Category Archives: (flourishing) mama

Pockets: It Must Be a Mom Thing (You know you’re a mom when…)

“You guys, I found jogging shorts with pockets!” I exclaimed to a table full of college age ladies whom I get to mentor. They gave each other sideways glances and shook their heads. Was I missing something? Are pockets not the most glorious thing ever!? Eventually, one of them offered some perspective: “It must be a mom thing,” she said with a shrug of her shoulders.

What!? My thoughts were spinning. Doesn’t everyone at the gym have a phone and keys and headphones to juggle? Not that we would actually run with anything in the pockets, but doesn’t everyone get excited to have a place to stash the stuff between the workout and the drive home?

Then I realized the truth: moms are probably the only ones who cannot just simply hold these things in our hands. We have to be hands-free for the little ones we walk across the parking lot. Our hands must be ready to receive the beautiful coloring page of pink and purple scribbles they made so special for us. We need high-five hands available to acknowledge the sweet karate moves and ballerina twirls. How can mommy scoop up her whimpering toddler if her fingers are full?

Moms need pockets.

When I began unpacking my identity as a mother, I never expected pockets to be such a crucial part of the journey. But now, most of my dresses now have pockets. If they don’t, I wear jackets and sweaters with pockets. I chide myself every time I wear leggings without pockets. I have become a pocket-enthusiast!

Those B.C. days (Before Children, see what I did there) kept my hands full. On any given day I could keep a comfortable grip on piles of loose things: my cell phone, dog’s leash, car keys, wallet, journal, and lipgloss. However, if motherhood has taught me anything, it is that these hands were made for cultivating souls, not carrying stuff.

I am learning to appreciate the process of letting more things go in order to embrace my children: certain expectations for my body, goals for my career, and the never-ending impulse to appear impressive, just to start. None of these are bad, per say; they just keep my heart and mind and calendar too full.

I think we all need to find a lifestyle with pockets. We need more built-in margins of time and space to stash our extra stuff for a little bit. I need a place in my heart to store up some expectations for myself that are sometimes life-giving, but right now only serve as distractions from my stay-present mama journey. I need pockets in my social life, and deeply appreciate the friendships that span those extra gaps with grace for me.

Because my amazing kids are little, and I don’t want to shove them into the proverbial pocket of “I’ll pick that up later.” But I am still grateful for these lifestyle pockets that hold on to desires and dreams and details for later.

If you are wondering if you have been fully initiated into #momlife yet, check your outfits for pockets. I bet you have some. Let them daily remind you to keep your hands and heart free for your kids today; because there is grace and new beginnings for those pocketed priorities to be picked up when the time is right.

And if you are not a mother, but somehow made it to the end of this post, I encourage you to take some time to thank your own mom for her pockets.

Maybe even buy her a cute dress with some attached.

Has your mom made room for you in her own heart and hands? Express your gratitude by sharing this post with her on Facebook or Twitter.
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7 Gorgeous Ways to Visualize Your Word of the Year

So you agonized over your personal Word of the Year (WOTY) and finally arrived at the perfect mantra, focus, challenge, etc… but now what? I suggest you find a way to VISUALIZE your Word in a way that tangibly brings it (or it’s meaning) to mind every day.

Here are 7 of my favorite ideas:

1. Accessorize with It

In my last post, we explored ways to perceive our WOTY. For me, my Word “Advocate” acts as a scale to weigh my thoughts, options, and circumstances. Having my word printed on this gorgeous gold bar necklace has forced me to acknowledge it constantly. It is so pretty, its purpose is hard to ignore.

Every time I bend over (which is a lot with little kids running around!) this necklace falls down over my chin. At first it was annoying during every downward dog in yoga class; however, soon I began spending these moments praying for my co-gym mates or my little kiddos. And sometimes the bright gold catches the light perfectly in my bathroom mirror, reminding me to attend to my appearance in a way to advocate for the gospel (think: Image Bearer confident in Christ).

I love wearing my Word so much, I want to share a similar necklace with one of you! Enter here then scroll to the bottom of this post for more details on my Word of the Year Necklace Giveaway (Giveaway Now Closed 1/17/18).

2. Paint a Canvas

Full disclosure: I have broken an unspoken rule of the personal WOTY: I have more than one word!

My sisters and I set up a canvas-painting party with our mom after Christmas. I was bound and determined to somehow paint a representation of “Advocate.” As paint splashed from my brush, unexpected vulnerable fears leaked from my soul. What came out instead of “advocate” was a raw but imperative second word for the coming year: F L O W.

