The Life & Times of Mommiehood

Here I am finding my way through uncharted waters.


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Elohim

I never have much time but have several coloring books. The latest coloring book with several of the names of God used throughout the Bible.

Since I’ve never really studied all the different names I figured this coloring book would be a good time to start. With my mom’s help I found a Bible study on the names of God and dove in today.

The first name in my coloring book and the study:

Elohim

From the study: “When we pray to Elohim, we remember that he is the one who began it all, creating the heavens and the earth and separating light from darkness, water from dry land, night from day. This ancient name for God contains the idea of God’s creative power as well as his authority and sovereignty.”
This world is a hot mess much of the time. Humans have not played nice and continue to screw up what God created in many different ways. Yet he created us anyway. Knowing all our faults God created us, sent his son to die for us so we could be redeemed and draws us to himself through his creation. In Genesis he says his creation is good. Multiple times. Living in CO I get to experience some wonderful pieces to God’s creation. Mountains. Rivers. Hills. Sunshine. Wild flowers. Aspen tress. So many beautiful things that point toward him and give him glory.

I may not always be the best reflection of God, despite being made in his image, but sure do try. One of the questions in the Bible study was this: “Since God made us in his image, he has instilled in us creative power. What are your creative gifts?” I don’t really see myself as creative. I do like to write and of course the coloring. Once in a while I get pintresty. But overall it’s not really how I’d describe myself. Interesting to realize that the side of me that is creative comes from God. He created me like him and he created literally everything. Maybe that is one of the reasons I find joy when I tap into my creativity, it’s a way to be closer to God and understand him a little better.


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Fell off the wagon already.

So much for blogging every day this month.

There have been things I thought to write about and then seem to forget and not find the time.

Today I was gifted with the day off. It did not go as I had planned. I did not accomplish all I wanted to. But I did not have to go to work. That was wonderful.

The hubs and I went on a movie date. We so rarely get to do that and pretty much never make a matinee anymore. Definitely an older crowd this morning, but nice to be able to go and watch a movie and just spend some time together.

Life has been  in wack-a-mole mode and I feel like I’m the mole. No fun. With all the car issues we’ve been having (yesterday the truck started acting funny and today the check engine light came on) and the weather change today I felt like Eeyore most of the day.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow can be relatively uneventful.

Finished Home Alone with the kids. They really enjoyed it. It has been fun to watch movies I liked when I was younger with them and have them like them too. Also interesting to talk to them about how things are different now with technology having changed so much in the last 20 years.

Started the last week in my 21 Day Fix today as well. So far so good. Here’s to finishing strong and then getting started with P90. Happy the hubs is joining me (he started P90 today) and we can cheer each other on and encourage each other.

How’s that for random.


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Books.

My future SIL (six more weeks till the big day!) tagged me on Facebook in a post requesting me to list ten books that have stayed with me in some way. This seemed a bit long for a Facebook post and I know my blog will post there anyway so here goes. Ten books in no particular order, that have resonated with me for one reason or another.

1) Philippians, Paul. I first really studied this book the summer I was a camp counselor, during the week I was without my co-counselor BFF. I was horribly bummed to not be with my friend but ended up blessed with a wonderful group of preteens. Whenever I read Philippians I am reminded of these girls and my prayers for them that week and wonder what they are up to now almost 20 years after that week is a distant memory.

2) The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey. I read this one while on a missions trip in Russia. To this day I really think about the things I think I know about Christ. Why do I think that and is there any evidence of that in the Bible? Last summer this book was chosen for the women’s summer study at church and irradiation again. Love how Yancey picks apart things we think we know and presents facts alongside scripture.

3) Unafraid: Mary, Francine Rivers. Another one of those books that challenged my thinking. Sure it’s mostly fiction as there is little in the Bible about Mary, but still interesting to think about what it was like in Mary’s shoes as a pregnant virgin and the mother of Christ.

4) Les Misérables, Victor Hugo. One of the first books I really loved that was required reading in high school. Great story of redemption and not getting stuck in a miserable angry vengeance. Really enjoyed seeing the story brought to life in the theater and on Broadway as well.

