By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Happy is defined by “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” Joy is described as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Both positive, both feelings. Both of them a choice.
As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am excited to share this next woman with you. Ann Voskamp has impacted the way I see the world. Her gift of weaving words like a warm blanket that envelops my soul cannot be understated. Her book, One Thousand Gifts is a intricately stated tribute to the awaiting joy that can be found when we allow our eyes to see the simple masterpieces that surround us.
The frost holding tree branches hostage by their cold beauty.
The reflection of sun bouncing off the sparkling snow.
The crackling, contagious laughter of kids at play.
Aside from her book, my heart was stirred and my eyes filled with drops of thankful appreciation the day I read Ann’s story about The Horn. I am confident that once you read it, you will also be touched. I won’t be surprised if you begin a search for an old horn to hang on the wall as I have.
“Give thanks if you are joy-filled” is in reality:
“To be joy-filled, give thanks.”
By Rachel Steele | Category: Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Sometimes I feel like a toddler in potty-training. I’m gently guided and directed again and again, day after day, with positive reinforcements only to poop in my pants once again. I forget that a toilet even exists, that a huge M&M jar awaits my successes, and I start whining and throwing tantrums about the excretions I’m sitting in.
Lately, my prayers have been to “see as He sees” and “hear as He hears”. God has been faithful to answer my prayers, and he has shown me that my human nature produces a continual dependant state of potty-training. Just when I think I’ve finally graduated to training pants, a change or stressor comes my way and I’m best pals with the Pampers again.
I remember the daunting task of potty-training my oldest son. It literally took an entire year. In the morning I would put him in “big boy” underwear and I would cheer for him and sing potty songs with a huge cheesy smile and have parties with cookies and candies and peruse through Toys R’ Us catalogs for the perfect “fully potty-trained” toy. By the evening, I would be washing and scrubbing that “big boy” underwear. Frustrated and on my last nerve, I stashed away the cookies and candies and slammed the toy catalog closed. I tried EVERYTHING! It was beyond me why after so much coaching and instruction, it was just not sinking in. It was a mentally and physically exhausting time for both of us and there were days that we were both in tears.
I think about how God has to potty-train us, not just a few years, but our entire lives! Whereas we get to the end of our rope and respond in frustration, annoyance, and irritation, His response is always patience, love, and acceptance. The cookies and candies remain on the table for the taking and the toy catalogs are open right where we left off, available for us to pick up and continue whenever we choose. Not once does he ever refuse to clean us up, or tell us we stink. He has a never ending supply of wipes and diaper rash cream, all of which he has paid for out of pocket, but continues to distribute among his children free of charge. It is called potty-training, not potty-reprimand, potty-chastise, potty-rebuke, or potty-vengeance. It is training; it is time invested in someone that is indispensable. You take time to train someone that you have confidence will eventually be able to skillfully carry out the tasks without constant reminders.
I hope that someday I will not have to be reminded that I “gotta go”, but that I will automatically recall how to “see as He sees” and “hear as He hears”. God doesn’t always answer my prayers the way I believe to be the best option, but he does answer them. He doesn’t always provide the easiest way. If he did, I’d still be sitting in my own waste waiting for someone to come by and change me! To see and hear as He does, takes a whole lot of time, continual training, and heaps of grace for a prodigal pooper like myself.
I laughed when I envisioned a heaven full of chatty MOPS groups on puffy clouds, eating heaping bowls of delectable chocolates, delighting in their wings and wonderfully dry “big girl” panties!
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Family Focus, Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, October 23, 2012
I’d like to encourage you to see your situation, your family, and your life from a new angle. In the next few weeks I am going to introduce you to a woman who has impacted me. Each of their lives remind me of the beauty that can only come out of adversity and their stories encourage my heart to refocus while living and loving more richly.
Before I share the lessons I learned from the first woman, I’d like to invite you to meet her and see what lessons her story might speak to your heart. It won’t be a quick lesson. The video is almost an hour long. But I have a feeling it will remain with you for a long time. I’d encourage you to grab a cup of tea, a few tissues and curl up on the couch with your laptop or ipad or find a quiet moment with your computer. Or bookmark it and watch it today during nap time or perhaps tonight after your kids go to bed. I’ll follow up next week Tuesday with the lesson I took away that has left me forever changed.
Meet Rachel: a mother of two who, at the time of this video, had been fighting terminal cancer for about 4.5 years. Listen to her speak honestly and openly on the meaning of life and why she says, “death is not dying.”
