I Pray I Never Forget the LONGING…

I can’t believe that I’ve been parenting for 12 years!!!

My oldest daughter is turning 12 this week. How can this be? It seems like just a short time ago when we brought her home from the hospital. But, the days turn into weeks and the weeks into years. It’s a season where the days are long and the years are short.

I never really understood what that meant until I was up to my elbows in diapers and sippy cups. I remember the days when my unspoken goal was to make it until my husband got home so there would be someone else here to help wrangle my herd.

IMG_0151

Even though my kiddos are now pretty independent, they still call out “Mama” one right after another. Literally, it’s like those birds in “Finding Nemo”…..mama…mama…mama…mama. Or, we can get in the van to go somewhere, and they all ask 15 questions one right after another, rapid-fire style. Homework can be pretty stressful too because they will ask for help all at the same time to which I respond (with gritted teeth), “I can only help ONE person at a time.” Stuff like this can really get to me and wear me down. You get it, right?

I never dreamed that all of this mothering would ever get on my nerves so much!

Before I had children, I couldn’t wait for the day that I could be a mother. For so many years, I felt so empty. Yes, I loved my husband and family, my job, my life. Yet, that desire to have children seemed so out of reach and often impossible.

The longing was so present and heavy.

It was this longing that drove me to my knees in prayer, study, and pursuit of God. I dug in deep. As the longing grew more intense, it drove me to the heart of God. First, perplexed in questions and demanding my way. But then, faith  strengthened through understanding my identity and His Ability. Finally, maturity refined as my resolve surrendered to His Will. It was after this surrender, “Lord, whatever you have planned for me is best.” was when my longing desire to be a mother was fulfilled!

It was the longing that kept me questioning and pursuing. It was the longing that kept me praying. It was the longing that kept me running after God until I wanted Him more than I wanted a child. If I hadn’t know the longing, I wouldn’t have discovered the amazing faithfulness of God and the perfect timing of answered prayer!

FullSizeRender (3)

How could I ever take for granted the 4 precious gifts given me after such a refining journey? Yet, I find myself there quite often.

Mother’s Day always brings me back to my longing. I reflect on the days before I was a Mother and think about the women who are missing the unborn children they’ve never held or the women who are experiencing their own longing. I may get distracted by the day to day grind, but the feeling of that longing is never too far away.

I pray I never forget the longing.

If you are going through a longing of your own….don’t give up. The journey may not be easy, but God will be faithful to bring you through the longing.

If you have experienced a longing of your own…don’t ever forget the purpose that longing fulfilled in you.

~Amy

God’s Economy

I love what Finnick Odair said in the Hunger Games, ” I haven’t dealt in anything as common as money in years.”

finnick

God doesn’t either.

I think of this quote when I think about the many ways God works in our lives.  Sure, God blesses us with money, jobs, material stuff….things we need and even things we want. I’m so thankful!!

But, God’s real currency? I believe God’s real currency is encouragement. God deals in building people up. God makes deposits and pays dividends in encouragement.

There have been so many times that I’ve wondered “Am I doing any good at this?”, “Is this making a difference?”, “Is this helping anybody?”

And sure enough at just the right time, I’d receive a note in the mail or an email or a text saying exactly what I needed to hear. I admit it feels good to be noticed or praised. I’ve had to work at not ‘needing’ it.

This kind of encouragement, though, doesn’t stroke the ego. Those notes and emails are affirmations to my questions. They are heavenly deposits into my soul. God pours into my heart love, hope, joy worth more than dollars and cents. These deposits are eternal. They keep me going.

 

Yes, it’s worth the time. Yes, this is making a difference. Yes, I can keep going.

On the flip side….giving out encouragement to others is also a joy.

I love being used in God’s economy to bless, love, and encourage others. Making deposits into the lives of family, friends, co-workers brings me as much joy as when I receive it from others.

What I have found is encouraging others cost me little in terms of time, energy, and expenses. All it really takes is to be intentional and to take notice.IMG_8930

“That color looks great on you!”

“How’s your grandma?” (remembering when she told me about her grandma last week)

“You are doing a great job!”

One of my favorite ways to encourage others is to leave cute, little notes of Scripture or quotes for folks to find. I LOVE the free downloads and other products by MaryDeanDraws. Her cards and color sheets are easy to print, color (if needed), and cut. Ready to go! I’ve used them with co-workers, ministry events and even with my kids and husband.

What can you do to be used in God’s economy?

It doesn’t take any special talent to write a note or give a hug. Sharing how something impacted you is such a small thing but can make a BIG difference to the one who gave of herself. Saying an encouraging word to the pastor’s wife, the nursery worker, the co-worker, the family member is so simple. To you, it may seem like dropping pennies…not a big deal. But to that person, it could feel like winning the Lottery!!!

