::2013::

I realize it’s not a novel idea to choose a word as a theme for the new year, but I never claimed to be novel anyway.

As we move forward in our adoption process (please, Lord, let our daughter come home this year!), as we live between our two homes (January through June in America and June through December in Turkey), and as I continue to seek the Lord in my roles as wife, mother, and cross-cultural worker, I have chosen FAITH to be my word for 2013.

The verse that keeps coming to mind and heart on the topic of faith is Hebrews 11:6, ” And without faith, it is impossible to please God…”

I feel so lost in my own life sometimes:

  • Adoption is slow and each step brings up 1,000 more questions. We don’t know where the money will come from and can’t fund raise like others do.
  • Living between two continents is hard. We know this is what God has called us to, but we’re always saying goodbye to someone and we’re always missing one home while we enjoy the other.
  • I am still so unsure about day-to-day parenting as new issues and conflicts arise every day, and I constantly feel like I could be doing more to keep our home and serve my family.
  • Pssssst… I could go on, but I’ll stop here since these are the “biggies”.

From the beginning of 2013, looking ahead, I need faith because I want to please God in all these areas. So I’m asking God to work in my heart and grow my faith this year. And I don’t want it to be quiet, unmeasurable faith. I want to have the kind of active faith James writes about in his second chapter:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Do you have a word for 2013? Where do you hope to grow and learn this year?

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Thankful

There is a pile of dirty dishes beside the sink.

I’m thankful we have bellies that are full every day.

The smell of a stinky diaper fills my nostrils (again).

I’m thankful for the cute, funny, amazing, snuggly little boy who makes big stinkies.

The gray clouds swell dropping their loads of rain.

I’m thankful for rain watering the thirsty earth, and rain jackets and umbrellas to keep out some of the wet.

My head pounds, aching from a seeming fifty pounds of extra snot this week.

I’m thankful for the medicine and nose spray readily available to treat my cold and help me sleep.

Little sticky hands (times three!) stretch out for me to wipe at least ten times each day.

I’m thankful for all the snacks and activities, and the accompanying smiles and memories, that cause the stickiness.

Toys and clothes and books are strewn about the floor signaling the end of another day.

I’m thankful for a house full of things– a blessing many are without.

The laundry forms a mountain taller than I’d care to admit.

I’m thankful our bodies are covered with clothes each day– protecting us, sheltering us, keeping us warm.

The forgotten-homework is quickly finished ten minutes before school and causing oodles of stress for mom and dad.

I’m thankful my children have the opportunity to learn and socialize each morning at a sweet little neighborhood school.

My neglected Bible gently beckons me from the corner of my room.

I’m thankful His mercies are new every morning, and His grace is not dependent on me.

The table is covered with crayons and pencils and half-colored creations of paper.

I’m thankful for creativity in little minds and hearts.

The sound of unkind words between siblings reaches my ears.

I’m thankful for quick reconciliations and the special bond between brothers and sisters.

My inbox registers a plethora of emails that need responses.

I’m thankful for communication with loved ones near and far away.

Spilled milk seeps across the just-mopped kitchen floor.

I’m thankful for little hands that want to help.

…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you…

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Lovely Life

Life is really lovely, isn’t it?

Sometimes I get into such a funk and it’s hard to enjoy life’s loveliness. Of course, we are broken people living in a broken world…

But when I slow down and look around, it doesn’t take long to find the loveliness again.

A friend recently shared about how she wanted to stop talking about how busy she is. Something about what she was saying resonated deep in my soul.

I hate the I’m-busier, I’m-tireder, I-have-more-going-on game that we all seem to play with each other.

As I think about it, Scriptures come to mind– about resting and being still. So opposite of the hustle and bustle we act like we love so much.

In repentance and rest you will be saved,

In quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

Cease striving and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)

So I’m stopping.

When asked about how I’m doing or how my life is going, I do not want to answer “Ugh, I am so busy!”, or, “I’m just really tired.”

Because who isn’t?

I’d rather tell about how good the Lord has been to me. Or how joyful I feel. Or how I have seen something super beautiful in creation.

Or what I have been reading and learning in the Bible and prayer.

Because life really is lovely, ya know?

And it’s so lovely to be alive.

