Steep

steep

The words raced through my mind like stock stats in a marquee — fast and nonsensical. I rattled off anxious prayers to the Lord about my heart’s fears and desires. Nothing was coming out right. I found myself saying, “That sounded impatient…that’s not really what I meant,” or “I sound like a bratty child.” My pleas and words were coming out faster than I could think them and weren’t communicating the deepest parts of my heart. That’s what anxiety does, it butters everything up slick so its hard to grasp and slips out fast.

In a last ditch effort, I asked the Lord to speak to me in the Holy Yoga session I was driving to. I begged him to meet me, to show me himself, and my anxious heart pleaded for peace. I rushed into my yoga class a few minutes late and when I walked in, the instructor’s words wafted to me like a sweet aroma. God doesn’t waste time.

The words coming out of her mouth as I set up my mat were, “He who began a good work in You will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” [Phil 1:6]

Doubt tapped at the door to my heart and whispered, “That’s not God. He wouldn’t speak to you this quickly. Or at all, frankly.”

But the smile on my face pushed that gremlin away. I knew. I knew.

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Last week, I started Hebrews with IF:EQUIP. [You should join us.] I know the value of being in the Word consistently. To be honest, while it doesn’t make all my days glittery and sweet, it sets my heart in a posture of focus. Focused on the Lord. Focused on how I represent Him to the people around me, my friends, my husband, my kids.

And to be even more honest, reading the Word is the first thing to go when my to-do list gets long, my heart gets anxious, and I find myself busy with everything else. I may think that spending a few minutes in the Word in the morning [or in the quiet of lunchtime when the kids’ mouths are full] isn’t worth it because its not deep study…but as I take those few minutes here and there to soak my heart in scripture, its as if I am recalibrating myself.

I’m resetting my heart and in turn, I do believe God comes in and provides the peace and joy I need to take on that day. He makes me sensitive. He makes me aware.

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I was in child’s pose. The instructor was speaking blessing over us, speaking verses over us that cracked my core. You are not forgotten. God hears you. Those dreams he has dropped in your heart, he remembers them.

And the message I kept hearing was he hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t forgotten you.

The tears began to fall. Child’s pose is so vulnerable. Its a posture of worship but also one of surrender. I even tried to regain my composure…but nope. The tears were streaming and wouldn’t stop. The instructor even came by and did some touch yoga and it burst something open in me. My mat was soaked.

I was a mess. Never have I been so thankful to be a mess.

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Those fretful prayers I rapid fired to God…he still heard them. They didn’t make sense to me, and I was afraid that I wasn’t correctly communicating what I wanted to say. But God knew. And he took not only my yoga session but the rest of my day to remind me over and over and over that he hasn’t forgotten me.

Like when Tizrah Magazine posted this on Facebook:

When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing.
– Oswald Chambers

And the words in this Hillsong song:

prayerlikeincense

Friend, God hasn’t forgotten you. Don’t believe it when the enemy shouts it to you. Don’t let it in when the devil whispers it in your ear in the darkness of night. Don’t believe for one single second that you aren’t passionately and fiercely loved by the God who became dust to rescue your precious heart.

Need prayer? Please comment below [or email me], and I’d love to lift you up, sister. xo

Indian-Inspired Decor // #BestExoticMarigold

This post is a sponsored post from World Market, but all opinions are mine. As many of you know, I am a MAJOR fan of World Market stuff and that’s why I love to promote them! :)

Best Exotic Marigold

One of the things I love about Indian culture are the bright and gorgeous patterns and colors that drape over everything. From rugs to wall tapestries, jewelry to clothing, Indian culture is dressed top to bottom with beauty. If you’re wanting to add Indian-Inspired Decor to your spaces, here’s how to do it easily, beautifully, and all from World Market.

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1. Start with a neutral base

With so many bright colors and patterns, it is a must to start with a neutral base. Whether you’re going for more light colors and want to start with a white or tan couch and tables or are striving for deep, rich tones and want to start with a midnight blue couch and oak or hickory tables, you want to start with a uniform base. Its not really ideal to have a patterned couch, patterned rugs, funky table, and then toss in all the bright colors and patterns you love. It will be pretty busy looking and very overwhelming. World Market has many wonderful options for neutral furniture! I love this Tribal Carved Coffee Table.