One last thought……when the thought comes to mind to encourage someone, DON’T WAIT. Don’t put if off! Do it right then! If the opportunity passes, you might not get another chance. Trust me, I’ve let it pass and then felt awful when I missed my chance.

God’s intangibles are priceless. God’s economy is powerful and effective. God’s encouragement is worth more than silver and gold.

I’d love to hear how God’s economy has worked in your life. How are you being used to encourage others?

~Amy

 

 

 

When you need some power to face Monday morning…..

If you are like me, the journey to Easter was a blessed and rich one. Contemplation and reflection during Lent, Holy Week with the honor and suffering of our Messiah, Passover, Good Friday, and finally (whew!) Resurrection Sunday!!

It’s Monday night, and I’m exhausted…. again. If I’m not careful, the glory of the weekend can quickly fade to complaints and grumbles and ‘here we go again’ into the work week.

But, Jesus didn’t raise from the dead so that we could go back to work on Monday morning living the same, ol’ unchanged life.  The fact is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us.

The Resurrection isn’t just for Easter Sunday. It’s for every day!!

Did you get that?

When I stop and really meditate on this truth, I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. I have to say it slowly and let the words sink in…….

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead….lives in us!

That means His Resurrection gives us the power to face Monday morning…again.

That means His Resurrection gives us the power to love the unlovable around us.

His Resurrection gives us the power to share the fruit that is evidence of His Presence in our lives- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

His Resurrection gives us the power to bring Christ into the situation in which we’ve been called.

How are you living out the power of the Resurrection and bringing Christ to the people around you?

For different people that might mean different things. Some of you might be very evangelical by sharing how someone can become a Christian. For some of you, that might mean praying for those that work beside you. For some of you that might mean just a simple hug with some encouragement or serving your family.

It’s going to look a little bit different for each of us, but the goal is still the same…

How can I bring Christ to the world today?

Sure, we are going to get tired. We aren’t going to feel like coming off that mountain high of sunrise service and face the world again. But let that same Spirit give you strength to face each day in the power of His Resurrection!!

~Amy

When Your Daughter is Grasping….

Grasping – reaching for something, trying to obtain it; but desperate, not in control. (my definition)

See, I have this girl.  She’s my mini-me. She looks like me. She’s built like me. Many people say she’s just like me. I say she’s just like my sister, but that’s another story for another day.

From the very beginning, as a triplet, this girl moved more in my womb than the other two babies. I was already getting to know her as the active one. Even from the hospital nursery she was grasping.  She was grasping for air when the doctor saw her turning blue.

I should have known then: she was a fighter……read more at Prayers for Girls

how-do-you-respond-when-your-daughter-is-grasping

New things for the New Year

Happy New Year!!!

I hope you had a great Advent and Christmas season! We sure did!

With a new year comes a restarting, a refreshing, getting priorities back on track. It also comes with learning and trying new things and making plans for the year. I’ve got a lot of exciting things to share with you!

I’ve been learning some techy, internet-ish skills that I’m gonna start sharing with you on the blog and in the WoW newsletter. If you haven’t joined the WoW newsletter yet, then go to the Free Resources page to sign up! That’s where you can get printables, tips sheets and other goodies that I’ve been learning how to make…eeek!

Between now and January 16, every person who signs up to receive the newsletter will be entered for a drawing for a mini-calendar! And, if you share the contest on Facebook here, your name will be entered each additional time you share it.

Now, for announcing the annual WoW event!!!!

wow2016flyer

Check out the Facebook event page and please say you are ‘Going’. That’s where you’ll get the most up to date info and details! Share…Share…Share!!!!

I’m so excited for the many opportunities and events that come with this brand new 2017!! I have lots of the things on my heart, and oh, how I’m looking forward to sharing them with you! I can’t wait to see you there and being apart of a new year together!!

~Amy

 

My Kryptonite

We all have one. No matter how strong or invincible you may think you are, you have one too.

Like Superman with a chunk of Kryptonite hanging around his neck, we all have at least one weakness that will bring us down.

I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours………

My Kryptonite is not enough sleep.

Oh sure, there’s lots of things that can get me down…work load, loud kids, unexpected expenses. Those things can weigh me down.

But not getting enough sleep can turn a busy day into a stressful day. It can turn a small bump in the road into an surmountable hill.

When I don’t get enough sleep, I get easily frustrated, am much more irritable, can loose my temper quicker….well, you get the picture. I can remember when the triplets were little, on the days I didn’t get enough sleep, the everyday routines were much harder to tackle. I didn’t think I would be able to survive those baby days. I’m telling you that being exhausted would cause me to question my abilities as a woman and mother and whether was God was anywhere close by.  My precious children would seem like little monsters out to get me.

