Thankfulness for his Faithfulness

4 One generation shall commend your works to another,

    and shall declare your mighty acts.

5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,

    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,

    and I will declare your greatness.

7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness

    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

Psalm 145:4-7

This past year looks nothing like I expected. Through all it's dramatic twists and unexpected blessings, I see the distinct handprints of God's faithfulness.

It's the time of year where we count our blessings. As Christians we think of Thanksgiving as a time to be grateful for what God has done for us. But that's not quite enough. We must proclaim God's abundance to others. Because Psalm 145 exhorts us to share God's works, mighty acts, awesome deeds, greatness, abundant goodness, and righteousness, I can't keep silent on the works of God's faithfulness to me and my family in the past year.

How God was Faithful in 2016 (an incomplete list):

  1. He enabled me to finish writing Unsupermommy. I was merely obedient to his calling; he was faithful to bring it to completion. When I needed physical help he provided baby sitters, grandmas, and a patient husband to support me. When I needed wisdom, his Word was a ready supply. When I needed encouragement, he moved in the hearts of others to speak. When I wanted to give up, he was persistent. He was faithful.
  2. He gave us the land. We're about to start building our farmhouse. My parent's technically gave us the land, but they were simply instruments of grace in our lives. Every piece of dividing off that land was met with a roadblock. We simply couldn't have made it through without God's amazing faithfulness. This blessing hasn't come in via the timeframe or plan we expected, but it is coming. He provided a winding path around the roadblocks of the county--one that was set in motion before my parents' even owned this property. He was faithful.
  3. When Wes was discontent and overworked at his previous job, God provided the unexpected gift of a career advancement close to home. We have already been so blessed by Wes' close proximity at Ridges so many times. When Wes did the first interview for that job, they were so honest in telling him they had two other internal candidates at the top of their list. But God had other plans for that position. He was faithful.
  4. We put our house on the market in May and sold it in two weeks to a buyer who didn't want to move in until September. Who has ever even heard of such a buyer? God was faithful.
  5. We moved in with my in-laws, and it has been so different than we expected. My MIL has only been at the house with us about 14 days in the 3 months we have been here, which means I've been shouldering a load of cooking, cleaning, and childcare that I did not expect. But he's been faithful in that too. He gave Wes the wisdom to insist on a Y membership where I can have some childcare and personal space. He has given me more patience and helped me establish a new routine for a quieter afternoon, even if it doesn't involve the alone quiet times we did at the old house. God has been faithful.
  6. I was so afraid to reach out and ask people to write endorsements for Unsupermommy, but God met me there again. I've been humbled by the caliber of people willing to read my words and put their approval behind mine. Unsupermommy will certainly reach more women with their endorsements. I was afraid, but God was faithful.

These six things are the big ones, friends, but there are so many more. All of God's faithfulness in every day moments could never be recounted. It would break the internet. That faithfulness must be whispered in the moment to our friends, spouses, and children. Don't let a chance to tell others about God's faithfulness pass you by. We are meant to proclaim it.

Do this today. Tell someone, tell the world. Speak boldly about God's blessing on your life. Proclaim his faithfulness. 

How I study the Bible with Little Ones

This is my process. Sometimes I only get through 2 steps, sometimes I sit in all 4. It's not a list to check off. It's a way I get my heart to realign to God every morning. It's an invitation from my heart to his, an eager expectation for Him to speak to my tired mind.
  • Read the daily entry in my New Morning Mercies devotional by Paul David Tripp: I know, I know, I'm not actually starting with reading the BIBLE, but let me be real with you. My brain is a little fried. I'm not always ready to jump in deep into theological exegesis. This time in my life, filled with physical demands and emotional extremes, means I often need something pre-processed first. Something to nudge my mind from the realm of my children and home into discovery of God. This devotional is my momma bird, chewing up the truth so I can digest it a little easier. I love New Morning Mercies because no one mixes grace, truth, theology, and practicality quite so perfectly as Paul David Tripp. I can't recommend it enough. You will get a peace of spiritual meat, cut down to mom-brain simplicity and ready to chew on throughout the day.
  • Read the scripture suggested at the end of my New Morning Mercies devotional: Yep, that even means I'm skipping around in the Bible and only reading short sections sometimes. ;) Getting all wild and crazy like that. What I love about these passages is that they aren't always obvious connections to the text. Figuring out how the scripture relates to what I just read really gets my brain revving up out of it's coma.

A lot of days, I stop here. Doing the above is always my main goal for morning devotions. When I've done the two steps above, my brain has been jump-started into the Truth. I can continue building throughout the day by abiding with God (future post to come on how I do that!). But on a good day, I get to continue on. Here's what I do when I have more time:

  • Read and Study a portion of the Bible I'm sitting in for this season: Here's where I get a little deeper. Friends, I don't have time to really study a portion of the Bible WELL in just one day or even just one week, but that doesn't mean I can't do it. I just have to sit in one place in the Bible in little chunks of time over a lot of days. These portions of the Bible become so dear and so life-giving to me. I spent 7 months in Psalm 145 last year. I know Psalm 145. I love Psalm 145. Verses from Psalm 145 pop into my mind as I go through my day. It has become a part of how I think and a truth that I come back to over and over again. I know the God of Psalm 145. Isn't that the real point of Bible Study anyway? I'm probably not learning anything theologically groundbreaking, but God is speaking to me, right into the grit of my life, and I'm learning how to know Him in all the small moments of my day. Right now I'm camped out in Romans 8, and it's so good for this season. I'm sure I'll be there (and possibly the surrounding chapters) for quite some time.
  • Pray: Since I can pray throughout my day, I schedule this last. Yes, the prayer time is always more meaningful and deeper when I get to pray in stillness, but it's not meaningless when done in chaos. Formal prayer is good, but staying connected to the vine throughout my day is essential. So when I don't have time to formally pray, I find snippets through the day for petition and praise and simple connection.

