A Life Stirred

A bit more on being an ear

I love when God reinforces things I’ve been processing through.

I just wanted to share from my devotional today (from shereadstruth.com…an awesome online, daily devotional.  Check it out if you’re looking for something to help you get into the Word everyday).  It’s basically exactly what I just wrote about, and it might just encourage you, like it encouraged me.


 

Verse 1 of Colossians in The ESV reads, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”.

The Message reads, “I, Paul, have been sent on special assignment by Christ as part of God’s master plan.”

Yes, there is a whole lot more of Paul’s letter ahead of us. Yes, this seems like such a inconsequential afterthought of a verse, and to stop just one verse in seems silly.

But it’s not. I want you to write it down – I want you to say it out loud:

“I, ______, have been send on a special assignment by Christ as part of God’s master plan.”

Do you believe it, sister?

I mean truly… do you?

Because it’s true. Your special assignment is different than mine. It’s different from your sister’s calling, it’s different from your mentor’s, and your neighbor’s and the girl who sat in front of you in church last week. It is as unique as you are, this calling to point the world to Christ.

And no matter how old you are, and how many days God has written for you on this earth, sister, YOU are a part of the MASTER PLAN. He has willed it. It is written. (Psalm 139:16 says, “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were not of them.”)


Good stuff, right?  God is good.  And this reminds me that I need to STOP looking at and comparing myself to every.single.person I meet.  I just need to rest in who God has made me and what He has made me to do.

What about you?   Do you get bogged down in comparisons and longings for a different gift set?  (Or am I the only one…please tell me I’m not the only one…)  What would you say is your “special assignment”?

2 Comments »

We can’t all be ears.

Why, hello there!  It’s been awhile, eh?

There’s not any good reason for my 15 day blogging hiatus.  Other than just regular, life-is-busy stuff.  But I’m not complaining.  Things have been really good around here.  Nobody’s been sick (well, except for a persistent cold that we keep passing around, but that’s just part of spring, right?).  Claire has been rocking the sleep thing.  Joanna is hilarious and SO enjoyable these days.  And she’s been napping again…praise the Lord.  (No, seriously, I’m praising the Lord!!)

Last week, I decided to be a brave mom and pull out the finger paints.  To let go of some of that control, and let my kids be kids and create.  Ooof.  Easier said than done!  I had to keep chanting “Process over product.  Process over product.” to myself over and over while the girls worked.

Calvary on a paper plate.  Not Pinterest-worthy.

Calvary on a paper plate. Not Pinterest-worthy.

Even in this simple project, it was so fun to see their different personalities shine through.  Claire dove into the paint head first (I wish that was figurative).  She wasn’t fazed by the feeling of paint (or the taste, unfortunately).  Her artwork was…colorful (and messy).  Joanna, on the other hand, was deliberate and careful.  She did all her painting with one finger (so as to avoid getting too messy).  Her artwork was more calculated.

At one point, I commented, “Claire, you are so messy!”  And Joanna replied, “I messy too.”

No, Joanna.  You aren't messy.  Not even close.

No, Joanna. No, you aren’t.

In that moment, I saw the rawest form of comparison.  Joanna wanted to be what Claire was.  She saw the attention Claire was getting and wanted it.  Joanna disregarded her own skills and talents and design, and yearned to be someone else entirely (at least for that moment).

The Lord used that simple interaction to show me that I do the. exact. same. thing.

I disregard how He’s made me, and I long to be different.  I see the woman who is a gifted singer, leading worship week after week.  And I want that gift.  Or I see the woman who is able to always provide profound wisdom and perspective to any situation.  And I want that.  Or I see the woman who has it all together on Easter morning—kids in match-y outfits and wearing a cute outfit herself.  And I wish I could fit into any of my cute outfits.

Nothing against matching outfits.

Nothing against matching outfits.

But what Joanna failed to realize is that just because Claire has a particular talent (if you can even call being a messy artist a talent) it doesn’t mean Joanna is without any talents of her own.  I love that Joanna painted carefully and neatly.  I think that’s part of what makes her so sweet and special.  I know that her desire for organization and order will be something that will serve her well in the future (if it doesn’t control her, that is).

