10-12-2015

A True Servant is Focused on Giving rather than Getting

Unfortunately, I sometimes {more times than I’d like to admit} utter up phrases that sound something like this…
“If I do this whatever it is, then will you do this other thing for me?”

What better description of a non servant’s heart is there,
than a servant who only serves so that they in turn will be served?

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If my service to others is about what I’m going to get in return, then it is all for naught.

As Tim Keller writes, “When you say, “I’ll serve, as long as I’m getting benefits from it,” that’s not actually serving people; it’s serving yourself through them. That’s not circling them, orbiting around them; it’s using them, getting them to orbit around you.”

Part of putting other people before yourself means that we aren’t looking for what we will receive on the flip side. Instead, we care more about the needs of other’s than caring about what they can do for us.

One of the best examples I’ve ever read on this topic, especially with it related to marriage, was written in a viral blog post by Seth Adams Smith. He writes “You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy… a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

So when I’m stuck in my rut of keeping track of whose done more or what can I ask for in return,
I have to remind myself to pray.

Asking God to keep my heart focused on giving rather than focusing on what I am receiving.

jessica

 

{Day 12 of the #write31days challenge. Every day I get more & more excited as I inch ever more closely to October 31! Click here to see a listing of all the posts written in this series. Or click on the right sidebar link to receive these posts in your inbox.}

10-10-2015

Thoughts on being subservient in marriage…yes, I’m going there!

Today is Day 10 of my writing for 31 days in a row and in many ways it is thrilling to try a challenge. But I find that on the weekends I have little motivation to write. If the post is not going to be read by many {which might happen on the weekend} then I don’t feel like writing.

So I am having to remind myself of my motivation to participate in this challenge. It wasn’t to grow blog traffic or the quantity of people signed up for post in their inbox. Those are nice bonuses, but the real reason was to improve my writing and become more consistent in how often I blog.

So even though I feel like time is running out on me getting a blog completed today, I am reminding myself it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just Do It will be my mantra for this post.

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I often hear people say that the Bible is antiquated in its view of a woman being subservient to a man. And to some extent, I get it, because when I google Subservient, the definition is blaring and I would never want those synonyms to describe me.

sub·ser·vi·ent
adjective
 prepared to obey others unquestioningly.
  1. synonyms: submissive, downtrodden, obedient, biddable, passive, unassertive, docile, subdued

But what if preachers {and readers of the Word} focused on the Bible as a whole?

Looked at the Bible as THE SUM OF IT’S PARTS.

Not just pulling out this verse or that single word and basing whole platforms on them.

What if instead of only preaching on women being subservient, they also preached on the importance of men serving their wives as Christ served the church?

Which means being willing to lose their life for their spouse.
Giving up your life sounds all glorious but isn’t the majority of serving found in the mundane, in the everyday?

So perhaps men should lose themselves every day for their wives?

….Tell your wife to get out with her friends for the evening after your extremely long day at work. Even though that means you’ve got to handle all three kids by yourself, along with making dinner, giving baths, and wrangling kids to that thing called bedtime. Sure, it isn’t fun, it isn’t easy…but it’s putting your wife above yourself first.

…Or what if it’s truly listening and engaging with your wife when she talks about her not interesting day…we get that diapers and breastfeeding aren’t exciting. But when a husband takes the time and effort to listen, then us women, want to do the same for our husbands.

I think we need to look at husbands as being just as much of a servant to their wives, as their wives are to them.

I get that this is a controversial topic and there is so much more I could say on the topic.. For example, I consider myself extremely blessed to have a husband who highly respects me…so for me, it’s not hard to think about serving my spouse because he serves me so well.

But for way too many women, their husband’s are abusive, controlling, demanding…everything Christ commands a man NOT to be to his wife. So where does the subservient relationship fit into those roles? I’m not sure.

I just wanted to share my thoughts on the topic because I don’t think you can discuss how to serve your spouse without also considering the meaning of being subservient.

jessica

10-05-2015

Photojournal of A Flooded Lowcountry Experience

The governor calls it a once in a thousand year rain deluge.

We call this whole thing deranged, us with our restless kids, antsy to do something other than endure another day long marathon of PBS Kids.