F L O W helps me be bendy, fluid, and moldable. While pushing into the intentionality of gospel advocacy is a powerful display of obedience to God, so is an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s guidance and ease-of-burden in the process. My F L O W canvas reminds me of all these things from its perch above my piano, in the one quiet room of the house where I study God’s Word and practice yoga.

3. Make It Your Jam

In the year of “Live Alive,” I compiled a playlist on Spotify that represented our goal to live boldly, fully, and gratefully throughout 2017. Sounding off with Rend Collective’s Live Alive, my Happy Island playlist is still a family favorite. Inviting our kids to add their “live alive” songs added to the joy and ownership for everyone in our family. You will never hear a more eclectic mix of Bob Marley, Chris Tomlin, Disney soundtracks, and James Brown (I Feel Good, I knew that I would, now!). Check it out here.

4. Label Your Year Book

One of my FAVORITE things I have ever done for our family was build an annual photo album on Shutterfly. This brings me to my second confession: I do not pick my word of the year in January. We usually pick it in the summertime before the school year, when we are tangibly faced with seasonal life changes.

Our family year books represent an entire school year, beginning with the summertime beforehand. I organize the photos throughout the year and order the book on Cyber Monday. Our kids look forward to opening their Christmas Eve box and seeing the former year in photos. This year, I added our “Live Alive” WOTY to the front of the book, along with photographed moments in which we were intentional to do some abundant living.

5. Doodle It on Repeat

Art journaling is a somewhat more official and sophistic form of doodling important things, either in an actual journal, or pretty much anywhere you have space to create. One year, my word of the year was Flourish. I represented this word with leafy doodles and flowering patterns of ink in my journals (I end up with several year). In fact, these reminders to Flourish ended up everywhere: random sticky notes, to-do lists, my daily journal, sermon notes, white boards, grocery lists and even a hand-painted canvas. This growing collage of encouragement throughout my home kept me focused throughout the year.

6. Frame Your Word

For 2 years now, my husband and I have attended a small prayer banquet for our local crisis pregnancy center ministry. At the end of the banquet, the staff gives each attendee a blank sealed envelope with a specific Word inside. These words have been powerful for me. Last year, my Word was World Changer. The accompanying verses gave me courage to pursue some writing and speaking opportunities I was wavering on. Invigorated, I immediately framed both Shane’s word and mine and hung them next to our bathroom mirror.

This year, my word was Enjoy. At first, I balked at this card telling me to enjoy the year ahead. Excuse me, I think this card was for someone else; I am Becky Rosty! Enjoying life is not something I need reminded of. So I avoided putting my new word in the frame for months! This week as I contemplated this blog post, I realized I really do need the reminder to enjoy.

2018 is the now-or-never year to finish up some precious life projects. Pressing in to finish strong is not always fun, or glamorous. If I am going to be the aforementioned world-changer, I am going to need to enjoy things that bore me, things that scare me. Or I will probably just not do them. And some things are too important to let go.

Visit our master bath sometime and find our new encouraging words displayed prominently for my daily humbling. (And yes, that now adds up to 3 motivationally challenging Words of the Year, who cares.)

7. Display a Representative Object

In 2016, my WOTY Flourish also prompted me to give a potted plant center stage in my home. The poor thing needed pruning this year, which is incredibly profound when you think of how that applies to my WOTY. Maybe, in order to keep flourishing in 2018, I need a little pruning too?

Perhaps you have a similar Word this year? Find room in your budget to buy a bouquet of flowers each month to remind you to Bloom. Trying to stay present? Grab an inspiring daily desk calendar to keep your focus on the now. Those with Simplify in mind might display a crisp white bowl on their table; make it the family goal to keep the bowl empty, both literally and figuratively.

Congratulations April Rogers for winning a personalized WOTY necklace from Joy in the Morning Designs!!!

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5 Ways a “Word of the Year” Can Positively Influence Your Life

The New Year is still new, my friends! If you are still contemplating why you should choose a Word of the Year, I have some ideas for you. Here are 5 ways a word can positively influence your life in 2018!

But first, let me introduce my Word for 2018:

Advocate.

This word is probably my favorite Word of the Year (WOTY) so far. For our family, it means we never stop looking for ways to make the good news of Jesus’ love famous to the people around us.

I had this beautiful necklace made to daily remind me of my commitment to gospel-advocacy. I am so moved by this piece of jewelry that I just have to share it with one of you! Joy In the Morning has partnered with me at Campfire Grace for this exciting opportunity.  She has reserved a similar necklace for you to commemorate your own Word of the Year! This stunning accessory is 14kt gold, valued at $56!

