Finding the Meaning, Joy and Purpose…

…in the chaos and the crazy

Just Focus…

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For Emily…

parking lot
This spring a 9-year-old girl in our school district was hit and killed in the parking lot of her school at drop off.  The driver was her mom.  Her mom.  It is believed that she was trying, for whatever reason, to get back into the car, as the mom pulled away.

I.  Can’t.  Imagine.

What made it ironic in my life, it that the day before was my youngest’s 9th birthday.
I’m a mom.  I drop off my kids and my ‘little kids’ that I nanny at school often.  I have a 9-year-old.  It hit close to home.
I wonder what their morning was like that Monday.  4 more days of school, then off for more than a week for Spring Break.
Was Emily excited?  Did her or her mom make mention of the last Monday of school before break?  Was their morning calm or rushed?  Did they eat breakfast together?  Was Mom distracted that morning?  Already thinking about what waited for her at work?  Had she worked the night before and she was rushing home to get some sleep?  Did they say goodbye to each other as she hopped out of the car?  Did they say “I love you”….one more time?  Was she simply distracted as she pulled away, not realizing her sweet girl was trying to get back in the car?
When I heard the horrible news, I almost vomited.  It hit me in the gut.  And then I thought…how could a parent go on after this?  How does a school heal?  How do friends, classmates, witnesses, move on?
Prayer.  Grace.  Jesus.  That’s it.  That’s all.  And that’s more than enough.  Nothing else can heal your heart after tragedy like this.

Nothing.

Each morning after Emily’s death, I make extra sure that no matter the craziness of the morning, no matter if my boy (or me) is grumpy, and especially if less than kind words have been spoken (guilty!!!) there is one more “I love you”, one more hug, one more kiss.
And each time I drop a child off at school, I wait, just a few more seconds, until I see them safely walking away from the car on the sidewalk. Shamefully, I didn’t always take that extra second before.  And a lot of other parents didn’t either.  But the difference in all parents dropping off kids is noticeable, thankfully.

And as my tiny passenger jumps out, they hear “I love you!  Make it a great day!”

They don’t hear my whispered prayer for Emily’s family.  They don’t hear my prayer that parents will take the extra second to ensure their child is a safe distance from the car before they pull away.  They don’t hear my prayer that every parent will say “I love you!” as they send their child out into the world for the day.  They don’t hear my prayer that God will put a hedge of protection around them and keep them safe.

But Jesus does, and He’s the only one that needs to.

May He keep our kids safe, may He show them His love, and may He heal everyone affected by Emily’s death.

Because only He can.

News Coverage of Accident

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Giving Up…

give up

Did you miss me?

I sure hope you did…because I missed you!  But I have a great excuse reason!  This weekend we had ‘family’ in town.  Actually, it was my oldest son, Joshua, …by ‘adoption’!  (were you thinking I had a big secret I was keeping from you? 😉  Years ago, when we were still living in Pennsylvania, we had the opportunity and blessing to spend time with a great group of college students from Valley Forge Christian College.  The group helped run the children’s ministries at our church.  We loved these kids…like our own.  They hung out at our house, babysat our kids (for free laundry services;), dog sat, house sat, and hopefully, found our home as a safe place to escape their small campus.  A place they felt loved, valued, and appreciated.  Thinking back, I bet they didn’t feel those things as strongly as I would’ve liked.  The busyness of life, working fulltime, 3 little kids, running a home, distracted me from focusing on my priorities the way I wish I could’ve at the time.  I wish I had been so much more intentional with my time, my talents, my words, my attention.  I wish I had done more to invest in this group of young people God placed in our lives.

Enough about my regrets…

But in the next few days, I’m going to be sharing more about the visit we had with our ‘son’.  He is preparing to go to Turkey to be a missionary for the next 3 years.  3 years!!!  Turkey!!!  He’s amazing, God is amazing…I want to tell you so much more about him.  And brag on God and how He has called our precious loved one to share the Gospel on the Silk Road.  Maybe I’ll ask him to write a post to share his vision and call with you. 😉

So what does all that have to do with why I haven’t posted in days?

We were blessed to have Josh stay with us for a few days.  Before he came, I naively thought I could keep up my writing with him here.  Silly me…I should know myself better than that!  So I didn’t write…I didn’t post anything…and now I struggle to get back into the routine of writing.  I have started, and stopped so many things.  Countless projects, crafts, weight loss plans, exercise regimens, cleaning programs, get organized plans…the list goes on…and on…and on.  I think you get the point.