So this morning again, rather than stick to the Servant’s Heart topic for #write31days, I thought I’d share photos of all the flooding we’ve been wading through over the last 5 days.

Enjoy!
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10-03-2015

What is a Servant’s Heart?

{Day 3 of the 31 Days to a Servant’s Heart series. Click here to see all series posts.}

Whispered worriedly in my ear are the words of a precocious little one “Mama, I’m sorry I used up all your dental floss, but I just had to make the Orb’s golden silk spider web”.

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The cords of floss thread in and out of every crevice in his room, making a spider web for this animal loving boy of mine.

It doesn’t matter how simple the task of navigating the spider web seems, I can’t do it without getting tripped up in the floss. And I’m reminded of just how often I get tripped up in this whole serving others thing.

I set out to serve with a gracious heart but instead I get so caught up in keeping track of all ‘my good’ that any love I started out with is gone before I’ve done more than just think about serving someone else.

So what is a servant’s heart and why in the world does it even matter?

A servant’s heart is bent towards gratitude that they are able to serve instead of resentment that they have to serve.

It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?

So easy to grumble that my kids are legions beyond stir crazy as another 24 hours of flooding rain continues here. But when my perspective changes, I find myself thankful I have a roof over our head, no floodwaters are entering the safety of our home, and my kids are healthy & thriving based on the high decimal level echoing through the house.

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Perspective changes my heart from…

…I HAVE to make dinner yet again to I GET to provide a healthy nutritious meal for my family

…I HAVE to fold the never ending pile of laundry to I GET to provide a clean house for us to find rest in

…I HAVE to wash those dishes, bathe those kids, the list could go on & on….

But there is always time to take a step back and retrain my thought process to focus instead on the positive and the blessings I DO have in my life.

So that’s what I’m working towards this month.

Working to change the whispers in my heart from
I have to
towards
I get to.

jessica

 

{Written as part of the #write31days challenge. My entire series 31 Days to a Servant’s Heart can be found here.}

10-02-2015

10 Fun Filled Activities for Rainy Days at Home

Despite all my best plans, today’s #write31days has not gone according to plan. So we are deviating away from A Servant’s Heart and I’m simply writing with the time I have available.

That is what happens when your school district decides to close school because there is a rain storm on the way.

Yep, you heard that right.

We had no school today because of potential flooding.

As of 3:43pm this afternoon, it’s rained a total of .0000001 inches. I’m just not sure how those kids in the Pacific Northwest ever get any schooling since I’ve heard it rains all the time there. {I’m sure you couldn’t hear the sarcasm in my voice there, could you??}

In reality, I get that downtown Charleston is quite flooded. But the suburbs…not so much.

And the funny part is people think the rain has something to do with the hurricane. It doesn’t. Not one inch.
The hurricane is 556 miles away battering the poor people in the Bahamas. But us in Charleston, it’s doing nothing. I’ve even heard that Florida weather looks pretty great today!

So on to something meaningful…here are 10 ideas on how to spend a rainy day with stir crazy kids at home. Most include stuff you already have at home, proving that for kids {and adults} fun is not dependent upon dollars spent.

1. Shaving Cream Fights
Put your kids in the shower {or tub} and let them go to town with some bottles of shaving cream. The cheaper the stuff, the better.
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2. Build a super duper fort {with an air mattress for even more fun}
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3. Splash in puddles {i know, not very original, but a childhood classic}
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4. Have a mud flinging contest {we are a bit of a messy family, if you can’t tell!}
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5. Make yummy desserts {I hope to post recipe next week!}
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6. Make lego creations solely to be entered into the Lego Club Magazine
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7. Make a shaving cream {snow} village on your kitchen table
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8. Build spider webs with dental floss or twine. Then try to walk/crawl through without falling. I’ve never
made it through one without getting twisted up.
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9. Make really weird stuff with modeling clay
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10. Bring out the science experiments
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STAY DRY!!!

jessica

08-10-2015

63 Places off the Beaten Path in Charleston, SC

Finding and exploring hidden gems in nature is one of my favorite past times. Here are our personal favs along with undiscovered places we hope to check out soon. So load the kids up and get up close & personal with the great outdoors. {listed in no particular order}