To enter, add your name and email to the form below, then scroll through all the beautiful designs over at Joy in the Morning.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED 1/17/18. Congratulations to April Rogers!

And now for 5 Fresh Ideas for Your Word of the Year:

1. A Gentle Rudder:

A few years ago, I traded New Years goals for a Word of the Year. Goals felt harsh and bossy. Failure to finish felt crippling. By picking a WOTY, I traded fear of coming up short for confidence of going in a helpful direction. I think of it more as a rudder to my ship than a destination I must reach. This word steers me gently regardless of circumstances: whether I face choppy waters ahead or a steady breeze to push me along this year.

The year of 2017 was filled with moments that left me overjoyed! It also hollowed out my soul with immense sorrow. And yet, my Word helped me navigate each season. My Word of the year was “Live Alive.” In the bubbling laughter of the twins turning 3, I enjoyed the gift of life we had been given. Through the agonizing heart-break of lossed lives and world chaos, I stopped taking for granted this privilege of life lived fully. Each change of 2017, I asked, how can I fully live alive in the midst of this?

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as Rudders: Strength, Trust, Breathe

2. A Perspective Lens:

How our circumstances affect us is largely how we view them. In 2016, my word was Flourish. When my twins were potty training, I kept my eyes open for how I was still flourishing in the frustration of accidents and laundry and lots of tears.

How could you use a specific Word to filter how you see your year? Pick a word like “Giggle” and you might just laugh off the drama in the office. Adopt “Hallelujah” as your mantra, and notice every event as a reason to give praise to God!

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as Perspectives: Whole, Humble, Victorious

3. A Butler:

I want my goals, my word, my ambitions to work for me, not the other way around. It is too easy for me to become a slave to what I want to fix in my life. Instead, the intentional WOTY will work for me.

As a Butler, my Word will remind me to focus on the best things. It will usher in my favorite thoughts first thing in the morning. It will open the front door of my mind only to desirable guests like encouraging thoughts and creativity. It will promptly shoo away lies and discouragement that ask to take residence in my thinking.

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as butlers: Kindness, Intentional, Thrive

4. A Scale for Decisions:

For many of us, 2018 is already intimidating us with the wide open field of opportunities. Soon-to-be-graduates, recent empty-nesters, and everyone in between are facing lots of decisions this year. Why not pick a Word that could filter each option that comes our way?

We get flyers in my mailbox for another kids’ activity. Our Facebook notifications panel is full of invites to support one friend or another in their home-based business party. Our churches are asking for volunteers to lead home based small groups. Our coworkers chatty activity in the break room beckon us to join in gossip. Our mirrors and scales offer the options to self-loathe or keep living fully.

As I already mentioned, my word for 2018 is Advocate. My husband and I prayerfully discovered it together. We can easily filter out (i.e.: say no to) any option that does not help us to advocate for the hope of the gospel among those who live in darkness.

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as scales for decisions: Image Bearer, Holy, Purpose

5. An Ebenezer:

The Bible describes an Ebenezer was a monument or visual reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people. Last year, our word “Live Alive” was in many ways an Ebenezer to God’s care for us through some difficult times. God helped us keep living. God helped us keep thriving! And we could count on Him to do so continually.

Why not pick a word that represents God’s relentless love for you? This word will serve as a rudder, a butler, and an Ebenezer all year long.

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as ebenezers: Relentless, Unconditional, Big Love!

 

*Giveaway Rules:

The winner will be chosen on Wednesday, January 17, 2018. We will let you know on all online platforms (email, IG, FB, etc.) who the winner is.

We can only ship to residents of continental USA. If you are outside the continental states and still want to enter, we may ask you to help cover shipping costs.

Happy New Year!!!

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My New Year’s Yoga Flow Playlist

One of the highlights of 2017 was learning to meditate on the loving care God has for me. The unexpected catalysts this contemplative practice was a yoga class.

The only spiritual connections I have made in yoga are with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am VERY intentional about setting my mind on things above as I enter into each pose. Positioning my body in different ways helps me to open my heart and quiet my mind to focus more fully on Gods goodness.

I have an arsenal of Scripture memorized that comes to mind during each pose as well. I am very grateful for this exercise of self-silence and self-control.

Perhaps this kind of Christ-centered pose and meditation practice might encourage you too! The following is from my Campfire Grace Flow Playlist. Take an hour to ring in this first week of the new year with me. (Follow my Spotify Profile for more other CGrace Flow playlists, including a 30 minute flow and an evening flow.)

If Yoga isn’t your thing, spend some time journaling, sitting in the stillness with a candle and your Bible, or even jogging to these worshipful songs that may just help clear your mind for the new year.

