Friday, May 25, 2018

Every Bean Is A Winner

Competition. With 5 kids in a small house, it is everywhere.

Who can get to the phone first when it rings ...Who can grab the seat first at the dinner table ... Who gets to the chicken coop first to collect the eggs...Who gets to be first to ride the horse ...

I can jump higher on the trampoline.
I can climb higher on the rock wall.

Race you down the hill.
Race you up to the top of the tree.

Competition.

It's not always a bad thing. But, I have noticed in my parenting it is not a good thing. Lately, I have tried to be intentional about teaching from a story point of view instead of a "see what this kid did, don't do that" point of view.  I want to encourage and equip my kids as I train them up, not tear them down. Using one kids mistake as a benchmark for the others neither encourages or equips any of them, it only divides.

A few weeks ago my twins brought home each a baggie with 3 beans in it from school.  There was a wet paper towel in each and we watched as the roots slowly opened up and grew out of those beans. It was neat to see God's handy work happening right in front of our eyes.

After a few days we planted their beans down in the soil of a couple of pots in my kitchen. 3 beans to a pot. His pot and her pot.  They sits on a wooden plank in front of the window. They get sun and light. They get water from probably more then one child each day. We waited and watched as one little bean sprang up. It grew green and tall in just a short time. In the other pot there was still no sign of life. No sign that growth was happening. We knew there was life in there because we had witnessed it with our own eyes and planted it with our own hands, but yet nothing seemed to happen.




I loved watching my kids as one rejoiced over his fast growing bean and the other was sad that there was nothing, no sign of life in hers. A completion was happening right in front of us and it seemed one bean would win. Except, in the game of life and growth, in a world where mama is always on the look out for ways to teach without "teaching," every bean is a winner!

I asked my kids which bean are you?

Are you the one that, when planted in a new place takes roots quickly and grows fast? Do you flourish without even seeming to try? Are you comfortable in a new environment and you don't mind showing off how tall you can grow?

Or, are you a little bean that needs to test your soil? Maybe take a few days and make sure that the pot you are in is the right one. Do you need to make sure that the place you are planted is the right place before you invest and grow some roots?

See, even though we could no longer witness it, we knew that under the soil life was happening. We knew that that little bean was growing roots, because we saw it before we planted it.

Sometimes when we are in a growing season (like childhood or mommy-hood) we catch on quick.
Hitting that baseball over the fence- no problem!
The perfect cartwheel- easy.
Loving little ones so much that our hearts might actually explode- got that one down!

But other times, when we are growing, it may take us longer to see the life happening in us, to see the growth taking shape.
Reading independently- not so easy!
Doing a flip of the balance beam- that's a hard one!
Sleepless nights and a body that is forever changed- yikes!

So now, sweet friend, I ask you: Which bean are you? It's ok to sometimes be the fast-growing- flourishing-where-you-are-planted bean. And it is also ok to sometimes be the, test-the-soil-and-make sure-this-is-the-right-pot kinda bean! As long as you know and understand that life is happening. Growth is taking shape. Roots are grabbing hold. Sometimes it take longer to show the world how green and tall you can be, but in the end, every bean is a winner!




Dear Lord,
I pray for everyone reading this. I pray that the growth that they experience will be blessed by you and that the roots they form will be deep and strong in you. I pray for those who can not see life and growth taking shape, that you give them a glimpse of it and that you help them to stay steadfast in you!
In Jesus' name,
Amen.






Thursday, May 17, 2018

Obedience and a Paper Heart

               "Listen and Obey." It's a phrase I started to say to my kids when the eldest was just a wee thing.  I would tell her to do something and you could see the wheels in her little 2 year old head turning, "Should I do this? What will happen if I don't?" Ultimately that little girl has grown into a now medium sized girl who listens and obeys Mamas voice pretty constantly.  She has 4 younger siblings. Some of them take after her and others need a bit of......um.....'encouragement' in the listening and obeying department.

