Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Opposite of Awakening : The Era of Distraction


It has been a weird week, and sorry in advance if it takes me a minute to get to my point. Our youngest has been pretty sick and that means sleepless nights, fevers, hospital trips, and trying to balance works responsibilities and chores. Thankfully, we have such a supportive family to help care for her, which means I have only had to miss a little amount of work for how sick she’s been. I know this is a week I should look at with grace as the exception to “the norm” for our family, but I could not put to words what I really felt about the status of my brain during the off time, until the other night. 
To give you a little insight about me, I am a full-time working mom of three girls, 3, 6, & 8. My husband and I work in a pretty large, fast paced office, and summer time is by far the busiest and demanding season we experience. I am helping train someone while also learning a new position myself. (Shout out to the Work-From-Work-Moms, right Erika!?) Needless to say there is not a lot of “off time” in my life. It seems like when I’m home, life is just as demanding as while I’m at work. Dinner needs to be made, but first the kitchen is not clean. That’s probably because we were so tired after dinner from the night before and the girls “helped” clean up after we ate. There is always stuff to pick up, a room to clean, a sink to wipe, an endless mountain of laundry to do. 
I know there are a lot of busier, larger families, with more responsibilities, more extracurricular activities, more demanding jobs. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that have a great handle on our their responsibilities. People with organized coupon books, and freezer meals prepped a week in advance, and their kids laundry all organized and put away. That’s just not our family. I would LOVE for it to be, but we aren’t there and probably won’t ever be. 
Maybe its part of my personality, but I am constantly going through the list of things to do in my head. “When did we change our air filter? … our oil? … rotate the tires? … did I set up the rent on bill pay? … did we cancel that subscription?… have the girls been reading their books? … did I buy that ingredient for dinner tomorrow? … what time do I need to wake up? … when need to buy more coffee filters? … ziplock bags?… bread? … Did I email back that parent at work? … Did I discuss that weird situation with my manager and/or doctor?…”  Most of the time this list starts whenever I start to sit still and be quiet, and often times that when I’m going to bed.
This week, however, has forced me to be on either end of the extreme. There has been nothing balanced, nothing moderate, nothing average about this week! It has been completely demanding one day, then mildly idle the next. 
If you’re a parent, you have probably at one time been “nap-stuck.” This is where your child has struggled to nap, and now is finally asleep… on you. You can’t move for risk of waking her. To save the heartache, you stay as long as you can, so they can get the sleep that they need. 
This was me on Wednesday with our sick, sleeping toddler. It was just the two of us home, and after a rough night of coughing attacks and crying, she was finally asleep, sprawled across my lap. It is in that time that you would think I could have taken a mental reprieve. A breather. Time to meditate and refresh my soul. But instead, like most people in 2017, I had my phone nearby and the TV remote close as well. I had access to binge watch an actual non-G-rated TV show for once!… or to pass that next level on my favorite app… or mindlessly scroll through Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram. That is exactly what I did. 
It is like an addiction to soda, or coffee. I get stuck in a pattern, frequently picking up my phone, refreshing a feed, checking notifications. It quickly becomes an involuntary action. I think to myself, “You have worked your hard being a grown up, and now you deserve the time to shut it off and fill it up with useless material…”  Vine videos, cat instagrams, Pinterest recipes I will probably never try, articles about the most expensive hotdog in the world, a quiz to see what city I should vacation in based on my perfect dessert (sorry buzzfeed! You time-sucker, you!). 
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a guilt trip. Simply put there is necessarily nothing wrong with that. I’ve earned this mental break. This is a stirring in my heart I felt after two days of quiet, with nothing substantial to show for it. Just a brain full of stuff that does. not. matter. I crave quiet time. I have a list of things I would do if I just had a little more time to myself; A list of books, a list of writing prompts, a few chapter I’m behind on in our Romans Study. Instead, I let time go wasted. 
So here is scripture that has been brought to my mind:  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14
The Message explains my heart in similar words: “I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”
I feel like my time is like the parable of “The Talents” that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 25. Two of the servants had increased the money given to them to return a profit to their master, and the third buried it instead, returning exactly what was given to him. It’s not that the third servant lost it, or gambled it, or even stole it. He did with it as he wanted and thought was acceptable, but did not have anything to gain from it, and nothing to give when his master returned. 
That, my friends, is not who I want to be. I want to make an investment with my life and, in return, have something of greater value to give back as a gift to God. I want to become a better me, and that cannot be accomplished by spending away my limited times of solace to completely futile Facebook scrolling. 
I feel that this will probably ring true for many. Your instrument of distraction may be different, but your issue of idle-time-wasting is the same. You maybe even feel a conviction to make a change, and that is awesome. That is the whole reason I sat down to put my thoughts to words, I felt the need for change. So let’s do this together! Hebrews 10:24 says “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”  If you need a partner to help you be accountable for spending time with God each day, let me know! I sure need it as well! 
I hope as you read this, you can understand that I am processing through this journey of life with open eyes and a moldable heart. This is my heart-on-my-sleeve thoughts and I pray that my experience, and the tugging of the Holy Spirit to spur me on to change for the better is something that will encourage you to take a step towards both letting go, and growing as well.