2. Build the room from big to small

Now that you have a neutral base for your couch and loveseat, its time to add in other big pieces to the room. Still sticking with the neutral theme for now, we want to build the room from the big pieces down to the small. Its important to do it this way when adding in the festive looks that India is known for because you don’t want to get to to the end of a room, have all your knick-knacks, art, and other decorative pieces and then suddenly have to somehow match in a colorful and patterned area rug. It would be much too difficult to do it that way. Start big and it will be much easier to find little pieces to fit in with the larger ones you’ve already put in. If you’re re-decorating an already pretty decorated room, try taking everything but the couches and tables out of the room. It will bring your room neutral and allow for you to only put in what you want.

I absolutely love tapestry-looking rugs [and am in LOVE with this one] and big quality pieces of furniture to compliment the seating. World Market carries some beautiful rug options and always has a great selection of bookshelves, room dividers, etc. to complete a room. So start there. Add a colorful trunk to hold your television instead of the standard media cabinet. Maybe you like all the furniture you have but just want some extras to add pops of color. Try this Elephant and Floral Motif Bookcase or this Painted Elephant Wood Cabinet. Have fun and don’t be afraid to add in bright things. That’s what makes Indian decor so beautiful!

3. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns

One of the things I love most about my current living room is that I have patterns, graphics, and all sorts of things that might otherwise “clash” but actually look really great together! Long gone are the days of one uniform patterned toss pillow on the couch. Welcome to the era of mix and match. It isn’t that difficult and if you play your cards right, a couple well placed patterned toss pillows and an ottoman can change your space!

First, pick a color scheme. You’ll be able to play with it a bit later, but try to find the color you want in your space. Lets go with turquoise. So find pillows or other textile items that have some texture to them. Don’t change the color just yet, just play with texture. Shiny, matte, knitted, silk, embroidered, print…there are endless options to the look of a textile with one color. Try this Blue Moon Button Ribbed Lumbar Pillow, this Aqua Tile Lumbar Pillow, or this Arctic Blue Cotton Herringbone Pillow. Okay, so after you have 2-3 items in that color (lets pretend we have two toss pillows and a blanket), think of a secondary color that is complimentary. Since we’re going with Indian-inspired, lets try lime green as our complimentary color. Now find a pillow with that complimentary color alone or paired with your primary color turquoise. Try this amazing Zebra Graphic Throw Pillow or this .Okay, now we’re stepping out of our comfort zone a little here, but find one more complimentary color to the two you’ve chosen. Lets pick yellow. Now find another pillow [like this Blue Diamond Throw Pillow or this Yellow and Green Geometric Tile Throw Pillow] in this color or paired with one of the other colors. Finally, try and find something that is way left field, and for our example I’m going to pick hot pink ;), and find something in your primary or secondary color with just a hint of this left field color. And if you’re really feeling daring, try to find something that is a mashup of all your colors. Something patchwork [like this Natural Patchwork Throw Pillow] or this Multicolored Knitted Sari Pouf [I LOVE] or even this Kantha Sari Patch Throw.

Have enough ideas? Remember to leave the tags on your textiles so that you can mix and match and return the things that don’t quite fit. Its a puzzle but such a fun one to try and work with!

4. Remember to think tall

Not only is it important to work from big to small, you also don’t want to neglect the space that sits between your shoulders and the ceiling! This is valuable and often wasted space in a home. The light fixtures that came with your home are often left where they are and the ceiling isn’t thought of as a decorate-able space [is that a word??]. One of the things I love doing is hanging plants from the ceiling in the corner or hanging lanterns. I also really love adding art all the way up to the ceiling to add height. With Indian-inspired decor, you could easily hang a beautiful tapestry [like this India Tapestry], a beautiful hanging lamp [like this crazy gorgeous Gold Lotus Hanging Pendant Lamp], or some brightly colored lanterns [like these beautiful Cool Multicolor Hanging Hurricane Lanterns or these amazing Warm Multicolor Hexagon Teardrop Hanging Lanterns]. Be creative in utilizing your space. Don’t overdo it, though. Just a couple things hanging in spots where you need room height is all it takes!

