For My Mom on Her Birthday

Today is my mother’s birthday. I haven’t written in a while but today I felt impressed to honor my mom here. Something about this year,… Maybe it’s the loss we’ve experienced and watched others experience. Maybe it’s being on the heals of Christmas when we reflect on the greatest Gift ever given. I just want to express how grateful to God I am for my mom.

I have always gotten really choked up when I listen to Taylor Swift’s song Best Day. My secrets out, I do enjoy listening to Taylor from time to time. I was playing it this morning and even though her story and relationship with her mom is different than mine, in this song she encapsulates the mother/daughter bond in a really sweet way. She communicates how much she looks up to her mom, how her mom has always been there for her, and how beautiful and strong her mother is. I would say the same of my mom on all those points. I don’t know if Taylor’s mom knows Jesus but my mom does and that makes each of those points all the more meaningful and beautiful.

Being the only girl and the youngest my mom really doted on me. She might even say too much, but I’ve always felt loved, cherished and adored in healthy proportions. And now as an adult I’m very aware of my mother’s unconditional love for me. This year in particular, in the wake of losing our baby my mom has been there for me in all the ways I’ve needed and at times when no one else could know I was in need. The Holy Spirit works through her to lift my eyes to Him. She’s one of the very few that sees my deep, dark, ugly places and she graciously, tenderly, gets my gaze back on Christ. She doesn’t just tell me what I want to hear, or what will make me feel better. She is honest, she speaks Biblical truth when I need it,….which is all the time. Her love helps me understand Christ’s love.

I look up to my mom more than any other woman in the world. And I know that my even being able to say that is a gift from God; A great testimony of his goodness and graciousness in my life. I could probably write a book on all the ways her life has positively impacted mine but I want to hone in on one thing.

My mom loves Jesus SO much. We all know that there are, actually, a lot of people that say they love Jesus. But very few people love Jesus so much that it changes their whole life. Jesus has changed my mom’s life and she is unashamed to live it for Him and His glory alone. Her love for Christ affects her marriage. My mom has shown me that a deep, lasting, Christ exalting marriage comes from abiding in Christ. It comes from living out truths like 1 Corinthians 13 and Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition….in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” She’s shown me that the best thing we can give to our children is not only the knowledge of Gods great love for us but a life lived in response to God’s great love. My parents are 62 years old. To God be the glory, my dad has a thriving ministry at a local church and my mom recently “retired” from the orthodontics field. They could easily coast through the rest of their life as empty nesters, enjoying the fruit of their early labor. But instead of slowing down in this race they are picking up the pace, running harder. Recently they have responded to the call of caring for orphans and became foster parents. And it’s not duty for them, its delight. Of course it’s hard, but my mom shows me every day that even in the hard, when we obey God’s Word, and live sacrificially for others, we “count it all joy”. My mom’s joy and her example make me want to know and love Jesus even deeper. Oh how I pray my children say the same for me one day.

And this is the thing that makes my mom’s example so powerful, so Christ exalting. She doesn’t just talk about her love for Jesus, she lives it. When she’s encouraging me and speaking the truth of His Word, I don’t just acknowledge it and quickly forget it. I hear it and I want to live it, because she is living it. I see her joy in Christ and her joy in sacrificial love for others and I want to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” with her. My mom gets Hebrews 12….. “fixing our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the CROSS….”  She gets Philippians 3:8 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And I am ETERNALLY grateful for this.

Mom, your godly example to me is truly priceless. There is nothing on earth that can measure the value of the spiritual inheritance that you have passed on to me. I love you so much, I still want to be you when I grow up 😉 and wish you the happiest birthday.


The Mother In Law

NeeNee and Caleb in March. We do need to take more pictures with you Linda. 😕😉

I just spent the last week with my mother in law, Linda. Sadly, some wives cringe at that thought. I mean I get it. We’re deeply flawed human beings and the dynamics of this relationship can be complicated. But ours has never been. All praise and glory to God and many, many thanks to Linda. 🙂

When I was just shy of 16 years old and meeting Linda for the first time she warmly welcomed me into her home and life. At the time I was the only one who “knew” Jason was my future husband. 😉 To everyone else though I was just a girlfriend. As we got more and more serious Linda treated me more and more like a daughter. I have always felt loved and supported by her. I’ve never felt like we were competing for her sons affections. She was the one who helped him pick out gifts for me on special occasions and set up the best engagement surprise ever. I always, always have felt like she wanted me as her daughter in law. And when she talks about mine and Jason’s marriage, and how much love she observes that is exchanged between us… much he loves me….Or when she tells me what good parents we are…. what a good mommy I am….. and she means it….. She is proud and this means so much to me. I realize this is a rare and wonderful thing that we have.