1. Daniel Island Waterfront Park, Daniel Island
Situated on the shores of the Wando River and replicated to resemble the Charleston harbor, this park’s best feature  is the proximity to the waterfront trails. When facing the water, take the left hand trails and you will come to a small bit of shoreline where the trees are eroding into the river. If you aren’t able to boat out to Capers & Dewey’s, this is your next best way to experience an eroding shoreline.
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2. Trails at Wannamaker Park
There are 2 miles of paved trails, as well as the 8 mile Wannamaker North Trail for bicyclist and nature explorers.

3. Charles Towne Landing
Great for bike riding but make sure to go when it is NOT hot. There is very little shade here.

4. Old Santee Canal Park

5. Charleston Library Society story time, Downtown
This is a completely different organization than the county’s library system. This non profit was founded to expound one’s natural curiosity through art, speakers, and ultimately – books. They have a summer reading time for kids.

6. Historic Charleston Foundation kid programs, Downtown
Who knew that the organization responsible for ensuring our city’s awe-inspiring architecture is protected, also has numerous after school & during the summer educational programs for children?

7. Trolley Rides, Downtown Charleston
Park at the Visitors Center and ride the FREE trolley around downtown.

8. Waterfront Park, Downtown Charleston
A great way to beat the heat and enjoy downtown all in one swoop. Even better, take advantage of the FREE trolleys (see #7) to get there and your kids will think you are the best mom ever.
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9. Sunrise Park, James Island

10. Charles Pickney National Historic Site, Mount Pleasant
My favorite place in Charleston for family photos and kids being kids.

11. Marsh View Trail, Mount Pleasant
An easy paved trail for kids that takes you out to the marsh. Wear flip flops/crocs and you can explore the marsh. We recently found mussels here!

12. Seewee Shell Ring Trail

13. Awendaw Creek Landing
The trails are great for exploring and the dock is fun for crabbing.

14. Hampton Plantation
Explore nature trails and let the kids run wild.

15. The Custom Building, downtown Charleston
It may look formal & imposing, but there is nothing wrong with having your youngsters run up these steps to burn off some energy.

16. Crabbing
Catching crabs on a line of twine with chicken necks is one of my favorite past times, so no, I won’t be sharing my favorite crabbing hole. However, try your hand at these great locations – Shem Creek Park, Awendaw Creek Landing and Pitt Street Bridge. Stop by Haddrell’s for your crabbing and fishing needs.
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17. Farmer’s Markets
Give your children a few dollars and let them pick out a new vegetable to try. Kids are much more likely to try food that they had a hand in picking out and cooking.
Luckily in Charleston, we have farmer’s markets almost every single day of the week.
Monday ~ Seabrook & Kiawah Islands
Tuesday ~ Mt. Pleasant
Thursday ~ Daniel Island and North Charleston
Saturday ~ Downtown Charleston, Goose Creek, John’s Island, & Summerville
Sunday ~ James Island

18. Shem Creek Park

19. SEWEE Educational Center
My kids love learning about all the ‘stuffed’ animals they are able to see here. Plus, they have a boardwalk trail you can explore.

20. Center for Birds of Prey

21. Caw Caw Interpretive Center
Your best chance to see an alligator is here. Perfect for older kids or at least have enough adults to corral youngsters that like to run.

22. Hazel Parker Playground, Downtown Charleston
Nestled behind a City of Charleston recreation department building, this little gem stays tucked out of view from all the tourists walking by. It has something for everyone…different sets of climbing equipment perfect for young & old, tennis, baseball, AND basketball courts. And if that wasn’t enough….THEY HAVE BATHROOMS!! Located inside the recreation department building, you will find restrooms and a water fountain. And if you are lucky enough, the inside doors will be open and your kids can play inside the building with plenty of toys while you get a break from the heat with some air conditioning!
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23. Park Circle Butterfly Garden

24. Magnolia Gardens
Out of the 4 major plantations in Charleston, this one is my favorite. The gardens are romantic, beautiful, and splendid.