But what about Mama? How well do I listen and obey? This was a question I have been thinking about for the better part of the day today. I have a handful of experiences where I did not listens to that voice and obey His words. And those experiences left me feeling sorry and brokenhearted. But, I have an immeasurable amount of experiences where I have walked away from a situation or a person thinking "I should have done that" or "I should have said this." Or worse yet, "I should not have done or said that!" Turns out I don't actually listen or obey very well.  Not every experience has big consequences or leaves us brokenhearted. But when do we know which time we ignore the voice of the Lord that it will lead to that broken heart? We don't.  That is why, I have learned, though many self refection sessions and broken hearts, that we have to listen to them all, no matter the cost.

I remember hearing a story as a new Christian over a decade ago of a man who bought a gallon of milk because the Lord told him to. He then drove down the street and stopped in front of a house that he'd never been to before, to give the gallon of milk to a lady who he'd never met before. He said, "This milk is for you. The Lord told me to give it to you." The Lady of course cried and said something to the effect of,  "We are out of money and milk. I wasn't sure how I was going to feed our kids tonight."  Beautiful, I thought. But not real. I mean, it was a beautiful illustration in listening and obeying the Lord in whatever he asks. But, that kind of thing doesn't actually happen, right? Who gives something to someone else for no other reason then the Lord told them to do it?

Today. Today I learned that this sort of thing does in fact happen. But to make it happen, I believe, it takes someone who truly walks with the Lord. Someone who knows him so well, she can tell his voice amongst the many others that try to drown him out each day. She has sat in his presence long enough to know when he wants her to move and when he wants her to stand still. I want desperately to be this person. Not the person who cries out to him only in times of trial. Not the person who, along with her coffee, can't find her Bible in the morning. But, the person who in a room full of other people can hear him say, "Go." And then she goes. No questions. No arguments. No second guessing. Just going. I met a person like this today. Let me share with you how a little paper heart has brought me to tears!




See those cuties?! They have just finished up their school year. Their school put on a silent auction of just a few pieces of art work that the kids did. See the heart at the top? The one that is half pink and half orange? My son, not knowing that I would have to bid on this art work among many of my Christian friends, said to me, "Mama, that's the heart I did for you. I love you, and I wanted it to be your favorite colors." He's right. I love pink. I love orange. They are happy colors. They remind me of flowers, which is kind of my love language, flowers. They are beautiful, they make me smile. But those colors also remind me of the sunset, and of joy. In my opinion, they are joyful colors. My son wanted me to have that little heart. So I bid on the First Grade Classes' art work, several times. I wanted deeply to bring it home and put it up on our wall. Purely because of that little pink and orange heart. But alas, I was out bid by another Mama. One who also wanted to put her child's art work up on her wall at her house. Can you blame her? Of course not! My head knew that there ware 23 other families who would want that beautiful piece of art. But my heart was sad. I took a picture so I could remember it and print it out and put a photograph of it up on our wall. I told my friend about the pink and orange heart. I told her, "Oh, I'll just have to have the kids make me one this summer. It can't be that hard, right?" But in my heart, I was grumbling. I was ungrateful. I was sad. Over a silly little paper heart. It's embarrassing now, to look back and remember how grumpy I was over it.

Fast forward a short time later and I was helping clean up. It had only been a few minutes since the silent auction ended. Not nearly enough time to fight with the Lord over being obedient. Not nearly enough time to go back and forth on "Should I? But I don't want to Lord"  Not nearly enough time! The Mama Bear who out bid me walked up to me and said,

"This is for you. The Lord told me to give it to you."
She handed me the picture with my pink and orange paper heart in it.
I said, with an embarrassing amount of tears, "I don't understand."
"Neither do I."
"I really wanted this."
"So did I. But the Lord wants you to have it."

She was obedient. She didn't want to be, but she was. She didn't understand why he told her to be obedient, but she was.

On the drive home, I was thanking the Lord for the fact that that little paper heart was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. And I was feeling bad about how much I was grumbling about not "winning" it. The Lord said to me, "Leigh Anne. Don't you know that the out come would have been the same? I was going to have her give it to you all along. You could have been happy for her. You didn't need to be grumpy and nasty about it."

