For the Love of Chocolate

DSC_0197I LOVE chocolate! Just about any kind, with nuts, without, with peanut butter, caramel, whatever. If it has chocolate in it or around it, I will eat it and be bribed by it. One of my favorite kinds of chocolate is Dove chocolate, every flavor. I even love the little sayings that come in the wrapper. Now, I’m sure the Dove manufacturers did not intend to provoke profound thinking on their wrappers. And often, I just read them in passing. Some are cute, some are downright stupid (sorry Dove), and some are sweet. But one recently did have me pondering deep thoughts (maybe it’s the breastfeeding hormones).  “Do all things with love.”

Do ALL things with LOVE. Really?? Do ALL things with LOVE? Am I supposed to potty train with love, change diapers with love, eat, feed my children, fold laundry with love? While these things seem trivial, are they? What if we did everything from the lens of “Do ALL things with LOVE“.

Would that make the mundane things a little more enjoyable, or just increase the pressure of being a parent? After all, as all moms and dads know, toddlers and infants are exhausting (as I’m sure any age can be).  Between taking my two year old to the potty for the millionth time, cleaning the floor and sheets from pee and poo (I am happy to report that we are now almost completely potty trained!, just trying to get that #2!). Between  begging her to go # 2 on the potty and bribing her with a new toy and ice cream (which has not worked), and just short of forcing her on the toilet (which I realize does not work either!).  Between nursing every few hours to soothing a fussy baby at all hours, the last thing I  think about sometimes is love. I think about sleep and rest and peace! I think about being able to sit down with my lunch and not have little hands grabbing at my plate demanding at that instant to eat, even though they may have just eaten or just said they were done! I think about drinking HOT tea or coffee. I want to read a book in its entirety and in one sitting. I want to finish writing this post without interruption. I want to be able to eat my chocolate without having to hide it or share it with my child.

Maybe that is the point. Parenting is not glorious work. But neither was Jesus’ work . Did he want to constantly be traveling and speaking and healing? How many times did he get interrupted while praying or having a meal with his friends. How many times did he get woken up by cries and whines? How many times did he just want to spend time with his Father without having to break up an argument or soothe somebody? He did those things out of love and with love. Do ALL things with love.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16: 14

What if, instead of lamenting our days away we said the following instead:

How amazing is it that my two year old is learning to go to the bathroom all by herself? How awesome is it that I can see my baby boy growing right before my eyes?. How extraordinary are all those dirty and wet diapers, for they are a sign that he is healthy?

While not the most glorious acts, these are all opportunities to show love. Show our love in discipline and teaching and learning. And even though this season of my life with young children seems to be dragging by at times, I know this too shall pass. Will I look back and say I did all things with love and that my children knew they were loved? At the end of the day, ask yourself:  Did I have a heart filled with love or was my heart weary and weighed down with the tasks and to do lists of the day?

I want to make sure my children know that they are loved. I don’t want them to remember a clean house, every meal being at 6:30, or an organized playroom. While there is certainly nothing wrong with, and I do aim for those things, my point is this:

I want my children to remember the laughter we shared, coloring and building blocks together. I want them to remember me baking with them and taking them to the park. I want them to have love filled memories.  I want them to remember that I loved them, just as they were. And, perhaps, I will share my chocolate. 🙂 (Sometimes…)

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to share!

Be sure to follow me for weekly encouragement from the realities of my ordinary life!

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If That Isn’t Love

I wanted to share the following excerpt from one of my favorite daily devotional books. This is from “Grace for the Moment”, by Max Lucado.  (http://maxlucado.com/)

“You Were in His Prayers”

“The final prayer of Jesus was about you. His final pain was for you. His final passion was for you. Before he went to the cross, Jesus went to the garden. And when he spoke with his Father, you were in his prayers…

And God couldn’t turn his back on you. He couldn’t because he saw you, and one look at you was all it took to convince him. Right there in the middle of a world which isn’t fair. He saw you cast into a river of life you didn’t request. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body which gets sick and a heart which grows weak…

On the eve of the cross, Jesus made his decision. He would rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you. 

