Mamma Crossroads & Pinterest Fails

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The night before Micah’s class party, I noticed an unread message in my Inbox.  The Class Mom was thanking me for volunteering to bring the Carrot & Celery Turkey Cups…

Turkey Cups?! UGH! I thought I’d signed up for carrot and celery sticks.

Apparently, I didn’t scroll down to the bottom of her previous email. I’d missed the Pinterest example she’d attached. How could I make such a rookie mistake?!

If having elementary school kiddos has taught me anything, it’s ALWAYS scroll to the END of email messages. For real. Read. The. Whole. Thing.

If you don’t, you’ll miss crucial sentences:

  • Please have your child dress like his/her favorite super hero
  • RSVP yesterday or your kids won’t get a party favor
  • Shhhhh! It’s a surprise!!

It was too late to make a frantic Michael’s run. A crazy-lady-mental- inventory would have to suffice:

Plastic cups.

Brown paper.

I THINK I have orange paper.

But those eyes…no way I was cutting teensy-tiny circles this late.

I’m pretty sure I have sticky googly eyes in the closet. Although, I’m not sure why…

Ah, yes…I had googly eyes. But not one was the same size!

I was at a Mamma crossroads: Do I use what I have, or just throw in the towel?

Isn’t life like that? We don’t have the ‘perfect’ thing to offer, so we’re tempted to offer nothing.

If it’s not mismatched googly eyes, it’s a house that’s too small for gatherings, only an hour a week to write or lasagna that’s not as good as mom’s.

So why help in the classroom?

Why invite people over?

Why write a blog?

It’s hard to give from areas we feel less than. The enemy hisses in these shallow spaces, God can’t use this, don’t even bother.

Really, Satan?!!

 Because, I remember a boy who offered five small loaves and two small fish. Jesus used it to feed multitudes. (John 6:9)

I know a story about a widow who offered a little oil and a handful flour. God never allowed her jars to run dry. (1 Kings 17:7-16)

There once was a man slow of speech and tongue. He was hesitant to offer his voice. God used him to stand against Pharaoh and set his people free. (Exodus 4:10)

As a Mamma, sometimes all I can offer is a pile of dirty dishes, never-ending laundry, sick kiddos and pets I forget to feed. We all have moments like Moses saying to God,  Are you sure you want this? I don’t have much to offer you.

Offer it anyway.

He sees every scrap of bread, shaky insecurity, dirty sock and mismatched googly eye we raise up to him.  He’ll use it! He delights in making small things significant.

God gives us joy when we give from our shortage, rather than our supply.

This creates space for God to show up, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others. Jesus fed hungry masses in response to a boy’s meager offering. He provided security for the widow’s child when she presented a handful of flour. Moses set people free, laying bare his shortcomings, trusting God to use them.

The kiddos and I giggled up late finishing those silly cups.  Life isn’t always dramatic. Those awful turkeys didn’t set any captives free, but God handed us back layers of laughter that overflowed into the classroom the next morning.

We used what we had. It was enough for God to turn into joy.

A Marked Life:

Share how God used something small you offered and multiplied it into something unexpected! Click on ‘Comments’ on the top left.

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Sometimes, All You Can Do Is Hang On

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If I look down, I’ll fall!

And then…my kids will tumble off…

If we survive, we’re doomed! I didn’t pack any snacks or hand sanitizer.

Welcome to me…unhinged in a National Park. Fear of heights is a relatively new blessing. Something short circuited when Aaron and I were newlyweds. On top of the Sacred Heart church in Paris, a strong wind blew. I stopped. Dropped. And rolled into the fetal position.

We kept the shovel he used to scrape me off the floor as a souvenir.

Ever since, I imagine myself plunging to my death at the slightest heights. My sweet husband thinks I’ve lost my mind. I don’t even allow the kids to walk next to the mall railing on the second floor.

It freaks me out.

What if they decide to climb over and jump to Santa?!

It could happen.

If anyone fell off this cliff in Sequoia, Santa wouldn’t be there to catch us.

I decided the best way to prevent a tragedy, was to glue my face, arms, legs and stomach to the cold stone; like a flattened fruit roll up. This offered room for other hikers to push past.

