what matters most

Time is an extremely valuable commodity.

With every passing day, I am more aware of how precious our time is and how important it is to spend it wisely.  Lately, I have found great joy in spending time with my husband and daughters.  As the girls are getting older, I thoroughly enjoy our shopping excursions, our deep discussions, and binge-watching tv shows with them.  And as the girls have matured, my hubby and I have been able to spend more time together- going to the movies, going out to dinner… it is a wonderful new season we are in!

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Last night, my hubby jokingly said that our house wasn’t the cleanest.

True.  Very true.

And my response?

“maybe not, but it’s full of LOVE!” 

“Yes it is!”

And that’s what matters most to me.

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I am so thankful to have a hubby who “gets” me.  Who tells me to order take out for dinner because he knows I’m tired- and honestly- I don’t enjoy cooking either.  Who knows that if I don’t spend quiet time at the piano every day, my mood suffers.  A hubby who encourages me to write and be creative and to do all the things that bring me joy.   And I’m thankful for girls who want the shared experience with me of watching our favorite shows together, who don’t expect 4-course home-cooked meals, and who make me friendship bracelets.

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How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  

James 4:14

forever young

Recently, I was reminded that “youth” is all about perspective…

With teenage daughters, it’s easy for me to feel old and out of touch with the youth culture.  I often have to ask them what slang words and current sayings mean.

But as I walked through the grocery store the other day, I caught the twinkling blue eyes of a gray haired lady, leaning heavily on her shopping cart- squinting to make out my face.

“Are you Amy?” she called out to me.  She looked at me like she was trying to remember who I was.  I didn’t recall ever seeing her before.

“No, I’m sorry.  My name’s Julie.”

She said she thought she knew me from somewhere. Then, she began to tell me how she missed being able to do all the simple things I take for granted- like grocery shopping without getting out of breath,  standing up straight and walking without leaning on a cart, being able to see without straining…

She smiled as she began to move her cart past me and said this-

“You better enjoy your youth while you have it!”

A brief, but meaningful conversation- and a great reminder for me to appreciate all the little things I am able to effortlessly do at my youthful age of 42 🙂

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A gray head is a crown of glory.  

It is found in the way of righteousness- Proverbs 16:21

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the best is yet to come

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Time keeps ticking away, and some days I wanna hit the “pause” button.

In a few short weeks, we will have been in our home for 15 years.  I can’t even wrap my mind around that!  When we first moved here, my oldest was a baby, and we didn’t have my youngest until the next summer.  I had my life all planned out- I’d teach lessons for a few years and then we would move back to our hometown…

and then that didn’t happen.

I always felt like I was waiting for the next move, or the next big thing.  Little did I know- that big thing for me was God calling me into ministry- right here! And what a blessing it has been to follow Him and serve Him- even when “following Him” means staying put.

But I keep thinking about how quickly these 15 years have gone… and how quickly my girls will be grown.  This mom can’t bear the thought of all the changes that will happen in the next few years!

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I have found myself CONSTANTLY saying “I can’t believe how fast these years are going by…”  I recently joked with my husband that this is how I begin all of my conversations with him.

And then the other day- I leashed the dogs up to take them outside, and as I stepped off of each stair of our front porch- I heard the creaking of weathered wood and saw the rusty nails.  Again, I began to think of all the years I carried my babies up those stairs- and how even the front porch has aged!

And in a split second, I felt the Lord nudge me and He whispered-

Stop looking behind you- there’s SO MUCH for you to look forward to.  

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It was a brief moment, but one that has shifted this nostalgic mindset of mine!

He is always doing something NEW…

and if this momma is so busy lamenting and thinking about the past-

I might miss it 🙂

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,  Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 

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He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. — Psalm 40:3

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21 x 2

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Navigating “mom life” with two teenage daughters ain’t easy.

Lately I feel the tug of give and take– of holding on and letting go-  at the same time.  Giving the girls room to be who they are while also giving them necessary guard rails for protection.

Like what happened two summers ago…

The girls had just begun to listen to different kinds of music.  For most of their childhood, I only allowed them to listen to Christian music or music that was “clean”.  I always had control of the radio in the car, and it was always on the Christian radio station.

