Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Life Is Good

In the midst of all the news of weather storms assailing our coast and news of political storms battling our country, I wanted to write of thankfulness in a season.  Nothing deep.  Nothing earth-shattering.  But the little things that brought me joy today.

1.  Cold weather.  I know that Houston cold is relative, but I do get to put us all in sweaters and little bit even asked me to buy her boots.  I love the cool snap in the air and the pumpkins on the doorsteps and the fact that Thanksgiving isn't even a month away. 

2.  Glasses.  As in eye wear, not drinking.  Little bit poured my contacts out in her midnight runnings, and yesterday morning I didn't have it in me to pull out new ones, so I donned spectacles.  New glasses that I love but rarely wear because the kids will destroy them.  Everywhere people told me how pretty I looked.  I know it was the glasses because I didn't have time to shower.

3.  Homecoming.  The boys are all home!  You may have read yesterday about the girls weekend being fun but a little bit lonely.  So my whole crew was home last night and eating the very complex crockpot recipe I made for dinner that I pulled together yesterday morning that made me late and ended up in the aforementioned showerless-condition wearing glasses.  The Moroccan turkey stew was too spicy for the kids and I yelled when they spilled milk and "helped" by smearing it all over the kitchen in an attempt to clean it up, but still everyone was home and the chaos was back. 

4.  Power. This morning, millions of Americans are waking up without an electricity and may not have it for days. I remember being in the same situation in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. This morning I used lights, heat, a microwave, a coffee pot, a hair dryer, a phone charger, a radio, and more that all required power to keep it functioning. What an efficiency gift. 

5.  Kisses.  I am a kissy girl.  I smother all my kids in kisses, and they yell "ONE kiss mommy," and I yell back, "no, LOTS of kisses."  But my favorite kisses are from my husband, and I got to kiss him a lot last night and that makes me happy. 

Monday, October 29, 2012


I had little bit this weekend while Bray took the boys to the farm.  We had a wonderful time.  It is amazing what you can accomplish when you have only one child in tow.  We went for our first pedicure together, we ran errands, we went to church, we voted, we visited the Aquarium and rode all the rides, we had cupcakes at the nearby bakery before shopping for shoes and groceries.  All in all, it was a blast.

But it was also a little lonely.  My mom was out of town visiting my brother.  Bray was gone with the boys.  My best friend went out of town to see her mother.  I visited a new church.  I did not see any family members or friends over the weekend except for little bit. 

I also noticed something.  There were several daddy-daughter combos at the Aquarium on Sunday.  The men did not wear wedding rings, and I assumed, possibly incorrectly in some cases, that this was "their" weekend with their daughter according to the final divorce decree. 

My heart ached.  Physically ached.  I thought how bittersweet the time must be knowing that they would be separated at the end of the day. 

I know divorce.  My parents divorced when I was 12, just as my seventh grade year wrapped up.  We moved to Texas, my father moved around, and I didn't see him for years.  I know that sometimes divorces are beyond the control of one of the spouses.  So if you are divorced and have been through that, I am so sorry, I really do understand, and this post is not for you. 

But sometimes divorces are not beyond our control.  Sometimes there is no massive abuse or abandonment.  Sometimes, the divorce is entirely within the couple's control. 

Marriage is hard.  My marriage is hard.  We have times of being madly in love and crazy about the other person, and then we have times of just being mad and crazy.  I saw part of Oprah's Life Class last night with Joel and Victoria Osteen and Oprah asked them if they had experienced hard times in their marriage.  They said no.  They said they had experienced "growth" times when his father passed away and when they had babies, but no struggles.  I do not know them and that may be entirely true, but I have had hard times.  There has never been abuse or infidelity or abandonment or anything even close to that, but we have struggled.  We have fought.  Then we got through it. 

I love my husband.  Can I encourage you today if you are struggling in your marriage to make a renewed investment in it?  Would you for a moment envision one weekend after another without your kids or your husband sitting alone with children over Sunday lunch only to have to return them to you at dinner time?  Would you please picture Christmases and birthdays?  Then redouble your efforts to make it work. 

You only have control over you, but you can make a difference in relationship of two.  Pray for your husband today.  Tell him you love him.  Tell him how important your marriage is to you.  Go see someone that has counseled Christian marriages together if you need some perspective. 

But make it work.  For you.  For him.  For your kids.  Solo is okay for a day, but not for a lifetime.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Back Into Faith Fridays - Part 7 Fortune

Well friends, we're half way through our Fall Back Into Faith study.  We have covered faith and family and now we're moving on to fortune.  If faith is our foundation, and family is our cornerstone, fortune is essentially what we do.  By fortune, I mean what we do to make money and what we do with our money. 