So as I’ve gotten out of the routine of writing and posting, my natural ‘go to’ personality response is…’You didn’t keep up with it…great job Melissa, another thing you tried, and failed at. Surprise, surprise.   You should know this is where you’d find yourself.  You don’t finish anything you start.’

Harsh…and true.  And I have a feeling a lot of you can relate to that inner dialog…a little too well.

So…here’s what I’m going to change to dialog to:

“Yup, you stopped writing…for a FEW DAYS!  It’s not the end of the world.  There’s no one telling you that you can’t ever write again.  You’re not kicked out of the #Write31Days group.  So put on your big girl panties, pull up your brave girl boots, and KEEP GOING!  There is NOTHING stopping you!  You’ve got this girl!!!”

And as I remind myself of these words, I will find freedom from the perfectionism trying to distract me from what God has called me to do in this season of my life:  Share His love, His word, His encouragement with whoever He brings to read these words that He helps me craft.  If it’s one person, one thousand, one million, I just desire to be faithful to Him as I share my perspective on the life, this side of eternity, that He has blessed me with.

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I Wish We Could Do This More Often…

Come to me

His words pierced my heart.

I sat, for just a few spare, stolen moments, in my favorite chair with the best 9-year-old in the world snuggled in my lap.  My arms were wrapped tightly around him.

“I love you.  I wish we could do this more often.”

And I told him how much I wish we could too…started to talk about how if he’d just do his morning routine like he’s supposed to…and then I caught myself.  Don’t let the distractions and perfection get in the way of this moment. Let them go.

So I just sat for a moment, savoring his body melting into mine.  Trying to breathe in the moment and memorize it forever.  How big he’s getting, but how childlike he still is.  How he still loves to hold my hand or curl up in my lap.  I know from having my two other, older boys, before long, he won’t fit in my lap.  He won’t want to be wrapped in my arms.

And then God placed a thought in my mind.  I wish we could have more moments like this.  My arms wrapped around you, just being together for a quiet moment.  I wish we could do this more often.

Oh how that cut me to the core.  So convicting.  And so loving.  Only my Father can point out such painful truth with such enduring, gentle love.  And make it feel like a love song, instead of condemnation.  Only He can use the whispers of a child to remind me of all I need to let go, and why.  To have quiet moments wrapped in His arms.  My soul aches for this…and my To Do list says no.  My distractions scream no. My battle with perfection hollers no.  But He says YES. 

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

And I know, that in the moment I come to Him, weary and burdened, tired and groggy, joyful and energized, sad and sorrowful, distracted and battling, He will give me rest.  And He will wrap His arms around me, and take in the moment.  Think of me fondly.  And sing His love over me.

And I couldn’t want anything more.

 

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Perfection…

MIchael J Fox

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A Completely Ordinary, Amazing Day

Yesterday I had such an amazing day.  It was completely ordinary.  A ‘textbook’ Monday.

And then it happened…

God gave me the opportunity to be a blessing.  And I took it. 15 minutes of my time to run an errand was a huge help to a teacher that needed some classroom supplies.

Then He gave me another opportunity…in the form of a Diet Coke.  And I took it. 5 minutes and $1.06 put a smile on a new friend’s face.  She’s battling a battle that I know little about…but God knows it all.  And He told me to go buy her a Diet Coke.  So I did.

Once, I was asked by a person, once by my Father.

And through my distractions, my chaos and my crazy…I knew I should say yes.  And I did.

There are so many times I get a whisper from Him, but I ignore it.  I don’t want to get out of my comfort zone…’put myself out there’.  And I miss out.  On blessing that person, and on blessing myself.  Does God love me less when I ignore His whisper?  Absolutely not.  Does He love me more when I obey His whisper?  Absolutely not.

My obedience, or lack of it, does not change how my Father loves me.  But when I ignore Him, or when I say no to Him, I miss out.  I miss out on the communion with Him that I experience when I obey.  I miss out on feeling His love wash over me.  I miss out on the joy He has waiting for me.

I miss out when I say no.

And in His beautiful grace, He had a number of people today reach out to me to share how my writing is encouraging them. I even had a friend text me from work to tell me how deeply my words affected her.  Comments on the blog…FB messages.  God placed words of encouragement on other people’s hearts.  And they said yes.  And I was blessed.  And I hope they were too.

Now please hear me on this…I am NOT saying that because I obeyed God, He then blessed me by having people encourage me. There’s no equation at work here (I do for God=He does for me). I believe with every fiber of my being that very likely, He would’ve had those same people share those same words with me today whether I said yes or no to His requests.