But two summers ago, the girls started asking me to change the radio station to listen to other kinds of music.  At first I resisted. What if they heard something in these lyrics that changed them, or caused them to *gasp” not be a Christian any more?!  I slowly realized the irrational fear I had, and that I needed to let them be kids and enjoy the music they liked.  After all, I did grow up listening to hair metal bands and grunge music… and I think I turned out ok 🙂

So, little by little, I let them occasionally choose to listen to their choice of music in the car.  One of those groups happened to be 21 Pilots.  As I listened to the girls sing every word to the Blurry Face CD, I realized that their music was actually really good.  That summer we drove to Universal Studios in Florida, and we listened to nothing but 21 Pilots, One Direction, and various other favorites of my girls for the 10+ hour car ride there and back.

It was a coming of age time for them, and a time when I realized that my girls were growing up- that they were enjoying new things and searching for their identities.  And it made me realize that we have raised them right and pointed them to Jesus… and that it’s ok to give them a little room to explore.  In fact, I have grown to love some of their favorite songs!

So for my birthday this past Sunday, my awesome hubby got tickets for the girls and I to go to the 21 Pilots concert.  They just happened to be here on my birthday- and the show was absolutely amazing!  The girls and I sang every word of every song and I loved every second of it.  Most of all, I loved being with them- not just because I’m their mom, but because I love the people they are becoming!

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At the concert, I leaned over to both girls and said this- “Isn’t it neat that we’re here at a 21 Pilots concert on my birthday… celebrating with thousands of other people… and isn’t it cool that I am 21×2 today (42)?  And I get to celebrate with my 2 favorite girls!”

Isn’t it something to know that while our kids are growing up-

we’re still growing up, too! 

“There are two things we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.”- author unknown 

 

MARVELous

I have entered into a new phase of motherhood.

My girls have crossed the bridge from kids to tweens, and now we are smack dab in the middle of the teen years- when the unexpected is always to be expected.

These days, I am doing everything I can to be the strong mother my teen girls need, while also trying to cultivate a relationship with them- one that will stand the test of time.

So, my oldest had one request of me last week- to watch every single Marvel movie that has been made- so that I could then go with her to see Endgame (this will be her second time, and my first). I have to admit to you that watching movies is NOT my idea of fun. I have a short attention span, and don’t like the idea of sitting on a couch with my eyes glued to a TV for hours at a time… but I love my daughters and knew that this invitation was a huge blessing- a blessing that my oldest actually WANTS to sit with me on a couch for hours and hours, and also that by watching these movies- I am getting to connect with the girls in an entirely new way. Oh- and I can’t say no to a challenge!

And in these 15 hrs or so we have spent watching Marvel movies, I have grown to love the charisma and charm of Iron Man, I have admired the bravery of Captain America, and I now love to hate Loki.

But even more special is the shared experience of doing something the girls love WITH them.

I am so thankful for my daughters. They are independent thinkers, intelligent, funny, thoughtful… and how cool is it that they are actually people that I enjoy being with? They are MARVELous! And how amazing it is that they actually WANT to spend time with me?!

I am blessed.

Hope all the “moms” out there have a MARVELous Mother’s Day!!

He is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

I know Easter was a whole week ago- but I can’t NOT share with you what happened on Easter Sunday…

After several years of talking to my daughters about being baptized, they finally took the “plunge”! And what could make that even more special?!

I got to baptize my daughters!

It was one of my proudest mom moments of all time…


I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me- Galatians 2:20

Oh Happy Day!

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.- Psalm 30:11-12

this only do I seek

One thing I have asked from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple- Psalm 27:4

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living- Psalm 27:13

Then Moses requested, “Please, let me see the dazzling light of your presence.”
-Exodus 33:18

For over a week now, Psalm 27:3 has been playing on repeat in my mind and heart. That has been my greatest desire- to see Him.

Not at some time in the future– but NOW- to be aware of His presence and to see how He is at work all the time, all around me.

It might sound a little strange, but I think a lot about heaven and what it will be like. I can’t even wrap my mind around it, but I know the joy I experience when I spend time in His presence… and to experience joy like that for eternity- well, that’s going to be nothing short of AMAZING!!