But isn’t that what I fail to realize too?  Just because somebody else has different talents doesn’t mean I don’t have any.  We can’t all be worship leaders.  We can’t all be gifted at the same things.  We can’t all be an ear, you know?!  (Thank you, 1 Corinthians 12:17.)

Claire is uniquely created by God.  She has the ability to dive into what she does with passion and energy.

Joanna is uniquely created by God.  She has the ability to be organized and deliberate in her work (even at her young age).

Carley is uniquely created by God.  He has given me special talents and gifts that He wants me to use for His kingdom.

You are uniquely created by God.  Are you able to see what talents God has given you?  Or do you find yourself longing to be an ear?

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?  If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

If all were a single member, where would the body be? 

As it is, there are any parts, yet one body.

1 Corinthians 12:17-20

3 Comments »

Ten on Ten: The Get-the-Kids-to-Nap Edition

There’s a definite theme to today’s pictures.  And it wasn’t even really intentional.  But after like 2 months of lame-o napping patterns, I decided today was the day.  Today was the day I was going to get the girls to nap…at the same time.

Clearly, I have ridiculous expectations.  At least I got to document it.

Somebody thought 5:45 was an awesome wake-up time, and then needed at 7:30 nap.  That's just silly.

Somebody thought 5:45 was an awesome wake-up time, and then needed at 7:30 nap. That’s just silly.

She did all of this by herself!!  I was so proud.  It doesn't even matter that Nemo is in the wrong place.

She did all of this by herself!! I was so proud. It doesn’t even matter that Nemo is in the wrong place.

A friend came over...and shared all of her snacks.  Which is basically Joanna's love language.

A friend came over…and shared all of her snacks. Which is basically Joanna’s love language.

We went on a walk/run at the mall to burn some energy.  Because that's what Northern Mainers do when there's still 3 feet of snow everywhere.

We went on a walk/run at the mall to burn some energy. Because that’s what you do when there’s still 3 feet of snow outside!

Bonus Picture:

Just in case you think Claire doesn't get enough attention.

Just in case you think Claire doesn’t get enough attention.

Lunch with some of my favorite ladies!  Dang, we're cute!!

Lunch with some of my favorite ladies! Dang, we’re cute!!

One kid down.

One kid down.

Welcome to Mud Season.

Welcome to Mud Season.

Another kid down!  Too bad Claire was awake at this point.

Another kid down! Too bad Claire was awake at this point.

Today is National Sibling Day, and here are two super cute siblings!

Today is National Sibling Day, and here are two super cute siblings!

The uglier side of siblings.  Note that Claire is holding the much desired pink block out of reach.  HA!

The uglier side of siblings. Note that Claire is holding the much desired pink block out of reach. HA!

 

ten on ten button

Leave a comment »

Before and After

I only had two things on my to do list today.  Totally manageable, right?

I love writing my to do lists on a white board.  I just erase as I go.

I love writing my to do lists on a white board. I just erase as I go.  So therapeutic.

I knew we were going to be out all morning, so I didn’t want to overdo it.  But we got home for lunch, and I looked around and was totally overwhelmed by the mess.  I joked with a friend that this was the kind of day where I needed to take Before and After pictures of my house.  Just to enjoy all the work that went into setting up the pins.  Because it’s not like it was really going to be all that amazing at the end…it was just going to be so much better than it was in the beginning.

So I did it.

I took Before and After pictures.  Yeah, I know…who does that?!

Here’s my Before:

This picture stresses me out just looking at it.  (Also, please note the pile of laundry on the floor that's still in the shape of a laundry basket...because I needed the basket for more laundry).

This picture stresses me out. (Also, please note the pile of laundry on the floor that’s still in the shape of a laundry basket…because I needed the basket for more laundry).

And here’s the After:

This just makes me happy.  I lit a candle too.  Because I'm an overachiever.

This just makes me happy. I lit a candle too. Because I’m an overachiever.

And you know what?  This stirred my affections for the Lord!  I feel less overwhelmed and stressed, less chaotic, and ready to engage with my girls and tackle dinner.  I just feel more peace and joy.  It started as a silly project to prove I did something today (because I know things will have re-exploded by the time Ben gets home), but it’s changed the attitude of my heart.  God is so cool like that.