IMG_0151
Photo credit: Nancy Rutledge

Then, a good nap or night’s sleep later, I would think….”Oh, I can handle it. This is going to be ok. I love my life”.

FullSizeRender (3)
Photo credit: Nancy Rutledge

I know my experience isn’t very different from any other mother with young children. Lack of sleep goes with the territory. But this was my kryptonite….the one thing that could shade all the other areas of my life.

So what do I do to keep the chain of Kruptonite from dragging me down?

First, I began to recognize that lack of sleep would trigger these awful behaviors in me. Once I recognized the link,  it would help me in the moment of stress. “Ok, Amy, you are tired. Step back and take a deep breath.”

Then, I could (try to) plan better. Taking naps were not a guilty pleasure, but rather a strategic plan to get me through the day. Sleeping late on Saturdays is now a gift to be good to myself rather than laziness.

FullSizeRender (4)
Photo credit Nancy Rutledge

Finally, having Kryptonite invade my waking hours on a daily and/or weekly basis, I’ve come to accept the fact, I’m going to not get enough sleep. I’m a mom, I work a full time job, I enjoy watching movies on the weekends. I, sometimes, choose to accept the consequence of Kryptonite in order to get some quiet at night after the kids go to bed or to have some much needed girl-time with friends. But, I’m aware of what it can do to me. Even though  I may be aware of the Kryptoninte around my neck, that does not give me permission to be grumpy or snarky. I can better guard my attitude, my words, and my emotions. I can recognize that it’s my issue and not a bad life or tedious children or forsaken by God!

My Kryptonite is lack of sleep. But what is yours?

Low blood sugar? chronic pain or illness? depression? Yours may be a condition that you may not ever get rid of. But recognizing how it can affect you can help you prevent, manage, and deal with it as best as possible.

I’m going to bed now and get rid of my Kryptonite for a while!

~Amy

Silver and Gold

**One of the biggest blessings I receive from WoW gatherings like this weekend’s ReNew Retreat is meeting and getting to know precious sister’s in Christ! But not just me…watching all of you make friends and making new connections is such a joy to watch!! You are my Silver and Gold**

 

“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.  A circle’s round it has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend.”

Life is not about the stuff you accumulate or how much money you make. It’s not about your achievements or the letters behind your name.  It’s not about what you drive or your net worth.

Life is about Silver and Gold. It’s about friends, old and new. Those precious relationships mined out of life’s ins and outs. The people we meet that make our lives richer.

I’ve been keenly aware of the silver and gold in my own life this summer: A day at the pool,  sending that selfie from a dressing room ‘does this dress work?’, catching up on the phone, stopping by the office for a quick hug, planning a meet-up on Facebook, attending a difficult life changing event, inviting some over for a party, staying over for dinner, sharing revelations, and studying Truth. All of it precious. All of them Silver and Gold.

We can’t make it without friends. We need that wide circle of friends to cheer for us and have fun. We need that tight circle of confidants to tell us, “Girl, you’d better put that down!” We need that one kindred spirit to whisper those secrets of the heart. We need to nourish these relationships because we draw so much nourishment from them.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17

I love it that I get sharpened by my Silver and Gold. Keeps me humble. Gets me loved. Lets me grow. Makes me More than I am.

Who are your Silver and Gold? Don’t let them tarnish. Polish them as often as possible. In turn, they will polish you, sharpen you. And, you will never be left empty.

~Amy

Being Made in His Image (or..I’m turning into my mother!)

It was bound to happen.

All my life, people told me how I favored my mother…blue eyes, round cheeks, smile. However, as I’ve become older, I notice how I am acting like my mother! It started with my husband saying, “you sound just like your mother when you said that!”…or….”you squinted your eyes just like your mother.”

I mean, I’ve heard plenty of times how women would say they looked in the mirror and saw their mother. That was no big surprise. But, in the last couple of years, I notice all kinds of little habits that are just like her! How I hold my hands, making a gesture, asking a question…..or even how I LOVE my favorite fountain drink on ice in a styrofoam cup complete with lid and a straw! I actually get giddy! (except I love Diet Mountain Dew and momma loves Diet Coke)

The good news is I don’t mind! I kinda laugh to myself when I do something that is just like her. What I find so interesting is that I never set out to try to do any of these things like her. I’ve never sat across the dinner table observing her subtle moves and gestures. I’ve never calculated and taken mental notes to consciously mimic her. Sure, part of it could be genetics. Maybe. But most of it is just from being around her for 40 years.