5. Its the little things

Lastly, you want to add in the little things that sort of finalize the design. I also like to go back to neutral or single colored items so-as not to overwhelm your space. Boxes, candles, picture frames, all of these things add persnality to your space without a lot of busyness for the eyes. Beautiful soap stone boxes [like this Hexagon Carved Soapstone Box], neutral wood colored candle sticks [like these Natural Wood Pillar Candleholder], a neutral lamp base [like this Jute Table Lamp Base], or picture frames [like this Whitewash Carved Rambagh Frame].

It takes only a few brightly colored changes to make your space into a gorgeous Indian-inspired space that will make everyone want to come over! All of the inspiration for this post came from the new movie The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, in theaters March 6. When The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is full, Sonny decides to branch out to open another hotel but it turns out to be more time consuming than he bargained for. This fun romantic comedy is one that you do not want to miss!

GIVEAWAY: Of course, World Market is not going to let you get away without some amazing loot! Celebrate the upcoming film, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (in theaters March 6), and enter for a chance to win a dream trip to India, FREE movies for a year and a $1,000 World Market Gift Card! Ends 3/27/15. Enter now: www.worldmarketsweepstakes.com.

Marigold Sweeps

Nap

Today, after I picked my daughter up from preschool, we came home for naps + quiet time. This is the usual for our daily routine – up, get ready, school drop off, play with Elijah at home, lunch, pick up sister, nap + quiet time. During this time, I usually do homework while Elijah sleeps and Jael paints or colors. This time, as I was reading, the cushion of the couch enveloped me. I swear the couch was out to sabotage my schoolwork time, but I went with it. After checking the clock, I dozed off.

Only ten minutes later, Jael was standing right in front of me…STARING.

“What’s up?” I groggily asked. She speedily said something about wanting to use a special straw from school and cleverly sped over wanting juice instead of water. So I told her she could have juice after Elijah woke up from his nap and they had their afternoon snack. I dozed off again, and what do you know…ten minutes later, the interrogator was back to staring at me.

Startled, I woke up and asked again, “What’s up?” She again explained the straw and juice situation. Again, I told her no and dozed off again. Well, third time’s the charm because this time she sat on the couch across from me and quietly waited and stared. I remember feeling a weird sense that I was being watched, but with my eyes closed and half awake, I wasn’t really paying attention. But finally, through a slit in my eyelids, I see this figure sitting across from me.

You know those dreams where you’re falling off something and you flinch in reaction and wake yourself up? That. Only this time, it was from the penetrating eyes of a five year old with a mad hankering for juice and a paper straw.

This time, admittedly with a little frustration dropped in, I said, “What’s up, Jael?” This time she just giggled and ran off. I mean…what?! I guess a nap was not in the plans for me today.

So now I am nursing an iced coffee and writing this story out to you all, which is probably boring you to tears right now.

Welcome to my mom life. Now pass the espresso shots.

Cultivating Thankfulness

This week, I shared my word of the year. One of the ways I want to infuse delight into my life is by digging into the Word more. I know in times that I am keeping my focus on the Lord, I feel lighter and have much more joy. But within digging into the Word, I was confused where to start. I’m wondering if you’ve ever felt the same? I feel like its an epidemic…most women I know have a hard time knowing just how to study the bible. Many of us rely on the studies of others to keep us in the Word, which is no problem at all (I love me a She Reads Truth study!!), but there is value in knowing how to study the bible yourself as well.

Thankfulness

I’ve been reading Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin, and its ROCKING my WORLD. Its showing me how to slowly dig into the Bible and allow myself the space to try and figure it out. To try and listen for the Holy Spirit’s leading. Its been really wonderful. I started Isaiah this past week and its been really interesting working through it a couple chapters at a time.

I also have been inspired to start working on reorienting my heart towards delight. So, daily at the end of my study, I have been writing three things down. What I am:

  • Thankful for…
  • Praying for…
  • Prayers answered…

I have been inspired by things like 1000 Gifts, the prayer journal by ValMarie Paper, and a wise woman that I have known for a long time telling me not to just document in my journal the things I am praying for but to remember to document the prayers the Lord answers.

