Friday, May 15, 2015

Trusting God's Timing

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you are probably aware that I have desired a mentor in my life to help encourage me in my various roles and to offer wisdom when needed (if you're new check out this post and this post for details). There was a woman who filled this role for me when my daughter was young. I've been without a mentor for about three years now and have prayed for an older women to be interested in encouraging me in my journey for about as long.
Image courtesy of nenetus at
The first experience was so positive and encouraging to me and has kept the desire for another relationship like this alive in my heart and mind. I do understand that the experience will not be the same due to a number of factors - I have changed in three years (though I'm still a SAHM with littles) and it would be a different person with different experiences and a different relationship with me - but the core of the experience should still be there (a woman further along life's journey who is genuinely interested in me and my life and is willing to challenge me in various areas of my life).

Last week I met with a woman who said that she was interested in being a mentor-type influence for me. It was a welcome surprise to hear her say this. I already felt comfortable enough with her to share without fear but my introverted nature desired this official permission to share all areas of my life - successes, struggles, questions. I'm so used to doing most of the listening in my relationships that it is so freeing and energizing to be invited to share myself. When someone seems truly interested in hearing what's going on with me I feel loved and supported.

The meeting was quite timely. There was a lot going on with me and I received encouragement and wisdom from this woman. I absolutely believe that this was God's answer to my prayer and that he set up the timing of this meeting and has been preparing our hearts for a deeper connection with one another. I am excited to see what God does in and through this relationship. He is so faithful!

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose...under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Do Small Things With Great Love

Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love. 
-Mother Teresa

This winter/spring of 2015 I read Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity by Jen Hatmaker with a small group of women. I must say that I thoroughly enjoy reading and discussing a book with other people. It is so interesting to learn which parts impacted each person. It amazes me that each of us were impacted by a different part of the same book.

Early on in the reading I felt that the book had the capacity to change how I live as a Christian (which I suspected might be the case by the title when I first considered reading it). I did feel like my Christianity was comfortable and thought that it could be something better than that. My prayer for the study became that the book would not simply be another "good book" I once read, a book that had no affect on me, but rather would challenge me to change some aspect of how I understand Jesus and/or how I live as a Christ-follower. I sought to find truth that I could apply to my life.

The book is an unfolding of the story of how Jen and Brandon Hatmaker felt God calling them to something different and new which ultimately led to the launch of Austin New Church. There is truth, inspiration and encouragement to be found within the pages of Interrupted. If you are seeking a new perspective on your faith or a reminder that God is trustworthy and loving and his timing is perfect, read this book.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have often felt like I have to wait for my kids to get older and more independent so that I can then begin a ministry of serving God with my gifts and abilities. That's not true at all! God has given me opportunities to serve and use my gifts right now, right where I am in my life stage. I just need to reshape my definition of ministry.

My first opportunity is, of course, to serve my family, to love my husband and children, to teach my children about loving and serving God - some through conversation but mostly through my example (this has become increasingly obvious as of late, as you may know if you read my previous post about a personal parenting fail). I can serve my neighbors by showing kindness and taking advantage of opportunities presented to me - preparing and delivering meals, watching pets, hosting play dates, offering free babysitting, listening to others and praying for them. I can write letters to others and use my gifts of encouragement and words without taking away from my responsibilities and duties to my family. God can use me right now in this current stage of my life and will be able to use me in some additional ways as my kids do eventually get older and become more independent.

I know that none of these seem like extraordinary activities. I don't expect to receive accolades or a well-known name from these small acts of kindness but I do find satisfaction in knowing that I am taking advantage of everyday opportunities to help those around me. And perhaps, if I am faithful in these small things, I will be ready and prepared for larger opportunities that may come.

"The kingdom advances in our small neighborhoods and small acts of love and small moments of faithfulness and small feats of courage." -Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted

Monday, May 4, 2015

Not My Proudest Moment

Everyone tells you that having kids will change everything. I have certainly found that to be true. I have had to shed my me-first mentality and care for the needs of others before myself (sometimes instead of myself, though not always successfully - selfishness is ingrained deep in us). I have changed occupations, developed a new group of friends and relationships, thought a lot more about the future and what is in store for me and my family and grown deeper in my faith.

One thing that has been forefront most recently is how much my words and behavior are noticed and imitated by my children. Some days I will listen to them playing together and they will pretend play that they are a family and one is the parent while the other is the child. They will parent like we have been parenting them. Sometimes it is sweet and reinforces that I am doing a good job. Other times, it is a gut check and reminder that my words are powerful and they are sponges soaking everything up.

My son is very active, often on the go. When I want him to pay attention to something I am saying (because I think it's important) I'll tell him to look at me (and sometimes turn his face to mine) in the hope that he will soak in more of what I'm saying. Now, I hear the kids saying "look at me" to each other during pretend play when the "child" is "in trouble".

This past week I was confronted with an inconsistency in my integrity. While out with my kids I experienced a situation that caused me shame and embarrassment. It was a combination of a lapse in close supervision and kids being kids. Nothing dangerous, but I panicked and we left rather than dealing with the situation. I chastised my kids when we got to the car but realized later that I was really angry with myself for not paying closer attention. I wrestled with feeling guilty all evening until finally I prayed about it. Through prayer I was able to work through my feelings and realize that it was not too late to apologize to those I had wronged and make amends for the situation.

The next morning I confessed the whole story to my husband (because shame was telling me to keep it quiet so that guilt could continue to hound me). I then spoke to my kids about what I did wrong and what I should have done. I apologized for speaking unkindly to them. I stated what I was going to do to try to make up for the situation. (Now, my kids are only five and two and I don't know how much the oldest took from what I said because I know the two year old didn't care, but perhaps it planted seeds in her for the future.) Later that morning I returned to the scene of the situation, acknowledged what I should have done and apologized. It was sooo hard and uncomfortable but I felt that it was what God wanted me to do. The person I spoke with was so gracious and kind to me. He accepted my apology and said that he appreciated my efforts. He said it was a sign that I had a good heart. I almost cried at his kindness.

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6

The best thing that has happened through all of this is that my guilt is gone! Yes, I could have owned up right at the moment (and obviously there is still growth occurring in this area but I also know that, in the past, I would not have owned up to my mistake and tried to make it right) but God used it as an opportunity to remind me that it's not too late to humble myself and apologize. It was an opportunity to teach my children that we all make mistakes (and they will hopefully also choose to try to correct them). My response will help to equip me for future situations that may arise. Hopefully the next time I begin to feel shame or embarrassment, I will stop and consider the best choice. Perhaps I'll develop a habit of responding with integrity so that my kids will learn the proper way to handle difficult situations.

"Train up a child in the way he should go;
  and when he is old he will not depart from it."
      Proverbs 22:6