So over the course of the next three weeks we will focus on three areas God instructs us: Do What God Has Called You/Gifted You To Do and Acknowledge It Comes From Him; Work Hard and In a Manner Reflecting Him; and, Be Generous With What God Has Given You

Today is a hard topic for me to tackle.  Sometimes we work at a job because it pays the bills but not because we feel "called" to work there.  While we certainly should not work somewhere that God clearly does not want us to work, we also need to realize that we may have been placed in the position we are in because God has a very specific purpose for us to impact the lives of those we encounter. 

Pray about where you need to be, where God is calling you, but simultaneously pray over where you are today.  The steps you take and the paths you cross are ordained by God to do a work for His kingdom.  You can be a positive force where you sit today.  I constantly catch myself trying to figure out what my life, and my family's life, will look like two, five, ten years from now.  I make these plans and forget to include God. 

If you are a planner, you may be able to identify.  What if instead of looking ten years out we did this:  (1) pray that God would direct our paths today and in the days to come so that we could follow where He leads, and then (2) look at the next ten HOURS instead.  What does God have for me today?  How can I be a blessing?  How can I work to best reflect HIM?

We are told from the beginning to the end of the Bible that God has prepared us to do good work and he will establish the work of our hands, but we must at all times acknowledge that it is He at work in us.  Ephesians 2 says, "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do," and Jeremiah 29 shares, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…'"

The plans should be God's.  We have to spend time listening so we can participate in His work.  Then, remember that all we have comes from God and the work, and relative wealth it creates, is ultimately His.  Deuteronomy 8 cautions,  "Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.  And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day."
My prayer for me, and for you, today is that of David's in Psalm 90:

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
Further Reading:  Deuteronomy 8; Psalm 90; Colossians 3; Deuteronomy 30

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Girlfriends Rock

First of all let me say thanks to the amazing women over at Peanut Butter on the Keyboard for allowing me the opportunity to Guest Post today - y'all head over there and check it out. 

Next up let me say how fun yesterday was.  One of my most precious friends is turning 40 and I had the wonderful opportunity to bring some of her friends together for lunch.  I posted a few pics of the fun outing yesterday, but I have to say what an incredible time it was to gather all these busy working women together to celebrate.  That is ultimately what I want this blog to be about and why I'm so excited about the new website launching next month.  It will really give us busy working women a way to connect when we can't sneak away from the office for an hour and a half lunch.  Let's just recreate it in cyberspace here until we can connect in person again, which is always the best way to connect. 

This is my best friend in the wide world - don't know what I would do without her.  What a treat to get to see her at a party on Saturday and then again at this lunch.  We've been through all sorts of crazy stuff together and I can't imagine getting through the nuttiness of life without her.  She's like the sister I never had. 

This is the birthday girl.  We've been friends for nearly a decade and in 2003 we took a trip to Italy together.  The last guy I kissed before I met Bray was on my last night on that Italy trip with Julie.  We've been to each other's weddings, we've been to funerals, we've been to baby showers, and clearly we've been across the ocean.  She has to brush her teeth all the time and I can't stand to hear people brush their teeth - it was a funny trip.  We both get grumpy when we're hungry.  Her son and my kids are a month apart.  We're both "hunting widows" this season.  What a darling friend. 

I interviewed several women for my book yesterday and, as they shared their tips on the best leadership skills, one woman's piece of advice really struck me.  She said the leadership quality she admired most was the ability to really listen.  To sit still and listen to what the other person has to say.  Don't sit there thinking of your witty reply or persuasive rebuttal while they're still talking.  Take in what they have to say.  I loved this.  I sat at a table full of those kinds of listeners yesterday. What a rare gift. 

I also can't finish today's post without mentioning we went to take our annual pumpkin patch pictures yesterday morning.  Y'all it is 85 degrees in Texas and we were in sweaters to pretend we actually lived somewhere in October where pumpkin patches required sweaters.  We do this every October to capture how the kids grow.  Before the photographer arrived, I snapped a couple of iPhone shots of the kids and when I said I was going to get a few "shots," the baby ask me what we were shooting?  He was very concerned there would be guns involved.  Clearly his father is a hunter. 

 What a gift yesterday was.  I'm so thankful. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Positive Playlist

I read a blog post recently giving a party playlist.  I looked over the songs and laughed.  They were fun speaker-throbbing songs from the 1970s to today, and I could sing half of them in my head.  The more current ones I didn't know but the titles made me thankful I didn't have those words spinning on a loop in my head. 

