Grace and Love

5. My Savannah-Banana is 5.

Savannah at 5 is so much different than Scarlett at 5. I know full well that children are individuals and are all different, but we are navigating mental tests and diagnoses with Scarlett, so her 5 wasn’t what most would consider “typical”, but more about my sweet Scarlett later.

My Savannah reminds me so much of myself. She feels BIG.

Recently she said to us that she feels as if no love hers, or that her daddy and I do not love her anymore. Did I mention she’s 5? These big feelings and thoughts are uncharted territory for us as parents.

As I’ve thought more about my little girl and her big feelings over the last few weeks, I’ve been reminded that we all feel or have felt this way at some point in our lives. For some that season is now, for others it comes and goes. Some of us have learned to make it past the need to be loved or needed by this world, but all of us at some time or another have experienced it.

So how do I teach my daughter that no matter how this world or anyone in it feels or thinks about her – Our God will always love her?

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. -Romans 8:38

That no matter what she does, what decisions she makes or how far she tries to run from Him – He will always pursue her, wait for her, adore her?

Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. -Psalm 139:7-8

How do we teach ourselves this?

Grace is a radical concept in a world that teaches us that we must earn our way.

For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Grace was and still is hard for me to grasp at times. I was a good girl, from a good family, that went to a good church, and I had it all together – until I didn’t. How could anyone ever love the broken, messy shell of a washed up good girl like me?

God has a great sense of humor. That broken girl fell in love, got married and had two little girls of her own. What a way to teach someone about grace.

I tell my girls all the time that there is nothing that they could ever do or say that would make me love them any less. How much more so does our Heavenly Father love us?

My children did nothing to earn my love. I love them simply because they are mine. How much more does our Father love us, simply because we are His?

As I was getting Savannah ready for bed this evening she said to me again, “I feel like you and daddy don’t love me anymore.” She was in complete despair.

My heart sank to the pit of my stomach. My goodness doesn’t this precious child know that I would go the ends of the Earth for her? That I would die for her?

It hit me then, that I had been feeling the exact same BIG feelings in my own heart. I was unlovable, unworthy, not good enough. I had put goals and things and people on the throne of my heart and no matter how hard I tried, I just could not measure up. Nothing I could say or do was “good enough”. I was in complete despair.

He was reminding me through the words of my sweet, BIG feeling little girl, that I would never measure up to the world’s standards. But that He, as always, had a seat at the table ready for me. I need only pull out the chair and sit down.

Who is on the throne of your heart today? Is it our Heavenly Father, or this unattainable fleeting world?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

Parenting is scary. We are entrusted with these tiny souls and we love them the best we can and pray we don’t mess them up. I believe it is also a tool He uses to teach us about the kind of Father He is and He is good. All the time. Always. Even we are are not, even when we mess up. Especially then, because then His grace comes pouring in and we can see Him for who He truly is. A good, good Father worthy of His rightful place on the throne of our hearts.

Father, help me today and always to show this radical grace and love to my girls until all they can see is you. Becuase ultimately our goal as parents is not to raise “good children”, but lovers of Christ. Amen

 

Until next time,

J

 

 

 

Already Enough


This is me. The real me. No makeup, filters or flattering photo angles. Hot and sweaty from watching my girls at cheer practice, before which I backed into my husband’s car (for real y’all). 

Tired, oh so tired. 

I am a daughter of the one true King, beloved and treasured, but I have a hard time remembering that. Remembering that my joy lies in Him and Him alone. 

I post this so you know that we don’t have it all together. I yell at my kids sometimes, and they are not always perfect angels. (The 4yo only made it half way through cheer before she had a meltdown). My house isn’t clean, I don’t cook gourmet meals, my kids are lucky if they have PB&J sometimes. 

Don’t compare yourself to what you see on social media. We all have stuff, no one is perfect. That photo I posted of my two sweet girls holding hands and smiling? It took 20 shots, lots of tears, and most likely a fist fight between the two to get. 

What you have is what you have, and what you have is already perfect because it’s yours. Live for the moment, because they go so fast. Put down the phone and spend time with your kids. I promise you will learn things about them you never knew. 

And LOVE yourself. The self you have now, not the self you want to be or think you should be. If you don’t love yourself now, you won’t love yourself when you get there either. 