After many long wonderful talks this week I realize that she has a special way of speaking truth and sharing wisdom and yet being affirming of not only mine and Jason’s relationship but decisions we make as a couple and for our family. She encourages us, prays for us, and trusts that we are seeking God and are “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.” She knows we aren’t perfect and that we may even have to make a few mistakes along the way but I have never felt judged or looked down on by her. And trust me, there’s plenty of opportunities there!!😂

I can’t even express how grateful I am that God has allowed her to be my mother in law and that she is the way she is with me. She is so incredibly kind, gracious, giving, genuine, patient, and loving. I am grateful for her example, her relationship with the Lord, her faithfulness in her marriage and her love for her family, even those annoying dogs! 😜 Linda is the glue in the Graham family and I know her super strength comes from our merciful Father in Heaven. I love her so much and I am thankful she has shown me what it can look like to be the mother in law.❤️

Freeeeedoooom ;-)

The girls started school! What a big change that has brought in our normal day. I’m so excited for them and confident this was the right thing to do for our family. Homeschooling Micaila last year was a good thing and fit that time in our life, but we needed to do things differently this year. With fostering and the age Caleb is at, I feel like I can be more effective in my roles while they get taught during the day. I feel this amount of time will enable me to focus on serving. Serving our family, foster children, friends, and whoever the Lord places in my life. I’m excited about the freedom but I want to use the time wisely.

Did I put this in a previous blog, a visiting pastor a few weeks ago said “You are never more like Jesus then when you are serving.” How I long to be like Jesus. 🙂 Jesus loved others and was completely filled with peace, joy, contentment, among other things. What more could we want? Love, joy, peace,…. I know it’s all true because in the throws of serving I am not preoccupied with self which is what tends to rob me of all those good things like love and peace.

Speaking of serving I have been blessed to BE served. My cousin Nicole, who is so thoughtful and I admire that about her so much, orchestrated friends to bring us a few meals. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Can I announce that the honeymoon is over? Not that it’s horrible now but we definitely have a 2 year old in the house. Things that alerted me of this: I feel an urge to carry a paint brush and magic eraser around at all times. Hiney wiping is back at a high for me. 😉

So we have been blessed this week and last with some yummy meals and I am beyond grateful and feel quite spoiled. Isn’t that amazing? How one meal can seriously change your life that day. And that is something I want to strive for during the day when the girls are at school. Who could use that life changing meal today? It may be someone who recently brought me one! Or it may be a total stranger.

Something else I was struck by when receiving these wonderful gifts of food. I have a very difficult time accepting service. It just feels weird to me for some reason. Like I feel so undeserving or that maybe it’s too much trouble for the server. (This is all part of my melancholy over thinking temperament) I want to just gladly and guiltlessly accept the blessing. Why do we feel this way? (I’m not the only one who feels this way, right?) This is why we HAVE the body of Christ, so we can support and encourage each other. My own struggle of being served reminds me (a well as my mother reminding me) of the attitude I should ALWAYS have as a servant.
2 Corinthians 9:7b God loves a cheerful giver.
I admit that there have been times when I have given, wether it was time, money, food, ect. and I just want someone, anyone, to know it was sacrificial on my part and “please just pat me on the back, and tell me I am doing a good thing.” I know this comes from my own insecurity and desire to equate my worth from humans. Instead I need to be confident and content with my worth coming from Him alone.

I pray that during the day not only will I be aware and seek opportunities to serve but that I will do so with a pure heart, pure motives, and purely for my Father in Heaven. I know this will come from spending time with him, so I just pray I will be careful with my days and spend each moment wisely.

So, time to get off this blog and be intentional with the rest of my day HIS day.

Interactive question time. Don’t all the good bloggers do this?

What’s a good way for stay at home moms to minister to others? Give me all you got! 😉

A Mothers Intuition

It’s 1 o’clock in the morning and my eyes pop open. Micaila and Ryann had made their “beds” on our floor because we were leaving for Florida at 3 am. I wake up to Micaila stirring. She proceeds to stand up and walk straight to her bedroom. I called to her and then quickly jump out of bed knowing she means to walk to the bathroom. I can not tell you how frequently this happens. It’s like I wake up just in time to stop her from using her bedroom as a toilet. A few times I have caught her getting ready to sit and pee in her closet, totally asleep, with the best of intentions to not wet her bed. What amazes me is that, to my knowledge, I have intervened every time. We’ve had a couple close calls resulting in tee tee on the tile floor but I have yet to find any puddles around the house.