Sincerely, 

Jen

Friday, April 14, 2017

HIS RESPONSE, OUR RESPONSE




I had started to write this Friday night after our Good Friday service at church, but it was late and I wasn't able to finish my thought process. Thankfully, there was a reason for that, because there was more to ponder. 






It's not that He was speechless. It's not that He didn't know what to say. . .

Jesus knew that had to be done, and by His humble meekness, He fulfilled a prophesy spoken of Him thousands of years earlier. 











Jesus had no response. He could have spoke words to cut right to the heart. He could have spoke to them their deepest secrets and sins. He could have told them of the intricate plans He has for all eternity. . . But He knew He had to die. And He knew this was the hour. 







FAST FORWARD TO SUNDAY...
Let's look at two responses of the revealed risen Savior to His closest followers:







How is my response to the risen Jesus? Am I "deep in wonder and full of joy" like the women were when they first heard the news? Or am I "holding back" and "unsure about risking myself."  

The women were the first to hear the report. They had not yet seen the risen Jesus and yet they were fully in, fully believing. Then Jesus showed up. Yet the disciples... lets say that again... the DISCIPLES saw face to face the risen Lord and yet they were unsure. 

There are two main things I take away from this:

1. Self-evaluations. What is my response to Jesus? Am I fully in and enveloped in the majesty of the risen King? Or am I filled with parts of doubt, confusion, fear? Those areas I need to bring to God in prayer and ask for an outpouring of faith! God is there to give that to us!

2. Grace. God STILL used these doubtful men to build His church. He filled them up with the Holy Spirit days later, equipping them to share the amazing story with nation upon nation. He used these men in mighty ways. This encourages me that God will use me despite my struggles, and questions, and fears. 


Each year as our focus is drawn intently on the cross at this time, I am still awe struck that Jesus would sacrifice everything for us. I am still humbled by the pain he went through, physically and spiritually as he carried the weight of the sins of the world. Thank You, Jesus for the work You did on our behalf, and that even now you sit at the right hand of God. Thank You.

Sincerely,
Jen



PS Here is a family Easter photo for you. 
 



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Maundy Thursday - A New Command


 


Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday in Holy Week. It is the night of the Last Supper when Jesus institutes the first communion by breaking the bread, symbolizing His body and dipping in the wine, symbolizing His blood. After this intimate moment, He tells His disciples of "The New Command." 


 


Just a day later, Jesus dies on behalf of not only His closest followers, but for all people. Even those who would be murdering Him. 


The most heartbreaking verse on the Bible to me is Matthew 26:67-68. “Then they were spitting in His face and banging Him around. They jeered as they slapped Him: “Prophesy, Messiah: Who hit You that time?” MSG


When I read the Bible I see it as a movie in my head. In this scene I picture everything going into slow motion as in Jesus' mind, He sees flash backs of their lives. 


One swift blow to the head, he sees the young man who hit him. He knows more than just his name... He sees the day he was born. The tears of joy that his parents wept as they welcomed him into the world. He sees him as a child, picking on his brothers.  He sees him as an adolescent, stealing grapes in the outdoor marketplace. He sees his dedication to the temple as he starts the path to become a religious scholar. He knows the pride and haughty thoughts he struggles with. And He knows for this man, He is dying. 


One by one as they each take turns hitting and spitting on Him, he knows them all. He knows them intimately. He knows their internal struggles they would never share with even the closest of friends. He sees the dark hidden secrets they are ashamed of. He sees their pride, and hatred, and glory seeking motives. 


Yet, rather than being filled with disappointment, or anger, His heart swells with pity. "Forgive them Father, for the know not what they do." Even in His hour of pain... His hour of abandonment from His Father... His time of bearing the punishment of all mankind's sin... He beckons God The Father on our behalf for mercy upon us. 


I know that my sin is what put Christ upon the cross. I know that the wage of my punishment was counted in the slashes on His back and ribs. I know the blood spilled out on that Israeli dirt had my name inscribed upon it. But not only did Christ die for sins I would be committing thousands of years later, He was also dying for those very men who were beating Him. 


...and this puts a whole new view on the  mandatum novum, the New Command. 

 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I wish I had her life

So, yesterday was a grouchy Monday. I talked with Ricky after the girls got in bed to try to articulate my feelings of the day.  Words like "frustrated" and "isolated" were at the top of the list. After going to part time last year, and coveting the life of a SAHM (stay at home mom) I am now facing the struggles that I used to scoff at. I thought to myself, "I would never feel that way if I got to stay home with my girls! I would be so grateful that nothing would get to me! Every day will be filled with baking, and book reading, and playing games and enjoyment!"

That's not real life. After 12 weeks of maternity leave, I have learned all too well the real frustrations of a SAHM. My kids wake up grouchy. (Seriously, like almost every single day!) My kids are demanding. My kids don't get along very often without the help of a referee. My kids can be selfish, and have attitudes and be straight up liars. Mommies, though quite resiliant, can only handle so much of their shenanigans. 