This is the Way God Loves You, by Sleeping at Last

Ease in with slow moving instrumentals. Focus on the deep belly breaths.

*Favorite lyric: none. (But I appreciate mediating on the title as I begin to think about Gods goodness and care for me.)

**Pose: cross legged on the mat, deep breaths **

Touch the Sky, Hillsong United

*Favorite lyric: “my heart beating, my soul breathing, I found my life when I laid it down.”

**Pose: cat/cow variations and child’s pose **

Welcome Here, Chris Quilala

Reaching upward/flowing through sun-salutations are the perfect pairing for this song.

*”Breath of heaven, voice of thunder, in your presence I surrender…”

**Sun-salutation variations**

First, Lauren Daigle

*”Before I bring my need I will bring my heart and seek you first.”

**Warrior 3**

Shadow step, Hillsong United

*”You met me at the sinners table, I found you waiting by the well, unexpected.”

**chair pose, warrior 2**

Simple Pursuit, Passion

*”God take us back to an unswerving faith in the power of your name, a heart beating for your kingdom to reign, a church that is known for your presence again.”

**balance pose, tree pose**

Then the trees of the forest will shout for joy before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth. 1 Chronicles 16:33

When I am Afraid, Laura Hackett

These lyrics share the cry of Psalm 61:2, and empower me every time I hear it. (Claim it and sing along!)

*”There is no peace of mind outside of truth in Christ!”

**boat pose, floor work for abs/core**

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”‭‭ Ephesians‬ ‭6:12-13‬

Closer to Your Heart, Kari Jobe

*”Holy, I get lost in your love. Holy, Full of awe and wonder. You keep drawing me closer to your heart.”

**Hip openers, figure 4″

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”‭‭ John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭

Lay It All Down, Will Reagan

This song may be my most powerful mantra, and by this point in the yoga flow, my emotions are ready to encounter this kind of surrender.

*”Carried on but your heart was tired, feared the worst and felt the fire. Lay it all down. Lay it all down. Filled with all those anxious thoughts, all your doubts became your god. Lay it all down at the feet of Jesus.”

**Biggest inhalation yet, Side twists with a flow**

In the Name of Love, Kari Jobe

*When there’s madness, when there’s poison in your head, when the sadness leaves you broken in your bed, I will hold you in the depths of your despair and it’s all in the name of love.”

**Plow, Shoulder stand, legs up a wall, happy baby**

Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone. Psalm 33:22

From the Belly of the Deepest Love by Tow’rs

Don’t let the trumpets at the beginning throw you off. When I first heard this song, I listened to it 3 times to fully grasp the beauty of its poetry. I am consistently astounded by the imagery of dogwood flowers representing how Jesus took our blame in his own body as he died.

*“I tried to get to you, but you came to me instead. With the dawn, the grave is gone. Oh how you wish to be with me.”

**any final poses I missed, alternate nostril breath**

House of God Forever, Jon Foreman

This song is my signal to begin a savasana (corpse pose). Rest in the calming guitar strums and occasional harmonica. These lyrics are a lovely recitation of Psalm 23.

*“He makes me rest in fields of green, with quiet streams.”

**Corpse Pose**

Come to Me, Bethel Music

A bit of contemplative instrumental to zone in deeper to the love and care God has for me.

*Sometimes I recall the lyrics to the original worship song as I breathe: “come to me, I’m all you need.”

**Corpse Pose**

Note: I have zero professional training in exercise, mediation, or yoga. This is just a little bit of what I do at home to connect with my creator and Heavenly Father through poses and meditation on His goodness.

Feel free to share it if it encourages you too!

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3 Executive Decisions This Momma Made for the Holidays This Year

In a century where holidays are hijacked by outrageous spending and overpriced tradition expectations…. I just want to love my family. I began to notice where my Christmas to-do list no longer lined up with love. Time to change things up!

For Thanksgiving, that meant I learned to mosey. For this first week of December, it means I am making a few executive decisions about our expectations for the rest of this month. I hope this turning of tables leads to better awareness of Jesus in our midst as I learn to love sacrificially like He does.

Perhaps you need to take back your expectations for the holidays too! I often remind my kids that the parents are the boss of the kids and Jesus is the boss of Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes, we parents need to exercise a little executive power to reorient our homes in line with our King. Here are the ones that made a difference for us this first week of advent:

1. Bless with a Dress. I do a lot of outfit control for my 3 year old twins. Many a favorite tutu gets nixed in favor of practical pants. However, this week I decided to hand over the fashion reigns, for both my daughters outfit and mine. A mother-daughter tea party play-date is the perfect opportunity to let my daughter explore her taste in style, and affirm it by strutting through the day dressed by my preschooler. With no small amount of glee, Evi dug through my closet and unearthed the only “twirly” dress I own, much like the one she was wearing.

