Just Like Mommy

So I had an “oh boy” week. The kind of week where you literally say “oh boy” out loud at least a dozen times. The kind of week when you realize your child is no longer a baby, but is now a little girl & is watching you…very closely. Everything you do, every word you say…that adorable little sponge is soaking it up. OH BOY.

My first “oh boy” came shortly after our dog had cozied up with my daughter & was an inch away from the delicious snack she held in her hand. His nose started bobbing up & down. His eyes were completely focused. And then his mouth started to open oh-so-slowly. He’s a beagle & his nose bosses him around & tells him what to do. At least that’s what he’s always trying to convince me.

So after realizing what was about to happen, I told him “no” in a stern voice, pointed my finger at him, then tapped the top of his head a few times.

Well, my daughter proceeded to do the exact same thing. In fact, for the rest of the day, our poor dog endured countless “no” taps on his head. Each one was followed by belly laughs from my daughter.

“Oh boy, it has begun. She’s copying what I do now. OH BOY.”

The tricky part about having a 16 month old is that I really couldn’t apologize for what I had down & explain why we need to love on our doggy instead of telling him no all day long. I tried, but I’m sure all she heard was, “Akjsdifjdoa DOGGY asldkjfoidjadf MOMMA.” All I could do was ask her to pet him or kiss him when I saw that sneaky little glimmer in her eye of needing to tell the dog no. Again. For the 400th time.

So by the end of the day, that was pretty much under control.

It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was definitely a huge realization. If she watched, absorbed, then copied my actions in such a small situation, the day is arriving when she will be completely focused on my actions, words & tones for things that truly are a big deal.

I don’t know about you, but that scares me half to death.

I feel like I’m constantly asking God for forgiveness & thanking Him for His grace. I know I am a flawed person. But now, I have an extra set of precious little eyes on me.

The following day, my little one unloaded my makeup case. That’s nothing new. She loves all the brushes & do-dads. But this time was different. She grabbed the eyelash curler & brought it to her eye. I have never shown her that. Well, I suppose I have, but unintentionally. She then grabbed my blush brush at dusted her sweet little cheeks.

Yep, this kid is watching my every move. Even when I have no idea that she’s paying attention to something as trivial as putting on makeup.

OH BOY.

Like I said, I know these situations are not dramatic ones, but still, they have brought a new awareness to me.

Our words, actions & “tones” are being watched, even when we think we’re secluded in those decisions. Not only by our kids, but by our coworkers, friends & even strangers.

So may we do the right thing even when it’s dark. May we speak kind words even behind closed doors. And may we be honest even when we’re inconvenienced. We truly don’t know the extent to which someone’s life can be touched by the quietest of our whispers.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp & put it under a basket, but on a stand, & it gives light to all in the house In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works & give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Our lives affect those around us. So may they affect others in a beautiful way & point them to Jesus.

I declare my God as faithful!

Anxiety & Fear

Anxiety.

That word just sounds ugly to me.

Have you battled anxiety before? I sure you have. God’s Word repeatedly tells us that there is a battle for our minds & thoughts. The root of many addictions, fears & problems start in our minds. If it’s true that our minds hold such power, then of course that is exactly where the enemy wants to attack & weaken us. He wants us distracted, anxious & focused on anything other than the sovereignty & peace of our Savior.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

This issue is very close to my heart. I have battled fearful, anxious thoughts since I was a child. I remember experiencing my first panic attack when I was about 11. There were a few things that I could do to lessen them, but it was temporary & another one would eventually happen.

After I got married, I would ask my husband to pray over me when I would begin to have a panic attack or feel anxiety trying to settle in. He would pray over me, but then he would always ask me to pray over myself…out loud.

As I would be lying there completely paralyzed with fear & anxiety, the last thing I wanted to do was pray out loud. I didn’t feel bold. I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t feel like my words could battle anything because those words were coming out of a very scared, overwhelmed girl.

But with every attack, I began to rebuke any fear & anxiety & declare my God as more powerful than any fearful thought trying to take hold of me. I would keep verses all over the house so that I could look at them & claim them out loud when I began to feel anxious. Even if I couldn’t think straight, all I had to do was look over at the verses, read them & claim them out loud. As I would verbally claim God’s Word, I noticed that the anxiety lessened & lessened. After a while it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had once been.

I know a lot of things can cause anxiety. Sometimes it has a lot to do with chemicals or hormones in our bodies. Sometimes it’s a spiritual attack directly on our minds. Sometimes, it’s a mixture of both.

With new seasons come new things that try to cause us to worry or be anxious. After feeling so much better for so long, anxiety came back & it came back with a vengeance. My breaking point came soon after my daughter was born. I have never loved another human the way I loved her & the responsibility in that was too much to think about at times. I wanted to roll her up in bubble wrap & keep her home forever. I never wanted her to feel the pain of this world. I never wanted her heart to be broken. I never wanted her to experience the disappointments, hurts & sadness that life would surely throw at her. All these thoughts coupled with raging, mommy hormones, was a combination that on my own, I couldn’t handle. They brought me to my knees. No, they knocked me to my knees.

I looked around & saw my mommy friends handling motherhood like champs. And here I was at 2am making my husband check all the locks on the doors…for the third time that night. Why couldn’t I handle it with grace? I hadn’t showered in 3 days much less been out of the house. I felt alone. I felt inadequate & overwhelmed.

