Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It all started with a duck...(Part 2)

I always find it so fascinating how God can use the simplest things to get my attention. I pray and pray and pray about something and, when I don't get instant results, I wonder why nothing is changing. Then He speaks to me (not in an audible voice, but I know it's Him orchestrating things in a way that only He can) and teaches me something profound--in a way that I'm sure to remember...
And that brings me to the duck...

Much to our surprise and delight, a momma duck made a nest in our back flower bed. She has nestled herself right up in the corner near our house.
(My mother-in-law likes to joke that the duck must be deaf...
The Shoe homestead is not exactly a sanctuary for calm, quiet nesting:)

Anyway, the children and I have been keeping close watch on this momma duck and her 12 eggs.

Throughout the past several months I've been praying about contentment. To be content with life just as it is. Five children, lots of messes, sickness often, piles of laundry, not traveling out much, toilets to scrub, papers to sort, fussing to calm, fighting to stop, looking for peace...not wishing things to be different or trying to hurry through the days. Just contentment. It's been a constant struggle.

Then one day, I was watching the momma duck. She was sitting on her beautiful nest of eggs. Peacefully. Patiently.

Then all of a sudden, she flew away. I stood there thinking, "What in the world is she doing?! Her job is to sit on her eggs. What could possibly be more important?" Then it struck me. I am the duck.

I AM the duck.

My job is to "sit on my eggs". To take care of my family. To be content just keeping my "nest" in order and to take care of my delicate, beautiful "eggs". I know, a little nutty, but in that moment...I was REALLY identifying with the job of a Momma Duck.

Had it only been that moment (when I realized that I AM the duck), you could write it off as pure coincidence but as usual, God revealed Himself to me by taking it one step further.

I'd been hearing all kinds of buzz online about this new book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I was super interested in reading the book because every review I read was talking about how wonderfully perspective changing the book is. But I wasn't really justifying spending the money on a new book. So a few days after the "duck revelation", I decided to visit the blog of Ann Voskamp, to read the first chapter of the book online. And as I was reading around on her site...

I stumbled upon a post she wrote called What A Mother Must Sacrifice. As she was teaching her six children a homeschool lesson about ducks, she discovered that the Momma duck actually lines her nest with feathers that she plucks from her own chest. She had thought that the nest was lined with stray feathers and other things that were found around to build the nest but, no, the duck actually sacrifices her own feathers to make a warm, comfortable, safe place for her offspring, She pondered all the times she resisted "plucking her own feathers" as a mother of six children. Click on the title What A Mother Must Sacrifice and go read it for yourself...I dare you. Of course, I have tears just streaming down my face as I read her words and had to explain the whole story to my husband as he found me bawling like a baby in front of our computer screen.

The next day, I printed out a picture of the duck and posted on a kitchen cabinet, right next to where I spend hours of life preparing meals and washing dishes. A little reminder to be content, hanging where it will be often seen.

Well, after reading Ann Voskamp's writings and relating to so much of what I found on her blog...I HAD to get the book.
But I'll leave the rest of the story for another post...

The definition of contentment from a biblical perspective is: “An internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances”—Holman Bible Dictionary.

The Macquarie Dictionary says that ‘Contentment is the act of having one’s desires limited to what one has.’

contented: feeling or showing satisfaction with one's possessions, status, or situation

Philippians 4:11-13 (New International Version, ©2011)

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The best 5 minutes I've ever spent on YouTube

Yes, I'll get back to the duck thing soon but until then...

This is absolutely the best 5 minutes I've ever spent on YouTube and I HAD to share it with you! The kids are really digging it and we've watched it, like, 5 times already today and it's only 11:00:) And I've had joy-filled tears every time I watch it.

LOVE IT!!!!!

To watch the Dance Your Shoes Off video click here

Hope it brightened your day too:)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It all started with a duck...

Well, not exactly, let me back up a bit.

It all started back in December but I've already explained that in a previous post, so let's move forward just a smidge. I don't know if you could tell or not, from some of my posts since then, but I've been a little, well, blah. I've been a little complainy (yes, I know, not a word), negative perhaps, or "going through a rough patch", whatever you want to call it.

I'm a Christian but I don't pretend to be perfect...So I'm gonna get real with you...

Just because I love God, doesn't mean that I don't ever get overwhelmed.
Just because I'm serious about being a follower of Jesus Christ, doesn't mean that I'm better than everyone else.

It is true that, as a committed Christian, I am called not to worry, not to complain, to find joy in the Lord and to keep God's commandments.

But I am human.

Bottom line- I'm. A. Sinner.

And that's why I accept the gift of God's grace through Jesus' death on the cross. If I didn't struggle there would be no reason for me to need Jesus.
And I SO need Jesus.
I do sometimes get wrapped up in the sorrows of this world. I do complain and grumble, even though He's blessed me with all I need and MORE. I'm human and every day I do my best to live a life that would be pleasing to Him, but I fall short-DAILY.

How can someone who is so incredibly blessed end up with the blahs?
How can the little frustrations of everyday life turn into something so overwhelming that a person gets stuck in a state of complaining and grumbling?
How is it that when things in life are good, and honestly, couldn't get much better, I can lose sight of my joy?
Simple...Because I take my eyes off of the Cross.

The enemy has a way of playing on our weaknesses (in my case--insecurity). It's something I thought I had beat. When I gave my life to Christ, He changed my perspective about myself. I was truly a "new creation". And for the most part that is still true, but just because I commit to living in the "joy of the Lord" doesn't mean that Satan doesn't still try to mess with me. As a matter of fact, I've learned that it's when I'm doing my best, to live the life God calls me to, that he tries to mess with me the most.

