This

It’s my 40th birthday. I’ve been pretty worked up about it. I’m 40 and what have I done? What do I have to show for my 40 years? It’s been a tussle and I haven’t known how to get through it. Then, my kids walked into the room with my husband last night to do night time prayers. It hit me. I knew it all along, but something in me wouldn’t let me give it full value. I took their faces in my hands (which I’m amazed they allowed me to do) and I looked at my husband and said “This. This is what I have spent my life doing.”

I spent my first 20 years, being wounded deeply. I spent time working hard to allow God to prepare my heart to love again. I spent time learning how to be a good wife and mother despite the deep wounds that typically predicted my failure at both roles. I spent the next 20 years working hard to put into practice those things God has taught me. God gave me a good man with a good heart for Him. God gave us a strong young man and woman with whom we are honored to walk this faith journey. We have the awesome privilege to be the historians of their lives. I’ve poured my life into this family. Some days I poured willingly, some days I poured begrudgingly. Some days there was good quality to pour, some days there was nothing of value. However, I poured to the best of my ability and God continues to cover it all.

Forty years have been a gift. They have been hard, beautiful, painful, wonderful, devastating, and pure joy. God has been good. God has been faithful. God has never let me down, even though there have been moments I have allowed myself to believe He had. As I look back on all the dark moments of my life I can see where God’s love shone through, like a sole beam of light in a pitch black room, His love was there to guide me and keep me moving forward. I am nothing without Him.

I’m looking forward to the next season and what God has in store for me.

Until another confession…

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Happy Birthday Esaroo

ElisaConfession…I have an amazing daughter and I love watching her grow into a young woman. I haven’t always appreciated her as a person, but as the years pass, I grow to love her and appreciate her more and more.

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT ESAROO

She is quite wild.

If she had her way, we’d cut her hair incredibly short so she wouldn’t have to mess with it in the morning.

She dresses so that she can explore nature at any given moment of the day.

She loves God’s creatures …but cats make her sneeze and break out into hives (this makes her quite sad).

There isn’t anything she won’t climb.

She catches flies to feed to frogs and dogs.

She would live on Mt. Lemmon if she could (she’s tried to talk us into it many times).

She wants to barrel race (we’ve recently started lessons to help facilitate this dream).

Her laugh is contagious.

Her tears are heartbreaking.

She loves completely. There is no halfway about her (except maybe when it comes to picking up dog poo).

She’s quick to forgive and repent.

She believes in a God who can do anything.

My girl. I think she is quite a lady. I know she isn’t the traditional lady, but she is more feminine and delicate than people believe. She has things to do and places to see and dreams to explore. I love her tenacity and passion for life. She inspires me everyday to live with abandon and fearlessness. I am blessed to call her daughter and quite thankful that God gave me the gift of Esaroo. Happy Birthday my sweet sweet girl!

Winning Moments & Epic Fails

Confession…too often I forget to look at my kids and see their winning moments. Sometimes, I look too closely at their shortcomings and forget to tell them how they are growing and developing as human beings.

As parents, we want to make sure our kids are turning out okay. No one says it out loud, but we all feel like their behavior is a reflection of our winning moments or our epic fail moments. When our kids are in the middle of full blown fits, we often worry that onlookers are judging our competency as parents. When our kids are well behaved and using their manners, we fight the urge to take that success as our own. We NEVER say these things out loud, but we all know we are thinking it. If my kids turn out well, I will have succeeded as a parent. If my kids ends up on the floor throwing a fit at age 18, I will have tragically failed. Right?

Now, I have known lots of parents and lots of kids. I have seen kids with great families make incredibly poor choices. I have seen kids with horrible home situations overcome the odds and succeed beyond expectation. So, I don’t know if we can paint the world with the brush that good parents produce good kids and  bad parents produce bad kids. I do think that sinners raise sinners and that is the only true statement I can agree with when it comes to parenting. The Bible says that all fall short of the glory of God. ALL! So, maybe their poor choices and good choices are not an indicator of our quality of parenting skills. Maybe their poor choices and good choices are part of their journey to maturity. Maybe, we need to take a step back and help them identify when they are in a winning moment just as often as we point out when have epic fail moments.

