Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Be good to me

We are currently in a season of making a lot of decisions.  Seemingly big decisions about schools and houses and kids and I personally don't even like deciding what to make for dinner (especially when my husband decides to do the Whole 30 diet again!!!...in which you can eat basically-- I don't know... NOTHING!!)

Decision-making for me is akin to being on the first part of a roller coaster ride when you are clicking your way to the top, still not totally sure if you want to be on the ride.  There's nothing like a decision hanging over my head to make me lose time on social media or choose to organize a long-forgotten cabinet.  Oh and I always want several opinions from other people...which more often than not just makes me more confused about what I think or want or what conclusion I should come to.

So I've been doing what any sane person would do at a time like this...reading a lot of Elisabeth Elliot.  She's one of those writers who says what she says with such confidence that you just believe her.

Do you know her story?  It is nuts.  Her first husband was speared to death in Ecuador by a tribe who he and fellow missionaries were attempting to make contact with.  She then moved with her infant daughter INTO the village of the tribe (who killed her husband) and spent the next 5 years translating the Bible for them and sharing the gospel and leading them to Christ.

Then she moved to the states, got remarried and her second husband was soon diagnosed with cancer and also died.  She suffered with dementia the final 10 years of her life.  She died this past June.
I tried to read her in college and felt like she was a bit stiff and narrow and maybe even ungracious or unrealistic (how stiff and narrow of me--sorry Elisabeth).  But last summer I became fascinated with her life because she lived some of my biggest nightmares and yet consistently communicated wisdom and truth and hope for her entire life.  And that has been my question the past few years...how do people suffer well?

What is the difference between the ways that people respond to the hardships of life?  What makes people become "better and not bitter"?  Why are some people at peace and others so restless?

Because in the last few years I realize that I cannot escape that life is hard.  My friends are dealing with depression and cancer and infertility and miscarriages and stillborn births and divorce and financial stress and loss and the list goes on...but some are carrying on with hope and others are becoming more embittered and I think to myself "what is the defining factor that creates the difference between their responses?"

I think maybe it is more basic than I ever thought.  We see it as early in the Garden of Eden.  What does Eve do?  She doubts the goodness of God.  She could have chosen to trust that what he offers her is enough and that what he keeps from her is for her good.  But she doesn't.

Maybe whether or not we believe that God has been good to us, is good to us and will be good to us is the most defining thing about who we become.  

How would I/you live differently if we believed his goodness with our whole selves?  What would we risk?  What would we give up?  What would seem less scary?  How peaceful would we be?

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

All of these verses link God's goodness with our security.  And when we are secure, we don't panic or fret or respond in anger defensiveness.
We are instead solid.  Anchored in hope.  Patient in affliction.  Joyful in hope.

So as we walk into these decisions that we inevitably have to make as adults (sigh), this is my prayer, my meditation so to speak...

You have been good to me.
You are good to me.
You will be good to me.

Psalm 23:6
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

On birthdays and true celebration

On Tuesday I will be 31.  I remember pretending to be 31 as a kid.  I would pretend to drive my kids to and from school in the closet that served as my car.  I would pretend to make dinner, change diapers (not at the same time), throw tea parties, and talk on my pretend phone constantly.

I should also mention that my perfectly silent husband, normally my baby Bert doll (I know it's a little creepy), and my motionless children did everything I told them to do.  I'm realizing right now that that probably set me up for some major failure!

I know I did not pretend to look in the mirror and wonder, when did my body start to work against me?! (as my friend so graciously told me this week accelerates beginning at age 31).
I did not pretend to feel hurt by social media (especially since Instagram did not exist).
I did not pretend to have to make the kind of decisions that I have to make now on a daily basis about how to spend time and money and energy.
I did not pretend to become more introverted as I became older because my lovely, expressive children drained me of the ability to speak coherently after 5:30pm (remember the motionless baby dolls).

And I DID NOT pretend to have a brutally difficult conversation with my husband DURING my birthday dinner AT the restaurant, with tears and snot included.  We tipped very well in an effort to apologize to our flustered waitress last night.

Without boring you with the both personal and uninteresting details, the conversation included me realizing how very immature I still am and how often I am still hoping to control our family for my happiness and comfort.  How's that for a "welcome to another year"?!

Growing up is hard.  Seeing myself more accurately can be discouraging.  Life does not look exactly how I thought it would.  I truly don't know the future.

But I want to carry into this year 3 things that -God lovingly whispered to me last year in response to my most common and poignant struggles....