5) Crazy Love, Francis Chan. One of the hardest books I have ever read. Very challenging to take a look at myself and my response, or sometimes lack there of, to God’s love for me.

6) Yada, Yada Prayer Group, Neta Jackson. I’ll include the whole series here. Good perspectives on differences among people and how we approach Christianity and relationship. Especially when people are different from me. Understanding someone else’s life and reality and meeting her where she is at and loving her no matter what makes us similar or different.

7) The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith. I’ve just had a ton of fun reading these. Relationships. Misunderstandings. The importance of listening to people and helping them. Paying attention to details. Lots of good things tucked into these books and the few shows that aired on HBO were also wonderful.

8) The Zion Chronicles and The Zion Covenant, Brock and Bodie Theone. These started my love for historical fiction and helped bring life to what I learned at school about the Nazis.

9) Beverly Cleary. I loved Ramona and Ralph S. Mouse. Who wouldn’t love a motorcycle riding mouse?!?! I devoured her books when I was in 3rd grade. Her books made me want to write my own stories, on stapled together lined paper complete with illustrations. Just like the boy brings home from school for his stories.

10) What a Girl Wants, Kristen Billerbeck. Laugh out loud chic lit. The main character, Ashley Stockindale, is a hoot and there were several moments while reading this series where I got the giggles. I should go read them again.

As I put this list together I continue to think of more books. There are so many good ones out there. Too many to list. As I was asked to not think too much, so these are what you get.


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Just hanging with Paul and his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians has always been one of my favorite books. Back in college when I took honors Biblical Interpretation this is the book I chose to write my big term paper on. I have no clue what I wrote in that paper nor do I have the commentary book I used more than 15 years ago. Despite graduating from a Christian university, I’m no theologian. This and any future posts are just what I’m learning now while I read it using my NLT Study Bible.

Eph 1:1-14.
What is our legacy with Christ?
Spiritual blessings.
We get to be united with Christ. Christ! He is not separate or far from us but we are united. He is with me. Always. Something I need to rely on more than I do. A relationship I need to cultivate. So many times this summer I’ve been reminded that I need to spend more time in the Bible and praying and here’s another. Too many unnecessary things get in the way of my relationship with Christ, these same hints often get in the way of my relationships with my husband, my children, and my friends. I need to get my priorities straight so I’m focused on what really matters. First things first and everything else will fall into place where it should.

God loved us before the world. Reminds me of Psalm 139 where it talks about us being known in the womb, being fearfully and wonderfully made.
He chose me.
Me.
Why?
Because he loves me. I am to be holy and without fault. I’m adopted by God, taken into his family. Because of what Jesus did for me, for us. Not only did God want this but it brought him pleasure. I bring him pleasure. Great pleasure.
My response? Praise. God lavishes grace and I respond by praising him.
What other response is there?

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” Eph 1:7.

Wow.
Let that sink in for a minute.

The note from my study Bible says, “Believers, who were once prisoners of sin, are free from God’s judgment and from bondage to sin because of Christ’s sacrificial death.”
I was a prisoner and am now free.
Do I act like I’m free?
Not always.
Sometimes I sin, over and over the same sin. Mine is anger, yours might be something different. These sins are all covered by what Christ did for us on the cross. We are free. I am free. Or at least I can be. I have not quite figured out the how yet, since it’s all too often I find myself angry or reacting in anger … But I think, at least for me, the biggest issue is not spending enough time in the Word and in prayer. The farther I stray from my relationship with God the more anger has free reign and God does not. Praise God he gives me grace, but what is my response? Not always what it should be. There are so many things I say and do that do not bring glory to God. My humanness rears it’s ugly head far too often.

Still God showers kindness and wisdom and understanding.
Is this in hopes that one day I will get it?
Makes me think of my kids, specifically the 8yo. He does the same things over and over seemingly ignorant of instruction and guidance. He knows he shouldn’t but does anyway. Repeatedly. Maybe I’m a spiritual 8yo.
Ouch.

