Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My mom heart matters!

I went to a conference last weekend called, "Your Mom Heart Matters." The main speaker was Sally Clarkson, author and mom of 4. It was so encouraging and inspiring. I came in with a burden, and left without it. You know the one... where you hear about what you should and shouldn't be doing as a parent, and just feel worse because you already know some of those things but now it's rubbed in?

I went with several moms from my bible study group, and we all talked this morning about a little bit of what we got out of it, so that those who weren't able to attend could be blessed. So, I thought I'd share here as well, a few of my notes and nuggets that I took away from the weekend...

* Of all the women in the world, God chose ME to be the mother to my children. With all my flaws and weaknesses and sinful tendencies, he decided that I was the #1 choice for them! I've had days where I've felt like they'd be better off with someone else, but God does not make mistakes. He gave my kids to me, not to the perfect mom

* Many of the things that I knew in my head that I should be doing better as a mom, got into my heart. So now, instead of feeling guilty for not living up to those standards, I feel encouraged and empowered to act on my convictions, even when they are very challenging. Probably every mom out there wishes to be more gentle and patient, and I can see it coming through me a little more now. Not that I'm perfect by any means! But God isn't looking for perfection, he's looking for our hearts.

* My kids' hearts are treasure chests, and I am a gardener of their souls.

* Life is hard so put some good music on when you wash dishes!

* Live according to the beauty around you, not the mess.

* What kind of woman do you want to be in 10 years? It will only happen if you are intentional and have a plan!

* The expectations of a perfect soldier actually hindered David from doing what he was supposed to.

* Don't let someone else's laws control how you feel about your life!

* God might not fix the kinks how you'd like him to, be he always provides a solution!

* Jesus chose discipleship as a means to change his world. Treat your kids like Jesus treated his disciples.

* You are either growing or dying in your spiritual walk.

* If you want to speak to the heart of a child, you have to invest time into it!

* How do you build an estate? One brick at a time.

* If you only live by what you can accomplish yourself, you'll be stuck in works for the rest of your life. Live by faith-- you have to try things you can't do yourself! God is not limited by anything except our faith.

* Don't wake up TO your children, wake up FOR your children.

* If you want to clothe yourself with dignity, you have to cultivate contentment-- no whining!

* You can't control what people do to you, but you can control your bitterness.

* When YOU take the leap of faith, you are launching your children! Do you leave a trail of faith for your kids, or spread anxiety? Faith isn't taught, it's CAUGHT. You have to model it.

* Pass on the knowledge of the Word-- memorize scripture, have devotionals, speak the Word morning, noon and night.

* God really does have a plan for my children! They aren't just mine, they're HIS.

* You can only teach your children what you know. Treat the Word like food-- you need it multiple times a day!

* Use character qualities to praise you kids. For example, instead of saying, "Great job!" Say, "Wow! You were so diligent to study, I wonder what God is gonna do with that diligence someday!"

* Take advantage of the time you have them under your roof. Then trust them to God! He won't let your investment go to waste.

* Peter was given to us an an example-- God gives a lot of freedom for personality, even when we don't show 1st time obedience!

* When you are squeezed, what comes out?

* If an angel came to you in the night, are you prepared to believe? Mary told the angel, "Be it unto me according to your word" Jesus said something similar shortly before his death on the cross. I wonder if he heard his mother say things like that his whole life?

* Identify what enriches your soul-- types of music, art, colors, scents, and cultivate that. If you aren't full, how can you pass that on?

* God meant for us to walk with people. We are most like Him when we initiate love.

*Traditions give kids a sense of identity. They are like anchors in the years.

* We must get outside to know the soul of God. Gen 1:1-- He created.

* My greatest need is not to be a excellent mom or virtuous wife, but to KNOW JESUS. So empty myself of me, fill me up with Jesus and let His excellence shine through!

* It is God's kindness that leads to repentance-- I should treat my kids with the same kindness.

* I'm not the perfect parent, but I belong to the perfect parent.