Also, you should be really glad I don’t have pictures of the “During.”  That was a mess…with a toddler that wasn’t napping and a baby that napped and then woke up and then napped again (but required a lot of attention in the middle).

This Before and After picture is so misleading.  Misleading, but cute, right?

Claire at 1:30 and Claire at 3:00.  This is so misleading. Misleading, but cute, right?

 

 

 

Leave a comment »

Control Issues

I have a friend who posed a question on facebook last week.  It was a harmless, simple question.

And whoa, people had opinions!  Strong opinions.  Since I tend to not have strong opinions, it surprised me.

And made me laugh.  Because guess what she asked?

“Do you let your kids mix Play-Doh colors?”

Yeah, apparently, that’s a hot button issue.  Who knew?

The overwhelming response was, “NO!  It drives me crazy.”  Which I totally get.  I like things nice and neat and orderly too.

But…really?  You don’t let your kids mix Play-Doh because it drives you crazy?  That seems a bit controlling…

[If you were in the no-mixing camp, keep reading.  I have a point.  And it’s not to call you names.  Trust me.]

It was easy for me to read those responses and judge.  (Yeah, I judged.  I’m sorry.)

But you know what?  I am just as controlling.  Maybe not about Play-Doh, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want to control thoroughly unimportant things in my daughters’ lives.

And for the record, I’m not controlling about Play-Doh because I only let Joanna play with one color at a time…thus making mixing impossible.  Oh, wait.  Maybe that is controlling…

And for the record, I’m not controlling about Play-Doh because I only let Joanna play with one color at a time…thus making mixing impossible. Oh, wait. Maybe that is controlling…

So what do I try to control, you ask?  Ugh.  Where do I even start?

I control what they wear, which bins the toys go in, when they can use crayons, how much TV they see, when they can play with certain toys, where they play in the house, and on and on and on.  And don’t even get me started on the things I try to control that I have absolutely zero control over.

Some of those things are probably worth controlling.  At least to some extent.  But some of them aren’t worth the energy.  Like who cares if the blocks end up in the toy car bin? (Ironically, Joanna has been known to pull a block out of the wrong bin and put it in the right bin.  I love that girl.)

And sometimes she just wears the toy bin on her head...

And sometimes she just wears the toy bin on her head…

I wonder if this is something all moms struggle with…or if it’s just us Type-A, mildly OCD types.  So what about you?  Do you find yourself controlling aspect of your kids’ lives?  Or have you figured out the trick to just letting go and letting them be kids?  If so, it’s time to share your secrets.

3 Comments »

A Few More Thoughts on Stillness

I love the friends God has placed in my life.  I love how I can share something I’m working through, and you, my friends, reply and respond and trigger even more thoughts and a new perspective and much needed encouragement.  It’s a beautiful thing.  It’s what community and friendship should be.  It stirs my affections for the Lord.  (Thank you.)

And inspires a follow-up post about stillness.  You’re welcome.

So, it seems like there are some lies that we buy into about stillness and rest.  We equate stillness and rest with laziness.  And we don’t want to be lazy.  So we must. keep. busy. at all costs.  I’m not sure I consciously recognized this lie, but it’s there.  I feel like I need to do everything in order have value and/or deserve rest.  Never mind the fact that God Himself rested and certainly wasn’t lazy.

As I thought about that lie, I realized an even deeper root of this particular issue.  Not shockingly, it was the exact same root that’s at the heart of nearly all my struggles.  Pride.  Pride and fear of man.

While my constant busy-ness is draining and exhausting, it does actually produce some decent results.  And least externally.  My house is clean(ish).  My dishes are done.  My laundry doesn’t pile up.  My kids are bathed and dressed.  I look good.  I look like I have it all together.  Hello, Pride.  You are an ugly part of my heart.

It reminds me of Jesus’ description of the Pharisees, who were like the Kings of Pride.  He called them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27).  They “outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”

Yeah, that’s gross.  And that’s me.  Pretty on the outside, but not so much on the inside.