Soon we were a pair of twirly girls ready for the day. She loved it, I only felt marginally awkward. But I held my head high nonetheless. Interestingly, when my husband saw my out-of-the-box outfit, he was enamored. Thanks to a brave moment of saying yes to my daughter, the twirly dress will now be featured more often in the outfit shuffle. It isn’t so bad taking turns in the fashion department after all.

2. Trade Trendy for Timeless. On a last minute whim, I bought bright silver tinsel garland. For weeks, I’ve had my eye on a red buffalo plaid ribbon to wrap around our tree, but the kids are little, tinsel is shiny, and who cares. We bought tinsel.

I also bought batman Christmas wrapping paper. And Disney princess wrapping paper. I kissed goodbye my dreams of brown paper packages tied up with string…with a sprig of eucalyptus tucked in the bow, and calligraphy monographs hand painted on top (thank you Pinterest).

Instead, I will put a pin in these dreams and revisit them maybe when the kids turn 17. It’s going to be one well-pined for Scandinavian-style, minimalism Christmas. Of course by then, it will no longer be trendy. I guess love is the trend I should be setting in our home instead. Let the kids be kids, and enjoy it while it lasts, right? After all, those memories are the truly timeless decorations at Christmas.

3. Stymie Unnecessary Stress. Also a last minute executive decision, I postponed the introduction of our “Shepherd’s Treasure.” We received this adorable Elf on the Shelf alternative as a gift last Christmas from my lovely older sister. She has charming documentation of their shepherd’s enchanting antics in years past, making me really excited to jump in.

The book’s instructions say to start the 1st day of December, however I decided not to. For some reason, the last 3 days of November had me panicked in preparation for the calm time of advent. It seemed counter intuitive that I was getting stressed in preparation for rest. The word oxymoron kept coming to mind.

So I made the executive mama decision: a late start date for our Shepherd was not going to deprive our kids. In fact, this delay was a sacrificial love act. When I release myself from forced Christmas creativity for too many days in a row, I can give my family the greater gift of having a peaceful, present mama.

In the days the twins were still babies, a wise soul implored me to seriously rethink traditions while my kids are little. “Simplify them to start,” she said ,”because it is less stressful on everyone to add a new expectation down the road than to fail a tradition later because you were over-ambitious in the early years.”

I deeply appreciate the freedom I have discovered in practicing this stay-present principle. So we might bring our shepherd out 10 days before Christmas, or maybe 7. Whenever it happens, it will be just as whimsical and enchanting.

There you have it, a few ways I said yes to twirly dresses and sparkly trees and batman wrapping paper (and no to being stressed-out mommy) in order to love my kids BIG this holiday season.

These are all decisions that boss me right out of my comfort zone. Not surprisingly, embracing them has brought more freedom and joy for this season.

What executive decisions have you made to stay-present this holiday season?

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White-Knuckle Motherhood (And How To Trade It For Something Beautiful)

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”*

At what point did I stop seeking? Asking? Knocking? At what point did I decide I needed to ride out the storm instead of cry out to the one who cares?

Last weekend, my 2-year-old daughter locked herself inside her bedroom. I had heard stories of this happening to other moms, confident this tragedy would never happen to me. I know how to open a locked door. My bobby pin skills are strong.

Only this time it didn’t work. The lock was jammed. The screaming half-breaths peppered with “mo-m-m-my” were enough to rip my heart out. But I made a decision not to join in the panic.

I resolved to stay calm for my daughter’s sake. To stay strong even when I wanted to crumble with empathy. This was the time she needed to know she was safe. Having a meltdown on both sides of the locked door would have leveled-up this experience from scary to traumatic for everyone.

It was probably less than 20 minutes. My husband worked at the doorknob. My neighbor, like a heavenly warrior disguised in her Saturday morning sweatpants, brought over a “key” thingy and words of courage. My fingers stayed pried beneath the crack of the door as a small effort of being present with my girl.

Finally, the doorknob clicked. Out rushed a sweaty, exhausted heap of tears, pink pajamas, and swirly blonde hair, into my arms for immediate calm. We snuggled on the couch, just quiet, together.

At last, I uttered a half-hearted, “Thank you, Lord,” and it hit me: I didn’t even think about praying. Through that whole fiasco, I didn’t cry out to God for help, or comfort, or peace, or wisdom.