* Just because my child disobeys doesn't mean I'm doing something wrong and God is displeased. My kids display the sinful nature they were born with. Likewise, when they obey, I'm not more righteous. Train your child out of obedience to Christ, not to win approval.

* The world says our kids need lessons, clothes, computers, etc. God says they need our time, attention, validating their heart, letting them share with you, laughing, believing in their dreams, building a relationship with them.

All that being said, my son is awake from his nap now so I'm gonna go do my best to live what I learned!

Who am I?

Alternate title:

My Identity Is All Over The Map

Do you ever have days where it just hits you in the face, I don't really know who I am?

I certainly have. I know in my head that I'm a child of God, rescued by his son Jesus, who so graciously redeemed my life from the pit. I know that being a wife, a mom, a friend, a writer, an artist, a dancer, a food-lover, and everything else I can describe myself as, are just secondary. But I feel like I'm still waiting for the day when it sinks down into my heart that the most important thing that defines me is that I am my beloved's and He is mine. Where all the other priorities in this earthly life line up underneath my relationship with God.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I should abandon all my duties and desires to lock myself up to do nothing but talk to God all day. I just mean, I get caught up in all the things I need to do and want to do that sometimes I forget who I really am. Maybe I don't even fully know yet!

It's especially difficult when I'm reminded that in the course of my life, I've been:

~The youngest child, the only child, the oldest child, and probably the middle child somewhere in there too.

~The teacher's pet, and the girl who got caught shoplifting.

~The straight-A student, and the girl that slept through/skipped class.

~The girl that never gets asked out, and the girl that can't get rid of her baby's daddy.

~The girl that's the only virgin left in the group and plans to stay that way until marriage, and the girl that got pregnant barely 6 months after meeting a guy.

~The girl that's super-organized, and the girl that wants to hire a professional organizer because the clutter is just too much to handle.

~The girl that has to make every penny count because there's only $5 a week to work with, and the girl that has everything she needs and a lot of what she wants.

~The girl that wants 8 kids, and the girl that gets rid of everything baby-related because she feels DONE after 2.

~The candy addict, and the crunchier-by-the-minute food snob.

~The girl that wants long hair so bad, and the girl that is so over long hair and keeps cutting it shorter.

~The girl that's so bored out of her mind with nothing to do, and the girl that would kill for a day back then.

~The girl that wants to be a teacher, a waitress, a beautician, a model, an astronaut, a nurse, a surgeon, a dancer, a missionary, and the girl that doesn't want to be anything other than "just a wife and mom."

~The girl that had been to 6 different countries in 3 years, and the girl that hasn't left the country in 6.

~The girl that stays up late and gets up early to study the Bible, and the girl that can't remember the last time she picked it up.

So, I choose to say, "Lord, I turn my eyes toward you. I just want to love you more. Show me who YOU are and help me shed the false identities that I've attached myself to through the years. Live through me to make me more like you, and remind me each day that I am yours, and everything else is just accessories."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ode to Katiebug

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of spending SEVEN hours in the same chair at the same coffeehouse in uptown Dallas, across from my bff that I've known for over 12 years. Today is her birthday!

This is her... are those not the most gorgeous brown eyes you've ever seen?!

Seven hours sounds like a long time but if you average it out over time (we very rarely get to see eachother) it is a drop in the bucket. But it was lovely. I drank chai tea for the first time, and it was super yummy. I've been missing out all this time. Who knew hot tea could be sweet and creamy?! So now I can feel cool at Starbucks when I get something besides apple cider or passion lemonade. w00t.

We talked about everything. I planned on spending a couple hours there and then coming back to ftw to relieve Riley from daddy duty, but he kept telling me to stay and enjoy. Isn't he wonderful?!

Katie's in her last semester of law school, so I may not get to see much of her until after the bar exam in July, but hey, it wouldn't be the first time we've spent months w/o talking.

We have been through a lot together. We've been through a lot separately. But every time we reconnect, nothing's changed. Well, you know, of course, a lot has changed, but our friendship still seems so young at heart. We went to school together (met our 1st semester at cfni then she moved in with me and my roomies the 2nd semester), spent 3 weeks in India together on a mission trip after graduating 10 years ago, bared our souls to each other with almost every man-related heartache...

