Monday, October 22, 2012

Ahh the sweet days!

Big sister and Daddy holding Evan! 

Oh the sweet joyful days of motherhood. Waking up at 3:30 every morning to the delightful sleepy eyes of my beautiful brown eyed daughter or the uncomfortable hunger pains of my new baby boy. I am not even being sarcastic! Ok, maybe just a little...

I have a new addition to my life! I am so happy to have a little boy whose sweet face sleeps already for good stretches in the night. 5 hours last night! Then another 4! Yay, yay! I have to admit the first two nights, I had moments almost at tears. He would scream, I would pray, plead, beg. I was falling asleep, singing every song imaginable and my dear husband took the baby so I could get a few hours of sleep. Then, the babe finally slept.

I've noticed something about life, and motherhood. We take everything for granted and we even make too big of a deal out of things that really do not matter! Yes, it happens to everyone. For instance, when I get a horrible stomach flu, I realize that always take my health for granted. It is only when I feel bad that I usually yearn for the days of feeling normal or even just having a headache or feeling a little tired. Or when I am sick, all of a sudden fashion, diet, exercise, has no meaning! I just want to survive through this horrible sickness.

Now, as a mother, I cherish...I delight in 5 hours of sleep! Even with my preschooler! A straight blissful 5 hours. Delightful:-)

Papa dancing with little Evan
I know this is not true for everyone. Having a newborn has just reminded me of the small things that I take for granted. I want to cherish his sweet little grunts and let some of the other stuff go! I have also enjoyed getting up with my daughter while the babe is sleeping and just spending time with her, talking to her and praying with her.

Yes, the JOY of the Lord can be our strength. "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." ~ Colossians 3:23-24

Mamas and Papas- we are given little buddies and little princesses to care for as unto the Lord! The burping and spit up, as unto the Lord!

I know there are others out there that are past the age of little kiddos. I pray that you find a chance to live heartily as unto the Lord!

That is on my mind today. Be so encouraged and blessed as you sit in the presence of beautiful Jesus and you see His delight in the children He has given you to cherish.

The SON is Shining-

Jess Ashleigh

Friday, October 12, 2012

God's Gifts: The Sacrifices of Mama-hood!

On a grueling walk with a giant stroller through the rough terrain where the pavement ended around my neighborhood park, I envisioned myself a pioneer woman fording rivers, hunting wildlife and foraging for berries to feed my young family. If they could do it, so could I! I stared at the tiny, beautiful face of my young daughter looking up at me. Yes, I would sacrifice anything for her, anything at all. I wiped the sweat from my brow and continued seeing the paved path just a few yards away.

Ok, so I am being a little sarcastic and over-dramatic. The path I took around the park was nothing like the terrain traversed by the amazing pioneers who headed West to start a new life for their family. My deluxe stroller with rubberized is not nearly as heavy as their covered wagon with metal or wooden wheels. But I was sweating! The more I thought about the pioneer woman and all they sacrificed for their families, the more respect I had for many of our Western founding woman! Many died protecting and providing for their families, with the hope of new life, new prospects, and adventure out West. 

I too have hope, after traversing the rough and difficult terrain of this temporal life, of reaching new life forever in an eternal city. 

However, like the pioneer woman, I am still stuck walking through difficult rocky paths, over mountains and through valleys and my biggest concern is not for my safety and survival, but for the safety of my family. 

Something happened to me when I held my daughter in my arms for the first time. Not about me.

Yes, I had been married for some time and had experienced the sacrifice of self. No longer did I get to make my own schedule without consulting another person. My decisions effected another and I could not always act in my own best interest, but in the best interest of our new family. I am so thankful for the man God placed to join me in this journey. He is a true servant and his gentle answers have so oft turned away my wrath. (Yep! I know it is hard to believe, but I can sometimes have a temper...:-)

Then, when I held my daughter, my heart leapt into my chest, I would stare for hours at her little, perfect face and think, "Thank you, God. Thank you for giving me her to take care of for just a few short years." I know in my heart that she is not all mine. She is the Lord's. He gave her to me, and I want to show her and lead her always to His amazing love. 