Then this morning driving into work I heard Burn for You by Toby Mac and it made me want to dance.  I actually did do a little car dance - I'm sure the guy in the car next to me thought I was high. 

But since I need to lose some weight and am going back on Weight Watchers and back into the gym, it made me realize I need a playlist.  A positive playlist that could wake me up in the morning and inspire me to run instead of walk as well as put positive words in my head as I start the day. 

So here's my positive playlist for any of you headed off to the gym or just in the mood for a little car dancing - I warn you, some of it is old school Christian pop:

Toby Mac, Burn For You
DC Talk, Jesus Freak
Newsboys, Way Beyond Myself (Remix)
Jars of Clay, God Will Lift Up Your Head
Passion (feat. Kristian Stanfill), Not Ashamed
Newsboys, Shine
Creed, Higher
Big Daddy Weave, Let It Rise (if you can FF past the slow bit)
DC Talk, Supernatural
Toby Mac, Get Back Up (Remix)
(Seriously, anything off that Toby Mac Remix album will get you moving and inspired)

I ended with Get Back Up because I love the lyrics, especially if you're getting back on the work out wagon like me:
We lose our way, we get back up again
It’s never too late to get back up again
And one day you gonna’ shine again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever
And if that doesn't do it for you, put on the Rocky theme song - if that doesn't get you running stairs, then I can't help you:


Monday, October 22, 2012


I am in the middle of writing a book about women and leadership.  In the midst of that, it seems everything I read has something to do with women and leadership or women and fulfillment or women and success. 

One thing I read, and hear, over and over again is that a predictor of a woman's ability to successfully lead is her ability to take risks. 

I used to take risks.  I've grown safe.  Happily ensconced in my little safe place, change suddenly makes me tremble. 

Even as I polled friends, this fear of failing can paralyze them from taking the risk required in order to achieve success. 

Then I read a post from Lisa-Jo Baker this morning.  She quotes from Angie's Smith's What Women Fear

“If what we are being called to do is in God’s will for us, we truly can’t fail. …What I mean is that we simply may not have the same meaning as God for the word “failure.” To me failure means it doesn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. To God it means I didn’t pick up the brush. Assuming God is calling you to do something, you will fail by being disobedient, not be a lack of success at the task.

Then Baker says this, "The calling IS the success." 

Did anyone else need that swift kick in the pants this Monday morning? 

So let's jump off that cliff, not foolishly, but following where the calling leads.  I am going to rely on God to strip away this ingrained notion of what failure looks like and realize that in following Him I have accomplished success. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Back Into Faith Fridays - Part 6 Family

Happy Friday - it's Fall Back Into Faith time and our last installment discussing Family.  Next week we take up fortune and will close out on "fun."  Family can take on all sorts of forms and sizes, and God is such a supporter of growing strong families of faith.  A lot of those families have kids.  My immediate family includes triplets.  So if your family involves one kid or 18, step kids, foster kids, or any other kind of "kid," then today is for you. 

Being a Godly parent is the biggest challenge I have faced in my whole life.  Suddenly, I am not only responsible for my own faith choices, but for raising a generation of children that love God and know Him and His grace and sacrifice and compassion. 

I am no parent of the year as you may have picked up as you read the ups and downs of my parenting.  I offer no advice of my own on parenting.  I do turn to Scripture, and I see one theme repeated over and over again.  Bind the Word of the Lord on the hearts of your children.  Raise them in the knowledge of the Lord.  Teach them at an early age what faith is and how wide and deep is the love of Christ. 

Do your best.  Daily turn your life back over to the Lord to run so that you can be a better parent.  If you're anything like me, you will make mistakes.  Some you will feel terribly about.  Some you won't even realize you are making at the time.  But the Bible will never change, so even if you mess up, you are way ahead of the game if you are teaching them daily about the love of their Heavenly Father and the grace and sacrifice that offers them an eternal personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. 

I prayed for years for these children.  I prayed Hannah's prayer in I Samuel as I waited.  I love her prayer in response, after Hannah had Samuel: “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord.  I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” 

All we can do is rely on God for strength and direction.  Then love them.  And teach them.  Teach them every day in every way in every place about the love of God.

Instead of "further reading," today I wanted to leave you with the actual words, just as we must do in our families: 

Deut. 6 - Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Isaiah 54 - All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace.

