Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus


Talking to a sweet friend of mine who is entering her third trimester while trying to get her 19-month old to sleep in her own bed and giving my tips to getting rest at night and throughout the day.  Never did I ever think I would be one to give advice, I came upon this verse:

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne."
-Hebrews 12:2
The cross has two sides to everything:  a crucifixion side and a resurrection side.  Jesus had to endure one side to get to the other.  Maybe your trials don't have the magnitude of the burden of the cross, but Jesus knew the joy that was before Him and persevered until the end.  With this in mind, we can look at our own burdens and see there will be an end, we will persevere!  Keep your eyes on Jesus, remind yourself of the resurrection that came about through the suffering he endured.  

What burden can I pray for you today?  He is gracious and will see you through!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Full Hands


As many of you know, we have five kids, the youngest are ages 1, 2 and 3.  My day starts typically at 6am (unless we oversleep), getting hubby's lunch ready, his morning tea, my coffee, and start my devotionals.  This is usually where the babies wake up!  I do four smaller devotionals and read a few chapters of the Bible and save my in depth study for when the babies go to bed at night so that I can concentrate more fully.  Mornings are diapers and toast, feeding the dog, and relaxing (thankfully!)  I split up my chores on different days that I keep written in my planner.  If it's not written down, chances are I won't remember to do it!  I will instant message with my husband during the day, as he has time, send him pictures or videos of the things the kids get into.  I am in a group chat throughout the day with a wonderful group of Christian ladies, there is a lot of laughs, a lot of encouragement and a lot of prayer.  So thankful for them!  There is lunch time and (many, many) snack times, therapies on different days, babysitter for errands occasionally.  Papa is kind enough to make quick runs to the grocery store if I need him to, and he has a great excuse to come and visit with the babies.  They eat dinner early because of their sleep schedule, so I'm making two dinners, they eat before I pick up hubby from the train station and we sit down together after they go to bed at 7 with a lengthy bedtime routine.  Laundry, showers and husband and wife time are reserved for after they go to bed.  

So what is left?  There is my husband's kiss goodbye in the morning, picturing him reading the note on his napkin at lunchtime, baby hugs and kisses, watching them laugh together and run around the house.  Text messages from my older boys who occasionally take time out of their day to say hi.  New words and phrases that the babies come up with daily.  An email or video from a far away friend whom I miss every day.  There are the messages I get from God, reading his word or praying as I wash dishes, always reminding me that I'm serving my family with every mess that I clean up.  For a SAHM who doesn't get to leave the house often, I am always thinking ahead on what I can do in my home to make things easier for them.  My heart is filled with these treasured moments, hoping that they will always remain with me, documenting as much as I can for the future.  As you get down, thinking about how full your hands are, be thankful for what remains in your heart, treasures that could never be bought or replaced!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The scent of memories

Two babies are sleeping, one is resting.  Windows are open for the first time this year and I have lavender oil in the effusion lamp.  It brings to my mind the scent of my mom in the nursing home.  She was 52 and dying from pancreatic cancer.  Her best friend, Carol, had brought her the lamp when she was at my aunt's house on hospice, with the lavender oil, and for the past seven years I haven't been able to bring myself to put any other scent into it. I'd spent an hour, frantically searching for the exact brand, the exact scent that had been my mom's.   

So I sit back with my coffee, feel the breeze, and picture her while I paint her nails, which never grew for her before.  She sits in her hospital bed with low pig tails under her pink checkered blanket that my coworkers bought for her.  She doesn't know what is going on most of the time, but she loves having us all there.   She smiles more than she could ever force herself to before.  We alternate visiting her, my aunt, my dad and I.  I've brought Gary and Benny a few times, but it's getting harder for them to see her like this.  She is not in the kind of pain that she had been the last ten years or so of her life.  Yes, we are thankful for that.  Thankful that she doesn't have the fear of the nursing home like she did when the topic had been brought up.  I almost forgot about pretending to light her cigarettes because she would fall asleep in the middle of smoking.  Almost forgot about finding her in the dining room asleep at the table during a meal.  Sometimes I don't want to remember.  But I have to.  Usually, my husband will light the lamp for me, and I will just smile, "that's my mom's."  

Today is different.  

