Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Stand Up & Lay Yourself Down OR, {When You Feel As If The Bickering Might Become The Death Of You}

I don't always know exactly what to share in this space, but I'm finding that anything that encourages us mama's to press into the Lord, is always worth putting out there. So here's what's been happening at the farmhouse as of late. 

Not to  long ago I posted about a fresh start {here}. The truth is, it's been a year of bickering and pride under the farmhouse roof. We go through seasons where the kids struggle big time to get along. And there are other seasons where their friendships flourish and they seem to have developed a rhythm of kindness and words that make each other's souls stronger.

When I don't know what to do, I read the Bible like crazy because the fear of the Lord, is always the beginning of wisdom.  There is no single solution for the conflicts that go on in our homes. The Lord is so faithful to reveal different tactics to different folks in different situations.

I think I've shared this before, but a long time ago when I first became a mother, a more experienced mom encouraged me to correct and guide my kids with straight up scripture. At first it was daunting to me because at the time I had very little knowledge of the Bible, and also because I had never seen such a thing modeled in all my life. But I took my friend's advice to heart and over the years it has become a more natural process for me.

It also helps to have friends who can give you a starting place. My friend Ghena mentioned a phrase to me that has become our mantra around here. "Who's gonna stand up, and lay themselves down?" As I thought about this phrase, it helped me identify the root of all the bickering__ Pride.

James 4 says, What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

The kids and I have talked through this verse dozens of times. And we keep talking about it because we are forgetful people. The majority of the conflict in our home comes from the fact that one, or both parties are not getting what they want. Pride can be fierce. It can turn us into jerk-faces towards one another in a heartbeat.

But the glory of it all, is that there is a solution to our selfish hearts. And it comes from Philippians 2,

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

That's it. 

That's the key to all our selfish pursuits. 

Jesus, the Son of God, L_A_I_D   H_I_M_S_E_L_F  D_O_W_N. 

He put Himself aside. 

He humbled Himself.

It's so incredibly hard to speak this into our kids, to model this to them, and to desire this response from them, because it is completely contrary to what the world preaches. This idea is astonishing to our modern sensibilities, because we have heard from our youth to know ourselves. "Confused about your calling in life? Find out what you want, don't give up hope and go get it. Sad that you don't have what you want? Work hard to achieve riches and glory. Frustrated that you are weak? Look inside you and see how immeasurably great you really are."  

But the Bible calls us to lay ourselves down and make our lives about GOD. God is the one who has called us to a specific hope, promised us a future, and has the power to make it all come to pass just as He said. And He gives us these opportunities in our daily lives, with our siblings, our families, to practice this stunningly beautiful way to live our one life well. 

And so, we practice laying ourselves down, because that's what Christ modeled to us. And if the Son of God laid Himself down, then I want it to be my joy to model humility in my own life and to call my treasures to do the same towards one another. It doesn't take much effort to feed our pride, but it takes tremendous courage and strength to choose others above ourselves.

Practically speaking, in our home, we have read both James 4 and Philippians 2 to the point that they have become common language in our home. When the bickering rises, I listen to what the conflict is, and most of the time it's a situation of one or more kids seeking to satisfy themselves and their own desires.

And so  I ask them, "Why are there fights and quarrels among you?" To which they most often reply, "because I'm not getting what I want." And so I put it out there__ "Ok then, who's gonna stand up, and lay themselves down?" And depending on the kids who are involved in the conflict, some will soften their hearts way more quickly than others. Sometimes we all stand there for an agonizing amount of time, until there is a softening from both parties.

It's a process. Like most struggles we are attempting to overcome in this place, it has taken several months for us to establish a new rhythm. Honestly, it felt totally awkward in the beginning, but over time it has just become a part of our family culture. It was so worth getting over that initial hump, worth scouring the pages of His sweet Word, and worth the effort and time it has taken to tuck His truth into our hearts,

The bickering around here has not magically disappeared. And although I've gained some tools in navigating the kids through this bickering phase, I am still a woman who often chooses to live in the flesh and not to listen to what the Spirit might be prompting me to do in the moment. So please don't think for one silly second that I never lose it, or respond in anger, or make the situation worse by shouting at the top of my lungs, "COULD Y'ALL JUST QUIT THE SHENANIGANS AND BY GOLLY, GET ALONG!" As long as this tribe is on this earth we are going to have to fight the good fight and shout out gratitude and praise for His unfailing grace.

Creating a new family culture takes practice. It takes doing the same thing, over and over and over again until it begins to flow out of us more freely.

So tonight, I'm preaching to my own heart__

Be encouraged.

Practice humility.

Pray confidently.

Consistently be consistent.

And trust in God's incomparably great power in us who believe (Ephesians 1:19).

