Hannah was in the rain. A fierce storm surrounded her and the sun seemed to have disappeared. Hannah came to God each year, hurting – battered and bruised after a long journey in the storm.

If you are in a storm – let your story meet Hannah’s story as we look at how she endured the pain. (Part 2 coming soon)

 


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Ready for May Flowers

Spring in Asheville has greeted us with a steady drizzle of rain and a mist of fog. During the day, I hear the patter of little feet & at night, the patter of the rain on my roof. I must confess that the dreariness of it all has me longing for sunshine.

I love that God uses, not only the seasons of life, but the seasons of weather, to teach us. I love that little nuggets of truth can creep even through the fog and into our hearts. Today I was reminded that sunshine is coming, but it’s important to enjoy the rain.

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” – Bob Dylan
“April showers bring May flowers.”


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Play Dough Fun!

Just a few ideas to make your play dough adventures a bit more fun!

1. Cookie Cutters

  • Seasonal Cookie Cutters are extra fun & you can usually find them in the Target dollar spot or at a dollar store. Just keep them hidden until the “right” time & then surprise your kids with a fun new toy!
  • Alphabet & Number cookie cutters are fun & a great teaching tool. Better yet, check in at school to see what they are learning & reinforce it at home!

2. Seasonal Colors

  • Red, White & Blue for the 4th of July (with a star cookie cutter & maybe a little glitter mixed in!)
  • Green & Red for Christmas
  • Blue & White for Hanukkah
  • Pastels for Easter & Springtime!

3. In the kitchen

  • Plastic dishes – pull out the plastic dishes and make a play dough dinner! Just don’t let the kiddos eat their yummy creations!
  • Pizza Parlor!
  • Kitchen Tools – use the opportunity to teach your kids how correctly to use kitchen tools, just stay away from anything sharp! (fun tools: potato masher, garlic press, pastry wheel,

4. Hide the toy. Hide small toys in the play dough and have your kids find them!

5. Make your play dough sparkle and shine by adding a little glitter and mixing it in! A much less messy way to enjoy a little sparkle! Keep your play dough white & add a little silver or white glitter to make the snow men below extra fun!

3. Snowman – make a snowman (teach them how to roll a ball – it’s fun to watch them try! and help them count to three!) then sing this little diddy to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”

I’m a little snowman, short & fat (as you finish building the snowman)

Here are my buttons, here is my hat! (use a plastic fork to poke buttons in the front of the snowman)

When the sun comes out I cannot play

I slowly, slowly melt away. (smash the snowman to make it melt!)

7. Playdough self portraits

8. Playdough Potatoe Heads

 


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A Great Temptation for One So Small

The J-man is always on the move. His little pudgy legs carry him quickly to places sometimes I wish he wouldn’t go. The stage at the church is his favorite. It’s from there that the strings of the worship pastor’s gleaming guitar beckon his tiny little fingers. I often catch him quickly waddling that way, eager to hear his hands strum the strings. 

But today something magical happened. Today, as he stared longingly on the stage, pondering the perfect climb, I  told him to “Stop.” He looked at me. Then he looked at the guitar. The he stopped. He turned around and he ran away from the stage.

The surge of pride that welled up in me was indescribable. I quickly looked around, searching the faces of those around me, and wondering, Did you see that? That thing my boy did? Have you ever seen anything so wonderful? But my search came up empty. Everyone was busy with other things or if they had seen anything, they thought nothing of it. It was so small. Just a boy looking at a stage and listening to his mommy.

It may seem like such a small thing, but this act of obedience revealed that my sweet boy is beginning to understand the world in a new and more mature way. In short, he is growing up. It wasn’t the first time he had followed my instructions, but the temptation of that fun-filled stage was a great one to overcome.

The well of pride threatens to overflow into tear – tears of both sadness and of joy. Sadness that he is growing up too fast & joy that he is growing up just right.

In this moment, I recognize that a new weight of responsibility has been heaped upon my shoulders – a new burden I carry on the adventures of motherhood. My responsibility, which I embrace with both eagerness and trepidation,  is to nurture my child’s will. This is my task, my honor, my privilege as his mommy.