You are beautiful, loved, treasured, important, intelligent, amazing. You truly are. 
“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:18

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I post this for and to myself. I need to put down the phone and stop comparing myself to other people, AND I am just as bad as the next person about only posting the good and “perfect”. I would hate to know that someone would see something I’ve posted and think less of what they have, when really they are only seeing half truths. I’m not trying to be preachy, I’m only calling it as I see it in my own life and mind. 

And again, you are already enough. YOU, reading this right now. You are loved, cared for, intelligent, strong, important, amazing. 

Don’t ever forget it. 

Until next time, 

Daughter

Oh daughter, sweet daughter that I have made, the one that I adore. I know your heart hurts, I know you are tired and weary. I know that you get angry in the waiting and wanting. That you wonder why I don’t just take these things from you like you know I can.

But daughter, you are not of this world. This instant gratification “privileged” world. I never promised that their wouldn’t be suffering, only that I would be there with you. I don’t take these things from you because I want you to see Me in them. I want you to look for Me in the heartache, to lean on and rest in Me when you are tired, and to let Me wipe away your tears. You know I love you, right? You know I have every tear you have ever cried, and I have always been there even when you couldn’t feel Me.

But with these things I also give you a promise of Joy. A promise of everlasting life in Me. A promise that, one day, the veil will drop and you will see this world as I see it, and you will see yourself as I see you. Beautiful.

So, beautiful one, do not give up on Me. Lean in, and listen. I am here always.

What are you afraid of?

Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged! for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.                                                                                                                         –Joshua 1:9

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Why are you afraid, oh child? Why do you think you can not do this task I have called you for?

I am with you always.

I am the guide that holds your hand as you cross the foggy mountain pass.

I am the strength in your legs.

Yes, you may not be able to complete this task yourself, but with Me you can do anything.

Lean on Me, rely on Me.

This is what I want you to do.

Around here…

Been busy and chaotic and tragic around here lately. We lost another young family member this week and I missed wordless Wednesday.

What’s been going on around here:

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It’s been cold and we’ve had lots of snuggles. I don’t ever want to drop the girls off at school but that morning was extra hard. Adam loves his girls.

Suicide sucks. I don’t ever think I’ll understand what would drive somebody to that. I know that our family is in shock and pain to be going through this again just three short years later.

Hug your babies. Remember that God is good. All the time. Always.

A day with my girl.

Scarlett, her Gigi and I took a trip to the GA Aquarium yesterday. It was nice to play hooky from work and spend the day with my girl.

All photos are iPhone. We got an hour and a half away from home and I realized I forgot my camera. For shame!

Dolphins!

Full of Wonder

She LOVED it. The dolphin show was pretty awesome, I hadn’t seen it yet either.

Under the seaFishy friends.

Whale..Shark!

You talking to me?

We spent the most time with the whales.

Whales!

Before we left Adam asked if she was going to see dragons at the aquarium. “No daddy, no dragons at the aquarium.” But daddy was right, sea dragons!!

Dragons!A special day I will cherish. ♥

Linking up today at:

Little by Little
Until next time,
J ♥

For my babies

The other day I was thinking of things that I wanted to make sure the girls knew. Not only that we love them unconditionally, but things about life in general. I figured I should put the list down on paper now while they were still young. I can always add to it, but I figured I might forget all the important things I want to tell them by the time we make it into teenage-hood. (eek!)

Sun in the Pines

To my beautiful girls, Scarlett and Savannah, some things to remember as you make your way through life.

Learn to laugh at yourself. Laughter is the best medicine and if you can’t laugh at yourself every now and then you’ll have a tough time getting through life.

You will make mistakes. Believe me I know. But I also know that with mistakes comes forgiveness and second chances, and you will never do anything that will make me, your daddy or your heavenly Father love you any less.

I am always here for you. I want you to talk to me and confide in me. Also, know that God is always by your side even when you don’t feel him, and he wants you to talk to Him too.

Play, have fun, see the joy in life. You will have plenty of time for adult seriousness when you are older, but now I just want you to have fun. I want to you grow and learn new things, to see the world in a way that only a child can.

Love. Simply love. It is what we are here to do. To love one another like God loves us. To minister and teach His word, to bring joy to the people around us. To get down and dirty in the trenches and do hard things, to take care of each other, but most importantly to just simply love one another.

You are beautiful. Inside and out. You are made just the way He intended you to be, so love yourself, it’s the only self you get. Anyone who tells you different is having a hard time loving their own self. Help them. 