By making notice to the wonderful things in my life and writing these things down, I am learning to focus not on the negative, but on the blessings. I hope to maybe one day make a printable with these three things or maybe a small stapled notebook, but for now, I add it to my journal.

Tell me, what are some things you do to reorient your heart towards joy?

An Attitude of DELIGHT

I haven’t written about this yet because…well to be honest, I haven’t been doing a great job at it 20 days into the year, so I felt hypocritical to share. I know its dumb…we’re all hypocrites at some points… It isn’t easy admitting shortcomings, but hey…vulnerability is valuable.

I don’t delight. Really in very much. I’ve struggled with negativity a lot since becoming a mother about five years ago. With my daughter, I had lots of times where I didn’t know how to manage my own emotions. I felt frustrated that I wasn’t getting sleep. I felt very angry when she would cry all night. I would get impatient when she wouldn’t fall asleep for naps or eat the food I gave her. But she was a happy baby (and is a joyful and cheerful little girl!) and I only struggled in the moments that I didn’t know how to manage how I was feeling.

Fast forward two years, and my son is born. If I thought Jael was hard (which she wasn’t, she was normal), Elijah called my bet, raised me constant spitting up, tummy troubles, and a hundred times more crying. He gave me a run for my money. At night, I found myself sitting on a bouncy ball, sweating profusely, “shh-shh-ing” as loud as I could, praying to the heavens that he would fall asleep without upchucking his entire night bottle all over me and the already crusted carpet. He required much more food and feedings than Jael, wanted me to hold him more, and overall was much harder. Especially with a two year old who decided she didn’t want to nap anymore and adjusted to a new baby, well, like a two year old.

In processing life with two kids, I can honestly say that we’ve been in a crazy, tough, hard season since Elijah was born. But it has also been wonderful, fun, full of laughter and giggles, inspiring, and fulfilling season as well. But its been hard for me to see it. Call it pessimistic. Call it lazy. I may be letting myself get overwhelmed with emotions. Whatever it is…I’m hoping to make a stop to it this year.

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[art via Abigail and Whimsy on Etsy]

For 2014, I chose “simplify” as my word for the year. And boy did that happen! I made a decision to close my design business, moved into a simpler home, and changed my blog direction, among other things. I also chose to do a “30 before 30” list to bring more fun into my life and do things that I really always wanted to do.

For 2015, I have chosen the word: DELIGHT. I want to be intentional about choosing joy this year and delighting in my life. Just the past couple of days, I have gone outside every day with the kids and let them loose to play. How crazy am I that I didn’t do that much before?? I’ve been trying to be more attentive. Trying to laugh and smile more. My mom used to tell me, “Smile and the feelings will follow.” And y’all, its true.

And while life is still super crazy busy right now, I am learning that even when life is busy, the moments can be slowed down.

So I have a mega long to-do list…I’m sitting outside in the sunshine reading for school (to-do) and watching my kids play and run around giggling. The moment is slow and yet I’m able to still do what I need to do. You see? Things like this have been helping me to really see the DELIGHT in my every day. I pray that this year’s word of the year is as successful as last year was. I pray the Lord invades my heart and permeates it with JOY. Won’t you join me? Let’s learn to love and delight in life like never before. It may change everything. xo

Forging Forward

better-ahead

The new year always brings the feeling of a fresh start. Everyone all over social media posts about their resolutions, feelings for the new year, sentiment for leaving the last behind, and everyone takes a much needed deep breath as the clock folds over like the cover of a fresh new journal that has 365 blank pages to fill.

I like the new year. Even though I’m not much for specific and strict resolutions, I tend to make some decisions to determine my heart for the upcoming year. It feels fresh, new, bright. However, right now, as I sit in my messy, kid-bombed living room, sniffling and trying to breathe from a cold, I can’t help but feel a smidge overwhelmed. When I think of 2015, I am filled with day-before-school excitement. This year is going to be wonderful, hard, messy, busy, exciting, and full of passion and dreams. But my mind also starts rapidly flipping through all the things that would be scribbled on this year’s to-do list: practicum for school, finding childcare for the kids while I do it, Jael turns FIVE, I turn THIRTY, trainings scheduled, Jael starts kindergarten…there are so many beautiful and scary milestones for this year.