God revealed something to us.
Us.
Me.
You.
Why?
Why would the creator of the universe reveal something to us? Maybe so we can have hope, definitely so we can share with others. God’s plan involves everything, EVERYTHING, being under Christ’s authority. We are united with Christ. Have an inheritance from God who “chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan,” Eph 1:11. Another part of God’s plan and purpose is that we trust in him and by so doing bring praise and glory to him. He gave all believers the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that we will get that promised inheritance, the one we don’t deserve because of our sin but get anyway because of God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice. We were bought with a price and our gratitude is seen through our lives praising and glorifying God.

So many tangible blessings in my life and yet the spiritual blessings Paul talks about are more important.
What Christ did for me.
That God loves me.
That God purchased me with the cost of Christ’s death.
I’m grateful to be part of his plan and when I’m in the thick of the chaos of this life on earth need to remember that I was bought with the ultimate price for the purpose of praising and glorifying God. In whatever circumstances I find myself. Not to whine about all the things I don’t like or have but instead to focus on the praises and blessings and find the joy in all my circumstances. Something I can only do if I am united with Christ daily praying and reading my Bible.

Here’s to the wonderful joy in knowing that despite my efforts, God is the one in charge, he is the one with the plan. He is guiding my steps and getting me where he wants me to be so I do glorify him. One day, one trial, one circumstance at a time. I’m a slow learner but God is hanging with me and will not ever leave me alone on this journey. Praise God for his grace and mercy.


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Even the best laid plans.

Seventy years.
That sounds like forever.
I’d be 105.
That’s how long God exiled the people of Judah. Seventy years. But then the promise. God will do good things for them and bring them home.
Why? Because … He loves them. He has plans for them. Good plans. Hope. A future.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says The Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster. To give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

I believe this promise is the same for me. Even if it means that before the next seventy years is up I’ll be praising Jesus in heaven, my eternal home.

I’ve always loved this verse. God knows the plans he has for ME. Good plans. Prosperity. Hope. Future. When things are hard this promise is like a balm for my soul. Even when things are hard I know that these tough situations are making me a better person, I’m clay in the potter’s hands and He’s making me more like Him. When there is a purpose to something it’s just somehow easier to deal with. God’s plans are often not the same as my expectations or what the world would dictate, but when I really think about it all, I don’t need what I think I want or what the world says I should want. I need Jesus.

Next we are told that if we pray God will listen. If we look for Him we will find Him. He will restore us.

Usually I focus on verse 11 but the others surrounding, verses 10-14, just add to the promise.

The God of the whole universe listens to me. Me. Who am I that he should even care? But He does. He has plans for me, good plans and He will listen if I cry out to Him … in sadness, frustration, anger, joy. Doesn’t matter the emotion, He LISTENS. To me. The calling out to God allows me to find Him, He comes close to me when I take even one step toward Him. Like the parable of the prodigal son. I’m welcomed back with sincerity, excitement, joy.

He will restore me and bring me home. To Him. Just a lovely thought. Eventually all the drama and strife in this world will be gone and I will just be in His presence.

Oh what a glorious day that will be.


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The greatest of these is love.

Can everything really boil down to one word? One action word?
Hard to believe but it appears the answer is yes.

The next Post-it flag from my now dusted off NLT study Bible is stuck in the middle of 1 Corinthians 13.
Even the chapters heading states “Love Is The Most Important Thing.”

The first three verses indicate that we can have or do or be anything, BUT love is the key. If I don’t love others what’s the point? Spiritual gifts, talents, sacrifice … All nothing if not done of love for others. Nothing. This is stated at the end of each verse. All meaningless without love.

Why is love the key?
Have you ever been around someone doing something because they have to? Out of sheer duty? Definitely a difference from someone who does their job or serves others because they truly love and care for people. Think about teachers, retail staff, you get the idea. There is a huge difference when there’s love involved. You can feel it when you talk with someone, when you ask a question and they truly listen and respond to you. I have experienced this with several of my friends and am thankful for their love and how they show they care for me. I have experienced this with customer service, when you can tell the person helping you cares about your needs and concerns and truly does his or her best to help you. I have experienced this at Disneyland, the people there all love working there and you can feel it in the atmosphere. I have experienced this with my husband and family when they do simple little things just because.

Love changes everything. Love put others first. Love is at the heart of what Jesus did for us on the cross so of course it’s the most crucial piece of the puzzle.