25. Tennis Courts (Whipple Road)
When my son was a rambunctious 2 year old that loved to run as far away as possible I would load him up and take him to the tennis courts. He could run & run and never run away from me. I would just hit tennis balls and he’d have to run and pick them up for me. I’m all about free & easy child entertainment!

26. Dunleavy’s Popcorn & Wings
When you need a cheap date with your husband and hiring a sitter isn’t possible, this is the next best thing. Kids eat unlimited popcorn and you take advantage of wings and the salty beach air. !

27. Belgium Gelato
Want to become #momofthedecade? Park at the Visitors Center, ride the FREE trolley, cool off at Waterfront Park, then head 2 doors down for this delicious gelato.

28. Charleston Park Conservancy
Find parks {think nice classical parks, not necessarily with playground equipment} all over town.

29. West Ashley Greenway

30. North Charleston Waterfront Park
Not only is there a beautiful meadow and large pavilion, but there are also sprinklers/spray fountains to cool kids off.

31. Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, downtown Charleston

32. Hampton Park, Downtown

33. Jason’s Lake & Botnay Bay, Edisto Island
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34. Edisto Beach State Park

35. Governor’s Park, Daniel Island
Zipline, playground, shade!, and access to trails perfect for exploring the marsh and estuaries habitats.

36. Smythe Park, Daniel Island
A pirate themed playground with a large lake for kid anglers’.

37. Library Programs, Charleston County
From Picolo Spoleto events to Magic Treehouse Clubs, the library has great programs all summer long.

38. $1 Movies at Regal Cinemas

39. Morris Island Lighthouse
Although you can’t ‘see & touch’ the lighthouse you can find a great view by going to the far end of the east side of Folly. Morris Island is a great lesson for your kids to learn about how the tides continually alter the landscape of our islands.
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40. Bert’s Market, Folly Beach
One of my absolute most favorite places in Charleston! Complete beach dive…where else can you find cold pressed juices, organic hotdogs, and nightcrawlers for bait all in the same place? Seriously, I adore this place and my secret dream is to open one in Mt. Pleasant. I’ve already got the perfect corner spot picked out…think of superman gorillas and you’ll know where I’m talking about.

41. Pick Berries
Whether you pick in town or find an organic farm within an hour drive of Charleston, your kids will love running around dirt fields and eating berries to their hearts content.

42. Charleston Tea Plantation, Wadmalaw Island
Take your girls for ‘tea’ with their favorite babydolls. Or a perfect place to visit sans kids.

43. York Towne/Patriots Point, Mount Pleasant

44. Chapel Park
A favorite hidden gem with a gorgeous water fountain.
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45. Charleston County Park & Recreation docks and trails
CCPRC has fishing docks and trails for exploring at almost every single park they maintain. My kids love the Palmetto Island County Park for its abundance of fiddler crabs found on the creek banks.

46. Bee City, Cottageville

47. Cypress Gardens, Monck’s Corner

48. Bamboo Forest, Sullivan’s Island
Next to the SI fire station, this bamboo forest is so neat and hidden away.

49. A Very Little Book Store, Summerville
The perfect place for a cozy story time.

50. Trophy Lakes, John’s Island
The perfect place to learn to water ski or wake board.

51. Graveyards {self-guided Gateway Walk}, Downtown Charleston
There are lots of graveyards throughout the Holy City but you may not know that there is a walkway that connects quite a few of the churches and graveyards. This would obviously be better for teenagers or sans kids.

52. Gates of Charleston
Here is another idea when you find yourself without children. The peninsula has so many homes with gorgeous gates containing intricate iron art.
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53. The Angel Oak
A pretty neat way for kids to see a very old oak tree.

54. Mace Brown Museum of Natural History, Downtown Charleston
Who knew that College of Charleston had a history museum?? We have yet to check it out but have on our short list.

55. Awendaw Green, Awendaw

56. The Hunley Museum, North Charleston

57. Firefly Distillery, Wadmalaw
Part of Irvin House Vineyards and very close to Charleston Tea Plantation (see #42)

58. College of Charleston campus, Downtown
I am all about impromptu picnics in beautiful locations and the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard and Porter’s Lodge are too beautiful not to visit.

