Oh Charlie!

Today I’m going to stray a bit and talk about motherhood. I became a mother almost 19 years ago to our first son. It was magical, scary and exhausting! Surprisingly, he survived our first time parent fears and freak outs and grew into a happy, healthy toddler. At the age of 21 months, our first born became a big brother.

Our second son is the star of the show today. His name is Charlie and I have his permission to share about him. He was the only one of our four sons to be born without induction and I swear he came out smiling. He was a cuddly, easy going baby and adored by his older brother. As Charlie became mobile, he didn’t walk, he RAN. (I’m not kidding). 17 months after he was born we introduced our third son into the world.

To say that I was overwhelmed is an understatement! I had three kids in diapers and Charlie refused to stay in one place for more than a minute. I remember leaving our oldest (age 3 1/2) with the baby so that I could run to chase Charlie. At the time, the movie “The Incredibles” had been released and we called Charlie “Dash” after the character who could run super fast. Charlie was happy, always smiling, and ready to offer a hug at all times. As he entered preschool I began to worry. Everyone said, “Oh, he’s just all boy.” We were restricted to playgrounds and friends houses with fences for fear of him running off. We had several near death experiences as he jumped in the end of the deep end of the pool, disappeared at the beach, and ran off in a busy parking lot. He got expelled from preschool for “using scissors inappropriately” and didn’t seem to fear anything. I would stay up at night worrying about the future of my adorable Charlie.  Every year on his birthday I thanked God for keeping him safe.

So imagine my pride as I write this today, just hours after his drivers license ceremony. My eyes filled with tears as I looked at him, listening to the judge talk about safety. He has grown into a wonderful young man who loves Jesus, works hard, and has a charismatic personality. Just last week we traveled together to tour colleges and he is looking forward to pursuing a future in graphic design. I am confident that he will do great things and am so happy that God chose me to be his mom!

“Love is patient, love is kind” 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV).

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Imagine Mary’s pain

My family attended a Good Friday service last night and before it started my youngest son asked me, “Why is it called Good Friday when it was such a sad day?”

It was a sad day and as we listened to the accounts of Jesus’ last day, I found myself thinking of Mary. Trying to empathize with her as a mother is heartbreaking. She had given birth to Jesus, nursed him, taken care of him as a child and watched him grow into the man that she had been told by angels that he would become.

Imagine the fear and helplessness that Mary felt as she watched the horror of her son’s death unfold. The overwhelming desire to want to protect him from the emotional and physical pain that he endured.

The disciple John was at the cross and recorded the scene as Jesus commits Mary into the disciple’s care: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27).

This tender moment between mother and son is painful and beautiful at the same time. I had the opportunity to see Michaelangelos Pieta in Rome and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the sculpture.

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In the statue, Mary is holding Jesus in her lap as she had done so many times when he was younger. She was no longer able to protect him, but must have been full of pride.

I imagine the darkness that consumed Mary for the next two days as she tried to make sense of what had happened….guilt, sadness, anger, loss. I imagine the conversations that she had with God.

And then there was joy on that third day. As Mary realized that Jesus’ sacrifice, her sacrifice, was for all of us. The day when everything made sense- the reason we call it Good Friday.

The beauty in and around us

It’s Spring! I’m sitting outside (without a big coat on) listening to the birds, noticing the flowers and blooming trees around me.  If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for months for this. Hoping that it was truly the last snow, and excited to plant flowers and spread mulch. The waiting process is part of what makes it so special when it arrives.

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Sometimes we find ourselves waiting for things in our life. During these times, we can find strength from our endurance. While we are waiting for the snow in our lives to melt, we need to concentrate on our inner beauty and the word of God. It’s during these times that God wants us to develop inner beauty; a gentle and kind spirit that reflects His love for us.

It reminds me of the stages of a butterfly. We are born from an egg and start out as a small creature, inching along in life trying to figure out why we are here.

We might find relationships, jobs, or financial peace but nothing that truly satisfies us. We may stay in this stage (our chrysalis) for a while, but it isn’t until we find and understand the love of God that we can truly emerge and be the creature that we were designed to be!   butterfly-bush

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

Finding Balance

I just had an amazing four day getaway with my husband. We relaxed on the beach, walked in the sand, laughed and enjoyed uninterrupted moments together.

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And then we got back to our house, jobs and four kids.

I woke up this morning and immediately felt overwhelmed. Do you ever wondered how you are going to get everything done on your to-do list?

Laundry, groceries, kids, meals, work, time with your spouse, exercise, rest. It can be an overwhelming feeling! It got me thinking….