Wow! As a mother, I no longer cared as much about my hair and makeup. Even going to the bathroom was difficult as I would hear her little cries. Ha! 

The birth of my daughter
Now, I wake up to her fuzzy hair in my face in the morning, sleep no longer greets my eyes as it did when I had no children. Miraculously, I want to wake up with her. I want to talk with her about her silly dreams and hear her imagination run wild...(Did you know my 3 year old daughter has 18 daughters and a baby in her belly too!? Yesterday, as we pulled out of the driveway, she pointed to the trees and told me, "My daughters are climbing the trees." Oh really! That's great! How can you not smile at that?)

As parents we learn to lose ourselves. We find challenges and new delight in a child's face. Yes, we still need to take care of ourselves and find time to be with dear friends. However, when I sacrifice time and sleep for my daughter, I know I will never regret it, never!

So, pioneer mamas and papas! Forge on! Traverse the difficult terrain and sacrifice time to be with your kiddos. Enjoy their nuances and know that they really belong to the Lord. He gave them to you for what really is a short time. The sacrifices are small and the eternal city is waiting for us!

Our children are a gift. Consider the story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel:  "the Lord remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel,[e] saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.” Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.”

I am really blessed to have amazing Godly parents. Although no one is perfect, they are pretty close to perfect as parents go! I was and always am pointed to Jesus. They showered His love on me, established me as God's child and I am securely in His hands. I want to be that for my children and those around me. Don't you? 

I leave you with the hymn "It is Well With My Soul" by Horatio Spafford. Surprisingly, this song is birthed from the pain and sorrow, written after the tragic death of his young 4 year old son to the Chicago fire, and the drowning of all four of his daughters in a ship collision. In the wake of such a loss, he declares, "It is Well With My Soul." No matter the terrain we traverse, may we gaze into the eyes of our Savior and declare, 

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul....

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Will Trust in You, Right NOW!

I woke up this morning, groggy, but not wanting to stay in bed any longer. As I stumbled downstairs in the light of the sun just rising through my slated blinds, I flipped open my iPad Bible to this encouraging verse:

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might, He increases strength." Isaiah 40:28-29 ESV

Oooo RAH! (That is my Marine chant of formidable strength!) Ahh, these words just fell over my heart like a cool glass of water with a lot of ice. Weary, going through a fainting spell. He is there to give power and increase strength. It's a promise, and a good one!

Later in the morning, driving my young daughter to school, we were listening to some Vacation Bible School songs that she loves singing! Boy, howdy is she a cutie when she sings them! Her little 3 year old arms flailing and her face shining in delight. Yep, that is a blessing.

One of the songs almost brought tears to my eyes! A little kid song...I'm thinking to myself...really? Really? Crying to this boy band sounding song? Yes, I nearly was.

The lyrics of the song describe a "confused" someone who is feeling "sad, and afraid, and kind of angry too." In the chorus, we are reminded to "Think, think, think, think about the goodness of You, my God. Because I know, know, know, no matter how I feel I've gotta trust in You. I will trust in You, right now! No matter how I feel, right now!"

If you want to take 2:47 to listen to this song the link is below:-)

Think, think, think- think about the goodness of You, my God
If you, like me, are dealing with some uncertain circumstances and feeling confused, sad, alone, and kind of angry, may you truly think of the goodness of our God. No matter how we feel, we've gotta trust in Him.

This also reminds me of the Jeremy Camp song, "I will walk by faith" (Here's the link to the song- )

Jeremy Camp wrote this song after losing his first wife to cancer after only a few short months of marriage. He reminds himself of the faithfulness of God despite present circumstances, that God's grace is present even in the midst of the storm and we have to make the decision to trust in God, to walk by faith even when we do not understand.