Yes, this was a good idea

Mommy! Aren’t you going to the top with us?!

Nah…Mommy is going to smell this rock for a bit.

People were staring. Some tried to help, Do you need a tissue? Essential oil?

I don’t reminisce over this snapshot often.

However, I’m a visual learner. I’ve been asking God to teach me by showing me. During worship on Sunday, God brought this distressed picture of Jenna to the forefront.

There I was, clinging to the side of the cliff.  When I looked down, I was seized with fear. When I looked up, the clouds were crushing me. But, just like in Sequoia, if I kept my face towards the rock, I knew I would be OK.

He was clear.

This is what you look like, Jenna. You’re panicking. Stop looking away from the rock.

We’re living through a season of great unknown in our adoption journey. I don’t know how to stop shifting my gaze in every direction. I’m looking for answers.

Will this break me, Lord?

Will any good come out of this?

God is the fire by night, the cloud by day. But he is always the rock.

There is no Rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2)

King David was protected by the rock, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge …’(2 Samuel 2-3).

The Israelites were pursued by the rock,  “…for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)

God’s people were given sweet provision from the rock, “He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag” (Deuteronomy 32:13 )

There’s no shame in taking a season to stop and grasp to the rock…the rock that is Christ.

We were made to climb with Jesus.

Honestly, there are days all I can do is cling to Him.

God knows. He gives grace if we’re not ready to forge to the top. But, it’s those pesky what ifs that pry our fingers from our stronghold. We glance down and imagine our broken bodies at the bottom. Even more, our shattered expectations of what God should’ve done.

I have a choice. I’m learning to train my thoughts to press back into the solid rock. My arms wrapped tight around Jesus.

Yes. This is a good idea.

I may look like a crazy-lady-pancake fastened to my faith. I’m not ashamed.

God answered my question. Can any good come from this?

Yes.

God’s protection,

God’s pursuing love,

God’s sweet provision.

This time, I’m not gripped by fear, but faithfulness. I’ll be brave enough to climb again soon.

For now, I’m just going to hang on.

 

A Marked life:

If you don’t feel strong enough to climb, it’s OK to cling. 

There is no Rock like our God!

 

 

My Life. My Gift.

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I have no gift to bring fit for King.  I never will.  So why even offer him anything?

This question has been playing on repeat in my mind lately.

I have been listening the song Little Drummer Boy on repeat too.( And if you must know, my Christmas tree is still up. Merry Valentine’s Day!)

We all have a drum. Question is: Are we playing it for our King? Are we playing our best for him? Or are we not even interested in dusting it off?

Lately I’ve felt that my ‘drum’ is sitting under a pile of dirty dishes, mountains of laundry, sick kiddos, an avalanche of adoption paperwork and pets I forget to feed. To be honest, trying to dig out that drum would take too much effort.  And even if I did, I guarantee, it may sound more like a War Drum then one of honor and praise.

I have no gift to bring fit for a King.

The fact that I can’t even make the effort to play a simple song of praise to him, is proof of that. But what is my ‘drum’?

My spiritual gifts? My talents? Maybe.

When we focus on the gifts God has given us, and consider using them for his Kingdom, it is easy to scrutinize the ‘gift’.  It is easy to point the finger back at God when we feel we have nothing of worth to give him. After all, HE made us. He could have given me a more beautiful voice, he could’ve given me the mind of Einstein or perhaps the leadership of Lincoln.

But no, he just gave me this drum.  This old, out of tune, imperfect drum, swallowed up by the mundane details of everyday life. It is easy to look at the ‘wise men’ around us who are bringing him their finest gifts, and feel defeated:

 I am just a Mom. I am sort of a writer. I am simply just not as ‘gifted’ as THAT person. So I’ll kind of play my drum…if it’s all God has given me.

But when we judge the drum, whatever it may look like in our life…we are judging God.

‘Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his…’ Psalm 100:3

When we think of our ability to bring a gift worthy of a King in terms of our talents, we will only half heartedly be able to play a song for him. And when we half heartedly play our drum for him, we miss Jesus.

‘As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4

God will ask us to give out of our ‘poverty’ at some point in our lives. Maybe it will be sickness, a broken heart, exhaustion or literal financial strain. We will have moments where we could say to God, I’ve got nothing to offer you right now. Even if I did, it would be two small coins because that is all you have given me!.