Seems to me Satan is like a prank caller...
Just when I think I've figured out a way to have an unlisted number--the enemy dials my insecurity direct, like a prank caller pulling tricks on me...messing with my mind. Telling me that I'm not a good mom. That I'm too needy as a friend. That what I am isn't enough for my husband. That the stuff that everybody else has is better.
I'm tricked again and again and again and just when I think, "Surely, he's given up. He'll leave me alone now."
He tries one more time.

And. I. Fall. For. It.

But I pray. And pray. And pray. And wait.
And sure enough, God is faithful. He speaks Truth into my life, sometimes in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected times.

Thank you, God, for grace.

Find out how God's "speaking" to me in my next post...(to be continued)

1 Cor. 10:13--No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so that you can stand up under it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Every moment...

in the Happy moments...Praise God
in the Difficult moments...Seek God
in the Quiet moments...Worship God
in the Painful moments...Trust God
in Every Moment...Thank God

I wish I could say I came up with that on my own but I just saw it on a plaque somewhere:) I'm working on another post, now that the kiddos are well again, but I thought I'd just leave you a little encouragement for today. Blessings to you until you (and I) return!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oh No, Not I...

"I Will Survive...as long as I know how to love, I know I'll be alive...I've got all my life to live, I've got all my love to give...I WILL Survive...I WILL SURVIVE. Hey, hey." (Imagine a fantastic disco beat in the background:)

Yes, I know that famous Gloria Gayner song was meant to be an anthem for the jilted, heartbroken females of the world, who are filled with angst and ready to settle the score for the injustice of unrequited love...but last night at 3:45am in the Shoe house, that was the chorus that I kept singing in my head.

I'll reveal a little secret to you...a silly little thing that I've done ever since I was a kid. I imagine (if my life was an award winning motion picture) what songs I would include on the soundtrack. A little crazy, yes, but today the soundtrack of my life would totally include, "I Will Survive".

Our kiddos have been sick on and off for about a month now. It seems like WAAAAAY longer than that, maybe because for the most part of winter they have passed around one thing or another. The past month has included strep, fevers, coughs that are unstoppable (so much so that they end up throwing up) and now we're into a round of the stomach flu. Bless their little hearts...there have been many a disappointment as far as activities go around here. Missed birthday parties, sleep-overs, church activities, basically being quarantined for all of Spring Break, not being able to help Mommy lead praise and worship on Sunday, the list could go on...and on...and on...

I've been working on little sleep, dealing with sick and crabby children, trying to keep up with a toddler...
"Did you think I'd crumble? Did you think I'd lay down and die? Oh no, not I...I Will Survive" Can you see how it fits?

Anyway, it's getting to the point where I'm slightly paranoid that people will start thinking that my husband and I have that syndrome where you say your kids are sick, even though they're not. I know, people don't really think that, but to be honest...I might not believe the situation myself, if it were not for the fact that I'm the one getting up all hours of the night to soothe the crying when the coughing will not stop, and wiping all the runny noses, taking all the unbelievably high temperatures and administering all the doses antibiotics and "that miracle drug" they call Motrin, giving breathing treatments and most fun of all...trying to see that the puke makes it in a bucket, in the toilet, or at least on "the hard floor" (cause it's easier to clean up linolium than the carpet or the couch:)
Now, let me just say, I don't want to make it sound like my husband hasn't been helping, because HE TOTALLY HAS...but he does have to go to work every day, so I try to let him get a good night sleep as much as possible. Not to mention, he misses out on all the "fun" here during the day.

It's more the mental drain of it all...the whining, the fussing, the sitting in the chair with a feverish child pitifully draped over you for hours on end, while trying to keep "the well ones" from bouncing off the walls or killing each other. Don't get me wrong, please. My heart breaks for them when they are so sick and then sick again and again. I sympathize with the agony of it all. And I know that we are truly blessed to not have any children that have serious, chronic illness that require hospitalization and treatments of any kind. Praise the Lord, cause I don't know how I would make it through a situation like that sane. And I wouldn't trade being a stay-at-home mom for the world but it's just that I NEED SPRING and I need it RIGHT NOW. And it would be nice to be able to interact with some friends and family and attend church as the WHOLE Shoe Seven again on a regular basis. Just sayin'...

Anyway, there have been so many times when I'm at the end of my rope and I feel like I'm the worst mom in the world because I've lost my temper with the healthy ones while trying to take good care of the "sick" one(s) and have not a bit of patience left inside me. So many times when I ask God to forgive me for my discontent and frustration for a situation that I know will pass. So many times when I end up crying out to God (sometimes with real tears streaming down my face) to please give me patience and the ability to do the things I need to do as a mom of five young and needy children. It helps to know that He shows His strength and power in my weakness. And boy, have I shown a lot of weakness throughout these past few weeks. I cannot do this on my own but I will not crumble because "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)."

And it seems that he has given me this silly little blog as a blessing to keep my mind sharp with the distraction of writing. I can't even count the number of witty, yet informative, blog posts that have been bouncing around in my head like that bouncy ball that was once down our drain. Not that I've had time to actually post any of them or even really write them down on paper, but the important part is that they are there, reminding me that I do have half of a brain left. And sometimes that's just what I need to help me through a very hard day. So many more things to post...not a bit of time to do so. I hope to write again soon. Just think of me as that elementary school overseas pen pal:)

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9