By Rachel Steele | Category: Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Fear settles itself in and is left undisturbed for quite sometime long before I hear it breathing. It reminds me of my cat, Ewok, who likes to sneak inside when I open the door and I’m too distracted by a screaming baby or have my hands full with grocery sacks. She hides under the bed awhile and stays out of sight until she thinks it’s safe to emerge. She silently makes the leap and nestles into my pillow. I find her hours later curled up, warm, purring and releasing tufts of black fur into the crater she’s created on my white down comforter. If I’m lucky, I find her before she’s left wet lick marks where I lay my head at night, and we all know what body parts cats lick! I immediately disrupt her cozy slumber and place her back outside.
Fear is the same way and often lurks and lingers in my mind without notice until one day I explode or maybe I should say implode. If I was on better guard, less distracted, I may have noticed it sooner or never let it creep in to begin with. I often struggle with feeling intimidated, insignificant, insufficient, incompetent and the list goes on.
All of these words start with the same prefix, “in”. They all start with the same letter, “i”. Where do these feelings come from and why? Well, my answer was right there in front of me, plain, easy to read, literally, the actual word! When I focus inward, focus only on myself, and begin to wallow around in my own self-pity, I’m swinging the door wide open for fear to come on in and make itself at home. Then I let it stay for dinner, then it rolls out it’s sleeping bag and stays a couple of nights, and before I know it, it’s an ill-mannered house guest staying indefinitely. I read a good book a couple of years ago entitled, The Gift In You. It is written by Dr. Caroline Leaf who states, “Love and fear are the root emotions, and all other emotions grow from these…They (Scientists) have found a deeper system in the brain concerned with positive love emotions and negative fear emotions. They have discovered that these two systems cannot coexist, that at any one conscious moment, we will be operating in one or the other for each cluster of thoughts we think.” —Dr. Caroline Leaf, The Gift In You.
I must be operating in fear, absorbed in myself, in order for the dark clouds to start rolling in, raining down little droplets of intimidation, then steady rains of insufficiency, and then downpours of insignificance. Fear is being afraid of the uncertain. Faith is knowing that God will never let you face those uncertainties alone. I must try to operate in love, focusing outward, working towards blessing others and encouraging those that fall prey to fear too.
Easier said than done, right? I know I’ll get quicker at shutting that door if I keep practicing, until then, I’ll keep my lint roller handy!
1 John 4:18 “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” New Living Translation
By Rachel Steele | Category: Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Photos by Delve Photography
Reading a book with both my boys has been a nightly ritual since they were born. My oldest gets to choose the title, I get to choose a cozy spot, and the baby gets to choose which way he will arrange his body on the book so that it’s nearly impossible to read. I’ve actually become quite good at adlibbing the words that are covered by a diaper, hand, or occasional total body sprawl.
Miss Me Denim Distressed Capris, The Classic Graphic Love Tank,
both available at Styles Boutique
I’ve made it a point to read to my kids each evening to help increase their knowledge and vocabulary, but I was caught off guard during a story the other night by one of my 5 year olds profound statements. He chose the Disney book, Brave, and part of the story is about a prince that constantly quarreled with his brothers and split off from the family to pursue his own selfish interests, causing their kingdom to fall. He came upon a witch’s house in the forest and traded his family’s heirloom ring for a spell to give him the strength of ten men. The witch took the ring and turned him into a giant gruesome bear. He became the target of the village huntsmen, and devoured all who stepped foot near the ruins of his kingdom.
When we finished, he put the book in his lap and flipped back through the pictures like he so often does. He stopped at the page with the picture of the towering, ferocious bear with saliva dripping from his sharp teeth and thick claws ready to lunge on his next victim. He looked up from his book and said to me, ” I know why the bear was so mad. He was angry at other people because he was not happy about who he was.” Wow, that spoke to me in more ways than I could count! I often think about my role as their teacher, but I hadn’t given much thought to how much my children teach me. I just might be learning more from the mouths of babes than I learned in 4 years of college.
God has entrusted us as parents with the lives of our tiny geniuses. The saying that, “Our children are our future” is completely true and accurate. Pondering these overwhelming educational responsibilities as a parent, brought me back to an analogy in a book I read by Michael Pearl a few years ago. He states, “If God is the Potter and your child the clay, you are the wheel on which the clay is to be turned.” The more control we give to the Potter, the better the wheel will turn. We must allow the Master Artist to complete his work in us and in our children.
Maybe you’re like me and it’s hard for you to let the Potter guide your direction and you end up spinning the wrong way. Or maybe you’ve become off-balanced and are wobbling, causing the clay to slide off. Or, maybe there are pieces of your wheel that are broken off or chipped from past experiences that have never been repaired. All of these can be fixed by the Potter if we allow him. My children teach me in so many ways, and sometimes expose my own sin. I am humbled when the clay I am spinning begins instructing me on which way I should turn the wheel!