Pray. If there was one thing I could go back and tell my young self it would be to pray more. Bring your troubles before God. You aren’t bothering Him, He wants you to talk to him. He wants to be part of every minute of every day. Have a hard decision to make? Pray. Something dad and I did that’s bothering you? Pray. Have a fight with your best friend? Pray. You see someone at school that’s hurting? Pray. We want you to come to us with your problems too. We want to sit and talk with you and help you make decisions, and pray for you and with you. We want to make sure that the friend at school that you saw was hurting gets help. So please come to us and feel safe to be open with us, but pray also. Bring those things to your heavenly Father and find rest and peace, and answers with Him too.

Don’t ever give up. You will get hurt, people and friends will forsake you. You will have times when your down and dirty in the trenches and you are doing hard things and you feel like no one is there with you. Like no one understands. You will, I’m sorry. I don’t want to sugar coat it for you, it’s just part of life. But don’t give up. God is always with you, always. He loves you and will bring you out on the other side, you just have to trust in him. We are here too, and we will NEVER give up on you. We love you more than you can fathom even when it seems like we don’t love you at all.

Remember that we love you, you are important. We only want the best for you, which means we will do and say and make you do things that you don’t like sometimes. Everything we do is out of love, and hopefully one day you will thank us for them.

Most importantly, remember that God loves you, and that, my beautiful babies, is one thing that will never change.

Love always,

Mom

29 years… (WW#5)

Today is my last birthday. Every year from here on out will just be anniversaries of my 29th birthday. 😉

Seriously though, I’m incredibly blessed to have the most amazing friends/family/coworkers. They took a day that I wasn’t really looking forward to and made it amazing!

So, Happy Birthday to me! ♥

Jess B day

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Also, the sweetest little 2 year old serenaded me with a song first thing this morning. ♥ ♥ My cup runneth over.

 

J ♥

Linking up here:

and here today:

In the Moment with Sarah Halstead
Come join us! ♥

Whirlwind and Topsy Turvy

A few days ago I was  laying in bed listening to the baby cry over the monitor wondering how long I would have to *act* like I was asleep so Adam would get up with her. As I was trying to fake my perfect snore I thought back to the time before children. The Saturday (and Sunday for that matter) mornings when we slept until 10 or even “laid” in bed all day. When our mornings didn’t revolve around Mickey Mouse or sippy cups, and our plans didn’t have to be made around nap times. We could go to the grocery store whenever we wanted without the worry that someone would throw a screaming tantrum in the middle of the store (unless of course they didn’t have my wine in stock). I wondered how our lives would be if we had never had children.

Adam and I had a whirlwind courtship. I knew he was the man I was supposed to marry on our first date. We dated for six months before we got engaged and a year later were married. We discussed starting a family but I had been told that I might not be able to conceive because of issues I had had in the past. We decided that just wasn’t what we had planned for our lives. We were going to travel, and spoil our dogs, and enjoy each other.

A month after our first anniversary I found out I was pregnant. I cried. Not because I was happy, but because I didn’t know what Adam would say. This wasn’t what we had planned, how were we going to afford this. Our world was topsy turvy, upside down. My initial shock only lasted a few days, soon I was over the moon for this little life growing inside of me. It took Adam longer to warm up to the idea. I think he mourned longer for the life that we had planned, the one that flew out the window with two little pink lines.

We finally started to settle somewhat into our new life, and a month after Scarlett’s first birthday I found out I was pregnant again. Adam’s first response was “Again?”. Seriously. I cried again, because, how were we going to afford this, this isn’t in our new plan and the new feeling of how can I love another as much as the first. When she came I knew the answer. Your love as a mother, as a parent, doesn’t divide with each child, it multiplies.

We’ve had a crazy year. Again we are starting to settle into our new life as a family of 4. But on this particular morning, the monotony of it all came crashing down on me and I began to wonder what our lives would be like if we didn’t have these girls. No sippy cups or bottles, no cartoons or tea parties, no waking up at the crack of dawn every single day. To go and do as we please. Then, in the middle of my daydream of vacationing in Italy, I hear Adam come back into the bedroom and I roll over and see this face.

Savannah

And shortly after this one crawls up in the bed.

Scarlett

All my thoughts are washed away. I think to myself “You big idiot!”. This may not be the life we planned, but nothing ever goes as planned. Some of the best adventures are the ones you never expected. We may not travel as much as we would like or get to sleep late on the weekends, we may be on the fast train to the terrorist threes, but our lives are just the way they are meant to be. Perfect.

J ♥