The Lord is always faithful.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Birthday Buddies

{I love it when he winks at me...}

These two share a birthday month. 

None of the six under the farmhouse roof have similar personalities. 

And the truth is, they have two sides to them just like every other person on the planet. They have their strengths and they have their weaknesses. And as a mama, it can be easier some days to focus on the latter. 

Yes, they have weaknesses, but they also have amazing strengths and I've been asking the Lord to open my eyes to what HE sees in each of them. Reese's strengths are outward, in fact the girl wears her whole heart on her sleeve. 

Jed on the other hand mostly keeps to himself and has very few words, so it is much harder for me to really know him the way I long to know him. I ask him questions throughout the day, but most of the time I get one or two word answers. I have found that when I tuck him in at night and I choose to linger a little bit, that's when he likes to talk to me. 

And I'm trying so hard to listen. I'm not the best listener. I hear what the kids are saying but I often hear them with my own preconceived notions and thus I'm really not hearing them at all. I'm a fixer, but they would benefit so much more from me being a listener. 

Anyways, Jed will be seven and Reese is now nine. They're buds. {The oldest two are buds and the middle two are buds, and the youngest two haven't quite figured out what it means to be buds with anybody. :) }

These two both enjoy art and jumping on the trampoline and playing Groundies with their siblings. I love summer because they spend hours outside building forts and making up things to play. Jed loves building Legos and Reese just got another American Girl doll for her birthday that she hasn't put down since she bought it. They both love to draw and watch youtube videos to help them figure out how to draw new things. 

They are two of my greatest gifts and I hope that they always feel celebrated because it has been my joy to walk alongside them as we seek the Lord all of our days. 

Happy Birthday Skyler Reese and Jedders! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pieces Of Summer

The summer has barely begun and it has been jam-packed with trips and friends and water days and work days, afternoons of art and jumprope and gardens and all things good and lovely. 

But then there came a day when it was just me in the kitchen, The Best of Hillsong was strumming in the background. The kids were all over the farm doing their own things. 

It was just me.

It was quiet enough for me to hear His voice.

I was still enough to know His presence.

Me, with Him. My heart in a posture of praise.

The joy tears fell. 

I just love HIM. 

And I long to know Him so so much more.

#bathingsuitsandbicycles #summer



So often my little world is just so loud. I know it's the season I'm in and that seasons are always changing. The loud truly does holds it's own sweetness. 

But the loud also makes the quiet a total gift. 

My favorite days of the summer, 
are the ones spent alone with Him in my kitchen__ A tender closeness that will be with me always in eternity. 

How very grateful I am that He is the only thing permanent in this world that is fading away. How very grateful I am that this earth the short part, and that the sweetness of being in His presence is what my soul will know fully for all of eternity. 




#thehammock #thecovetedspotforreading

Monday, June 19, 2017

Fathers Day 2017

We spent Fathers Day at a small town arena with a bunch of Colorado Mounted Rangers. 

We ate BBQ under a canopy of pine trees. We took the long way home, down a bunch of dusty dirt roads, listening to The Cowboy's favorite Country station. 

Driving through the middle of nowhere, the Charmer declared from the back seat, "EVERYONE, I lost a tooth!" 

The littlest one was hot and fussy. 

When the oldest boy shook the Captain's hand, I couldn't help but think about how he looked like such a man. 

I haven't written about it much here in this space, but my man is a Colorado Ranger and today 21 Rangers completed the training necessary to become Mounted Rangers (Rangers on horseback). Our family went to support and celebrate their accomplishments. 

I don't understand a ton about all the details of being a Ranger. On the drive home, I asked my Joey about the different ranks and about some of the  Lieutenants, Captains, and Colonels we had met at the BBQ. Getting straight who's who, can be confusing to me. But I was so grateful to have met some of the kind folks that my Joey spends a lot of his time with. 

 The Cowboy is not a man of many words, but his life is an example of quiet strength, solid faith, and selfless love. He's not perfect, but he's perfectly mine. And for that, I'm eternally grateful.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Her Bathing Suit

She finds her bathing suit in a pile of suits on the farm front porch, and brings it to me. 

She points to herself. 

In her tiny voice, she whispers it kind of unclear, but I'm beginning to understand, "On. On."

I help her put it on and lather her tender white skin in sunscreen__ and then I watch.

I watch her run her pudgy little fingers across the ruffle of her suit. 

She's still in that toddling phase__ the one where she's still trying to tame those little legs of hers.

And every once in awhile, she takes a break and finds herself a snack.

Her see-through white whisps 
and sun-kissed cheeks 
and love for her own bathing suit__
They're tiny pieces of summer that I want to remember for always.