I am ready and willing to set my feet and forge forward. But even though determination is the fuel for my feet, my mind and heart go along as hesitant travel companions. They are filled with doubts. They are filled with fears. They are filled with the hesitancies of a person who doesn’t 100% believe in herself. I’ve posted a couple times in the past few days about how I am feeling this way. Many of you echoed the same sentiment, many offered encouragements.

So as I sit here, considering the year, considering all your kind words, and thinking of all you women [and maybe men] out there feeling much like I am…the pull of excitement and drag of fear…I think about how we make a huge mistake when looking forward to the future all the time. Yes, it is good to make plans, budget, and dream. Do all those things in earnest.

But let’s not allow the dreams and hopes of what this year could be corrode the day-to-day that we live now. Let’s press onward for the prize to which we are called, yes. But let us also take each day at a time. Let those goals, hopes, and aspirations fragment into tiny bite-size pieces…you know the saying, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” We don’t need to take the year as whole and freak out how we’re going to do it all. A book is written page by page. So let each day be the one page you focus on, pick up a pen, and start. xo

Oh, two year olds…

Anyone have a two year old? Who am I kidding…most two year old moms do not have time to read blog posts…lol, but if you’re lucky enough to sit down for.just.one.second., I’m honored to have you here for your precious moments without the monkeys.

I am a mother to a rambunctious, LOUD, stubborn, passionate, hilarious, cuddly, loving, little two-year-old boy named Elijah. He will not be three until April, so we are in the trenches of two-year-old-ness …many of you who’ve experienced this age know exactly what I am talking about. And while they are fun…oh so very fun…they are exhausting.

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Elijah has been getting progressively “worse” in his twos…and by worse, I mean just more stubborn, LOUD, and passionate. The dude loves to climb, jump, crash, yell, scream at the top of his ever-loving lungs, and RUN. Boy, does the kid love to run. And in the midst of all that, I find myself completely turned around lost in how to parent a two year old. My daughter, who will be five in a few weeks, didn’t really have a rough second year. She was stubborn, passionate, and all the “I wanna do it mysewwwwfffff!!” that a two year old can be, but she didn’t have the emotional outburts like Elijah does.

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She didn’t cry at the drop of a hat over the wrong cereal or scream bloody murder for 15 straight seconds when someone took something from her. She was stubborn and passionate, but would reason. She would listen. She was a different species of two year old. Like the My Little Pony species. Elijah is of the Incredible Hulk species.

He does things that make me think I am going to literally lose my mind one second. [Like jump off the arm of the couch or sing at the top of his lungs in his crib when he’s supposed to be napping or push the button on his LOUD-AS-ALL-HECK ambulance toy over and overandoverandover…] And then the next second I am texting my husband through cry-laugh tears because he is killing me with how freaking hilarious he is. [Like today, when, during an eerily quiet moment in the house, I found him with a pile of candy wrappers, three Hershey kisses lined up on the coffee table, a big, chocolate covered smirk, and no idea how much Christmas candy he just devoured.]

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So, I have no special advice or epiphany to share today. Not-a-one. But what I do have is a heart to pray for all you mommas with two year olds. My heart is with you. God speed.

Therapy & X-Men

This past week, my husband and I watched X-Men: Days of Future Past. I’m not really a superhero or comic book movie type girl. I mean, I’ll see them and most likely enjoy them, but I’m not first in line when they come out. [Who are we kidding, I barely ever go to the movies anymore…I’m not first in line for anything. lol] When it comes to the X-Men movies though, I really do love watching them. My favorite character is Charles Xavier, the professor. He’s just so calm and wise. And often says something that changes the thinking [and inevitably the life] of others. ;)

When we watched Days of Future past, there was a scene where Charles is speaking to himself [I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it], and I was almost in tears over the following quote:

It’s not their pain you’re afraid of. It’s yours, Charles. And as frightening as it can be, that pain will make you stronger. If you allow yourself to feel it, embrace it, it will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have: to bear their pain without breaking. And it comes from the most human part of us: hope.

So much of what we do as therapists is utterly terrifying. Walking through someone’s rape experience, divorce, abandonment with them is agonizing. Pain is uncomfortable and often Americans shy away from it. Its painful for us to endure the tears, anger, grief, loss of another without it tearing our insides to shreds. We avoid conflict, vulnerability, and honesty because of the feelings it elicits.