If that isn’t love then I don’t know what is!  I hope you enjoy your weekend loving your family and friends! Thanks for reading!

I will leave you with a link to one of my favorite gospel songs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jltKwX6ifzQ

Choose Before You Lose the Choice

IMG_0192I’ve always prided myself on being independent. I enjoy my privacy and “me” time. I can sit for hours reading a book or watching “chick” flicks and be totally content. When I was a young girl, I could completely tune anybody out if I had a good book in my hand. I have gone to movies and restaurants completely by myself. I never realized how much I would miss the presence of just being in the company of another woman. Not til recently that is. You see, we lost my mother- in- law to a fight with pancreatic cancer last summer. On July 7th, it will have been a year.  When we would visit, she would just sit in the same room with me, while the guys would be watching football or NASCAR, or whatever stupid stuff that guys watch. I admit, at times, it slightly annoyed me. I just wanted to be left alone. With a new baby and working part time and keeping the house in order, it was nice to get away, to not have to worry with responsibility, to not worry about spending the few hours my baby was asleep in getting the laundry done, getting dinner started, etc. Even when my baby was awake, she was entertained by “Mimi”, and her uncle and “Pop”, and I could get even more time to myself or just feel free to be with my daughter without having 15 million tasks in my head. I longed for alone time, as it had become a luxury.

Now, it’s changed. There are still the presence of people, but nobody is there to just talk, or just be. (Not in the same way, at least). I try not to live with regrets, but I regret not utilizing that time to open up and talk, instead of selfishly reading my magazines or books. Sometimes, now, I wish for someone to just sit with me, not having to say a word. I know it will get easier, but it was not expected so soon. You never have enough time. The choice is gone, the choice to talk or the choice to be silent. Not that I can’t talk to the rest of the family members, but as all women know, it is not the same. God made men and women different, and we need both for a reason.

So the next time you find yourself getting annoyed, remember you nor they will be in this world forever. God plants you in this world and other people’s lives for a  reason. Don’t waste your time not realizing what you might be missing one day. One day you won’t get the choice.

As we approach the year anniversary of our loss, we have recently lost another family member to cancer.  The upcoming anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death and the recent loss of my husband’s beloved uncle serve as reminders for us to live in the moment. And to remember, that if it is not going to matter in a year or five years, then it should not matter now.  This has always been a challenge for me, as I do have the tendency to worry and be overly critical. I tend to avoid the awkwardness of those “touchy, feely” moments”. I am not the girl who needs lots of affection. Not that I don’t love my family or my husband’s family, I just don’t have the inclination to always be holding  or hugging somebody. My love language tends to be more quality time and acts of service then touch. Being that I am almost 8 months pregnant, I do not enjoy people touching my belly, even if they are family. I will let them, but it is honestly just awkward to have anybody touch my belly, including my husband. Now of course I will let my husband touch my belly, as I want him to feel his son kick. (and kick he does!)

I know we all get busy in our own lives, and our intentions are rarely to not spend time with our loved ones, but truly our time is fleeting.  Recent events in my own town serves as a reminder of that as well. Recently there was a horrific crash, totaling six people dead and three more injured.  These were wives and husbands and fathers and mothers and friends. It all seems so meaningless, but let it remind us that our life on earth is but a moment. I see it all too much in my career as a nurse:  A young man’s life taken from one silly driving mistake, by him or others. A bad judgment call of the elderly women, only to cause her to fall and hit her head.  A complete accident on a horse or at your job, that can completely paralyze you or take away your ability to work. It only takes one of these times for you to know that life is too short. We need to hug our loved ones close and let them know how important they are to us.  Love like it is your last day. I don’t mean you have to spend every last moment checking off your bucket list, and telling people you love them constantly. We all have our daily tasks that are important in their own right. But don’t let it consume you, and even through the fights and tears that we all have, make sure your husband or parents or children, or anybody else in your life know that they are loved. Maybe all you need to do is send a text, maybe it is a phone call to a long lost friend, maybe it is a hug or reaching out and holding somebody’s hand, maybe it is simply being in their presence or bringing them their favorite tea or coffee. We all have ways of showing love, we just need to choose that path.