Because in my busy-ness, I certainly am not making time for the Lord and stillness with Him.  Heck, I couldn’t even just sit still for 15 minutes with a cup of coffee.

So I will keep practicing stillness and rest.  I was encouraged by someone a bit further along in this journey that it does get easier.  So there’s that.

Also, this poem describes my life.  Anyone else?

 

If You Give a Mom a Muffin
By Beth Brubaker

If you give a mom a muffin,
she’ll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She’ll pour herself some.
Her three year-old will come and spill the coffee.
Mom will wipe it up.
Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks.
She’ll remember she has to do laundry.
When she puts the laundry into the washer,
she’ll trip over shoes and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She’ll look for her cookbook
(How to Make 101 Things With a Pound of Hamburger.)
The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The checkbook is in her purse,
which is being dumped out by her two year-old.
Then she’ll smell something funny.
She’ll change the two year-old.
While she is changing the two year-old, the phone will ring.
Her five year-old will answer and hang up.
She’ll remember she was supposed to phone a friend
to come over for coffee.
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
She will pour herself some more.
And chances are,
if she has a cup a coffee,
her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

Leave a comment »

I’ve got a problem.

I’ve completely forgotten how to be still and rest.

I just can’t do it anymore.  And it’s creating a frazzled, panic-y, busy, stressed, peace-less feeling in my heart.  Talk about unpleasant.

I mean, I can be physically still.  Kind of.  But even when I’m physically still,  I nearly always have some form of technology in my hands—a phone, my computer, a camera, my tablet.  So that’s not actual stillness.

And don’t even get me started on being mentally still!  From the moment I wake up, my mind is a whirring mess of things that I need to do, conversations I need to have, texts I need to send, emails I need to write, and issues that I need to fix in my life.

But admitting this is the first step on the road to recovery, right?

“Hi, my name is Carley, and I have a busy-ness problem.”  “Hiiiii, Carley.”

“Hi, my name is Carley, and I have a busy-ness problem.”  “Hiiiii, Carley.”

The trick is that a lot of the things filling my mind and time aren’t necessarily bad things.  Laundry, dishes, cleaning, meal making, and diaper changing are all important.  Even the technology things have some value…

Facebook is great for connecting with others, especially those who are geographically distant.

Blogging is great for processing my thoughts and encouraging others (which I hope I do…at least some of the time).  Plus it’s a super easy way to make sure my mom has up-to-date pictures of the girls.

Hi, Mom.  The girls say thank you for the sweaters.

Hi, Mom. The girls say thank you for the sweaters.

To do lists are great for organizing the chaos that is my house and life.

Facebook, blogging, to do lists, emails, phone calls, texting, podcasts, and music have value.

But these things have absolutely zero value when I spend every free moment reaching for something to fill my free moments.  It’s gotten to the point that when I do sit down to read my Bible and pray and journal, I can’t even focus.  My mind is a ricocheting mess!!

[Last week, I realized I couldn’t even just watch March Madness with Ben without feeling like I need to be watching and doing something else.  Granted I don’t really love basketball, but that’s not the point.  I couldn’t just be present.  This is clearly become quite an issue.]

I claim that I want 2014 to be marked by listening.  I claim that I want Psalm 46:10 to define my relationship with God—“Be still and know that I am God.”  Something needs to change.

So today, I practiced stillness.  For 15 minutes.  Don’t laugh.  It was hard.

I made a cup of coffee, set my cell phone alarm, sat on the couch, and watched my girls play.

Within that time, I had to battle the urge to fill the time with less-still activities.  Seriously.  It was a battle!!

Do you know how many times I wanted to just grab a piece of paper and jot down a quick to do list?  Do you know how many times I wanted to grab my phone and shoot off a few quick texts to organize my week?  Do you know how hard it was to not grab my computer and scroll though facebook and some blogs?  Do you know how hard it was to let the basket of laundry just sit there?

I cheated a little and took a picture.

I cheated a little and took a picture.

My plan is to keep practicing stillness.  And perhaps that stressed-out, frazzled, tense, unpleasant feeling will be replaced by peace and joy and rest.

What about you?  Do you find it hard to be still?  Is it challenging for you to rest physically and mentally?  How do you unplug?

Leave a comment »