I was taught a very sweet and humbling lesson in obedience today. And in Joy. You see, we don't need to want to be obedient to actually be obedient. We don't have to want to be joyful to actually be joyful. It's easy to be joyful when we have the winning bid. The true test of character is our level of joy when we've been out bid. I failed today; But I learned a lesson I will never forget!



Dear Lord,
Thank you. Thank you for your gently taught lessons and even gentler reprimands. Lord, I ask that you will strengthen the faith of all those reading this. You will help them walk in obedience to you. Lord I pray that your voice will be the loudest one we hear and that we will have joy when there seems no way or reason. And that we will be obedient even when we don't understand.
Amen.




Monday, April 30, 2018

Love Feels Like

For a long time I struggled with the idea of God. It wasn't that I didn't believe, I just had trouble fully committing. I wanted to sit and chat with God first, kinda like an interview. I wanted to shake his had and ask him why he thought he deserved my devotion. My faith. What made him so great that I should trust him. Trust. It's a big word. When it's broken, it's painful. Who wants that kind of pain? What made him so worthy of trust? I needed to touch him before I could trust him.

I have been participating in a 30 day on line challenge where there are little questions to get you thinking or actions you can take. It's been fun. And eye opening. One of the questions was "What does love feel like to you." When I hear the word love, my mind automatically goes to
1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
Love is patient, love is kind. 
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
Love never fails.

This passage is how I am suppose to love (confession: I fail at loving. I fail at loving my husband and my kids. I fail at loving my neighbor and myself. But I am trying to learn to love better.) This passage tells me how to love, but it doesn't show me what love feels like. So as I thought about what love feels like, I though of this verse, "Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8.  The Lord knows that some of us would struggle with not being able to touch him before we could trust him. He knew this, and I believe that is why he makes himself tangible in everything, if we are willing to just look for him. 

We can taste his goodness in a sweet, juicy watermelon on a hot summers day. We can see the happiness in our kids faces as they enjoy the messy, sweet treat. We can taste the goodness of the Lord in chocolate late at night in a finally quiet house or in coffee in the early morning hours (and all the tired mamas said Amen!) God is in everything. His fingerprints are all over this world, all over our hearts. He's in the messy and the joyful. Hes in our mundane day of folding laundry and wiping noses and hes in the extraordinary days that may only come once in a life time. He's there. He's tangible. He's visible. 

So what does love feel like to me? 

To me, love feels like a big family in a small house. It's full of motion and noise almost consistently, until it's not. The evening comes and it is quiet. Love feels like tiptoeing toes up the stairs to peek in on 5 little face in 3 little rooms, one last time for the day. Love feels like a sticky floor that will just not stay clean because there are so many little feet running in and out all day long. Love feels like long homeschooling days with breaks in the middle to take walks and ride bikes. It fees like fresh eggs gratefully gathered on cool mornings from mama hens that we have watched grow from tiny chicks. It's a bucket on my kitchen counter filled with dirty pond water and two little tadpoles; 10 little eyes watch and wait for God to show his glory and majesty as frogs slowly appear.  A beautiful lesson of patience and in waiting on God and his perfect timing is learned. Love feels like a confident strong man sleeping in the bed next to me. He steals the covers and hogs the remote, but he protects my heart and loves my imperfections. Love feels like the thin pages in my bible where God reminds me I am worth more the the size of my pants, that I am not defined by my past and that he has a plan for my future.