59. Freshfields Village {Music on the Green}, Kiawah & Seabrook Island

60. Hunting Island, Beaufort
A climbable lighthouse PLUS a gorgeous eroding shoreline.

61.Pitt Street Bridge, Mount Pleasant

62. Seewee Outpost, Awendaw
You know a gas station must be pretty amazing to make it onto a list of the best things to do in Charleston, and this general store definitely delivers! It’s a destination in and of itself. We try not to let our kids out of the car when we stop here to get gas because there is no way you leave without buying some cool classic childhood toy.  You’ll find everything from Cabella’s clothing to the perfect BB gun for your son to that pink fishing pole your daughter just has to have. I’ve never been disappointed when we stop here.

63. The Pickled Palate, Mt. Pleasant
My favorite lunch spot! This funky eclectic panini shop serves up great food along with a one of a kind atmosphere.

08-03-2015

Getting through the dog days of summer

I call a friend, knowing she’ll understand the desperation in my voice.
The words teetering between a whine and a beg.
“Remind me again, how many more days before school starts?”

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Loads of laundry piled up high, dishes accumulating far too quickly, and I’m not really sure the last time my bathroom was cleaned. And if I can be brutally honest…there is mold & scum clearly visible on the shower door.

It reminds me of a bachelor’s house but no, it’s just what summertime accomplishes in this house of mine. Summer will wreck havoc on the most organized of women. So consider what home looks like for me, one of the least organized women!

There is chaos and mayhem in piles of dirty dishes, produce that all needs canned at once, kids insisting they have to help make dinner which translates into even more messes. And don’t get me started on the Legos scattered endlessly over surfaces that are still sticky from yesterdays glued on art project.

On June 1st those messes looked SO cute.
By August 1st that same mess sends me into tirades, screams, and frustrated sighs.

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So how do we make it through this chaotic mess that intrudes so unapologetically into our lives?

Perhaps I need to change my perspective so I can find beauty in this mess.
Find joy in the most unexpected places.

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For along with the chaos and mayhem, there IS beauty that abounds if I stop myself from yelling and choose gratitude instead of frustration.

Beauty is everywhere, if I simply change my attitude.

Beauty can be found… in pajama laden breakfast of homemade Belgium waffles …as the exciting urge to can tomatoes kicks into high gear …in the joy found as my daughter insists to spend time with me, helping peel shrimp for dinner.

And those Legos, that art project that leaves sticky residue all over the kitchen table…doesn’t God want me to see the beauty in the creativity that my children create?

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Perhaps we need to lower our expectations of what we think life should look like and remind ourselves of what really matters.

Summertime {and life for that matter} isn’t supposed to be neat and pretty and organized.

Your house shouldn’t look perfect.
It should look like children live there.

And living means making messes with markers, stickers, and popsicles.

Don’t we have the most fun when there is dirt under our nails, berry juice running down our faces {and ending on our shirts}, and sand stuck to our heels?

So close out of pinterest, with its’ unattainable ethereal perfection, and bring on these last days of summer.

Let’s find beauty in spontaneous trips to the park, even though that means leaving the house a mess.

Let’s experience joy running through a field of clovers, not worrying about the grass stains on our knees as we search for that exclusive four leaf clover.

Let’s laugh our hearts out in a water balloon fight, allowing ourselves to live life as a child, free of care & concern.

Eventually, I will have a plethora of hours and will while away the time by creating a pristine house.
But that season is not now.
And all the grandma’s in my life tell me that when that day comes, I’ll wish I had these begrudged hours back.

So embrace the moment you are in.

Embrace the messy. Embrace the sticky. Embrace the chaos.

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Real living, real memory making is found in the messy, in the sticky, in the chaos.

jessica

{Hopefully coming later this week, The Dog Days of Summer 2: Experiencing joy in the midst of whining kids and emotional breakdowns}

04-10-2015

Living Life…Enjoying The Simple Moments

As I’ve often said, I don’t want to miss out on the joy of living presently in the moment and miss precious moments that are all to quickly fleeting.

So sometimes months go by before I feel the need to write a blog post.