So last night I was discussing with Ricky what I could do to ensure this day is fun. We discussed things like taking them to the Library to work on our school stuff, even maybe the splash pad? (but come on its 115 and i have a little baby!) When the time came to wake up this morning and take Ricky to work so I would have the car, I could. not. get. up. I almost then just accepted defeat for the day. The girls woke up in their usual bad moods, starting of their first words of the morning by yelling at each other. We had some breakfast and the girls asked to watch a movie. Of course, the rule is they have to agree on a movie. They picked one they've seen at least 78 times "Princess and the Popstar" and I thought, I can tolerate that!

Have you seen it? Its actually pretty good! Its based on the Mark Twain book "Prince and the Pauper." Well, the opening song is a duet sung by the Princess Tori and the Popstar Kiera, singing "I wish I had her life." They both thought their life would be so much better if they were in the other's positiion. All their troubles would go away! The stress of the life that they were in would be alleviated if they were really living someone else's life. My jaw litterally dropped as this song from a Barbie movie resonated deep inside of my heart. God then reminded me, I need to have a heart like Paul's:

"I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in Christ who makes me who I am." (Philippians 4:11-13 MSG)

There's not much more to say after that! ... except to just carry on with my day with this at the fore-front of my mind and being the anchor to my easily swayed heart.

PS We're in better moods now ;)







Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day Twenty Two (a little late)

(Emiko, Jovee, & Bella)

174. Yessssssterday, I was thankful for having such a busy day of celebrations that I didn't even have time to write this!! We ran around all morning getting ready for Jovee's Birthday Party. (She didn't even notice the chocolate donut I promised her that we didn't have time to get!)

175. Party supplies (despicable me theme... MINIONS!) and 

176. A fun store bought cake we decorated ourselves (thanks to ABC cake decorating just blocks from our house!)

(This was the only picture I got! Thankfully my mom snapped a few!)


177. Not having to worry about her dairy and soy allergies! (Birthday cakes have always been a pain to work around those allergies and now she has grown out of them!!!!)
(Chompin' on some pizza and wings, rockin' her minion shirt!!) nomnomnom

178. All our friends and family that came to celebrate with us! We got to see grandparents and great-grandparents and cousins and good friends we see all them time and good friends we haven't seen in forever... So blessed!
Cake time!

(So'oh holding Lucia. She's the matriarch of the family and holds all the babies. We just love her!)

179. My mom was there. I don't even have a picture of her because she was the one taking all the pictures! It hit me for the first time yesterday that earlier this year she was very very VERY close to going to Heaven. She spent a month in the hospital, half of which they had not know what was wrong and kept sending her home, only to lead to an emergency surgery hours after they had discharged her for the 4th time thinking she was better. She spent more time as they drained her body of the infection that was spread all throughout. Things are ALMOST back to normal and she has another surgery to go before life can resume as it was before 2014 started ... But she was there with us, holding Lucia, bringing the traditional birthday balloons, helping fold all the tissue paper to be reused for another present (best idea ever!) and that is something I'm really thankful for. 

180. Dinner party!! Yes. Yes I did throw two birthday parties in one day!! We had some friends and family over for my sister in law's birthday. I made baked ziti, garlic bread and brownies. It was a super yummy night and it was so nice to celebrate my "Seester" who has grown up so much since I first entered this family when she was 15. She's getting married!? And their checking out apartments!? And shopping for curtains!!!?? It's just so fun to see them excited and preparing for married life as Ricky and I remember when that was us... Picking out items for our home, signing our first lease, me, having to learn to drive a manual transmission (that I now love!) Even remembering that feeling when we got home from our honeymoon, and all them family was over to open gifts and eat pizza, and when they left, feeling  so giddy and surreal that I didn't have to go home!? This is OUR home now!? It's just a beautiful thing. 

181. Staying up late with them to talk about all that stuff!! Marriage counseling... Wedding plans... Apartment searching... I'm just so excited for this new chapter in my Seester's life :) ... And the girls are super excited they can start calling him. "Uncle Bran Bran!" Haha!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day Twenty

Tonight was a crazy night! So I hate to hurry but here's what I'm thankful for today...  

My sweet little seester (who's birthday is today) got ENGAGED!!!!!! 
167. Thankful for Elayna's birthday! I'm so glad to have her as a seester!!!
168. They're getting MARRIED!!! We're so excited and thankful to welcome Brandon into our family!!!
(accidnetal twinzies)
(SO PRETTY!!! )

169. Thankful for the time I got to spend with my Mother-in-Law, Rose, doing her nails for her!  Which also leads me to the next one

170. I'm now a Jamberry Nails Consultant! I'm super excited about it! Its going and already has been so much fun!
These are Kiss Me Ombre which you can buy here: http://totallyadorbs.jamberrynails.net/product/kiss-me-ombre#.U60O1Hm9LCQ


and these are Swiss Dot and Siesta Jamberry Juniors which you can buy here:


171. Might seem random, but I really REALLY love when cheese is shredded skinny or fine or whatever this is called. No it doesn't taste different, its just better. mmmmmmm

172. ... and since I'm going in reverse order, I am really thankful for the time I got to spend coloroing birthday cards for Aunty Bug this morning with Miss Charlemaine.