On this particular evening, after we successfully made it to the potty and got snuggled back in our beds, I was laying awake in wonder at this God given intuition we mothers have. I mean, Jason barely awakes to Caleb crying at night, let alone a kid, honestly, trying to make a trip to the bathroom. God really has given us moms some unique gifts.

As I was laying awake I also began to think about how much I have learned after 6 years of mothering and 3 children. Like, I actually, finally, have moments here and there where I think “Man, I have come a long way!” When I had Micaila there was so much to be learned that can only come through time and experience. There is no book out there (though there are a lot of great books!) that can really tell you how to parent and be a good mommy. It’s different for every one and unique to every child. I have been blessed by numerous Christian parenting books and lots of personal stories from women I trust, like my mom, (I’d be a mess with out you!) but even still in those first 3 years I struggled with confidence in myself. As a new mom there is a lot thrown at you. Between the emotional aspects of now being a wife AND a mother, all the opinions that everyone wants to share with you, beginning this new season where your baby is dependent on you and now dictating much of your choices and all you want is what’s best for your family…… This is just the tip of the berg people! I have always wanted my babies to have a healthy understanding from the beginning that they are not the center of the universe, but in the beginning they are completely relying on you for everything. It always presented a challenge to negotiate time with Jason, family, and friends when I’ve been in the throws of infancy. And I questioned myself a lot in my earlier years of parenting. This is not a fun place to be as there is a lot of fear and guilt that comes with it. But there is hope! By the time I had Caleb I was finally experiencing confidence as a mother. (I know, 3 kids and its finally clicking!)

As time has passed and experience has increased so has my awareness of my great need for Jesus. Pursuing Him, exposing myself to Truth, and praying, (all the time) has developed my confidence in mothering. I used to have a hard time making decisions without fearing that someone may dislike my choice. Now, I can trust that as long as I’m pursuing Truth, I can be confident in our decisions for our family with out worrying about what other people may think. I still have a ways to go but I am definitely not where I was, praise Jesus. I continually ask God to make my heart and motives pure. And with confidence in HIM, I fully trust that he will give me discernment in our decisions as parents. I know that if I submit to his Spirit he will guide me to do what is right and best for these little lives he’s entrusted me and Jason with.

Making time for Jesus can prove to be one of the most difficult things when you are a mommy of young kids. I don’t have a formula for “how to get in your quiet time”, I just recommend doing everything you can to spend time in prayer and the Word through out the day. These days I can pretty consistently wake up in the morning and do it but there were times when the physical and emotional exhaustion was so draining I just couldn’t manage waking unless I was being drug out of bed. I often turn on teachings while I clean and fold laundry (instead of old 90210 re runs! yup, been there, not a whole lot of fruit came from it 😉 ) and I pray a lot when I’m driving. The girls pretty much know at this point what I’m doing and who I’m talking to. Now they just ask for specifics on my prayers like “what’s wrong?” And the “why’s?” But I’m finding this to be a very fulfilling part of parenting because they are SEEING the importance of prayer and staying in the Word.

If you want your children to desire relationship with Christ show them how the relationship works. I remember watching my parents meet with Jesus just about every morning and I remember observing them pray A LOT. I know their example instilled my own desire to pursue Christ and experience the joy relationship with him brings.

I am can promise you that you will never regret making time for Jesus. The time may not look how you’d like. You may not get those serene moments with your bible and coffee and endless hours of prayer but the more you reach out to him, the more you make the effort to put him first, I promise you’ll experience his faithfulness. I most definitely have and I am in a state of endless praising right now because he has proven so faithful over and over again. We need him! The emotional ups and downs can be intense. We need him to be our foundation in our family. We need him and his Word to remind us not to neglect what’s important, like our spouse, and our time with our Lord. It’s really crazy how the people that cherish us the most (our Lord and our hubby) tend to be the most neglected when mommies are tending to their babies. (Been there a time or two) This may sound too simple, which it is, but that doesn’t make it easy. Just keep your eyes fixed on him. Earnestly, genuinely, seek his will, for your marriage, your babies, and your outside relationships. It DOES fall into place. I’ve seen it 🙂

Some verses that I have found to be foundational for me in regards to being a momma. I can’t express enough how powerful it is to memorize scripture. But I could write a whole posting on that as well!

Praying blessings, peace, and confidence on all you mommies out there and also on those I know who are about to embark on this wonderful FULFILLING journey. Nothing can give you a glimpse of His love like being a parent. It’s awesome!

Guilt is banished through truth and love; fear-of-God deflects evil. (Proverbs 16:6 The Message)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22, 23 NLT)

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. (Psalms 16:5 NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 NLT)