Psalm 103 - But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

Matthew 18 - And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.  But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mark 10 - People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Ephesians 6 - Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3 - Do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Proverbs 22 - Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Proverbs 3- My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart for they will prolong your life many yearsvand bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Favorite Quotes These Days

I am terrible about keeping a list of the hysterical things the kids are saying these days.  They come too fast and furious to keep up.  So here's what I can remember lately, though even tonight I forgot a good one and am beating myself up for not having a notepad handy.

The Eldest
(While sitting with him in the bathroom after bedtime) - I love you mommy.  You not an old mommy. 

(After I explained to him we couldn't go to the zoo because he wouldn't stay in his room last night) - I got out of bed to go to the potty - that's a reason!

(During a conversation with Bray about his snake bite) - Bray: I was 12.  Him: What you now?  Bray:  41 (laughter)

He's big on saying he will teach us or someone something.  When I commented that I had to move the outside chair back to the table he said: Maria moved it.  I gonna teach her not to move it. 

(Said in response to a request for action) - Awight, I do dat. 

The Little Lady

(In their room, after bedtime) Let's do the hokey-pokey, okay? C'mon, everybody up.

Dadgummit is okay.  Just no damnit.  (Good night nurse....)

Instead of asking if I paid "for it" she asks if I paid "with it."  So this evening she asked if I paid "with" the toilet paper. 

(She and the baby both have super human senses of smell - said with wrinkled little nose) - I smell somepeen!

The Baby

(While giving me a "haircut") - You no wanna a shot or a needle?

I gonna cut the alligators.  (I literally have no idea where this came from - talk of Captain Hook's crocodile???)

He gives these huge long explanations of everything, paragraphs, including spinning an adventure tale this week as we all sat on the mini-trampoline which was a "pirate ship" that he was flying to Disneyworld and he nearly flipped us over high in the sky to drop us on the aforementioned crocodile. 

(Said in response, enthusiastically, to nearly every question) - Yes, OF COURSE!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Little Levity

Do you just need to laugh today? 

I feel like I've been so serious.  Like a little black cloud. 

I want to laugh.  Sometimes that's all it takes to brighten the day.

So here's a random assortment of items standing at the ready to tickle your funny bone:

1.  Funny story - Last night a friend of mine posted to our triplets moms group about the horrors of having three three year olds.  Desperate for advice, she outlined the fact that no one listened or obeyed and everyone practiced defiance.  I saw the post and added my two cents, also desperate for sage advice.  With that there was a full on pile on with four more moms of 2 or 3 year old triplets commiserating.  Then the moms with younger triplets started getting panicky.  Like, hey, we've already done the hard stuff right!?!?  The funny part is that we didn't even share the stories in our posts.  And some of them are terrible and disobedient but some of them are hysterical: like little bit peeing in the corner when she's put in time out just to "show me," or the baby climbing out his room at night for the fifth time while we tried to stay stern because he was just so funny cracking himself up at his escapades, or the eldest telling me to boot the baby out of MY bed this morning because he was crowding HIM (ahem, that's MY line), or little bit saying a bad word (don't judge, it happens) and the eldest running into the living room with a bar of soap saying mommy, here's the soap!

2.  Funny postcard -

Seriously, how true is this!?!?!?
3.  Funny post - I read Jon Acuff all the time because that is a man that can make you laugh.  I read this post the other week and nearly peed in my pants (you know us post-pregnancy mommas can have one sidesplitting laugh and be in need of some Depends) so I share it with you (link in the text below):
(Peter Rocks and Jesus Rolls - I mean c'mon people, this is gold!)

I leave you with this great song - it's really upbeat but the words knocked it out of the park for me this morning on my way to work.  One line reminds us, "Who you are ain't what you're going through!"  The song reminds us that He says, "I won't give you more more than you can take, and I might let you bend but I won't let you break."  Enjoy:

Monday, October 15, 2012


I heard your heartbeats while you were still in your mommy.

On the way into church Sunday morning, we passed one of my favorite pastors.  He visited me several times at the hospital as I counted down the bed rest days.  He even came the day I was scheduled for an emergency c-section, not knowing the news yet.  I remember him standing in a circle holding hands around my bed, right after the doctor delivered the news, with my husband and my father and stepmom who had just drove all night to pray for the children unborn. 

When he saw the kids this morning they ran up to him and gave him a hug and he said, "I heard your heartbeats while you were still in your mommy." 

It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. 

You see, that statement brought back all those memories of hope and nervous anticipation and worry and excitement.  I remember him being in the room while the fetal monitors belted out the babies out-of-sync beats like a beautiful song.  But this morning, yesterday's Sunday morning, it was all I could do to crawl out of the hole to get us to church. 