My mother-in-law was a great example of loving like it was your last day. She had a servant’s heart. You knew you were loved in her presence. Even in her sickness and last days, her utmost concern was for others. She must have learned the art of loving early. She lost her mother at a young adult age, too young in a tragic accident. She must have known all too well how fleeting life could be and how one phone call could change your life forever. She had not time to anticipate a loss; one day her mother was alive, the next day she wasn’t. I did not know her then, but I can only imagine how that would change your perspective on love and life. She also did not get married until her late 20s or early 30s.  For that generation, I can only imagine the pressure she felt to settle down. I can imagine when she did finally find that love, she was not going to let it go without a fight.

You can’t always control life and what may or may not happen to you, but you always have a choice. To know you need to love everyday is one thing, to practice the art of loving and choosing to love everyday, that is extraordinary.

Choose to Fight for Love! Choose to Love Everyday

What are some ways you can show love today?

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes these partial things will become useless. Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love. “ 1 Corinthians 13: 1-10, 13

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to share if these words helped you in any way. My prayer is for God to use my words for his glory!

The Moments That Take Your Breath Away

Wednesday morning I had a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting, in which we discussed, after viewing an inspirational video, having the courage to rest and rejuvenate. Inspired from the meeting, I took the time to take a stroll with my toddler and dog. (Walking is one of my ways to rejuvenate). Especially at this time of year where there are so many expectations; so many pressures. The pressure to buy the right gift, the pressure to do all the Christmas activities, the pressure to make those homemade cookies. (that’s the biggest one hanging over my head right now). There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those activities. It can all be just a little too much, a little too overwhelming.  Sometimes you just need to  stop and notice the sunset; smell the proverbial flower. That night, the sky was an incredible orange/purple; Christmas lights were coming on as we strolled. It was just what I needed. It is how, I believe, God speaks to me.

I sometimes feel as though my world is speeding by me. I am the highway on which the cars are whizzing .  I need some speed bumps slowing my life down. My little baby is growing up so fast; she is now a toddler and “big girl”. I am trying to remember to slow down and just be. Be with my Sophie and learn who she is; learn to be the parent she needs. . Be with my husband and just savor the moments. I have a hanging on my wall that says ” Life is not measured in the how many breaths you take, but in the moments that take your breath away”. How true that is. It is so hard to make yourself slow down, and I am no different. It is a miracle that I have slowed down to write this post. I have company coming for dinner; Christmas is too close. I have presents to wrap and a car to pack. My house is a mess (though much cleaner as I write this, sigh).  It looks as though we are moving from all boxes sitting all over my living room and guest (aka storage) room waiting to be wrapped. I am forgetting the reason behind all this craziness: the gratitude I feel to be able to have boxes full of gifts, the joy in my heart to be able to celebrate and provide a warm meal to loved ones. As I sit here heavy with burden of things to do,  I’ve become at peace (for the moment) realizing the joy and knowing I am loved by first and foremost my Savior.

My prayer is this:

That amongst the business of the season and this American life, we will stop. We will remember that God is in control. Maybe we don’t’ always see it, but that is why he is God and we are not. Remember the extraordinary moments. Moments where your almost two-year old shoves a whole handful of candy sprinkles in her mouth instead of on the cookies. (we did manage a few decorations on the cookies). Moments where your husband gives you a hug in the morning and tells you how much he appreciates and loves you. The moments of a father and daughter reading together. The moments of pure excitement as only a babe can manage over being able to balance on a step stool.  The moments of tickle giggles and incoherent babbling will soon be a distant memory. Those are a few of the moments that take my breath away. I would love for you to share the moments that take your breath away.

Philippians 4: 8 (NIV) “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.

The day my daughter was born and my breath would be stolen in that moment forever.

The day my daughter was born and my breath would be stolen in that moment forever.