We've never seen each other naked. I know that's random and maybe tmi, but a lot of bff's have so whatever. Her subway sandwich of choice was always veggie delight and mine is turkey on wheat.

I always thought her wedding would happen before mine, but it didn't turn out that way. I might be even more eager than she is for her to join me in the married club. ;)

We've always gotten along so well, although there have been times where we've hurt each other. One time she forgot my birthday and instead asked me to take one of her friends who I didn't even know, to work at 6am that morning. One time we almost ended our friendship because we had plans to hang out but then neither one of us wanted to make the 30 minute drive. I was a terrible friend and didn't go to her 30th bday party because I had already made other plans but totally should've canceled.

She's funny and kind and carefree and stylish and pure and intelligent and I just love her to pieces. It's a shame we don't keep in touch more often. She sent me flowers the day I told her I was pregnant out of wedlock. Even though we don't get to hang out very much, when we do, she's so present, if that makes sense. I feel like I'm all that matters to her in that moment. Ok, that sounds so self-centered, but that's just what an awesome person she is. We take turns talking and listening and there's no rush and no awkward silence and we just laugh and confess our less-than-holy experiences and give each other the ok instead of any judgment whatsoever.

Katie must be a better friend than I am because she's been a bridesmaid in so many weddings. Everyone adores her. And it's easy to see why.

I'm incredibly proud of her. When we were roommates she worked 1-12 after going to school 8-12, and still managed to graduate, moving up the corporate ladder. She then got her bachelor's degree while working full time, and is now about to be a full-fledged lawyer. Woah. I hope I'm not embarrassing you Katie!

I don't think our friendship is the typical one that you see between BFFs. We both have lots of other close friends and idk if we've ever really consistently labeled our friendship the way others do. I've been jealous of her other friendships in the past (that may be true for her but idk so i doubt it) and we've gone through seasons where we were totally uninvolved in each other's lives. But I think I've gotten to the point where I feel safe and happy with who we are to each other and no matter how far apart we ever live or how seldom we connect, she'll always be "the bestest friend i ever wanted!" (quoting my very young niece) *yes, riley is my best friend but you know what i mean*

So of course I had to dig out the old 35mm photo albums and give you a little taste of our friendship!

This is us at cfni where we first met.

Saree shopping in India:

 Young summer fun:

Katie's graduation from DBU:

At my new apartment in 2004:

One of my bridesmaids:

At some friends' wedding when I was pregnant with Julia:


Holding my firstborn:

At the State Fair a couple years ago:

Fast forward to 9 days ago at our roommate reunion:

Some warm memories:

*working in some lady's garden while reciting Princess Bride word-for-word.

*singing "Yesu-raja-vanderickiya" on a stage in south India in front of a sea of people. Wait I do have that pic...

*trying on hideously cute vintage outfits at a thrift store in Arlington.

*waking up at 7:53 and swiping in by 8:00.

*making lasagna with a homemade sauce that took 3 hours to simmer.

*painting our toenails outside our apartment while listening to Louis Armstrong.

*going ice-skating at the galleria (she bought me socks because I was wearing sandals!) for my bday.

*having her in the room when i was in labor for the first time, she rubbed my feet and sympathized for my agony and held Julia so sweetly afterwards.

*canceling her plans at the last minute to come over and give me a shoulder to cry on right after a breakup.

*watching a marathon bollywood movie one night at her place.

*i still have cute magnets and keychains she's given me as souvenirs from many places she's traveled to.

*she told me "why don't you just marry [riley]?" early on when many of my friends totally disapproved of him. she was so right!

Katie is a great listener, always encourages me and convinces me that I'm funny. We wear the same size jeans but for different reasons... kind of weird in a sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants way. Her family is small and mine is big, but there's still so much in common there.

Her only flaw EVER was that she was always late... but worth the wait! And now she's only sometimes late ;)

I love you Katie and your friendship means the world to me! I hope you had the best birthday ever! AND... Let it be known that it was I and I alone who first donned you Katiebug! ;)