We must remember that everything we do reflects our love for Him, even when it seems mundane. God sent Jesus to live as one of us. He experienced our life and the many demands. And although the life He lived was very different from ours is today, we can look to the Bible for the importance of balance between our life/work.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT.) In other words, all our work is done on behalf of Christ.

A parallel verse occurs just a few verses earlier, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17 NLT.) Again, this says that whatever we do, in work or business, it is to be done in the name of Jesus, to reflect His love for us.

As a child of God we must take time to set priorities to find balance in our life. So how do we do this?

Make a Plan– Finding balance is about prioritizing, making a plan, and then getting it completed. Our priorities should include God being first, and then prioritizing family, time for ourself, others, responsibilities, jobs, etc. Plan your work, and then work your plan.

Make Time for God– Sounds a little strange, but we must set aside time to spend with God each day. A constant relationship with God is the key to finding balance and sets the pace for everything else we do. Schedule a date with the one who loves you the most!

Make Time for Family– God has given us all a responsibility to be there for our families. This is not to be taken lightly. We need to teach our kids about God, invite Him to be present in our family life, and thank Him regularly for our gifts.

Make Time for your Self– We all have the same amount of time. It’s how we use our time that can make a difference. It’s important that we spend time doing enjoyable things with others as well as alone. Exercise can help clear our minds and allow us to re-focus when we feel tired. Spending time for ourselves feeds our soul and spirit and makes us better friends, parents, employees, and spouses.
So what about stress? Stress has a familiar pattern: worry, strain, and nervous tension accompanied by a frenzy of rush and hurry. It is a feeling of having too much to do, too many problems, feeling driven and distraught. Stress causes us to become mentally and emotionally upset. When we feel stressed, we are out of balance. Handling stress allows us to find balance in our life.

Jesus knew about stress. “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” (Matthew 6:25-26, NLT.) He is saying, don’t worry about the stresses of life, I will help you!

So next time you wake up burdened by your list of things to-do, ask God to help you remember to focus on Him and to find balance as you go through your day.

Me too!

Isn’t it reassuring when you find out that someone else has a similar situation or problem as you? When we are filled with doubt or concern, the words ME TOO, can make us feel less alone. Perhaps it’s a situation at work or difficulty in a relationship. Maybe it’s something from the past that we’ve been nervous to share. We begin to wonder if it’s just us and when we make that connection it is a relief! Finding others who have a similar past or current situation is comforting. This is why it’s important that we share our journey with others.

When a counselor who I had been seeing suggested that I share my story, my initial reaction was to laugh. I had kept my past, my secret, for all these years, why would I share it?

NO WAY.

But something kept nudging me and her words kept replaying in my head, “What if you could help someone who is suffering like you did for so long?”

I remember the sick, scared feeling I had in my stomach the first time I shared my story of being sexual abused with others. I feared being judged and feelings of shame and guilt from the past flooded my thoughts. When I finished, I was surprised to find that audience members were coming up to thank me for sharing. And then something that I hadn’t expected happened. The guests, people I didn’t know, starting telling me that they had a similar past…..what? Women told me that they too had never told anyone. As much as it comforted me, I also felt angry and sad.

How is it that in a culture of tell-all, reality TV, there are so many suffering in silence? We donate money and time to help others in foreign countries, but aren’t addressing the serious issues that are in our own churches, neighborhoods and schools.

We need to come forward, get past the shame and guilt and help each other heal. The more we do, the more we can bring attention to this all too common issue and prevent it from happening to others.

This is why I share my story.

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I recently had the opportunity to appear on Real Life and Real Life 360 on Cornerstone TV in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. I shared my story with the hope of helping others realize that they aren’t alone. God loves us…messy past and all!

What does it mean to “Rise Up with Our Words”? {Linkup}

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As a Christian writer, I feel a sense of responsibility to use my written words to encourage others. It all started when I decided to share my personal story of overcoming abuse. I didn’t want to do it at first, and thought of at least 100 excuses why I shouldn’t, but realized how much it would’ve helped me over the years to know that I was not the only one. I had suffered in silence for many years and felt scared, ashamed and very vulnerable. The more I thought and prayed about it, I knew that God had called me to break my silence and encourage others who may feel alone, lost or unsure of what the future holds. So I followed a new path with His word as my compass.

I wrote a book and began speaking to different groups. As I began sharing my story, more and more women approached me and told me how much they could relate. After years of being silent about my past, I was shocked to learn that there are many who share my story.

I believe that the more we rise up with our words, written or spoken, and share what is on our heart, the more we can help each other. Whether it is our testimony, struggles or just the honest truth, we can all benefit and help someone else feel less alone. We can see God working in us and through us as we share from our heart. As we do this, we are glorifying our wonderful God.