Mommy Failure

Only a thin sliver of orange is visible as the sun dips below the hill I can see from my apartment’s balcony. I sigh, thankful that this day is over. Only a few more minutes and I can tuck little bodies clad in mis-matched pajama tops and bottoms into their beds.

It hasn’t been a good day. I said not to throw it again, and he threw it one more time. I asked her to be quiet and rest and she woke both her sleeping brothers. I told him not to play in his milk, and he did a milk mustache anyways. I stepped on a toy. I yelled because I was mad. Dinner was a mess of leftovers and random bits of food pulled from fridge and tossed onto plates because Hubby was gone and I was done. Baths were quick and un-playful. He got back into the bathtub with his pajamas on (twice!!!) The toys never did get picked up.

Even typing, I’m amazed at how small it all feels. Honestly, tomorrow when the kids pop out of bed at 7am and start asking for Cheerios and cartoons, today will become a distant memory as we begin again. Motherhood is this constant cycle– feed them, read to them, dress them, wipe them, give them, listen to them, wash them, laugh at them, humor them, play with them, explain to them, discipline them, teach them, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like a gift. It feels like a burden.

I am thankful for the book I finished two days ago, Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. It is short, but full of powerful thoughts as she (a fellow mom in the trenches) points to Christ in the midst of the daily motherhood grind.

“Blessings, like children, are not ethereal and weightless. Sometimes they feel like they come at you like a Kansas hail storm—they might leave a welt! But if you accept your lot and rejoice in your toil, God will give you the kind of overwhelming joy that cannot remember the details. Motherhood is hard work. It is repetitive and often times menial. Accept it. Rejoice in it. This is your toil. Right here. Those are their faces. Enjoy them. The days of your life are supposed to be full of things like this. But joy is not giddy. It is not an emotional rush—it is what happens when you accept your lot and rejoice in your toil. So rejoice in your children. Look them in the eyes and give thanks. You will not even remember the work of all this planting when the harvest of joy overwhelms you.”

It was a blessing today to have these thoughts come to mind as the dishes piled up, the floors got stickier, and the chaos swelled to unbearable levels. This is a gift. And I accept it– dirty diapers, runny noses, sinful hearts and all.

*Link is an Amazon affiliate link.

Ticking away…

I was rummaging around the kitchen this afternoon looking for something to eat for lunch. We had bread and lunchmeat, but the stay at home mom has the luxury of eating vastly more interesting lunches than what used to fit in my brown bag for lunch at school.

I found a half-full bag of ravioli in the freezer. (Honestly I don’t remember eating the other half– so there is no telling how old those suckers were!) I thought ravioli sounded better than processed turkey so I read the directions. Boil for 16 to 18 minutes?! Here in the fast food country I call home, I expect things to get done quickly. Very quickly. Sixteen minutes for lunch is not fast enough.

Tonight, as I rocked and fed my daughter before bed, I noticed how far her legs dangle over the edge of my lap. I found myself wishing time with her would slow down. It’s hard to believe I’ve been her mommy for six whole months. I watch her squirming around on the floor trying desparately to figure out how to crawl and remember when she used to lay so quietly in my lap or over my shoulder as a newborn. She used to eat and eat and now she’s too busy to sit still and nurse for longer than a few minutes– where’s the time going?

Isn’t it funny how contradictory my thoughts about time were yesterday?

I’ve heard it said that “All we have is time…” how true and how untrue. In one respect I can bless others with my time, by giving and serving when I’m needed, but I’m not in control over my own time. God is the giver of time, and in Psalm 139:16 the psalmist writes (of the Lord),

…in Your book were all written
the days that were ordained for me,
when as yet there was not one of them.

God already knows how much time I have, He’s blessed me with it. Who am I to wish it away or wish it would slow down?

My culminating thought on time came as I was thinking about a girl I’ve met a few times. She was in a car wreck on Sunday and is suffering from severe injuries in a hospital ICU room, and according to her doctors, probably will not wake up. This is a girl who has been running full-speed ahead from the Lord and from people who care about her at our church. I have only met her twice in two years. But God drew her heart to church on Sunday morning right before her accident. She was there that morning, and with all my heart I pray that in that last bit of time she had, she conciously got her heart right with the Lord.

Because at the end of time, that’s what really matters.