It's not making me sad, just remember.  Honestly, I think what I'm remembering is the relief I felt when it was over.  I was so thankful for the nine additional months she got than 2-3 weeks she was given when the cancer was found.  Thankful that my work would let me come in late so that I could visit her at my aunt's house every morning.  These aren't my only memories of the end, but the rest are too gross, or too personal or too heartbreaking to share.  But the pain is over, the fear is over.  My babies anticipating her death, just waiting, is over.  Watching her body deteriorate is over.  

I would give anything to have her meet her three newest grandsons, to see how Gary and Benny have grown, meet my husband, to taste my cooking!  But that's not for today.  Today is the relief that her hurt is gone.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Contentment


Every morning we wake up while it is still dark to get my husband ready for work.  Every morning I look forward to opening the curtains and blinds when the sun rises and turning the lights back off.  I am very content with this season of life.  But it hasn't always been this way.  We've been through trials, loss and worry.  I have pages in my journal of my cries to the Lord.  Sometimes I look back, and wonder how I made it.  But if I didn't look to the One who saves, I wouldn't be able to enjoy this time in my life.  My life is not perfect, sometimes I get so frustrated I want to cry, or overwhelmed with housework and babies crying that I can't think straight.  


But then God will give me a reminder like this one.  I have people I love, I have everything I need.  I have Him.  I have a place I can always look to for refuge.  I know the God who saves.  Whenever I feel I'm drowning, He will pull me up and out of my storm.  

I've been challenged to start a gratitude journal, write five things I am grateful for every morning, whether it be family or friends, or even the sunrise.  Today I am most grateful to have God in my life, who I can go to any time of the day with any prayer or petition.  He always listens, always answers our prayers.  What are you most grateful for today?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What I Would Tell My 17 Year Old Self




Dear 17 year old Nicole,

Don't be in such a hurry to figure everything out, and don't try to figure things out on your own.    God has a plan for your life, and if you keep trying to solve every problem yourself you will end up making a mess.  You will have five beautiful, wonderful boys, and if you keep worrying about the future you will miss out on so much with them.  Treasure the time that you have with them, because it goes by too fast.  Enjoy their laughter, wipe their tears, and realize what a blessing each one is.  Don't worry about being alone in your life, don't accept the first man who comes along, it may take awhile but you will find the love of your life, who will cherish you and protect you.  Learn how to truly love and respect your mother, because she won't be around for long.  Make sure she knows she is loved.  Learn all you can at work, but never make it your life.  You will use the skills you learn, but your time is too important to let work dictate your life.  Treasure the friendships you have, share yourself with them, and don't take anyone for granted.  Most importantly, if you don't treat yourself with respect, no one else will either.    

If you were to write yourself a letter as if you go back in the past to when you were 17 what would you say to yourself about what your future holds?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who Are You?



Do you ever feel embarrassed?  Not of your faith, but what people with think if YOU speak out?  Envisioning people saying, "Who are you to preach on anything?"  You are too young, or too old, too experienced, not experienced enough.  

It's difficult just to write this post, these words are echoing in my head.  

Even Moses felt this way,
"But Moses said to God, 'Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'" - Exodus 3:11

This is what Paul said:
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20
 What does this mean exactly?  Christ lives in us!  He speaks through us, he gives us the ideas, he gives us the words to say.  While you may be wondering who could possibly be taking you seriously, he is preparing the hearts of others.  You may never know who your words have reached, but we should speak boldly about the things that God has shared with you.  If you feel God laying something on your heart, remember who you are, you are a child of God!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Little Things



Have you ever had one of those moments when you see something your little one does that just melts your heart?  Something that totally makes them unique?  

I have one of those rare moments when my one year old is the only one awake with me and I just get to sit and watch him eat.  He is dining on peas and carrots, and the first thing he does is pick all the carrots out and eat them first.  It got me thinking about the other boys, what is their "thing"?  

My two year old, Gavin, has to be in charge of throwing everything in the garbage, to the point of asking for snacks to throw in the "zappo".  Aidan is the slowest eater, just like his mommy!  My 15 year old loooves finally being taller than Mom, and has to measure up every time I see him.  My 17 year old just has to have me listen to his new favorite song when we get in the car.  

My husband?  It's a wink.  He doesn't do it often, just out of the blue, he'll say something sweet with a gorgeous smile that makes his eyes light up and nonchalantly gives me a wink.  He still makes my heart flutter!

These are the kinds of things to keep in my journal, because you always think you will remember these things but as the kids grow older, their personalities change, their idiosyncrasies change and get lost.  What are some of the "things" your loved ones have?