Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Quiet Morning with Play Dough

It brings me unspeakable joy to see my children beginning to play together. Amaryn is 15 months old and getting to the age of being able to play and pretend with her big sis. To see them having fun is gift enough, but it is also a gift to see them putting into practice sharing, cooperation, communication, kindness, self-control and love. Even when their play ends in tears, frustration, selfishness, and the like, which it often does, it provides an opportunity for apologizing and forgiveness. I think family life in general provides ample opportunities for practicing the Christian life!

This morning their play involved play dough and the quietness of the morning. Both kids are rested and so their interactions are friendly and patient. No one else is awake (my parents are visiting from California, and Jason is on vacation from work), and so I was able to take a few moments to sit on the couch and simply watch them. I really do enjoy and appreciate the rustle and bustle of a house with children, but my appreciation for quiet has grown tremendously as well!

Watching them play together from under my heating blanket on the couch. :)

Teá and her play dough creation.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Tedium of Daily Life

There are two very basic facts about the spiritual life that are true for every Christian. First, we are all called to be saints, and second, saints are made in the tedium of daily life. Even the martyrs were made in their daily struggles. The virtues cultivated in their daily lives enabled them to be heroic in the hour of martyrdom.
~Stacy Mitch, Courageous Virtue: A Bibly Study on Moral Excellence for Women~

I'm often most challenged by the smallest of duties throughout my day. The moments unseen by the majority, except maybe those closest to me, yet seen always by God. Sometimes I forget those moments count, and they count a lot.

Over the years I'm realizing more and more how valuable and precious those moments truly are. In fact, the name of this blog is inspired greatly by that notion of how important those smallest of duties and moments of our days really are. For certainly, if we are faithful in those things, we are faithful in much.

In practice though, it is much less appealing and much more tiring. Personally my daily life tends to be monotonous. It's the same thing everyday. It isn't too difficult per se, most anyone can be a mom, cook, and clean, yet nevertheless it requires great effort and can be horribly draining. I struggle with impatience. It's tedious and mundane. I don't want to be misunderstood, my day is also filled with more love and joy than I could have ever possibly imagined. I get to be at home with my children, and that's the best kind of routine I can think of, yet still the days can be long, loud, and certainly with a lack of grandeur. My daily offerings seem small. 

Yet, is any offering really that small? The size of the offering isn't what God cares about, He cares about it only in reference to ourselves and our hearts and our own abilities. In fact, the best offering I can give God in a day is to remain faithful in the small duties He has given me. For our days are filled with those little tasks, and all of a sudden, we've offered God our entire day. 

As I cooperate with God and work on not only completing my tasks, but doing so with love, joy, patience, self control, mercy, grace, steadfastness, confidence in God, strength found in God, trust, hope, selflessness, etc, it becomes clear that God is using those tasks to make me more holy and like Himself. There are many opportunities to grow and love within a single day. Those opportunities are sometimes easily missed because they can seem so much a part of the routine of our daily lives, yet they are so very important! 

Our lives for the most part are made up of little things, and by these our character is to be tested...Little duties carefully discharged, little temptations earnestly resisted with the strength God supplies, little sins crucified; these all together help to form that character which is to be described not as popular or glamorous, but as moral and noble. 
~Fulton J. Sheen~

I repeat, it is necessary that your foundation consist of more than prayer and contemplation. If you do not strive for the virtues and practice them, you will always be dwarfs. And, please God, it will be only a matter of not growing, for you already know that whoever does not increase decreases. I hold that love, where present, cannot possibly be content with remaining always the same.
~Saint Teresa of Avila~

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Confession: Days Like Today

When it comes to my daily, spiritual life, sometimes I feel so on-fire, encouraged, challenged, excited...and sometimes I just don't. Today has been mostly one of those days where I don't feel any of those things. Today I see the worst in me, and I mean the worst. Confession: I can be short tempered. Sometimes, it only takes minuscule annoyances that seem so much worse in the moment and that set me off into a stressed out wreck of frustration and anger. I become sour and sarcastic. I huff and glare. My body language sends one message: Watch out. Whether it's the refrigerator door that doesn't close all the way, the toy I step on with my bare feet, or the lamp cord in my path while vacuuming, my wrath is released. I slam the door, I throw the toy, I want to throw the lamp out the window but thankfully don't...it's embarrassing and petty and childish. I know it's bad when my husband can't even be around me while I'm in an angry mood. Lucky for him, he can leave. Ha, if only it were that easy for me. 