But oh how sweet, was it for me to bless others today.  To put a real smile on a face that has worry written all over it.  To see the look of relief on a stressed out face.   To know I encouraged a friend with too much on her plate.  And literally…as I type this…for one of my precious boys to come to me and say thank you for telling him how I noticed he’s working harder in school and complimenting him on his progress.

I’m crying happy tears as I type because of the way that I feel so loved, so blessed, so full of joy.  My purpose..it was fulfilled today.  Today was an amazing day.  And it was completely ordinary.  Except, that it wasn’t.  And I wouldn’t want it to have been any other way.

I hope my week, my month, my years…my life  are filled with completely ordinary, amazing days.  I couldn’t hope for more.

Has the #Write31Days challenge taken a lot of my time…yes it has.  But  ignoring the many distractions of my life and mind  to take time to not only notice the needs of the people in my life but to meet them the best I can…that’s progress,  And maybe, just maybe…God is using all this to bring me full circle.

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When the Crazy Kicks In

Fran Bates
Shortly after I felt the nudge from God on my topic for the #Write31Days, Letting Go of Distractions and Perfectionism, I borrowed a few CD’s from our library.  One of them was Francesca Battistelli’s “If We’re Honest”.  The second song, When the Crazy Kicks In made my jaw drop.  If I were to write (or better yet have written by a musician) a theme song for this series…perhaps for my life…THIS is the song it should be!!!  The words resonated so strongly for me that I actually toyed with changing the name of my blog, my series…pretty much every decision I had made about this crazy endeavor of writing.
Here’s a section of the song:
When The Crazy Kicks In By Francesca Battistelli
  • Here I go tiptoeing to the kitchen
    And don’t you know, crash goes the coffee cup
    My only chance to be still and listen
    Lord, don’t let, don’t let the kids wake up
    A little time with You, the only way to get me through the day
  • Oh, come meet me in this moment
    Before it all gets going
    These plates start to spin
    When the crazy kicks in
    A circus of distractions
    It’s just about to happen
    I’ll be ready when
    When the crazy kicks in

WHEN THE CRAZY KICKS IN…

I think that starts the second I wake up…and doesn’t stop until I drift off to sleep…

A CIRCUS OF DISTRACTION…

I think that starts the second I wake up…and doesn’t stop until I drift off to sleep…

Is there a theme here?

I think there is…and not only does Francesca explain the problem, she shares the solution. (my kids know how happy this makes me…I’m constantly asking them for solutions to the ‘problems’ aka complaining, they share with me…I realize this is an area I wish I had realized to focus on more as they were little…it’s so easy to just solve their problems for them when they’re little instead of teach them to problem solve.  Mommy fail! 😉

 “A little time with You, the only way to get me through the day”

Really…that’s all it takes.  A little time…with Him.  Maybe your schedule, in this season, only allows you a few minutes in the morning before the crazy kicks in kids wake up.  Maybe you’re in a season where the  plates start to spin before you even wake up, and your alarm clock is a crying baby.  Or a cranky teenager.  And that little time in the morning shrinks away.

Can I suggest something?  Throughout your day…just stop, take a deep breath…and whisper “Jesus”.  And He will meet you in that moment.  Right then, right there…because He’s already there, whether you realize it or not.  He just wants you to meet Him there.  Notice Him.

In the chaos of the laundry (thank you Lord that we are blessed with clothes to wear and the resources to clean them) grass stains (thank you Lord that my kids are healthy and strong to run and play.  And when they fell and got this grass stain, they got back up, and did it all over again.  Thank you that they have a safe place to play in the fresh air.) meal prep (thank you Lord that we have food to feed our family) and cleaning the house (thank you Lord that we have a place to call home, protect us from the elements and keep us safe) we can breathe a little prayer of thanks to the Lord who gives us the Meaning, Joy and Purpose in all of our chaos and crazy.

And He WILL meet you… and help you…and love you…and sustain you…and help you with your spinning plates

I promise you, my friend.

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The Imperfect Blog…

and how I’m trying to be ok with it…..

blog

Can I be honest?  {oh…that’s right this is MY blog and I can do whatever I want here…lol!}

Let me be real honest……because that’s what you’re going to get here from me…honesty 😉

I HATE HOW MY BLOG LOOKS!!!!!

What was that?  I’m writing a series about ‘Letting Go’ of my distractions and perfection infection?  Oh yeah!  And that is part of why my blog looks like it does…because I dove in head first (like I always do 😉 to writing every day for all of October (why couldn’t they pick a shorter month like April?  lol!)  and I had to quickly throw together a blog (I could write for 310 days about procrastination…but I’ll do that later…lol!)