I know this can be hard sometimes, but here is a practice I employ when I start to focus on their failings more than their successes. If I look at them through God’s eyes I will see them quite differently. God made them. He planned them. He gifted them. He has plans for them. As they are growing up in our home, it is our job to see, in them, the giftings God has given them and prepare them to be used by God for His purposes. Example: I have a stubborn one. When this quality is used in conjunction with sin, we have a child who isolates themselves with their pride, and a child who is vulnerable to whatever lies their mind might find. But when we can direct this child to use this quality to bring God glory we get a young one who perseveres and is steadfast in their course. I have another one who is emotionally intense (let’s face it they are Whitby’s, they are all emotionally intense). When this intensity is used in conjunction with sin, I have a panic driven child who is governed by emotion. When we can direct our child to use that passion to the glory of God, we see a young one who is passionate in faith and shows incredible devotion to their savior.

So, what are you seeing in your kids? What gifting are you seeing in them? Are you cultivating that gift? Are you preparing your children to use those gifts to the glory of God? Are you celebrating their successes as often as you highlight their shortcomings? It’s something to look at.

Until another confession…

Thank You For Coming Home

Confession…I am so thankful for my husband. I love being married to him. He’s a good man. He loves God and he loves his wife and his kids. Everyday that he returns to the school to pick us up at the end of the day proves it.

Now, to some of you I realize that sounds like a minor reason for which to be thankful, but it really is a huge deal. Knowing I can count on my husband to come home at the end of the day is a big deal to me. It is such a big deal that, a while back, I began thanking him for coming home. I would simply say “Thank you for  coming home today.” At first, he would say “your welcome”, but after a few times, I could tell he was getting a little curious as to why I was thanking him for something so basic. He finally asked, “Why are you thanking me?” This was my response to him.

“Not all daddies come home at the end of the day. Sometimes, daddies give up on the job. Sometimes, they decide it is too hard and they keep on driving. Sometimes, they just walk out or leave. Sometimes, they believe the lie that they are not good enough or that everyone else would be better without them.

“I know it is not always easy to come home when you know that crying kids, a grumpy mommy, and the possibility that dinner isn’t waiting because it was all Mom could do to keep the kids alive today. I know what it means to have my daddy not come home at the end of the day. I know the impact that has had on my life. So, thank you for making the choice to come home every day. Thank you for fighting the lies you must face. Thank you for helping to create a home where the kids won’t know what that feels like.”

It’s a big deal, coming home. Don’t forget to thank the daddy in your life for coming home. It may seem like a simple act. It may seem a basic behavior, but it isn’t. It is a HUGE deal. Thank you to all the daddy’s who come home at the end of the night. Thank you for helping with the dishes. Thank you for helping with the baths. Thank for helping with bed time. Thank you for holding the crying child and thank you for being able to instantly get them to stop crying even though we’ve been trying all day and it’s a little annoying that now they’ve stopped as soon as you walk in! Thank you for choosing to fight for your families. Thank you for choosing to believe that you are valuable to your family. Thank you for choosing NOT to believe the lie that your family would be better with out you. Keep up the good work.

Until another confession…

The Time of My Life

Confession…I am avoiding asking God question. I spent a good amount of time this week thinking about what will come next for me. I know I’m supposed to ask God but I’m not so sure I am ready to hear the answer.

The first part of my life was committed to learning normal kids stuff: Math, English, Science, social customs, and etiquette. The next part of my life has been devoted to learning how to be a godly wife and mother. It’s been a great experience. It has not always been easy to learn the lessons but I’m glad I am provided the opportunity to learn. My whole life has been an experience in falling in love with a BIG God and that has truly been the ride of a lifetime!

As I look at the last chunk of my life, I’m left thinking about the future and what it holds. During the first 10 years of our parenthood, we did a lot of hands on teaching. We held them. They depended on us to move them from one location to the next. Then, we held their hands as they navigated walking and eventually running. Next, it has been standing beside them as they learn to ride a bike or sitting next to them as they do homework and study. Reminding them that they are capable, and encouraging them to keep trying until they succeed. More recently, it has been providing our presence in the room so they know we are available to them should they have questions. The kids still need us, but they need us in a different way and we find that we are coaches in their lives. They are learning how to do things without us. They are learning how to become independent. They are learning how walk away from us. They always walk right back and ask for our opinion on how they are progressing. We begin to realize that the next lesson will be, to teach them how to trust the Holy Spirit’s prompting, because we won’t always be there to give them feedback. It’s going so quickly…this parenthood time.

It is during this time, that I find I have some time to ask God what He wants me to do with myself. I, to my shame, have been procrastinating on actually asking the question. I dreamed of doing many things before I had a family. I chose not to pursue some of those things because I wanted the family. I wanted to be an at home mother. I wanted to pick kids up from school and volunteer with their school. I wanted to bake and cook and be domestic, and I did those things. I find now, that God is asking me to revisit those things I once dreamed of doing and I am scared. I know me. I tend to go all in to whatever I do. I lose focus, I become unbalanced, I make important people in my life feel unimportant. I don’t want to do that. I want to keep doing what I know how to do. I want to stay comfortable. Ugh…that is never a good thing. Staying comfortable for me, means not growing.