We blame our King because we forget who our King is.

When we come to him among the rich and say, This is all I have…, our King says, That is all I want.

Are we like the widow who gives all we have?

Sometimes all we feel we have is bitterness and anger. We look at our drum of a life and think, You expect me to do wonders for your kingdom with this mess?!

No. But Jesus can do wonders for his kingdom with that mess.

We must start lifting that entire drum up to Him if we want the beat to change…’she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’

When I was in college, I saved up to buy a set of Conga Drums. I had to save up because they were not cheap! There was a season that I played them every day…then every week…then….well, never. Sometimes I wonder if those drums were worth the cost?

The drum is not only our talents. The drum is our lives. We must recognize, they were bought at a great cost. They were bought with the blood of Christ.

‘But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’

Was it really worth the sacrifice? Did God make a poor judgment call when he ransomed our lives?

The value of the drum is set by the price paid. We best not miss the crazy love that has been poured out for us.

When we sit on our drum, complain about it’s usefulness, and question it’s ability to make a beautiful sound, we are spitting on the cross.

God Almighty sacrificed His son because he saw enormous value in saving us for His orchestra.

If the creator of the universe sees value in the condition of our lives, we better start to change our perspective.

Will we remain silent and miss our purpose?

The drum is my life: The only gift worthy of a King. If that consists of fatigue, my marriage, my kid’s snotty noses and piles of paper work…then let me learn to put in my ‘two very small copper coins’ with a thankful heart. A THANKFUL heart…because I know my King.  My King saved me for a reason.

Let me have the courage to bring my little drum among the wise men and ask with a humble heart, Shall I play for you?

I guarantee the song I play to my King will not always be lovely.

But my King is lovely. My King is full of grace. He gave me this life.

He fashioned my drum. He is listening.

As long as I am playing my drum only for Him…

He is smiling…

Smiling at me and my drum.

 

 

 

Who is Watching You?

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My arm was starting to fall asleep, just like my 6 year old daughter in my arms.  My hubby and I were at the Christmas Concert at church with all three of our kiddos.  We knew it would stretch them well beyond their normal bed time, but there is truly something holy about worshiping as a family.  It would be worth it!

For the first hour all three kids were clapping and doing their best to read the words on the screen to sing along.  They even feigned laughter at the first musician’s jokes…jokes they were too young to really understand.  An hour and fifteen minutes in…BAM!…two kiddos passed out.

I held my daughter’s collapsed body and stood in worship for a good 30 minutes.  (Too bad God used this to show me I’m getting old!)  My lower back was starting to seize up…one arm was completely tingly and my neck was tight.  Seriously, why did I wear these Uggs?  They were crazy hot!

I found myself praying, “LORD, give me the energy to still focus on You and not on my aching body.”  So I stood, holding my sleeping daughter.  My 7 year old son was still rocking out.

Then the music slowed…”Come let us adore Him, O Come Let us adore Him….”  My body wanted so badly to sit down, but  my spirit and my heart refused to let me sit.  Then we reached the last chorus, “For You alone are worthy…for You alone are worthy….”  My soul wanted to lift up hands in praise, but if I lifted my hand, I might collapse from holding my daughter with just one arm.  But…how could I NOT lift my hands in praise?  FOR HE ALONE IS WORTHY…”  My body was so tired, my arms literally felt so heavy …but…HE ALONE IS WORTHY!”

I heard these words in my heart:  Your burden may feel heavy, it may be hard to lift your hands in worship right now, Daughter, but HE IS WORTHY!  No burden you carry outweighs the weight of my holiness; no pain in your body or heart negates My worthiness to be praised. YOU LIFT YOUR HANDS AND WORSHIP JESUS!

I untangled my left arm from under my daughter’s legs and flexed my right arm to prepare for the extra weight.  I lifted up my shaking arm and reached out to my Jesus.  I am not going to lie, I was sweating and my legs felt like they would buckle beneath me.  I felt God’s eyes on me.  He saw this tired Momma holding her child while reaching up to Him.