But you know what else I’ve been thinking about? How desperately I want EVERYONE I know to experience that same joy.

So I need to keep an ear out for His voice,

and an eye out for whomever He puts in my path,

and I’ve gotta be prayed up when I see them-

so He will tell me what to say.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect- 1 Peter 3:15


do stuff with your kids


one day I’ll look back-

grateful for the time I spent

being with my girls

I love haikus. They say a lot with few words. Sometimes lots of words make me tired, lol!

Like yesterday- for some reason I was really, really tired. I could chalk it up to the time change and still getting adjusted to that, but I was really wanting to take a nap when I got home yesterday afternoon.

And then my daughters got home. One of my girls has been begging me every day to take one of our dogs to the dog park (the other one of them is not so friendly, that’s for another post, lol…). I said earlier in the week that it would be too muddy from all the rain we have had lately- which was true. It is also true that I am tired and don’t feel like going anywhere extra once the girls get home.

She asked me again yesterday. My whole “muddy” excuse didn’t really fly after the few gorgeous, sunny days we have had here. I began to think about what a blessing it is that my 16 year old daughter really WANTS me to do something with her. I began to think about all the other things that will eventually get in the way of her time… a job, college (one day), future relationships, children… the list goes on and on. One day she will be too busy for me.

So I made an extra cup of coffee and said “Sure! Let’s go!”

Can I tell you what a joy it was for me to say yes to her?

All smiles, she was, as we got into the car with our friendly fur baby! She beamed from ear to ear the entire drive. She kept saying how she hoped there would be other dogs there that ours could be friends with. And sure enough, we pulled up to the dog park, and there were several dogs playing.

Our dog pranced around the fenced in park- reveling in his newfound freedom. I sat on a bench and watched as my daughter went up to strangers to talk to them about their dogs. I was so proud of her. She is shy and it takes a lot for her to initiate conversation with strangers, but dogs are her love language. Bring a dog around her and she can’t help but be joyful.

It was a perfect afternoon.

My other daughter asked me to do something with her today.

This time I didn’t hesitate.

I can’t wait for our afternoon together 🙂

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court- Psalm 127:3-5

these are the days

these are the days

of loud music blaring in cars

girls belting tunes

as if they were the stars

these are the days

of selfies and laughs

dabbling in makeup

and perfecting the craft

these are the days

when emotions run low… and high

these are the days

that too quickly will pass by


I can hardly believe that my oldest daughter just turned 16. How did that even happen?! I remember finding out I was pregnant with her and the overwhelming joy I experienced when I held her in my arms as a newborn. It seems like yesterday, and yet it was a lifetime ago.

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I remember celebrating all their “firsts”… the first smile, laugh, their first bite of baby food, sitting up, crawling, walking… the list goes on and on. It seemed like those days of them being children would last forever!

My youngest just got braces last week and lost her last baby tooth (finally!!) the week before. And after only a week, I look at her and see the remnants of her sweet baby face fading away…

Sigh.

Sixteen is way way to close to eighteen…and way too close to technically being an adult. And I am so not ready for that.

Not at all.

But life keeps on marching whether I’m ready or not!

Sophie

So for today, I will savor every car ride with the girls and I’ll let them turn up the music. I’ll laugh along at their crazy stories and selfies. I’ll let them put makeup on me and style my hair, and I’ll let them invite their friends over often. And those moments when motherhood overwhelms and stresses me out- I will remind myself to soak up all the joy I can.

Because one day they will be out of the house and all will be quiet.

And that day is coming way, way too soon!

Train up a child in the way he should go,
[aAnd when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Me and my Soph
Me and my birthday girl- Katie

in sickness and in health

I woke up this past Sunday and I didn’t have much of a voice. But after leading worship for over 9 years now, I have learned to let go of any anxious thoughts about my own “performance”, and watch Him work! As I prayed that morning, I heard Him impress these thoughts on my heart-

It’s not about you. Worship is never about you… it’s about giving all you’ve got to Me. I don’t need your perfection- I just need your heart.

It might sound a little strange, but mornings like those make me love Him even more. Because I know that He is always always faithful. The weaker I feel, the more I press into Him… and the more I press into Him- the greater I sense His presence through worship.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9