I have struggled the past few months.  As the weeks pass, ever more so acutely.  I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of mothering three toddlers/preschoolers.  The crush of doing things wrong lays like a Scarlett A across my breast.  The pressure of doing things right makes me want to flee. 

For good or for bad, I married in my thirties and had the triplets after I turned 36.  I had a number of years of single, and even married, freedom.  I made a comfortable living and spent frivolously on fancy brunches and tailored new suits.  I had a calendar full of fun events and friends to call on a moment's notice.  I zipped up my size 8 dresses and when I struggled with my weight it was never with a post-pregnancy belly bulge.  When I ran a few days late to the hairdresser, it was never to cover a nearly full head of grey hair. 

I had years of strong faith and consistent service to my Lord, but there were years of distance in my relationship with Christ and obligated religion. 

Sometimes, I find the devil uses memories of days gone by to create discontentment and depression. 

And now, as God has expanded my ministry and writing/speaking opportunities this year, I struggle more than ever.  Vehement questions of What Am I DOING? swirl through my head as I not only wonder how I could possibly take on one more thing but also wonder who am I to add my voice to those of stronger Christian women speaking and writing today. 

And this weekend, besieged and befuddled, I just wanted to move away, under a new name, a live for a time in a gorgeous remodeled apartment full of breakables where I would not be covered in pee, and poop, and peanut butter, and vomit, and paint.  A land where my personal trainer came in the morning and my chef prepared delicious 200 calorie meals at night.  A land where I slept through the night and never found myself kicked out bed because it rationally only holds four, not five, people. 

It was that daydream popped by those Sunday morning words that spoke of unborn heartbeats and hopeful anticipation and prayers covering our days to come.  I walked into church and heard this refrain sung over and over again, "Your love never fails, it never gives up, It never runs out on me.

As I processed the magnitude of that love of the Father, over His children far more disobedient than my own, the pastor offered this, "The cross of Christ will not let you down, but neither will it let you off." 

Christianity does not give you a hall pass to be self-indulgent and irresponsible.  It will never condone weakness when you have access to a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week supply of the most unfathomable power supply ever to exist.  Instead, our ever patient Father says He will hold us up and strengthen us so that we can keep going.  But more than propping us up, He walks with us through the battlefields - bruised but not beaten, victorious not victims. 

I do not get a pass to whine and hold a pity party and wallow in selfishness and sin.  I do get a pass to call in back up.  I get to say I have nothing left, nothing to hold it together and pull this really hard motherhood thing off, HELP please.  And help comes. 

Psalm 121 - I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber.

Isaiah 40 - Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Galatians 5 - You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

Matthew 11 -  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall Back Into Faith Fridays - Part 5 Family

Welcome back friends.  I love to write about today's topic, but I tend to avoid it because inevitably if I talk about marriage my intensely private husband is implicated! 

Well, I can talk today about marriage in the context of this study without implicating my own marriage one bit, I'm sure much to his relief.  As most of you know, we're studying faith, family, fortune and fun this fall in our study.  Last week was the first week of the family quadrant and hopefully it encouraged you with the promises God has for your family, whatever it looks like.  Today's and next week's study on family may not directly affect all of you, but since these relationships are the primary ones in many of our families, I wanted to tackle the two topics of marriage and kids. 

I shared a little bit of my personal marital challenges yesterday, but today focuses on how faith functions in the midst of your marriage. 

Your marriage may be on one of three different places - you and your husband both hold the same strong personal faith, you and your husband basically hold the same beliefs but he (or you) does not rely on his faith in a strong and daily way, or you and your husband have completely different faiths or he has no faith beliefs at all.  Because the faith in our marriages can be at completely different places, it is hard to write a one size fits all growth guide for faith in the middle of your marriage. 

The most critical piece of information to remember is that you are not responsible for your husband's faith.  You are responsible for your faith.  And you are responsible to make sure your faith shines brightly in your marriage.  Sadly, I think we often are the poorest witness inside our marriage.  If you both have a strong faith in God, you can hold each other accountable and pray for one another and strengthen one another as you grow in the knowledge of the Lord.  But if you are at very different places in your faith walk, or if you hold different beliefs, you can only work on allowing God to grow you closer to Him and then allowing that relationship between you and God to serve as a testimony to your husband who can't join you on your walk at this point in your marriage.  Do not allow the differences in your places of faith to drive a wedge in your marriage.  Instead, do you best to grow more fully in your relationship with God and just pray for your husband. 