Lord, I pray today that your love will be felt. I pray that everyone reading this will slow down long enough to see your fingerprint on their day and their heart. That they will taste your goodness in all the days to come. Amen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Love Notes

I find something special  in a love note. Maybe it's the sensitive side of me or that words of affirmation is my love language, but when someone has taken the time to make sure I know that they love me, I jump for joy just a little. My husband, the wonderful man that he is, is not a writer. I tried to force him to write me love notes in a journal a few years ago. That cute little blue journal with the silver 'M' on the front was quickly lost after the initial love note was penned into it.  In fact most of my anniversary or birthday cards end with a simple "me" scratched at the bottom. That one word makes me smile because I know doing just that was completely outside of his comfort zone! Last year my sweet friend signed us up for a local marriage conference. It was not something we would have done on our own, so we headed in with a skeptical mindset. Imagine my excitement when I was looking over the agenda and noticed a time blocked out for 'writing a love note to your spouse.' My heart leaped inside knowing I was going to get a love note from my husband, no matter how forced it would have been! As soon as we got home, I tucked it away in a special spot!

Over the years, I have learned, that the sweetest of Love Notes are the ones that come from my Lord. They show up when I least expect them and usually when they are most needed. I know you get them too. It's that perfect worship song on the radio at just the right time. It's when your Bible falls open to the perfect verse that you just know he put in there for you! It's a text message from a friend who says 'praying for you' even though she doesn't know you needed it! God promises that if we seek him, we will find him. I love finding him in sweet love notes.

The most recent love note came just this week.

This past Sunday I was unable to attend church. A friend posted on Facebook how good the sermon was and shared his 3 "quick" points. I remember reading that and thinking, "Aw man, I wish I had the sermon notes to know what scripture went with those points!"

The people of our church are navigating the pain of the recent passing of someone dear. I can read the pain in their Facebook posts and I see it in the eyes of my friends. That evening, I penned a quick love note of my own to a friend who I know is hurting. She's tired and weary and she misses her friend. A few days earlier I found a verse on canvas for her at the Walmart, of all places. I warped it up and took it to school with me on Monday so she could have it.

Monday morning brings a new week and empty cupboards in this old house. After I dropped the kids off at school I headed to BJ's for our grocery haul! I hopped out of the car and grabbed the closest stray cart in the parking lot to take into the store with me. In the basket of that cart was the sermon notes from the day before that someone had left behind. I could hear my Father saying "you wanted the sermon notes. Here they are!" I thanked him and stuck them in my purse where I promptly forgot about them!

That's the thing with love notes; They are easy to miss if we aren't looking and even easier to forget if we let the business of life consume our every thought.

Early Tuesday morning as I was making coffee and preparing this quiet little farm house for the impending invasion of sleepy, hungry kids. *lots of sleepy, hungry kids* I opened Facebook to find the replay of the live stream from that Sundays sermon. It was almost like a postscript on my love note from the day before. As I sipped coffee and fried fresh-from-the-coop eggs, I took out the sermon notes. In my kitchen God spoke life into my day through our pastor. I realized then that the verse I had found days before for a friend was one that my pastor had placed in his sermon notes. It was the exclamation mark on the "I love You!" from the Lord. I thought that verse was one she need, but in reality, my heart needed it as well.

"You will keep in perfect peace 
him who's mind is steadfast, 
because he trusts in you." 
-Isaiah 26:3 

Lord, 
I pray that your word is true. That those who love you and trust in you, who's mind stays fixed on you- that you will give them a perfect peace that can only come from you. Lord I pray that those reading this will receive a sweet love note from you. That they will see it, cherish it and be changed by it. 
Amen. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lead Them Gently

Mom Confession: Sometimes (often) I have trouble remembering to be gentle with my kids when I am frustrated.

Currently I have an almost 5 year old boy. He is ALL boy. He is wild and full of energy. He is sweet but loves to play rough. I am okay with all of this. The problem I run into is his lack of self control. Boys at this age (and probably older) do and then think.  Today, I lost my cool with my boy. We were dropping my oldest off at school and he just couldn't find the self control in him to be quiet during chapel. I should have been patient and gentle with him. Training him by modeling the behavior I wanted him to have. Instead, I got frustrated with him. We left chapel early and because I was frustrated I was rough with my other kids as well. I was rough in speech and in body language.