But here’s where my progress shows…

A few months ago I found a service to set up and design your blog.  It’s not cheap, but pretty reasonable.  I talked to the hubs and he told me to go for it…but the more I thought about it, I realized that suddenly writing 31 posts in 31 days and making decisions about how I want my blog to look was just too much.  I know me, and chances are, after I made all the decisions about the blog design, I’d be too stressed and overwhelmed to actually write!  So here I am, writing for 31 days (which I am loving by the way!!!) posting to a blog that makes me cringe every time I look at it.  Writing about battling perfection.  And distraction.

The imperfect looking blog is a big distraction for me, friend.

Oh…the irony!

Trust me…I know God is laughing…again!  But I hope I’m passing His test on this one.  Because I sure do fail more of His tests than I ever should.  But little by little, as I slow down and listen to the little voice inside, I’m starting to show some progress.  Babysteps…but it’s something.  And that is why, in November, after this writing series is over, I will begin to redesign my blog.  And I can’t wait….but in the meantime, I’m going to keep looking at this blog and know that even though it’s imperfect…it’s good enough.  And for me, for this season, that is good enough for me.

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Do Life Big…

jg-do life big

Yet again…God has taken me on a detour today.  I thought I knew what I was going to write about today (because it’s what I had planned to write about yesterday) but yesterday’s writing took a detour, thanks to the many distractions I was experiencing.  So I planned to write about the appearance of the blog today…and as I was driving in the car, trying to figure out exactly how to say what’s on my heart about the appearance of the blog (here’s a hint…I hate it! 😉 I took a deep breath, and whispered ‘Jesus’.

{see….I’m learning! }

And after I whispered His name, it was like my ears opened up.  And so did my mind.  Because the song on the radio, one I’ve heard many, many times (I even have the CD) really hit me.

Do Life Big By Jamie Grace
  • I gotta slow down,
    Stop for a second,
    Take a look around,
  • And I gotta take time,
    To hear that little voice inside,
  • Saying I came to give you life,
    So spread your wings and fly,
    I’ve got a secret to share,
    You are enough to change the atmosphere,
  • So go and do life big,
    I wanna do life big

And there it was…….. I WANNA DO LIFE BIG!  But in order to do that, as Jamie Grace says, “I gotta slow down, stop for a minute, take a look around, take time to hear that little voice inside.”  And…wow…that’s hard sometimes.  Slow down?  Me?  Stop for a second?  Have you met me?  Take a look around?  Sometimes.  Take time to hear that little voice inside?  Sometimes.

And that’s why I know that this whole #Write31Days, start a blog thing….it’s not me, it’s Him.  Telling me to slow down, stop for a second, look around and take time to hear the little voice inside…THAT’S what He wants to do in and through me.  And then He wants me to share it.

Would I love my blog to go viral?  Heck yeah!  But if it would…would I make it about Him, or me?  Would I really give Him the credit, or take some (or all) of it for myself?  I hope that I wouldn’t take a bit of it for myself….but, if I’m really honest, I’m not so sure.

And at the end of the day….if it’s just me, taking the time to slow down, stop, look around and listen to the little voice inside…and then write about it…and not a single person other than myself reads it….for right now…that’s my Do Life Big assignment.  He’s made that clear.

What’s your Do Life Big assignment?  I’d love to hear about it!!!

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When Distraction and Perfection Collide….

It was a dark and stormy day…. ok that’s so cliché….yet so true.

It is a dark and stormy day here in southeast Michigan.. and my day is going nothing like I planned.  And I don’t like that.  Because, well…I’m a perfectionist.  And I’m selfish, and I’m tired, and I’m grumpy and I really don’t deal with change well.

And what I really need to do is put on some worship music, take a deep breath, say a little prayer…essentially reboot this crazy mind of mine to focus on what really matters. 

{talk amongst yourselves }  

I’m back…and I feel a lot better.  I get so wrapped up in the crazy and chaos, I forget to focus on the meaning, joy and purpose of my life and thank Him for all of it.

It’s amazing how a simple moment of quiet prayer can bring me back around to center. Back to Him. The Maker, the Sustainer, the Alpha and the Omega, the Prince of Peace, The Lord of Lords, my Hope, my Joy, my Love.

And then, my storms don’t seem so bad, my change of plans are really ok, and I can rest in His peace.

And maybe, He’ll even show you exactly what to write when your mind is swirling, you haven’t written your blog post for the day, your computer is about to die, it’s almost time to wake up little boys to rush out to pick up little girls from school in the rain and 5 people are texting you at once. Because My God is awesome like that!!

And I am continually in awe of how He loves me.

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