Isolation is a dangerous thing. It makes us feel like we are the only ones experiencing something; that we’re the only ones that can’t handle the situation we’re in. What a lie. Almost every mommy I talked to felt the same way I did. I wasn’t treated like a failure. They loved on me & empathized with me. Sometimes the first step towards freedom is being brave enough to ask for some help & support. After I did just that, things began to change.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

I began giving God this new fear & anxiety that was trying to steal my mind & thoughts. It was a slow process over the course of a year & I still battle anxiety sometimes, but I know the power to defeat it is held in God’s Word!

If you feel anxious, no matter to what degree, always remember that you are not alone. And no matter what thoughts try to consume you, God’s Word is your shelter, shield & sword! His promises & truths are yours to claim! So claim them out loud.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

You are loved & treasured! Please let me know if I can support you in prayer during this process! Victory is yours!

I declare my God as faithful.

Affording Christmas

I don’t know about you, but it’s very easy for me to have this beautiful, yet unrealistic image in my head of what I think Christmas should look like. Every object in the house delicately wrapped in shiny ribbons; a fresh wreath hanging on every door; perfectly placed decorations hanging on a perfectly shaped tree, under which are perfectly wrapped presents stacked on top of each other…perfectly. Oh look- the dog is curled up in front of the fireplace. Isn’t that adorable.

It can be a wonderful or a disappointing daydream. I suppose it all depends on where my heart & expectations are.

As a teenager, I came to a rather disheartening realization about Christmas.

I couldn’t afford it.

Even though I was always full of anticipation & excitement for the Christmas season, every year I was left…disappointed. No matter how much I wanted it, Christmas would never look like a Hallmark commercial.

Everyone was trampling each other in stores to grab decorations that said, “Peace on Earth” & “Joy to the World.” That’s ironic. The overflowing parking lots were filled with angry drivers whose parking spots were just stolen from them. Maybe they should buy one of those “Peace of Earth” ornaments. But more than anything, I hated the thought of our already very tight money situation being used on mass-produced gift sets just to have something under the tree. We couldn’t buy all the elements that I envisioned making a grand Christmas. I hated the idea of what Christmas had become, because I couldn’t afford.

I knew what the real meaning of Christmas was. I knew it was a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But the joy & meaning of Christmas was so weighed down by my ridiculously high expectations of what it should look, feel, taste & sound like, that I just sort of…gave up. It’s hard to be disappointed when you have very low expectations.

That is where my misconception was. Christmas was a time to celebrate Christ’s birth, but it was only successful if it looked & felt like a Christmas movie. I had one image in my head of the perfect Christmas, so when every year didn’t look like that, I labeled it “failed”. I blamed everything except for what was truly responsible. My heart.

I don’t think it’s right to evaluate our friendships or self-worth by the price tag of the gifts we give or are given, or to work tirelessly & stressfully to create a Christmas wonderland in our homes, but neglect the true meaning of Christmas & miss out on valuable time with our families.

However, I had it very, very wrong too. It’s wrong to “give up” on the beauty that Christmas is, just because it doesn’t look like a Hallmark commercial or store advertisement.

That is not Christmas. Things under the tree do not represent Christmas. Even the wonderful smell cookies baking in the oven while we sit in front of the fireplace & drink hot cocoa, is not Christmas. Those are all wonderful things. But they do not define Christmas.

If none of those things existed, would our hearts still be overflowing with gratitude & joy for the greatest Gift that was ever given to us? Would Jesus be enough?

After all these issues had surfaced in my heart, my amazing mother suggested a new tradition. Instead of being “buyers”, let’s be “doers.” It became my favorite tradition & I have continued it with my own little family.

Instead of buying presents, just to buy them, we go do things together. Most of the things we do are free, but the laughter, joy & memories last much, much longer than any wrapped up box would. Presents aren’t banished from our house by any means. It is still so fun to open up presents & I can’t wait to see how my one year old reacts to ripping off the paper. And if we find something that we truly think one of us will like, then we are thrilled to give it to them. However, that’s not where the focus is. I will enjoy Christmas day whether presents are stacked under the tree, or if there is not a single one. Family movie nights will come before presents. Making snowmen in the backyard will come before a house filled to the brim with decorations. Christmas caroling will come before a festive 10-course dinner.

I continue to find balance in this area. But that’s ok. I’m trying. It’s an ongoing process in my mind to know it’s all right to enjoy “Christmassy” things while also keeping Christ the focus. I’m sure new elements & traditions will be added as my daughter gets older. But no matter what we have or don’t have, my husband & I will strive to make sure that Jesus remains the foundation of our Christmases. Christ’s birth will not just be a pretty accessory to our Christmases; it will be the main reason & focus & the only element that truly matters.

So this Christmas, give yourself permission to unload the burden of having a perfect Christmas. And don’t just unload it, go bury it. Then bundle the family up & go outside & have a snowball fight. Treasure the time spent with your kiddos as you make cookies, but not worry how the cookies themselves turn out. Or if you’re like me, be ok when they burn. Not if, but when they burn.

If you are trying to find a balance between it all or if you have any wisdom to share, I would love to hear your thoughts!

You are wonderful & I pray that you experience the joy of Christmas in a new & fresh way this year.

I declare my God as faithful this Christmas & every season!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, & the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government & peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne & over his kingdom, establishing & upholding it with justice & righteousness from that time on & forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6 & 7