I love this prayer for husbands from Renee Swope's A Confident Heart and also from Lysa Terkeurst's Capture His Heart.  This prayer is beautiful because it works regardless of whether your husband is a strong and solid believer or has no interest in God at all.  News flash:  God is interested in him, and always will be, and He is interested in your marriage succeeding.  Here is some of that prayer and I have provided a link to Renee's full free downloadable version as well.   

Head - Father, I ask that You would continually renew my husband’s mind, resulting in a transformed life. Help him bring every thought to Christ and make it obedient to You....(Psalm 119:15, Rom 12:2, 2 Cor.10:5)
Eyes - Lord, keep open my husband’s eyes to spiritual truths that You have for him. Help him to see things as You see them. Please guard his eyes from things that make his heart wander away from you and me. (Psalm 119:18, Psalm 119:37)

Ears - Father, help my husband to hear Your voice clearly. Give him wisdom to recognize your voice with certainty. Protect him from listening to those who aren’t seeking or walking with You....(Is 30:21, 1 Kings 3:9, 1 John 4:1)
Mouth - Jesus, help my husband to speak the truth in love...Let the words he speaks be Yours, not his own...(Psalm 19:14, 119:13, 41:3; Eph 4:15, 4:29; James 1:19)
Heart - Lord, instill in my husband’s heart a desire to seek passionately after You. Teach him to guard his heart with diligence and wisdom. Help him deal with anything in his heart that is not pleasing to You...(Psalm 78:72, 119:10-11; Prov 4:23; 1 Thes 3:13)
Hands - Lord, I pray everything my husband does would be done with his whole heart, serving You rather than man. Seeking to please You alone. I pray You will increase his skills and abilities so that he might bring honor and glory to You...(Psalm 24:3-4, Col 3:23)
Feet - Jesus, I pray my husband would love Your Words and walk in Your ways. Help him walk in a manner that is worthy of You, bearing fruit in every good work. I pray You’d show him how to creatively share your truth with our kids as he does life with them. Father, when he walks through the valley of the shadow of doubt and difficulties, I pray he would fear no evil because He knows that you are with him. (Deut 6:7, 8:6, Col 1:10, Psalm 23:4)
For Further Reading:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Marriage is a Team Sport

Tomorrow's Fall Back Into Faith will highlight faith and marriage, and as I prepared, my mind's hamster wheel started spinning.  Well, preparing tomorrow's post AND watching Date Night triggered the spinning. 

Have you seen this movie?  It's hysterical.  Tina Fey and Steve Carrell go out for a "fancy" date night in Manhattan and end up getting chased around by criminals.  In between all the hilarity, there are some golden nuggets about marriage. 

My favorite scene unfolds in the middle of the movie.  The husband drives as they "discuss" an encounter they just had.  I tried earnestly, to no avail, to find the clip of this scene because me typing the dialogue will not do it justice (rent this movie if you're married with kids!).   The husband asks why she "lit up like a sparkly sparkle" for a super hot guy played by Mark Wahlberg.  In response, she says, "Oh yeah right, I keep forgetting to light up for you!  Why is that?"  Then she launches into a rant about the endless list of things she has to do when she gets home from work that include much of what each of us working wives and moms face - making meals, picking up kids, running kids to soccer, doing laundry, washing dishes, getting kids bathed and ready for bed. 

The husband has a total movie perfect response:  I know you work hard honey.  But you know what would make all the hard work easier?  ME!  If you would just trust me enough to handle things once in a while, but no, you don't, you have to do it all yourself, YOUR way!  You've got me screwing up before I even have a chance to come through for you.  If you would just let me do something for you, I think I would surprise you, I really think I would.  I KNOW I WOULD. 

I hit pause.  Rewound.  Listened to that again.  A screaming indictment.

You can just feel the frustration poring out of each of their bodies as she drowns in the busyness and drudgery of suburbia and he battles a growing sense of stress and disconnectedness and ineptitude. 

I will admit, I do things a certain way.  I have been this way my whole life.  Then I become entirely overwhelmed by all the things on my task list.  This morning I had two hours to get the kids to the doctor for their flu shot, drop them at school, return three things at different stores, fill the car with gas, pick up dry cleaning, and get back to their school for a parent storytime.  Since making an appearance at the school storytime for parents (that clearly do not work) meant getting to the office at noon, I have to work late tonight to play catch up.  That means I won't have time tonight to tick a few more things of my laundry list.

I don't know about you, but I stay in an almost constant state of near-depletion. 

But I have a partner.  He wants to help.  Plus, he's pretty good at it.  He does things differently than I do, no doubt, but the kids adore their father and I do too. 

I heard a mom correct another mom the other day when she said her husband was babysitting the kids - she said, "He's not babysitting.  They are HIS kids too." 