Of course, He was with me, but I didn’t notice. His presence is more than a couple fingers under my emotionally closed-off door, but I didn’t care to reach for them. My resolve was to endure the storm.

Looking back, I have been this way for a few months now. Just get through it, I tell myself. Get through the packing, get through selling our house, get through the potty-training, get through winter, get through the tantrum years. Focus on surviving the storms.

Mark 4 tells the story of another storm:

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:37-41)

How long did the waves beat that little boat down before the disciples cried out to Jesus. I imagine their thinking “we can handle this on our own,” while Jesus rested, waited, unfazed by the storm. I can see their white-knuckles, gripping the boat, riding it out.

After all, logic tells us the storm will cease…

Locked doors will get open…

Stubborn toddlers will get potty-trained…

Bosses will reward hard work…

A friend will come along…

…Eventually.

Unfortunately, this expectation of eventually keeps us stuck in the determination to endure. Get through one more week, one more hour. It will all be fine in the end.

Or it won’t, but then at least it will be over.

What if we, like the disciples, grab a lightbulb moment of SYMOTA and remember that Jesus is Immanuel: God with us.

Not only was Jesus present through the storm with the disciples, he also had the power to calm it. More importantly, as our pastor reminded us last Sunday, Jesus cared about the disciples.

Without a doubt, Jesus always provides, even when we ignore his presence. And clearly, endurance has its place in the Christ-followers journey. However, these truths cannot substitute the beauty of embracing the presence of Jesus. 

He is with us and he cares.

This relationship with Jesus is so simple on our end: seek! And Jesus meets us with His beautiful, fulfilling, awe-inspiring presence.

At last, color is returning to my knuckles as I release the grip on survival and cling to Life Himself.

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Mimicking Rhythms

Wham! A guttural wail rose from my sons throat as he expressed his pain and frustration.

This is not the first time he has whacked his big toddler head into a dresser. Which is probably why he was more angry than hurt. Putting on pants like a big kid is hard.

I scooped him up into my arms, holding the full weight of his body, and his emotions, against mine. He pressed in closer for comfort and assurance. I patted his back and whispered in his ear.

Then he did something that surprised me. He patted my back in return.

This unexpected, sweet moment has stuck with me. His gentle mimicking of my motions. His chubby hand finding rhythm against my shoulder blade. His sobs quieting as his body relaxed.

In the intensity of my own hurt or frustration, Jesus does the same for me. He scoops me up in his abounding grace. He presses a rhythm of truth to my heart:

You are loved, unconditionally. (Psalm 86:15)

I cherish you. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I won’t let you go. (John 10:29)

This too shall pass. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

You will get through this, whole and victorious.  (Romans 8:37-39)

I understand what you are going through. (Hebrews 4:15)

I want to respond like my son, leaning fully into Jesus’ care, anchoring myself there when the tides of my emotions overwhelm me.

mimicking rhythms

I want to mimic the rhythm of truth which Jesus taps like morse-code onto my heart. I want to tap-tap-tap that same truth over my circumstance, my attitude, my temptation, my fears, my doubts. I want to share it with others who, like me, keep banging our heads against our proverbial dressers.

We need this precious memory to bring us heavenly perspective.

Perhaps, like my son, we will then have the courage and strength to put on our big kid pants again. God doesn’t promise it to be easy, but He does promise to be with us, every step of the way.

The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

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Transformation Tuesday: How Does Christ’s Resurrection Impact You?

 40 Days.

That’s how long Jesus walked this earth after he rose from the grave.

“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭

The disciples had 40 days to sit at his feet.

40 days to soak up the new perspective of “Kingdom” His resurrected body was providing.

40 days to get to know their Friend, Brother, Teacher, face to face and step by step.

Then Jesus ascended, fulfilling His promise to send the Holy Spirit, so that EVERYONE who accepts Christ as Savior, can know Him intimately. (See Acts 3:4-5, 8; also John 16:7-17)

I am grateful for the Holy Spirit, who makes it possible for me to also intimately know Jesus. So I have embarked on my own journey of 40 days, post-Easter, to investigate and draw close to our resurrected Savior.

Sunday marked the end of my 40 day fast, exploring His sacrifice. I think these next 40 days of celebrating Him will help me linger in the promise of new life.

Every day, I will explore ONE thing Jesus’ resurrection provides for my life. Today, it is…

A Fresh Start!

hair cutLike a new hair cut, the resurrection completes its work in my soul making me feel lighter, fresher, and at ease.

When I donated my hair a few weeks ago, my neck muscles started to spasm from the relief of weight lifted. I think we all need to take a moment to let the full weightlessness of Jesus rising from the grave sink in to (or rather, lift off of!) our souls.