I’ve been formed in her image from being in her presence so much!

One-Bella-Casa-I-Am-My-Mother-Pillow-70588PL (2)

Now, she’ll be the first to tell you I’m not a carbon copy of her. There’s a lot I don’t do like her (I rarely iron…sorry mom…I just don’t!). So many little parts of her have formed into me from simply being around her that I subtly pick them up!

It’s the same with our relationship with God.

Hopefully, I am being made into His image from being in His presence. When I spend time with Him in prayer, study, meditation, and worship, I began to pick up his characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control and goodness. I began to love people like He does and want to reach out to minister to them.

If I tried to exert effort to act like Jesus, I would most likely fail because I am trying to be something that is not in my nature. But….if I am in His presence so much that His nature subtly changes me, then I find myself looking and loving and acting more like Him. Simply being around Him is going to affect the way I behave.

I think being like Jesus has rubbed off from my mom too!me&mom

So, next time you us zooming down the road, we’ll likely have our fountain drinks in hand!

How about you? How are you turning into your mother? How are you being made into His image??

~Amy

How Wonderful!

I have fallen in love all over again.

Just when I think I know this Jesus and have Him all figured out, He uncovers a new revelation of Himself or brightens a part of Him I had let grow dim.

This past Women of the Way 2015 series He did just that for me again.

I was well aware of how Jesus hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes. Nothing new. However, through contemplating our theme, Women IN the Way, I rediscovered just how much Jesus loved women. Jesus response was always to welcome those of low standing in society. He not only welcomed them, but was drawn to them. He took delight in them. And he was always tender to their needs. We heard stories during our Bible studies about the women who got in the way. The Woman with issue of blood got in the way out of desperation for her own health. Mary got in the way to worship Jesus because he had forgiven her so much and had loved her so much more. The woman at the well whom Jesus had gotten in her way to give her what she had always been looking for in others. There are so many more… Anna the prophet, Widow’s Son, woman caught in adultery.

Woman and after woman, story after story, they were in society’s way. They were in the disciples’ way. The Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultures of the day said that women were basically property, had no rights, and were utterly dependent upon their fathers and husbands. All of us younger gals take granted the opportunities we have now, but back then they had no voice in the public arena.

But Jesus did this radical thing that broke the cultural standard of the day. He raised the status of women everywhere he went. He listened to women, he communicated with women, and he met their needs. He was sensitive and caring, he didn’t treat them like property without thoughts or ideas, but He treated women with respect. He even allowed some women to follow Him and support Him financially! Mary (his mother) was the first person to “carry” the Gospel. Women were the first ones to tell that Jesus was risen from the dead! Jesus loves women!!

I am reminded of the gentleness of his gaze, the understanding way he knew the unspoken words of their hearts, and I am won over again at how He loves me just the same!!

Oh how wonderful, Oh how marvelous and my song will ever be

Oh how wonderful, Oh how marvelous is my Savior’s love for me!!

WoW Prayer Breakfast, Dunroamin Pavilion, Aug 2013
WoW Prayer Breakfast, Dunroamin Pavilion, Aug 2013

This spring, as the flowers bloom and the trees burst forth, I pray you are reminded of this same love our Jesus has for you!!!

~Amy

We Belong to Each Other

Now more than ever, I’m convinced we must be more about building the Kingdom of God than our own denominations (If you know my story, you know that I am a Heinz 57 mutt of denominations…..so, I am not against denominations). I do believe building His Kingdom happens better when we are unified.

Roman 12:3-5 “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”

Sometimes, we get in our church box where it’s comfortable and familiar, and we might have the tendency to start comparing our brand of church to other churches….that’s like comparing apples to oranges. Instead we need to compare our fellowship by the faith that God has given us. Are we fulfilling the specific mission that God has called us to do?

The reason we shouldn’t compare each other’s churches is because we each have a special function and purpose within the Body of Christ. Each part has its own way of ministering to and reaching all different kinds of people. So, it’s ok for us to have our own functions and missions as long as we remember that these differences are meant to compliment each other instead of divide us.

When we realize that we are all parts of One Body, then we’re going to see that “we all belong to each other.

See, Jesus doesn’t see us as separate parts. He sees us as One Body….His Body.

With this uplifting perspective, we don’t have to compare our ministries or fellowships. We can support and cheer for each other and work together because we are all working for the common goal of building His Kingdom!

If fact, Jesus prayed that we’d all be one:

John 17: 20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me”

We belong to each other! If you believe in Jesus Christ, you are my sister and let’s be about the Father’s business building the Kingdom of God!

~Amy

PS…One of my favorite new groups says it in such a fun, toe-tapping tune…..