It's a struggle I have always had and I really don't like it about myself. I want to be patient, kind, self-controlled, and slow to anger. I pray daily for Gods grace and for the Holy Spirit to work in me and give me whatever is necessary for that change to happen. As much as I wish it could happen with the snapping of fingers, I'm beginning to catch on that that isn't how things work. I need to work at it (while relying on the grace of God). Of course, I've been working on it for years now, but I can't let that keep me from pressing on. A quick-fix-it kind of solution wouldn't produce in me what God wants to produce in me. I need endurance. 

"Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us."
~Romans 5:3-5~

"You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised."
~Hebrews 10:36~

"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love. If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
~2 Peter 1:6-8~

It's so hard, but it's meant to be. I can so easily get frustrated at myself for becoming so easily frustrated at everything else, but I must keep on. It's tempting and easier to allow myself to get down and more upset and begin hating myself, but those thoughts are not of God. I must deny my ugly, short-fused, irritable self and replace it with patience, self-control, and love. It takes practice and a lot of it at that. Thankfully, I seem to have plenty of opportunity to practice it, especially on days like today.

Lord, have mercy.

Rejoice, Really!

One week ago today, Jason and I became homeowners! It's been quite the adventure so far, and we have already experienced the sweet and bitter taste of home ownership. Within less than twenty-four hours after closing we found a leak in the plumbing, and the washer valve hook-ups needed replaced, and there was a nest in the dryer vent. Oh, how nice it was to simply call maintenance and report these kinds of issues, and have it fixed for free and without hassle. Then, as the days went on, we've found four more leaks, and we found out that our well tank was shot and needed replaced, and we need to neutralize our water since it is ever so slightly acidic and may be contributing to the leaky pipes. Oh, joy! (But seriously, JOY--see James 1:2 and Philippians 4:4-7). And yet, that's not all, there has been even more reason to cry-I mean-rejoice. On Saturday, Teá experienced the worse case of constipation I have ever witnessed. She was crying out in pain a good majority of the day. I'll spare you the details, but since I was wrapped up in that I had to miss Jason's graduation. The poor guy was all alone at his graduation. After six years of grueling work, getting his PhD wasn't quite as celebratory as we imagined. Lastly, Amaryn has three or four teeth poking through which means we have a fussy baby on our hands, but seriously who can blame her? That's a lot of teeth coming in at the same time! Poor baby!

Anyway, I don't write all of this to whine and complain. It hasn't been easy and unfortunately it's gotten the best of us at times during the past seven days, but there are always lessons to be learned. As I was taking some time to journal, pray, and read the bible this afternoon, I was considering all that had happened this past week. As I started writing in my journal, without really thinking about it, I wrote, "Thank you Lord for this house. Thank you for the plumbing issues and all the leaks." I wrote it but immediately was taken back, because I have felt a lot of things this past week, but thankful wasn't on the top of the list by any means. Yet what I wrote is what I want to be. I can be thankful for them because in them I know God has a purpose, and His purpose is perfect. So yes, thank you God for the leaky pipes and all the unexpected work that needs done. It also provides an excellent opportunity to trust God through it all, especially financially. I know God cares about our finances and I know He will provide for our needs, but I also know His goal is not our financial prosperity but our eternal prosperity. 

In the mean time, I pray I will remain faithful, trusting, and rejoicing. 

**I wrote this post 3 or so weeks ago now, and forgot to publish. Funny enough, about 5 minutes after writing it, Teá woke up from her nap, opened the refrigerator, and the unopened gallon of milk came crashing down, broke open, and spilled milk everywhere. Much of it went under the fridge, and since I couldn't move it by myself, I mopped up what I could and waited for Jason to come home that evening. When he got home he asked why there was a huge puddle of milk on the basement floor. Upon further investigation we found a gap along the baseboard behind the refrigerator that leaks out and down into the basement. The whole time, the word "Rejoice!" came to my mind, thanks to my writing this post earlier in the day. If for nothing else, I'm thankful for this place to jot down my thoughts and thankful that God continues to use them to challenge me.**

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sick and Sleepless Kiddos

Teá woke up early Monday morning with a stomach bug. Even two days later she is still not herself and is feeling quite sick. After an almost sleepless night with Amaryn (more on that soon), I was tired this morning and knew it was going to be a lazy, long day. The moment I woke up and joined Teá and Jason at the breakfast table, Teá was asking me to hold her. She perched herself right on my lap for the next hour, and remained close to me all morning. She cried when I got up to get my coffee and went to the bathroom. It made me ever so grateful to just BE here with her. I have no where else to be, no chores or duties that can't wait until another day. I can just be her mommy and take care of her. I am ever so thankful to be home with my kids and not having the stress and pressure to balance work outside the home and mothering. I'm thankful Jason is so supportive of my role here and that we have a mutual respect for each other's daily duties, sacrifices, and roles. I wish everyone could be in a similar situation.