How burden-less we should become when we trust Jesus. Not just because He crucified the weight of our sin to the cross, and buried it in the grave, but because He left it there!

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation. Selah. Psalm 68:19

How at ease our hearts can be in light of Jesus’ power. If he can rise from the dead, He can surely carry our anxieties if we but cast them onto Him.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” ‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-7‬ ‭

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭12:25‬ ‭

Activity:

Today, freshen up your appearance as a tangible reminder of the fresh start we received at Easter. If you don’t want to brave a hair cut, try a new nail polish color or a Spring-time blouse. Freshen up your home with a little Spring Cleaning in honor of the Fresh Start.

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I chose to give someone else a fresh start too, by donating my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Another way to give back through your fresh start is to shop home and fashion goods at Bought Beautifully, a site dedicated to collaborating gorgeous items from organizations and companies around the world, giving jobs to keep men and women and children out of poverty and slavery.

He is Risen! Be refreshed.

Campfire Check In:

What is one thing Christ’s resurrection does for you? 

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Let Go of Tidy Faith 

I am not a neat freak. At least when it comes to our home, my bedroom, and my hairstyle.tidy faith large

Unfortunately, I can be a perfectionist of presentation when it comes to my faith.

When life presents difficult moments, moments when I doubt God’s provision, I cling to this concept of tidy faith. When exhaustion, discouragement, and loneliness settle in for a siege on my soul, I cling to truth of Scripture as my life-line. I busy myself with life-giving tasks that remind me I am not defeated. I pray, hard. This is absolutely the appropriate response in difficult times… save for one missing piece: acknowledging the distress.

Recovering perfectionists like myself would never say out loud that we have it all together, but we try to present such confidence in our faith.

Tidy Faith skips the relational step of crying out to God: this hurts! It jumps straight to the part where we preach truth to ourselves (which, of course, is crucial). However, we should not pursue the strength to move on without acknowledging the need for an intimate outpouring of our hearts to God. (Psalm 62:8)

tidy faith

Messy Faith provides this avenue for intimacy with God. He is inviting us to just be real with Him for a change.

Tidy Faith is a breeding ground for false humility. False humility is, in fact,  pride. Often, I think so lowly of my struggles that I assume God does not care about these little battles. Because I am still thinking of myself, albeit negatively, my pride is still on full display. I rewrite first Peter 5:7 to say “cast all your cares on yourself, Becky, because they are too insignificant for God to be concerned.”

Messy Faith gets me thinking about God’s greatness, His kindness… His closeness to invite me, with all my own small problems, into His embrace. With eyes on Him, I can experience the true humility required to let go of presentable faith. Engaging in messy faith gives me permission to be real and honest with my emotions and discouragement. God says that He cares(!), so we should be humble, messy enough to cast all our cares on Him!

messy faith

Tidy Faith upholds a sense of respect and honor towards God. It drives us to worship Him instead of complaining about our distress. While this perspective is necessary and admirable, I believe God wants more than respect and honor. Many of the Psalms exemplify the reality of messy faith. To cry out in anguish, question the Almighty, and lay all burdens of woe at His feet, and still proclaim His faithful lovingkindness. God desires intimate relationship in the untidy moments of despair.

Messy Faith gives us that intimacy.

I should note that we cannot remove faith from the equation. It is tempting to simply allow ourselves to be messy, but we must not let our emotions run rampant, trampling down truth so it can’t heal our hearts. Trust is a choice that should not be confused with emotion.

Can we let go of Tidy Faith.

Can we embrace a messy faith which acknowledges pain, uncertainty, and discouragement?

Could we welcome a wild-haired faith, which brings all the real feelings of a fractured heart to the feet of our Savior?

Dare we champion a disorderly faith which, before moving on to strength-getting and onward-marching, relishes those uncomfortable moments where Jesus meets us, right where we are?

Campfire Check In:

How do you let go of Tidy Faith?

Join me in #40fasts with author Alicia Britt Chole’s book 40 Days of Decrease. Day 5 challenges readers to fast from Tidy Faith, the inspiration for this post.

 

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Am I a Good Mom? Confessions of a Mama of Twin Toddlers

am I a good momI wake up with a jolt. My husband is already up and in the shower and I ignored my alarm again. With less than 2 hours till the twins wake up (let’s be honest, they are probably already awake), I need to capitalize on these morning moments.

I struggle to slow down enough to stretch tired muscles before checking off a brief cardio session. I mean 10 minutes, my friends. “Ten has got to be better than nothing, right?” I think. “Am I any good at this mom thing?”