So, I’ll ask the question. I’ll explore those old dreams. I’m not sure what God wants to do with them, but I know He’s always been good. I know He’s never failed me. I know He’s never let me down. I know He’s never given up on me. I will choose to trust Him and His prompting.

Until another confession…

A Day in the Life of Us

Confession…when someone hurts my kids…I get pretty intense REALLY fast. I can literally feel my blood pressure rising and an urge to hurt something wells up deep inside of me. I believe some people call this a mother’s instinct…I call it scary. It’s hard to stay focused on being Godly during such moments, but if I keep saying I want to be the gospel to those around me this is THE most important moment for me to plug into God and keep my focus.

Yesterday, my sweet girl had a really hard day. She was hurt deep and I got a front row seat to the whole thing. Everything in me wanted to make it stop, but that was not in her best interest. My heart was enraged on her behalf and I forced myself to pray the kind of prayer that only a mother who is aching for her child can pray. “Make it stop! Give me wisdom! Help me not to maim anyone right now! God help!”

After all was said and done, she came to me, pleading for an explanation. Her sweet little eyes were overflowing with tears that I could not take away. She asked me to please take her home. She was ready to be done with her day and she wanted to be home. I know the feeling all too well. You all have been listening to me whine about how I wish I could run away and hide from the meanness the world too often offers. You also realize, I couldn’t take her home. I couldn’t let her leave. She wasn’t finished with her tasks for the day. She had to keep moving forward. She had to move on despite the lies she was now hearing within herself.

I held her for a good while and allowed her the tears she needed to release. I didn’t want to let her go, but I knew I had to. I then reminded her that she was God’s kid. I reminded her that she was our kid. I reminded her that she had a big God who was going to get her through the rest of the day. I reminded her that God loved her and created her and knew who she was. I reminded that her daddy and I loved her and knew who she was. I explained to her that if we went home now, the hurt would win. We had to stay. I reminded her how much we loved her again and how proud we were of her. Then I made her go back to class.

She went back to class and she came to see me a couple of times for another hug, but then went back to her day. She then went to her soccer game and played the best defensive game I’ve seen her play in a while. She’s going to be okay. Mommy on the other hand, needs to do more praying.

Now, the hurt will pass and there is no permanent damage done. She will see things through a different lens regarding that person. She has learned that sometimes, no matter how hard you try to be good and do the right thing, you have bad days. My ultimate prayer is that she learned that God loves her and won’t let her down even when life gets hard.

Until another confession…

A Work Worth Doing

Confession…my heart is heavy for mommies this morning.

I can’t tell you why I am thinking of all the mommies I know this morning. I can’t tell you why I am praying for you all. I can’t tell you what happened last night or yesterday or even this morning to put you on my heart, but I’m praying for you. I’m praying focus, energy, and renewed passion for this wonderfully exhausting and amazing work of love.

It’s 5:30am and some of you are being awoken by little voices beckoning to you from cribs and beds. Some little voices have made their way to your room and are awakening you with their pudgy little fingers, or if yours are like mine were, their entire little bodies. You are most likely praying for strength, endurance, and a long nap later today. That was always my prayer. You can do it!

My heart prays for those mommies who are tired, weary, and taking one minute at a time with little ones who have more energy than is humanly possible, because a moment is all you can handle. It’s easy to forget that you are exactly where you belong, when you’re sleep deprived and  haven’t seen a shower in so long you forgot that showers can happen every day. You’re gonna make it!

My hearts prays for those moms who have older children who are becoming independent and headstrong. My heart prays for those moms who are waiting to see what choices their children make and waiting to see what God will do with their teens. My heart prays for those moms who are praying over children who are finding their way back to God and keep getting lost on the way home.  My heart aches with those moms who weep tears of frustration and love all in the same moment. God is going to be faithful!

As mommies, we have a job that demands our heart stay close to God so we can serve Him and His children well. It’s hard! BUT the work you are doing is valuable and it is a blessing. Do not get weary! God won’t let you down.

DON’T FORGET

You are loving on your children so you can be an example of God’s love to them.

You are praying for your children because ultimately they belong to God and He has the details of their lives already worked out, so you can trust Him!

God is using you to  build foundations on which they will later build lives.

You can do this! You are not alone! God has promised never to leave you or forsake you!

From one mommy to another…this work is so worth it! We can do it!

Until another confession…