Dear Friend, hear this: I love Bible Study. I love booklets and questions and concordances and digging in deep. But after Judah was born and I was drowning in moment-by-moment living, I spent months paralyzed from starting anything because I knew I could never finish it. I accidentally stumbled into my new routine, and it's working for me. Find something that works for you. It can be anything. Bible knowledge isn't the goal, receiving the Bread of Life is. Don't not read the Bible because you can never finish a study. Find any way that works for you, and do it. Remember, God is God. He can use the littlest piece of Himself to fill you up! Come to His Word with an open heart and let the Holy Spirit stand in the gap for you.

On those mornings when I can't find a spare moment to do any of this, I simply flip open my Bible on the counter and read one verse a few times as I make breakfast for my kids. That way I still get connected to God early. I don't walk through my day without having eaten my Bread of Life. One verse, read a few times, chewed over as go through my daily tasks, can work miracles!

Tired Mommies, we can be in the Bible. We can be in a developing and fruitful relationship with our Creator and Sustainer. It won't look like it did in our last season and it won't look like it will in the next season, but I can promise you it will bear fruit. We don't need to do this perfectly, we just need to do something. God wants to reach out to us, we just have to open the connection of his Word. 

Toddler Travel Tricks (You've Never Heard Before)

Last week we went to Florida with my parents and my brother's family. Between my brother's family and ours we have 5 kids in the toddler and preschool range: 18 months, almost 2, 2.5, 3.5, and 4.5. I've been to Florida for a week with a kid in tow every winter for the last 5 years, and I'm just now getting the logistics figured out. I thought I would compile a couple helpful hints for you that I haven't read on other blogs.

  1. Don't bring baby supplies with you. Order them on Amazon! Did you know that you can have packages delivered to your hotel and they will hold on to them for you? I've sent diapers, wipes, baby food, and even toddler food packets this way. This works best if you have Amazon Prime because you know exactly what day the items will arrive, but it can be useful with the regular free shipping as well. Want to kick it up a notch? Try this money-saving trick: Don't pay $50 in baggage fees to bring your pack-n-play as a carry on, and don't pay the hotel $15/night to rent a pack-n-play when you can buy one on Amazon for $40 and have it shipped directly to the hotel you are staying at! Just drop it at the nearest Goodwill on your drive to the airport or leave it in the hotel when you are done! Highchairs are another great option to have shipped directly to your hotel to avoid the exorbitant fees the hotel will charge you per day.
  2. Bring toys that do double-duty: You can imagine my surprise this year when the toys I brought for the pool and the sand became their favorite in-room toys. I could have just brought a bag of sand toys and they would have been perfectly content!
  3. Bring throw-away toys: Don't bring the best. Bring the neglected fast-food toys or the half-broken-on-their-last-leg toys. When there isn't any other toys as options, the kids will be delighted. And if you lose one, no big deal. Also, if you're like me and like to shop on vacation, toss out the old toys when you leave and use the extra space in your bag for that new pair of shoes you couldn't pass up. I also love to collect Chik-Fil-A or dollar spot books for a couple months before a trip. They are super light and offer a new reading experience that can be tossed before traveling home. What could be more perfect?
  4. Use the hotel toys: Did you know that many pool areas keep pool and sand toys donated by previous visitors? Call ahead to see if your hotel or resort has any toys on hand before bringing loads of  floaties for the pool or buckets and shovels for the beach.
  5. Pack Less Stuff: The more stuff you put in your hotel room, the harder it is to keep it picked up. If you're traveling with kids, you're probably going somewhere that has a target, walmart, grocery store, or pharmacy nearby. You don't have to bring every item you might possibly need. If you do that, you probably won't be able to find it in the mountain of your dirty clothes when the moment of crisis hits. Stick with the basics. I always wish I had packed a little less.
  6. Leave your perfect vacation expectations at home: My brother's friend once told him: "Before you have kids, you go on vacation. After you have kids, you go on a TRIP." My friends, that saying could not be more true. Our winter trips are no longer about the old R&R. My husband and I wasted years of vacations striving to find pockets in our trip where we could take a nap, read a book, or simply sit alone in the quiet. The pursuit of our own rest was fruitless, and left us disappointed and angry.  This year we adjusted our expectations. We through rest and relaxation out the window. This year our goal was relationships! Despite both of us going down for about 24 hours with the flu, we had a joyful and fun week together as a family. It's amazing how simply adjusting an expectation led to contentment with what we received. It was an imperfect week, but it was so, so good.

Got any other great tips to add? Share them in the comments! I love hearing what works well for other moms. Anyone else have plans to TRAVEL (not vacation this winter?). My husband and I are escaping on a cruise without the kids in a month and I'm looking forward to actually getting to rest on that trip!