I wrote a post a while back based on wise words from my husband - he said, I don't mind you telling me to go to San Antonio, I just don't want you telling me how to get there

So today is just a gentle reminder for those of you who struggle with the same things that I do in my married with kids life.  Trust your husband to handle things once in a while.  And then let him do it.  His way.  Marriage, especially one with kids, IS a team sport. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sweet friend

I had a couple of posts in mind for today.  One about work.  One about marriage.  Waking up with a little precious three year old in my arms gave me plenty of material.  But then I felt God telling me to write about my sweet friend. 

This amazing woman became a friend of mine in 2004 when we shared a Pilates trainer.  She had this radical transformation in her faith and went from being a casual work out buddy to a strong sister in the faith and accountability partner.  She prayed a prayer of commitment over me and my marriage just moments before I walked down the aisle.  She prayed with me during the infertility years.  And then during the NICU time.  I have prayed with her as she reconnected to her faith and saw the obstacles she would face in that return.  She had the wind knocked out of her a couple of years ago when her youngest daughter, then 4, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.  We prayed over and over again, and still do, for that sweet one who has now been in remission since last fall.  She is also an aspiring writer, well she's an actual published writer, and we had the great joy of attending a conference together this summer as God revealed just one more page of what we should write. 

I know that many of you who read this little blog pray.  I have been somewhat of a slacker connecting with her this past month as she enters an exciting but unnerving new season.  She is pregnant.  And due in March.  Her husband just moved overseas as his job relocated him for some amount of time (likely one to two years).  She has gone through this before, a few years ago, but never pregnant and with a child that regularly gets cancer check-ups.  She is still stateside until their family visas come through.  When she moves, likely sometime before year end, she will be overseas, using a new medical system, having a new baby, away from family and friends, oh and she will have to home school her two school-aged daughters as she bounces back from having a baby since there is no international school available to them. 

Did your jaw just drop open?  Well mine did.  Then I dropped to my knees.  She is one of the most gifted, uplifting, truth-speaking, funniest, coolest girls in town.  I am going to miss her like nobody's business.  But I know God is doing this huge amazing work in her life, and I would never stand in the way of that. 

So would you pray for her today?  Would you pray specifically that their paperwork would finish quickly so their family could be reunited, and that God would work in this crazy miraculous way to orchestrate it all so the results would even be a testament to the people at the company working on it?  Would you pray for an overwhelming sense of love and protection and peace and assurance over her and her two girls as they are without a husband and daddy right now?  And would you pray for her husband, that he would do this rock star job and be such an acknowledged leader and talent at his company, and that he would feel secure and strong until he has his family back under one roof? 

I think it is crazy cool for the church community to be able to band together to lift up one of its own and see the unfathomable results that follow.  I thought you might join me for this miracle ride.  Here is what I am praying over her today:

Col. 1 -  We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people...For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

Deut. 1 - The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain....See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”

Eph. 3 - For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Monday, October 8, 2012

How High Can You Jump?

Who doesn't love a massive bouncy house?

Let me tell you, our family (maybe sans Bray) loves us some giant inflatables. 

Exhibit A: 

Yes that is me and little bit.  I'm not ashamed to admit I executed that move with all of the kids on multiple occasions.

Our three year old triplet birthday party on Saturday at the bounce house place was a success.  We had 21 kids, most of them about three years old, plus their parents.  Luckily, this location had at least 8 different large bouncy houses in a private room so it accommodated the frenzied energy well.  There was jumping of every size and shape you can imagine and some of the adults joined right in with their kiddos like I did.  I actually had fun at the party, though the weeks leading up to the party presented some serious snafus. 

Here's the thing, I am a planner.  I would be a professional planner if it paid enough.  I would really love to be professional party planner and make over guru if I had all the money in the world.  Oh, and a speechwriter.  Oh, and publish a book.  Oh, and start a nonprofit.  But I digress.

So I spent some serious time and effort planning this Pooh and friends party.  The kids love Pooh and his buddies.  They have for years and were even Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet for Halloween when they were one.  I had custom invites done and coordinating juice box labels and cupcake picks. I had special ordered plates to go with balloons to go with table covers to go with napkins to go with souvenir take home Pooh cups that were stuffed with custom Pooh chocolate number 3 "lollipops" and Pooh stamps. 

The kids had custom birthday shirts that had a big 3 with Pooh for the baby, Piglet for the little lady, and Tigger for the eldest and everything on and around their birthday matched the custom character for each child.  I even had the lady who customized all the farm birthday stuff from last year fail to come through on all my orders with her (and never reimburse me the significant money I spent with her so I am working on recovering that now through the Florida court system) so I had to find a back up team. 