But being a therapist is exactly like what Charles is speaking of. Being a compassionate human is exactly what Charles is speaking of. We need to let the pain of our clients, friends, family, others… empower us to help them. We need to embrace and feel their pain in order to let it move the deepest parts of us. Move us to tears, move us to compassion, move us to action. When we experience someone else’s world, we are able to move out of ourselves. We are able to see a side of the earth that we’ve never experienced. And if the Lord chooses to use us, we can offer them something that they cannot see: HOPE.

No one ever said that being compassionate for someone else meant agreeing with them. But the Bible does say to bear one another’s burdens. And that is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another. Christ did that for us long before we ever said yes to him. He bore our burdens and gave us hope. Now we are given the gift of doing so for one another.

PASSION

This weekend, we had a guest speaker at church who has planted several churches here in Phoenix. I have a friend whose hubby is a worship pastor at one of the churches and so many friends who attend different campuses throughout the valley. This man knows how to train leaders and equip them for the gospel. I love it.

One thing he said that resonated with me was that if you’re working in the area of your spiritual gifts, it will be something that tires you to the bone by the end of the day, but its a good tired. That it will be something that you love. That it will not be drudgery and it will be such a blessing to your life.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how incredibly blessed I am to be pursuing my masters degree in marriage and family therapy. If you had asked me two or more years ago (heck, even months before I started the program) that I would be thriving in my program, more passionate than ever about helping people, and actively pursuing a career as a therapist sooner than I thought, I would have laughed at you and said, “That would be awesome, but its not likely.

And now, here I sit, getting ready to finish up my second fall term, about to enter into a busy holiday season enjoying my life and family, and jumping right into winter term with both feet, mind, and heart. With excitement. With passion. With determination. With focus.

One thing I’ve been so terrified of is being incompetent in sessions with clients and it being obvious. There’s nothing worse than knowing you don’t know what you’re doing and someone else knowing you don’t know what you’re doing too. [Did anyone just think of the Friends episode where Ross made the list of Rachel’s faults and she said, “Imagine the worst things you think about yourself. Now how would you feel if the one person that you trusted the most in the world…thinks them too…” = my fear!]

I’ve just been so in my head during practice sessions that I am missing on joining with my clients and connecting with them. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you’re thinking about something they said or what you’re going to say next that you actually miss connecting with them at all [or at least for a moment]? Me. That’s so me. I do this in every day conversation, but in a moment where someone else is relying on your for help with their problems, it can make matters much worse!

This last week something clicked for me. I didn’t suddenly have a major breakthrough and am the best therapist ever. But I did have a small breakthrough. The client was explaining [Don’t worry, its a fake client. I would never write about real clients.] how something affected them in regards to how their childhood and their current marital struggle were connected. I seriously got emotional. Like tears at the ready. What this client was saying resonated with me deeply and brought a sense of connection for me. I could feel the emotion in my body, I could recall why this resonated with me, and I could feel those familiar emotions the client was describing. It helped me to be present in the session. It pulled me out of my head and down into empathy…into my heart.

And it reminded me that I am capable. I know that an emotional connection can do a lot, and in this instance, I was able to see that my natural giftings to listen, be empathetic, and welcoming are spiritual gifts that can free me up to move forward in my call. I am so incredibly passionate about meeting people where they are and giving them the opportunity to share their story.

Has anyone ever asked you yours? I think every human should have the freedom to share their story and be heard. I know for me, simply sharing my story, testimony, or even a summary of a small season of my life is so therapeutic and freeing. That is my passion. To allow people to share their life with me and to overcome in areas they wish to overcome. What about you? Have you ever been given the freedom of telling your story?

Catching Myself

This week, I participated in Lysa Terkeurst’s Praying Boldly for Your Marriage challenge. One day, I was reading the email that she sent out, and my eyes were opened. But first, I have a little bit o’ back story. ;)

Pray Marriage Challenge

Many moons ago, I was a young married gal. Full of life, free, and loving the season I was in. I had setbacks in our first year of marriage, of course, but my outlook on life was still greatly influenced by the care free attitude of my teenage years (I married the month before I turned 21). I smiled, was often told I was a kind and cheerful person, and I felt it. Fast forward eight years, two kids, and several life changes later, and I am a different person.