I do not understand. There are so many things I do not understand. Yet, I choose that Today, so long as it is called Today,

I WILL WALK BY FAITH- I will trust in You, right now.

Help me, Jesus.

In His Arms and On His Wings,
Jessica Ashleigh

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Don't Want to Miss It

Last night, at the end of a delightful day motherhood, this scene greets me suddenly and unexpectedly. Emma, full of joy and laughter and silliness all day, stubbed her little toe climbing into bed. The. world. ended. 

After a few minutes of consoling and praying with her, reassuring her that everything would be fine, she was calm, I turned off the light, closed the door and heard her yell, "Good night mama! I love you!" 

"Good night, Emma! I love you forever and always!"

As a mother, I have learned the joy and delight of laying my own needs second to another person. I have felt the frustration of not understanding what is happening or how to help lead her in the right way. Screaming, giggling, crying, laughing. Every season of her life has taught me new lessons about myself, sacrifice, love, and how to enjoy every moment, rather than rush through a day. 

One day, my little girl will not yell to me from her bedroom, "Good night mama! I love you!" She will not run down the hallway of her school to see me. She will not climb the play structure and pretend that she is my mommy and I am her "sweetie." One day, she will be grown, she will leave my home, and she will continue to show me Christ's love in new ways. 

Not to be too sentimental, but tears fill my eyes as I write this. I think of my mother. The time she spent pouring into me and loving me, nurturing my gifts and showing me how to get through difficult times. Now, I am grown, but she is still my mommy. I love her forever and always.

I love the story of Mary and Martha. I, like many women, sympathize with Martha, always feeling the pressure to work and do laundry, clean and be productive. But Mary, oh I want to be like Mary! I do not want to be caught up and miss the beauty of relationships. I want to enjoy the creation that is people and the fact that God has given me a family, children to get to know and encourage and lead to Him. I do not want to miss the beauty in simply sitting and listening to Christ, in simply reading His Word and finding comfort in Him. 

As I muse about the different seasons or phases of life, this story of Mary particularly strikes me. Jesus' death is fast approaching and Mary takes an alabaster flask of expensive oil, breaks it, and pours it on his head. The disciples think this is a waste; Jesus responds differently:

"10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me.11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” ~ Matthew 26:1-13

Jesus does not look at things as we do. He does not see our value in how productive or perfect we are with our time. He sees us. 

Mary had heard the words of Jesus, that He was approaching death and she acted out of love. She anointed him with her most precious oil rather than selling it and giving it to the poor. This would not have always been the right action, but at that moment, Mary, who knew Jesus and had truly listened to Him, gives him the most generous gift she can. 

Life is not measured in money. Our value is not hinging on perfection of house cleaning or cooking or structure. These things are always good to invest in, but they do not define us and our worth. Jesus created us for good works, sometimes this just means loving Him, loving people, really listening, and really giving. 
Emma watching the rain

As a mama, do I sacrifice my time truly to sit with my daughter? Do I listen and soak in all the phases of motherhood? Truly, these phases are fleeting. I want my daughter to have confidence in her identity, excel, and not to always strive for unattainable perfection. 

I don't want to miss it.

I now find myself facing two new phases of life. I don't want to miss what God has for me now. My son, my second child's birth is fast approaching. This will inevitably bring changes in my life. Usually, I am not fond of changes and transitions. But, as my husband put so wisely on our last date night, "It is good to realize that life is full of phases and God will take us through each one." Yes, life is full of phases, as one chapter ends, another begins. Each chapter holds its own difficulties, its own mystery and its own delight. 

The second phase is the difficulty of seeing my mother go through cancer treatment. She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer last year and has fought this disease with every weapon. She started a gene therapy which was very successful for some time. However, as this gene therapy is failing, she recently started traditional chemotherapy. Through this difficult phase, I want to be sure to invest in things that matter. I love my mama. 

I don't want to miss it. I pray you find time today to sit and give of your time to someone you love. Seek God through all of life's phases. And especially if you are a mama, don't wish away any years. Don't miss it.