I opened my eyes to find my son looking up at me. He was watching me struggle to worship.  He had seen me clumsily thrust my arm up into the air and reach out to God. We locked eyes and together we sang, “For He alone is worthy, For He alone is worthy…!”

Maybe this sweet little lesson about worshiping through the pain and numbness of life wasn’t for me alone.  How was God going to use this little glimpse in my son’s heart?  Only God knows.  How many times have you had a real life struggle and come to find someone was watching you as you struggled to worship?

What a huge witness you are to the broken when you “push through” the ache and lift your arms to the sky and sing, “For HE ALONE IS WORTHY!”. I am so thankful Jesus gives us the strength to do this in our every day lives.

God met me in my little place on this Earth that night.  He poured into me a lesson through something as simple as holding my sleeping daughter.

People are watching us this Christmas season.  Most likely, they are people we don’t expect or see.  Pray for strength and endurance to give Him the worship and praise that He is due!

Dear Jesus, help us not to grow numb to You this season.  Allow us to feel our burdens and aches so that we may give them over to You. Use our lives as a living hymn to those around us, lives which sing loudly, ‘FOR HE ALONE IS WORTHY!’

Our love will turn to dust…

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by Jenna DeMattia Masters

Pride is such an ugly thing.  I don’t know how to talk about our decision to adopt without it sounding like we are doing something out of the kindness of our own hearts; That it is truly ‘our’ idea.  Adoption is God’s idea. Adoption is God’s plan.  We humans, no matter how ‘good’ we think we are, have zero to do with it. ZERO! I feel there is just no way to emphasize accurately the enormity of this truth. It has nothing to do with our goodness, and everything to do with God’s goodness.

You want to know how ‘good’ of a person I am?  I found myself praying through tears on the floor to God that I couldn’t do this, that ‘this will be too hard, I already have 3 kids that I can’t clean up after.  How will I do that much laundry?!’   I was throwing the towel in over this stuff.

God is so patient.

He let me go on and on with questions as to how this would affect  MY life. He was quiet. He let me finish.  Then he whispered firmly, ‘Child, everything you asked was how adopting this child would affect you.  Not one word from your mouth asked how it would affect the child if you didn’t adopt them.’ Smack down.  Seriously. There are times when God speaks so lovingly in his rebuke that it smacks me down on my face in repentance.  This was one of those moments. Yes, there would be more laundry, and more sibling disputes to referee. There would be some sacrifice on my part.  But isn’t sacrificing the cost of redeeming a life?  Jesus endured far more than a few extra socks to wash when he adopted me. This quote by Derek Loux just wrecks me:

“Adoption is redemption.  It is costly, exhausting, expensive and outrageous.  Buying back lives costs so much.  When God set out to redeem us, it killed him.” Continue reading

Who, Not Why

What are we to do when we feel God is calling us to do something that may appear crazy to others?

For me personally, it is adopting from Ethiopia.

The last couple of months the conversations have gone down like this:

‘Are you done having kids?’

‘Well, we are naturally done having children’

‘What does that mean?

‘We are in the process of adoption right now’…

Silence.  Awkward silence, you know the kind.

The verbal sparring begins after this:  ‘Why don’t you just have another child naturally? Why aren’t you adopting domestically? Do you think this is fair to your current children? Do you really thing GOD is calling you to do this?’.

Why all the push back? There are 153,000,000 orphans in the world.  I assumed when I told people we were adopting, there would be some sort of celebration, some sort of, ‘Hallelujah! God’s people are moving!’…but I have received a lot of silence followed by strained questions; and it hurts.  I feel the need to defend our call to adopt, and it is breaking my heart. I regret to admit, I have allowed it to tear some of the joy out of the process.  Satan must be so pleased.

In the meantime, I feel I am in the ebb and flow of the tides. A tide pushes at me, I push back…

‘No, random mom I just met, we haven’t considered reversing my husband’s vasectomy, Yes, we feel it is GOD calling us to adopt.’ And ‘I have a lot of fears of how it will affect my current children, but God loves them more than me. He knows what he is asking of us.’

In the middle of my ‘pushing back’, this week I heard him say, ‘Why are you down in the water, pushing against these tides, when you could walk on top of the water child?’  

Yes Lord! WHY!? Continue reading