With your twenties comes a lot of decision making. There are tons of transitions and this decade can feel a lot like being lost. A lot like being unsettled. This is a whole other blog post in itself, but with all of life’s turns and the changes our bodies and minds make over the years, I’ve suddenly found myself in a place where I don’t want to be. I am much less patient than I used to be. To the outside world, I may still appear kind [although with a cup of snark thrown in here and there], but to those closest to me, I am far from kind.

It hurts to write that because the deepest longings of my heart are to be kind, generous, and refreshing. A woman radiating Jesus. If nothing else in this world, I want to be known for that. But so often I find myself in the opposite place. Snappy. Greedy or full of worry. And draining. At least that is what I feel like after thinking about the day and all the things I could have done better.

I shouldn’t have yelled at the kids for running around the house.

I should be a better wife and not demand so much from my husband when he gets home from work.

I should be more patient and loving towards my family.

I should’ve…I wish I had…I can do that better…

And instead of turning where I should [uh, the Lord] for encouragement, I beat myself up further, swear I’ll try better the next day, and drift off to sleep…only to be woken by a whispering four year old who is standing inches from my face at 4:30am needing to be re-tucked into bed.

Oh, the joys.

So often I am running on so little steam, that I quite literally just react. Anger. Impatience. Frustration. It all comes pouring out of my mouth and heart and leaves me feeling like a terrible wife and mother. The wake of it like a thousand thirty foot waves beating against my heart telling me I am not enough. When will you EVER measure up, Erin? You say you’ll do better, but you wont. We both know you wont.

And I believed it. I believed those lies. So I just promised myself to strive harder the next day, all the while failing because I was relying on my own strength. When I saw Lysa’s challenge, honestly, I decided to do it not because I wanted to hear from the Lord, but because I thought, “Hey, this will be something to get me on the right track! Another thing I can do to make things better.” When I read one of Lysa’s emails, something she said jumped straight out of the page into my spirit and lit a little flame.

Is this an irritation or an issue?
There is a big difference between an irritation and an issue. Identifying the difference helps me pick my battles. If this is just an irritation, maybe I need to practice being more flexible, patient or willing to extend grace.

While this may seem like a no-brainer for you…this was monumental for me. You see, I saw everything as an issue. I reacted with fury and irritation at every little or big thing because it threatens my idea of what my family should look like. Instead of considering that, um, little kids can be annoying and that is normal, I took it as a behavioral issue and determined every little moment to be a “teaching moment.” Instead of knowing that my husband isn’t going to be 100% ON all the time when he got home from work, I took it as a sign that he didn’t care for me and didn’t want to be around me, so I lashed back.

What an exhausting way to live, eh?

So what am I trying today? I’m trying to live the day through that filter…I’m trying to pause and think about how my reaction is reflecting my belief that the situation is either an irritation or issue and modifying if needed. The Lord used Lysa to show me that if I identify something as an irritation, that is my moment to practice patience. Kindness. Generosity. All those things I want so desperately to be.

This challenge has been nothing short of a blessing and refreshing pull back of the curtain for me. It has reminded me that I am human, but has also given me a practical way to watch my tongue and learn to bless my family. Speaking of which, in that same email, Lysa also talked about praying about versus praying for:

Am I praying about or for my husband?
If I do sense something that needs to change, I need to pray for my husband—not about him. Praying about him is just ranting. Praying for him means digging into God’s Word and praying scriptures specific to his struggles. That’s powerful! When we pray the WORD of God, we pray the WILL of God.

I loved this too because after I identify what the situation is, if it truly is an issue, I need to turn to the Word of God first. Not just turn to God and gossip about my husband [or kids, or family, or whatever it is], but I need to pray boldly with God’s Word over that person’s life. That is love. Truly desiring the change for someone doesn’t mean beating them over the head with it. It means praying fervently for the Lord to take hold of their heart. I can also know that I need to do that for myself. Instead of simply praying for all my wants, I need to go to God’s Word, see what it says, and pray through that.

I’m incredibly grateful for eye opening moments like this. Can you relate?