On the drive home I was disappointed with my behavior. The reason we had to leave early was because of my poor self control, not my sons. I heard the Lord say to me. 'All you needed to do was be gentle, the way I am gentle with you. You must lead them gently if you want them to be like me.' Then he gave me these scriptures: Isaiah 40:11 "He tends his flock like a Shepard: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those who have young." and Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

I immediately apologized to my kids for my lack of self control and for not being gentle with them. I then took a few minutes to look up the scriptures that I felt like the Lord was leading me too. I also found Proverbs 15:18. It says, "A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension but a patient man calms a quarrel." Had I kept my temper under control this morning I could have calmed my son down and stayed for chapel. But my hot temper only increased his anger.

To help me remember to be gentle with my sweet kiddos, I printed up these words: "Lead them gently" with Isaiah 40:11, Proverbs 15:18 and Proverbs 15:1 noted underneath. I posted them up in the house in places where I spend time when I am frustrated; By the sink, by the door, in my bathroom and on the kids note board.

See, what I already knew, but needed to relearn today is, gentleness is always the answer. The Lord is gentle with me. I have lots of littles running around this house. It is overwhelming and tiring to care for and pour out so much each day. But the Lord is gentle. He gives me just enough of what I need each day and he corrects me lovingly and gently when I mess up.

The Lord doesn't say that a harsh tone or volume of voice gets people angry. He says a harsh word can incite anger. I can keep a low voice and still say mean things that upset my children. My words are just as important as the tone that I use. This doesn't mean that I should not discipline my children. Let's face it, my son needs to learn self control, or he will have a harder life then what is necessary. What I believe the Lord is teaching me is that should discipline, but that I must do it gently. That discipline done harshly or in anger will not train my children, it will just stir up anger in them.

I do not know what you are struggling with. If you have lots of littles like me or if there is someone in your family life or work place that gets you frustrated. I encourage you to choose to be gentle with them. Be gentle with your words, your tone and your body language. I will be striving to do the same.

In Love,
Leigh Anne



Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jesus and Prozac: There Is No Shame In Either

In less then a decade of life I have
-planned a wedding
-become a wife
-learned how to actually BE a wife
-purchased a home
-suffered a miscarriage
-grown and delivered FIVE human beings in 5 years
-quit my job as a nurse
-nursed 5 babies
-started homeschooling our oldest
....among other things!

I tell you all this not to brag or gloat. That is the last thing that I would want to do. I tell you all this to encourage you!

I have always had to work my way through a little bit of the baby blues after every delivery. Normally I feel better at about 6 months postpartum. With baby number 4 it was at about 11 months. This time around it felt different. It was more intense. If I were a season, I would have been winter. And not the fun, 'it's Christmas and the first snow fall' winter, but the 'it's been cold for so long we are over it' winter. I was stuck in winter. My kids, on the other hand, were in spring. They were learning and loving life. They were happy and I was crying. I was resentful.

I tried to talk myself out of it. I would start crying because I had all these people who just wanted me all the time. I wondered, why if I WANT to be a stay at home mama, am I resentful of the very people who allow me to be just that??

It wasn't until I was talking on the phone with a friend that I finally got it together. I said, "I think I may need some medicine for this." I have been trained as a nurse. I knew the signs. I already knew I needed medicine; But I just needed someone to tell me it was okay to need it! Her response was, "We have been having these conversations for a few months now. I think it's time." It was what I needed to hear.

I am here to tell you that if you are looking for someone to tell you that it is okay to get a little extra help.....well, it is!!

There is no shame in a little Prozac! Your list probably looks much different then mine, but I am sure you could make one that is just as overwhelming. You do not have to be overwhelmed. You do not have to cry constantly. You do not have to live in winter all the time!!

Jesus came to save you. He is the first thing you need. The MOST thing you need. Prozac will not save your soul; Jesus does that. But there is no shame in needing help either.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Princess and Tractor Party

The twins turned three this month. THREE! It's hard to believe 3 years ago I was a crying heap of hot mess. I would cry because I felt so amazed and grateful for two beautiful kids (at the same time! I mean really? Two babies in my tummy at the same time! Totally crazy!) And then the next second I was crying because having twin infants was SO hard and all I wanted was 5 straight minutes of sleep.