And sometimes, instead of writing words, I really just want to share photos of how we have been spending our time…

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Being outdoors, enjoying nature, is probably our family’s most enjoyed past time.
I hope you are able to get outside this weekend and soak up some sunshine!

jessica

01-09-2015

Happy New Year’s

Way back when, before time slipped into a new Millenium, I wondered what my life would look like in 2015.
Fifteen years away, it seemed so far away, so unreachable.

But as you & I both know, in that proverbial blink of the eye, it’s here before you know it.

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Fifteen years ago, I had no clue I would meet my one & only before another year was rung in.
Fifteen years later, not only do I have my best friend as my husband but also two rambunctious children who make me so proud to be their mama .

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Our Christmas & New Year’s break was a 2 week whirlwind filled with family & friends, quite a bit of driving, and a lot of fun.

We were lucky enough to go on a train ride to the “North Pole”, jump in 50° water at the polar bear plunge, and eat our fair share of oysters.

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And I promise we are not obsessed with guns, although these pictures indicate otherwise!
In December we went to our first ever BB Gun Party.
Yes, you heard that right…a BB Gun Party!

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I hope you & yours, a midst all the chaos that the holidays can bring, had many such fun & festive moments!

And let’s hope 2015 is filled with many more special memory making moments.

Love,
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10-30-2014

When your life is swirling and unfortunately it’s not goodness spewing from your lips…

The wind blows a midst the branches, leaves swirling, caught in the revolving dance of nature.

So goes our lives, being a mom, being a daughter, being a caregiver. Don’t we all have seasons when our lives are swirling around us, and there seems no end in sight?

When we have to literally makes ourselves stop. Make ourselves take a deep breath and simply BREATHE.

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Last week, just hours prior to leaving town for a blogging conference, I screamed at my 4 year old daughter that “she had issues.”

Yes, unfortunately, you heard that right.

I screamed at a defenseless child…solely because she wouldn’t put a sweater over her head.

Whew…NOT my proudest moment! And to top it all off, the blogging conference…oh, it was a christian bloggers conference. Talk about really needing the grace of God…I certainly am not a Christian because I’ve got it all right.

It’s more like I get so much wrong and can do nothing good without Him.

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All the pressures of the week, all the tugs and pulls to be this & that had left me depleted.

And unfortunately, my kids, my husband, my friends…they received my meager leftovers.

That moment was such a poignant reminder that without Christ, what do I truly accomplish?

If I am not filling myself, moment by moment with Christ, then what do my leftovers look like?

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When your kid sweetly says “yes, ma’am” or takes their plate to the sink without asking…it’s easy in that moment to respond patiently with lots of gentleness. But when they contort their face to a snarl and stomp those little feet, when the bickering never ceases, and they quite intentionally slam that door in your face…
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Those are the moments when it’s only Christ’s love that can respond in joy, in peace, in patience, in kindness.

Everyone has joy when their bundled little one smiles for the first time or the teetering child takes that first solid step… but when the 4am greeting is “Mama, I just threw up again” and you’re left stripping a bed for the 14th morning in a row…

That’s the moment you have to pray for the fruits of the spirit to be breathed out in you.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Galations 5:22 & 23

When I accomplish nothing on my own, is when God accomplishes the most for His glory.
When I am weakest, He is strongest.
When I admit that I’m not perfect, when I ask my child for forgiveness, when I delve into the messy chaotic past…

When I let go of trying to be perfect on my own. Of trying to act like I’ve got this parenting thing under control.

Only then, is God able to come alongside me, pick me up, and help me move forward.

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So hopefully in that next future moment, when she stares defiantly at me that, “no, she isn’t putting on that red quilted sweater”…in that moment I say…”that is just fine.”

And when my child sees me truly repentant of my selfishness, when they experience firsthand me, mom, asking forgiveness for lashed out words…hopefully then, they see it’s okay to admit our flaws and imperfections.

So when my life swirls out of control, am I beckoning God to come close? Can I take at least one thing off my to-do list so that I can be more present and in the moment with my kids? Do I find moments every hour to remind myself of scripture, to ask God moment by moment to reside peacefully in me, so that others can experience joy, peace, patience from above and not the spewing of someone depleted from life.

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