So what is love anyway?
Patient.
Kind.
Not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Willing to give up my desires for the good of others.
Does not demand it’s own way.
Not self-centered.
Not concerned with it’s own interests.
Not irritable.
Keeps no record of wrongs.
Does not rejoice about injustice.
Rejoices when truth wins out.
Never gives up.
Never loses faith.
Always hopeful.
Endures through every circumstance.

Other things may fade away and be useless, but love will last forever.

Forever. I look through that list and think about my actions and behaviors. What do I want to last forever? What do I want others to see in me? I struggle with patience, being irritable, giving up, enduring. Loving others may be hard sometimes, but the reward comes when that joy I talked about yesterday bleeds through every part of my life and my attitude changes. I think often of Grandpa Stone when I think of joy. He was always joyful. He sang songs. He told jokes. He smiled. He loved. Everyone around him responded positively because, well, how could you not?

“Three things will last forever–faith, hope and love–and the greatest of these is love.”


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Happiness is a choice.

I’ve heard this before. Lots of times.
After my earlier post I decided to start with the most important change.

When I pulled my NLT study Bible off the shelf and dusted it off I had decided I wanted to look at Paul and try and figure out how he could be joyful in some pretty awful circumstances. Loads worse than anything I’ve been dealing with.

There are five little post-it flags in my Bible and I flipped to the last one. Philippians. One of the verses I have had memorized for over a decade, almost two. Somehow it still never quite sinks all the way in.

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Philippians 4:4-9.

Always be full of joy IN THE LORD.

Um, yeah. Not joy in my circumstances. Not joy in the people in my life. Not joy in my job. Not joy in my stuff. NO! Joy in the LORD. Joy in what God did for me sending His son Jesus to die for my sins. Joy in the fact, plain and simple, that He loves me, despite the fact that I sin daily. Joy in the blessings he has provided: family, friends, a wonderful church. Joy in the truth that God never changes despite the ever changing world around me.

Let everyone see you are considerate in ALL you do.

I have had some seriously uncharitable thoughts over the last couple weeks. Sure these might be justifiable by the world’s standards and when I share the situation I usually receive a great deal of empathy, but this is not being considerate. How to learn to vent and share without being uncharitable, that’s the seemingly impossible part of life right now. Being kind and generous when I’m emotionally tapped and stressed does not come naturally. When that does happen it’s truly God working in me.

Don’t worry about anything

Seriously?!?!? Anything. Was Paul being serious here? I am a worrier. Lots of us are. I can worry about just about anything. Sometimes it’s like a warm fuzzy blanket when it’s cold outside and I don’t want to get rid of the familiar warmth. But here’s Paul, in prison no less, telling me not to worry. About anything. But what do I do? There are things in life that have worry-about-me-please written all over them …

Instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Hmm. Certainly easier said than done. Clearly not impossible because Paul lived this and was not only content in circumstances but joyful and his needs were met. Again like the joy because of who God is I can thank Him for what He has done and that will help take the focus off me and my drama to Him and His story for my life.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This must be where the joy is. God’s peace. I don’t want to stay stuck in the muck of worry and fear and anger. I want to rest in the hammock of God’s peace that my human mind cannot even fathom. If only I can channel my brain to let go of the worry and focus on God.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you have learned and received from me-everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

How? By doing what I know is the right thing to do. Surrounding myself with good and positive things. Immersing myself in God’s word. Living the way I know brings God glory. Then the focus shifts. Not me (my drama, my stress, my problems), rather God (His love, His plan for me, His heart for others).

Sometimes I get so caught up in how others treat me and those around me that I forget that I need to take a step back and think about how I am treating them. I never do that unless I’m focused on God and how he would have me live and respond to others.

I’m a sinner. Yes. Me. Sin. Lots. Why am I so surprised when others sin? Especially those who do not have Jesus in their hearts guiding their steps and actions. Yes it hurts. Sometimes more than I even realize. But sin is something we all fight and battle daily. I won’t win the war till I’m in Heaven praising God. Doesn’t mean I can’t have Jesus by my side helping me be more like Him.