Well, now they are three. They are in Big Kid Beds, Big Kid Undies and their own Big Kid Rooms! Everything about them seems to be big kid!

Sweet girl twin shares a room with her 2 sisters. She loves princesses and hates taking naps. Her 'quiet time' is almost never actually quiet. She has the cutest little pout when she doesn't get what she wants. She is a sweet big sister and a devoted little sister. She always wants to help mama with the chores; making dinner, washing windows, cleaning the bathroom or doing the laundry! She loves ridding her bike and our horse. She has turned in to a super wonderful Big Kid!!

Buddy Boy is the most amazing little man you will ever meet. He is happy and almost always silly. But he also has a sweet side to him that makes my heart melt! He has a special bond with his Paps (my father in law). They are two peas in a pod. He loves almost everything that is boy.... Tractors, four wheelers, motorcycles, sandboxs and dirt!

To celebrate their 3rd year of twindom we had a Princess and Tractor BBQ. Daddy made Buddy Boy a sandbox. He loves it (the girls do too) but I totally didn't think it through. With in an hour I had sand all over my house! It's like living at the beach with out the ocean or the vacation!! We got him some new tractors to play with to go with the party theme.

Sweet Girl Twin wanted Snow White to come to her party. So we invited her and guess what? She came!! I enjoyed meshing the two themes of Snow White and Tractors!

The Food.
We had Burgers and Hot Dogs as well as.....






 

 A tractor full of hay bales!
 
 Cupcakes to look like Snow Whites dress.
 
A construction seen cake for Buddy Boy!
He was so excited to get the trucks off the top!
 
 
The Party!





 
 
The Wishing Well
 
Make a wish.
 
Throw in a penny.
 
 And get a lip gloss!
(there were cars and trucks for the boys!)
 
 
The cake!
I thought about paying someone to make the cakes
but then I decided to give it a try!
They turned out pretty good of an armature!


 
The princesses and some of our little guests!
 




 Our neighbor and someone Buddy Boy loves gave the twins a ride around the neighborhood.
Sweet girl is keeping it classy in this one!
 




 
 
Birthday questionnaire.
I separated the twins when I asked them the questions so no one would be "sharing" answers!
 


Sweet Girl Twin
 
1. What is your favorite color? Pink
2. What is your favorite toy? Blankie
3. What is your favorite fruit? Watermelon
4. What is your favorite TV show? Doc McStuffins
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Mac & Cheese
6. What is your favorite outfit? Purple and white jumper
7. What is your favorite game? Duck Duck Goose
8. What is your favorite snack? Goldfish
9. What is your favorite animal? Goat
10. What is your favorite song? Doe Ray Me (from the Sound Of Music)
11. What is your favorite book? A princess book
12. Who is your best friend? Haley and Owen
13. What is your favorite cereal? Lucky Charms
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Slide
15. What is your favorite thing to drank? Milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take top bed with you? My teddy bear
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Goldfish
19. What is you favorite thing to eat for dinner? Goldfish
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A mother
21. What is your favorite season? Spring
 
*I may or may not have let her have goldfish for breakfast. I plead the fifth!
 
 
Buddy Boy
 
1. What is your favorite color? Blue
2. What is your favorite toy? Airplane
3. What is your favorite fruit? Peach from the Fruit Guy
4. What is your favorite TV show? Doc McStuffins
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Pizza
6. What is your favorite outfit? "This" (Points to the miss-matched outfit he is currently wearing)
7. What is your favorite game? Duck Duck Goose
8. What is your favorite snack? Goldfish
9. What is your favorite animal? Tiger
10. What is your favorite song? Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
11. What is your favorite book? "This one" (picking up the closest book)
12. Who is your best friend?  Owen
13. What is your favorite cereal?  Charms
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Slide
15. What is your favorite thing to drank? Milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? Halloween
17. What do you like to take top bed with you? My Teddies
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Goldfish
19. What is you favorite thing to eat for dinner? Chicken
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Astronaut
21. What is your favorite season? Spring & Fall