*In relation to fear... nothing, nothing, nothing will separate me/you from the love of Christ.  (Romans 8).  And that love is not my selfish, half-hearted attempt to do good to my family...it is the love that says I bought you on the cross, I brought you to myself, I started a good work in you, I will fight for you, I will protect you, I will defend you, I will complete the work.  REST in my love and approval.

* In relation to control...the ONE who is able to do more than we ASK or IMAGINE is in control (Ephesians 3).  NOT ME!  Praise be!!  Seriously, if I really was in control, the world would be wrecked, my home would be wrecked and I would wreck myself.  He never has a wrong motive, works all things for the good of those who love him and sees the whole picture.  If that doesn't make you want to lay down and take a nap I don't know what will!  Oh and he even says, he gives to his Beloved sleep (Psalm 127).

* In relation to seeing my weakness...oh this has been anything but fun this year...but if we do not let God show us how messed up we truly are, how will we ever live dependently?  We won't.  I just know that the minute I think I can do ANYTHING in my own strength, I lose sight of his presence.  And honestly, I'd rather be weak.  Because I make a mess of things in about .2 seconds.  Walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5)

He is our anchor and hope.  An unchanging and completely trustworthy advocate as we walk through the life He has written for us.
Post cry-fest

Friday, July 19, 2013

A New Direction

I started Simply Chic Mom two years ago after we transplanted from the west coast to the east coast as a means of keeping friends and family posted on our life as well as getting to be creative in new ways and challenge myself to write about the things I care about and am learning.
It has been so fun and humbling and challenging and rewarding but it is time for something new and it is kind of a dream come true for me!

My husband Dave and I are going to be co-authoring a blog together beginning in January 2014.
We are so excited to team up and write and create together.

More details to come but in the meantime you can follow what is happening in our family on my simplychicmom instagram.

Until January!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Purchase of the week: summer hair care

Left to Right:
kenra platinum blow dry spray: perfect for straightening curly hair
living proof no frizz styling cream: amazing.  no other product needed for curly hair days
bumble and bumble surf spray: great for after the pool or beach for an effortless wavy look

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On a Personal Note: death leads to life

I am a control freak.  You wouldn't know it by the state of my kitchen floor or the amount of peanut butter that is (constantly) on Graham's face.  But I am.

It takes different forms during different seasons of my life but it's always there.

I keep coming back to Jesus' words that if you try to save your life you will lose it but if you lose it (for His sake) you will find it.
Sounds poetic.  Even intriguing.  But what on earth does that really mean?

A couple of weeks ago, Dave told me that he needed to go to Europe this month.  Immediately my thoughts went to: who will help me?  does he really need to go?  will we get enough "family time"? what will he miss in MJ's life at such a young age?...

I've realized that these questions were questions to "save my life" or try to preserve what I think our family needs.  And I'll tell you, Jesus is right (as usual), I began to experience loss of life.  I experienced loss of harmony with Dave (him feeling unsupported in his job).  I experienced loss of peace (my mind racing with scenarios of "what if").  I experienced loss of enjoyment (dreading him leaving).

And then God graciously intervened.  As He so often does in my life.  Gently and firmly.
Through friends, his word, etc. I knew I was being asked to let go.  To die to saving my life and what I think I "need" and to let God care for me.

As I (very weakly) started to do that, life returned.  I actually began to anticipate and pray for all that Dave would get to do on this important trip and began to feel like his teammate again.  Multiple people (some I barely knew) began to offer to help me with the kids.  God provided sweet family time and even date time for me and Dave in the days before he left.  And I honestly feel more energy and joy than normal in these days with him away.

My pastor recently said that if dependence on God is the goal (and I would venture to say that that is the goal of the Christian life) then weakness is an advantage.

Death leads to life.  The more I die to myself the more he is able to give me life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).  How would we see God's care for us if only we would release our grip more often?

A sweet family day at the zoo before Daddy left

Monday, June 17, 2013

Momstyle: post-baby wardrobe part 2

(Shorts: TJMaxx $19.99; Shoes: Target $24.99; Top: H&M) 
I'm a shorts girl.  Might be the growing up in southern California and Phoenix but they are my summer staple for casual and more dressed-up looks.  The high waist makes these shorts comfortable and the pattern makes them versatile for a casual or in this case, more polished look, especially when worn with a small wedge.  Again, the tied shirt gives a good illusion of a waist that has not fully returned.  Oh, and please note the dark circles under my eyes and messy hair, both an absolute staple of the post-baby look!