Aware of my weakness, I get on my knees desperate for Gods power today.

  • Power to say no to temptation, to my insatiable appetite for control.
  • Courage to choose to be present.
  • Self-control to refuse food as my comfort.
  • Physical strength to carry my bruiser of a son without redefining the alignment of my skeleton.

I beg for God to be strong in my weak areas as a wife, mentor, sister, and friend.

Coffee percolates, and I rush through a hot shower, wearing my retainer for the first time in months. Will my kids need orthodontic work like I did, I wonder. Trying not to add up the worrisome financial numbers, I tell myself “lets just get through teething first.”

And realistically, “get though” is all we can do. Pacifiers are a dentists nightmare, but right now, they are a family’s sanity saver. Not sure if this is a move in the “good mom” direction or not, but today will not be the day we quit the pacis. But it will be a day we fire on all other cylinders.

With my self-applied pep-talk hitting the spot, I intend to start the twins’ day with physical and spiritual nourishment. Groggy kids wake up to a feast of potato and spinach omelettes, whole-grain toast, oranges and bananas… and bit of Bible reading at breakfast to sustain our souls for the day as well.

  I snap a pic of this ambitious venture. These days, my Instagram posts are much different from the polished journal entries and pretty Bible-next-to-coffee set up. However, I must admit, I get as much truth from the Rhyme Bible as I do a daily devotional by a favorite author.

I barely get my first bite of breakfast in, much less two words from our Bible story, and the kids are giving me the “all done” sign. Food flies as 2 toddlers wave their hands frantically, exclaiming their discontentment.

Abandoning my hot eggs, I scoop toddler A out of his chair, wipe banana slime from little pink fingers, and plop his tush in the living room for some quiet playtime. Repeat for toddler B.

Trying not to be exasperated by the untouched orange slices and unread storybook Bible, I wonder again, am I a good mom?

And the Holy Spirit whispers to my striving soul, “you are asking the wrong question, Becky.”

This great God, having bent low not only to save me through Jesus on the cross, but also to breathe life and liberation to my mothering in this moment… This sweet Savior invites me to ask a different question: “is God a good Father?”

I start seeing the events of the day though the lenses of this new question. Each failure of this day is a canvas on which God paints his grace. Each achievement is a snapshot of His provision.

No longer concerned with my own ability to be good, I start to I notice His goodness over the next few hours:

In a moment of sweet-hearted kindness, Evi finds her brother’s lost pacifier and races it to plug his fit-throwing lips. (This molar cutting business is high class drama).

Becalmed for the moment, Titus drags his feet to my side at the couch, to which I have migrated with my half-eaten breakfast. He proceeds to demand and munch down my leftovers, sprinkling crumbs across the carpet like a farmer sowing seeds. At least he does so with a smile.

“Good Father,” I pray, “help Titus grow up to be a man who scatters spiritual seeds of truth and grace and Your great love for all mankind.”

Titus not so subtly reminds me that, right now, he is stubborn limit-tester, who hoards crackers and sippy-cups in the bottom of the blanket bin. So I pray he has the same kind of tenacity hide Gods word in His heart someday.

We have a dance party. I show Evi how to feed her baby doll a bottle. She lines up all 4 of her dolls and feeds them one at a time. I give Titus a light-saber tutorial. The kids read books, throw fits, trip over invisible obstacles and cry because it hurts to fall down. I put down my phone I’ve been staring at for far too long and kiss the invisible bruises.

My daughter brings me her baby doll for wardrobe assistance. I cram in a bite of room temperature eggs and adjust the doll’s hat. Snatching her from my hands, Evi swoops the doll in for an affectionate squeeze and a knowing look back at me.

“You are a good mommy, Sweetie,” I whisper in her ear. And I realize that Jesus is saying the same thing to me.

I have spent almost an hour writing these short, rambling paragraphs, fitting in the dictation between sharing lessons and rescue missions from the black hole in our home called a toy box.

Amazingly, I have almost finished a whole cup of coffee too. If the rest of the day doesn’t prove it, that cup of coffee reminds me that God is a good, good Father.

Humility helped me choose to notice His goodness today, and record it here to celebrate it again tomorrow. I’ll need these sweet memories to muse over my cold eggs next week.

Campfire Check-In:

Do you ask yourself the “good mom”, “good wife”, “good _________” question? How do you see God’s goodness setting you free from impossible standards in your life?

The High School girls’ Bible study I am leading, #joiedevivrebiblestudy, is currently accepting the #solongselfiechallenge in effort to recognize and celebrate God’s goodness instead of our own. Follow me on Instagram for more information: @campfiregrace.

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