On another note, it seems as though we are purchasing the home I talked about in my previous post! Yay! I've been able to {mostly} keep everything in perspective and am very excited to move in another week or two. It is very good, and turns out the extra space is really going to come in perfect timing as Amaryn is desperately in need of her own area, at least while we work on getting her to sleep through the night. In her crib. Letting her cry it out in her crib while we are trying to sleep in our bed in the same room just doesn't work-and neither does two people sharing a rather small couch in the living room. Plus I don't like being those neighbors in the apartment complex that keeps everyone awake at night with a screaming baby. Two nights in a row now we have had to let her cry it out, regardless of being said neighbors, but after and hour and a half we decided to just give up for now until we have another room to put her in. Sharing the couch just wasn't cutting it. So, after bringing her back in bed with us, she still was crawling all over us, practicing standing up in the bed, and couldn't keep still. Once we finally fell back asleep, we awoke to a "Ka plunk!" and a screaming child who had fallen off the bed. Thank God she was OK. We on the other hand are still recovering. So scary.

Despite the lack of sleep and constant worry, she's still the cutest, chubbiest little thing. I gah over her and Teá all day, every day. 


The only picture I could get of Teá today. This is the happiest she has been in a couple days, but sadly it didn't last too long.

Amaryn can now pull herself up into the standing position. I love seeing her proud smile and her interest in the new level of things she can see and explore.

Holding on tight.

Getting upset because she doesn't know how to get herself down. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Praise God!

It's been a while since I've written here. So much has been going on, and while I've so often yearned to write and jot down learnings, thoughts, and memories, time and happenings haven't allowed for much of it lately.

Amaryn was born in September. Jason got a job at a local community college. He found out in December and started in January. We traveled to California to visit family for Christmas. Jason coached middle school basketball and made it to the semi-finals. I worked as a very part time hostess for three months in the middle of everything else. And now Jason is working hard finishing up his dissertation to (hopefully) graduate in May. He loves his new job, and truly it is a perfect fit for him and our family.

Then, kind of, sort of, out of the blue, we stumbled upon a house and we fell in love. A master bath, a deck over-looking a gorgeous large yard with a huge garden, a fire pit, and a small barn, two apple trees in the front yard, a beautiful kitchen with a breakfast nook, a nice location, and room to grow - what isn't there to like? The past three weeks we've been in the process of purchasing that house, kind of on a whim, kind of perfectly all falling into place. We finally signed the contract and everything was looking good as gold, and then we got a call this evening stating that the loan approval in fact isn't looking very promising. We don't know what will happen yet, but it got me thinking.

We went to stations of the cross tonight at the local parish. As I considered everything going on in light of Jesus and His sufferings, death, and resurrection, whether or not we get this house, I realize it just isn't as big of a deal as it so easily can seem like in our minds. There have been days of much anxiety as I pondered not getting the house and feeling like it was just too good a fit for our family to pass up. I felt like we had to get into that home. But as a Christian, this kind of thinking is very much contrary to what we should be feeling. You see, house or no house, it shouldn't affect my worship. It shouldn't affect my gratitude, affection, trust, hope, and joy in Christ. If it has that kind of impact on me, than I simply am not rooted in the truth and freedom of Jesus. I am not in control, and if I claim to trust in Him but show nothing of that trust in my actions or thoughts, than what does it matter? It means nothing if I don't show in my actions what I say with my mouth. I pray for His Will be done. Then why is it still my will that I try and impose on Him? Oh how backwards and unfaithful I can be sometimes.

It goes much further than that though. This home isn't my permanent home. It is a temporary place where permanent decisions are made, so while what happens here counts, the things that count are often not what we think. If this house or any other thing in my life is causing me to lose focus on what really matters in this life, then I need to do what it takes to refocus. You see, it isn't the house that matters, even if us living in that house is in line with God will for us, He cares much more about our souls. He cares much more about our daily commitment in putting HIM first in our lives, and OTHERS second, and ourselves last. He cares that we trust Him no matter what circumstances we are going through, whether they are good or bad. His blessings sometimes do fall on us in forms of a nice house, a great job, financial gain, and the like, but true blessing is found in the things that last. The things we can take with us after this life. Those are the blessings and graces we should be praying for and excited about. Often those blessings are found in the sacrifices and sufferings of this life. They are blessings in disguise, but their treasure is far more precious than any materialistic thing we could possess in this life.
I do hope to have a house one day. I hope that this house still works out. But it shouldn't be my focus. I can certainly be happy about it if it works out, but regardless, PRAISE GOD! He is SO GOOD and SO WORTHY to receive ALL of our worship. If we get the house, praise God! If we don't get the house, praise God! Whatever we do, praise God! He deserves all praise, all glory, all good. He is our Creator and Savior, it is the least we can do.