I did it all because I love to plan parties and I wanted everything to be so perfect for the kids.  I don't get to be with them during the day every day so these special events I try to make extra special. 

But here's the thing:  they are three.  This is not their Sweet Sixteen.  I had both my mother and Bray tell me, after recognizing how beautiful the party was and how adorable everything looked, that maybe I go overboard.  Maybe, just maybe, I could scale back. 

I wonder if we working mommas sometimes end up in our own toxic bouncy house?  We become embroiled in a competition, with ourselves or even with other families, of how high can we jump?  If we can work so hard at work, then we can work hard at having the perfect party - our children deserve at least that, right?  If I did personalized cupcake picks and napkins last year, surely I could add the juice boxes this year?   Maybe I should add just one more item for the take home gift because I want everyone to remember the fun times?    If I had a large scale poster illustrating how they grew over the year last year, then don't I need it to be bigger this year so we can capture the moment?

The juice boxes were tossed in 15 minutes.  The cupcake picks 5 minutes later.  The poster went in the attic next to the previous two.  I am learning, as I devour Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, that the moments richest with blessings are not purchased.  The moments that you jot down in your blessings journal are most frequently free.  Nighttime prayers with folded hands.  Rolling over onto your husband's chest in the morning.  The sun setting behind the slotted clouds letting the filtered light create a masterpiece painting.  Hiding in a fort with your kids.  Smelling the rain and watching a storm roll in. 

The party was great.  I am glad we had one.  I loved seeing friends and their children.  But if each year has to be bigger and better than last year, at some point I won't be able to afford to keep up.  Or it will come at the detriment of something else.  I just came off this 39 Things challenge, so I am actually ashamed of myself for "jumping" right back into the madness as if those three weeks had no affect on my behaviour. 

Years from now the baby box full of mementos from these parties won't be important to the children.  They will want the stories.  Some photographs.  That NICU bracelet that shows how far we have come.  No one is going to frame a juice box and a cupcake pick.  And it's time that us working moms battling guilt stop trying to buy our way out of that dark box.  We work.  That is what it is.  The most precious gift we can give them away from the office is ourselves. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall Back Into Faith Fridays - Part 4 Family

Welcome back!  I hope you're enjoying our Friday study Fall Back Into Faith.  We worked through three weeks of looking at our faith, and I could spend thirty more, but we still have to tackle family, fortune, and fun.  If faith is our foundation, then family is our cornerstone. 

Today is family.  My family has been lots of shapes and sizes over the years.  I was an only child for four years.  At 12, my immediate family went from a family of four to a family of three.  I was fortunate to have all four of my remarkable grandparents until my late 20s.  I have aunts and uncles and cousins.  I have friends and their moms that feel like my own sisters and mothers.  Then I married into a huge family over six years ago and a small family gathering with the Vincents is always over 20 people eating around tables and couches. 

Your family may just be one or two people.  It may be 50 people.  You may feel that your family is extended or small.  Your family may have words like step or half in it like mine does.  Whatever your family looks like, God loves your family. 

Our scripture today comes from II Samuel.  I love this passage:

"The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever." Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.
Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: "Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign LORD, is for a mere human!  How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. …And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever."

Do you ever feel like that?  I do.  Sometimes I look at the amazing blessing of my family and I say to God - WHO AM I?  What is my family?  That you would be so gracious to us, so mindful of us, so faithful to us.  You have brought us so far. 

There was a song decades ago that came out by a Christian band called Truth.  I remember singing it in high school, but it resonates even more today:

We have come so far, you have been so good.
When I trace the road that we have traveled, I've got to tell you Lord.
I look at where we've come, I see where I could have been,
And I need to say again, you've been so good.
Who would have guessed that we would come so far. 

Don't you know that is what King David was singing to the Lord in II Samuel.  Can't you hear him marveling at the generosity of the God he served?  Not only have You brought us this far, but You speak of a future for us.  You speak a promise over our family for years to come. 

I don't know what your family looks like. 
I don't know what struggles your family faces this year. 
I don't know what rich blessings the Lord has poured out in your life. 
I do know that families can be complicated and hard at times.  And I know families can be chaotic and frustrating.  But families are also His precious miraculous gift to us.  Families are the cornerstone for our lives when all else unravels. 

Trust Him with your family today.  In whatever space you are in, good or bad, TRUST HIM WITH YOUR FAMILY.  Trust Him that He will establish a house for you.  God will use your family to establish His kingdom if you allow Him.